Feeds

Debutante Xena provokes planetary punch-up

Telescopes at dawn sunset

Business security measures using SSL

A fight has broken out between two groups of astronomers over who exactly has the bragging rights over the discovery of the possible 10th planet Xena.

In late July 2005, researchers in Spain and the US both announced, independently, that they had discovered a candidate tenth planet. At the time, the director of the Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center reportedly described the dual discovery as "sort of an awkward situation".

Michael Brown, who led Caltech's research, conceded the discovery to the Spaniards, led by Jose-Luis Ortiz. He had originally planned to announce his findings in September at a meeting of the American Astronomical Union.

The Caltech team had first seen the object in May 2004, much later than the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía group, who had pegged it as interesting way back in 2003.

However, server logs at Caltech revealed that the day before Jose-Luis Ortiz made his announcement, someone at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía had accessed details of Brown's research.

Brown had uploaded information about his team's observations of the candidate planet to the Caltech servers. Information in the abstracts, Brown says, could have been used to work out the position of the candidate planet at any time in the past or future.

Brown says that he emailed Ortiz asking him about the server logs, but having received no reply, he submitted a formal complaint to the International Astronomers Union, alleging at the very least scientific dishonesty, and possibly even fraud, depending on what the information was used for.

According to The New York Times the director of the IAU's Minor Planet Centre, Brian Marsden, is at a loss as to what to do. He says the IAU has no established protocol for dealing with a dispute like this one.

Brown has posted what he calls the full story here.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.