Feeds

Debutante Xena provokes planetary punch-up

Telescopes at dawn sunset

Remote control for virtualized desktops

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.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
HUGE SHARK as big as a WWII SUBMARINE died out, allowing whales to exist
Who'd win a fight: Megalodon or a German battleship?
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.