Archive for Open Journal of Astrophysics

MOND: Open to Debate

Posted in OJAp Papers, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on June 8, 2023 by telescoper

I didn’t know until today that there is a meeting going on this week at the University of St Andrews with the title 40 Years of MOND (Modified Newtonian Dynamics). Here’s a description of the conference.

The source of the gravitational field in objects ranging from individual galaxies to the largest scales in the universe is one of the biggest unanswered questions of modern physics. It is generally assumed that the gravitational field in extragalactic systems is dominated by dark matter particles occupying a dark sector that represents new physics beyond the stubbornly successful Standard Model of particle physics. So far, candidates for these particles have evaded detection in remarkably sensitive laboratory experiments: the evidence for missing mass remains entirely astrophysical in nature.

Forty years ago, Weizmann-Institute professor Mordehai Milgrom published a series of three articles in The Astrophysical Journal in which he proposed that the dark matter phenomenon is not due to unknown particles, but to a departure from the known laws of dynamics when the acceleration is about eleven orders of magnitude smaller than that on Earth’s surface (Milgrom 1983). Only one year later, in 1984, Jacob Bekenstein and Mordehai Milgrom developed this Modified Newtonian Dynamics (or Milgromian Dynamics, MOND) into a non-relativistic Lagrangian theory (Bekenstein & Milgrom 1984). During the ensuing decades, MOND has developed into a multifaceted paradigm that includes several non-relativistic and relativistic theory proposals, as well as possible connections with quantum gravity theories. Most remarkably, MOND has successfully made many striking and unique a priori predictions.

This conference will commemorate the last 40 years of this modern gravitational paradigm, of its predictive successes as well as its outstanding challenges, and will look to the road ahead.

It looks like an interesting meeting but what caught my eye in particular about it was this pic I found on Twitter today taken at the start of one of the talks:

The work presented apparently has been the focus of quite a lot of debate and several follow-up studies. I just thought I’d mention that it was published earlier this year in the Open Journal of Astrophysics:

It’s good to see work appearing in one of our publications attracting attention at an international conference!

Two New Publications at the Open Journal of Astrophysics

Posted in OJAp Papers, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2023 by telescoper

I just realized that I forgot to advertise on here a couple of recent publications at the Open Journal of Astrophysics – the papers are coming in at quite a rate now – so I’ll catch up with them both in one post.

The first paper of the two is the 10th paper in Volume 6 (2023) and the 75th in all; it was published on 16th March 2023. This one is  in the folder marked Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics. The title is “From BeyondPlanck to Cosmoglobe: Open Science, Reproducibility, and Data Longevity” and it is a discussion of the importance of reproducibility and Open Science in CMB science including measures toward facilitating easy code and data distribution, community-based code documentation, user-friendly compilation procedures, etc.  You can find out more about the BeyondPlanck collaboration here and about Cosmoglobe here.

The first author is S. Gerakakis and there are 42 authors in all. This is too many to list individually here but they come from Greece, Norway, Finland, Germany, Italy, and the USA.

Here is a screen grab of the overlay which includes the  abstract:

You can click on the image of the overlay to make it larger should you wish to do so. You can find the officially accepted version of the paper on the arXiv here.

The second paper is the 11th paper in Volume 6 (2023) as well as the 76th in all; this one was published last Thursday (23rd March). This is another for the folder marked Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics. The title is “GLASS: Generator for Large Scale Structure” and the paper is about a new code for the simulation of cosmological observables obtainable from galaxy surveys in a realistic yet computationally inexpensive manner. The code can be downloaded here. This is an interesting approach that contrasts with the “brute force” of full numerical simulations like those I discussed a few days ago.

The authors are Nicolas Tessore (University College London), Arthur Loureiro (UCL, Edinburgh and Imperial College), Benjamin Joachimi (UCL), Maximilian von Wiestersheim-Kramsta (UCL) and Niall Jeffrey (UCL).

Here is a screen grab of the overlay which includes the  abstract:



You can click on the image of the overlay to make it larger should you wish to do so. You can find the officially accepted version of the paper on the arXiv here.

R.I.P. Gordon Moore (1929-2023)

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on March 25, 2023 by telescoper
Gordon Moore, photographed in 1981. Picture credit: Intel corporation.

I was saddened this morning to see news of the passing of scientist, inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist Gordon Moore at the age of 94. Moore was a co-founder in 1968 of semiconductor company Intel, which has an enormous manufacturing facility at Leixlip, just a few miles from Maynooth, which employs almost 5000 people and contributes hugely to the local economy.

Gordon Moore also gave his name to Moore’s Law which relates to the rate of growth of transistors in integrated circuits and hence to the growth of computing power that gave rise to microprocessors, personal computers and supercomputers. I had reason to refer to Moore’s Law on this blog just a couple of days ago.

Moore made a huge personal fortune from business, and in 2000, he and his wife Betty established the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, with a gift worth about $5 billion. Through the Foundation, and as individuals, they have funded projects in science in fields as diverse as materials science and physics to genomics, data science and astronomy, in particular they have funded including the Thirty Metre Telescope project.

I have personal reasons for being grateful for the generosity of Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. When we were try to set up the Open Journal of Astrophysics some years ago we were awarded a small grant from them. It wasn’t a large amount of money but it was essential in allowing us to develop the idea into the working journal it is today. The Open Journal of Astrophysics is just one of many projects that would not have been possible without philanthropic giving of this sort.

I send my condolences to Betty (whom he married in 1950) and to the rest of his family, as well as all his friends and colleagues.

Rest in peace Gordon Moore (1929-2023)

Article Processing Charges at the Royal Astronomical Society

Posted in Open Access with tags , , , on March 2, 2023 by telescoper

As it was foretold, the Royal Astronomical Society has now officially announced that all its journals will be moving to Gold Open Access. The only thing that surprised me about this is the speed that it will be done – from January 1st 2024. The announcement confirms that the “rumour” I reported in 2020 was true (as I knew it was, given the reliability of the source). I did, however, think the timescale would be “within a few years” and it turns out to be much shorter than that.

For the journal of most relevance to myself, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS) this decision means that authors will have to pay an Article Processing Charge (APC) at the (suitably astronomical) level of £2310 for each paper (although there will be exemptions in certain situations). Does anyone genuinely believe that it costs that much to publish an article online? Really?

I did actually laugh out loud when I saw the spin the RAS are trying to put on this decision:

The RAS is excited to be a key contributor to the open science movement, helping to drive discoverability and change.

Au contraire. Gold Open Access a serious hindrance to the open science movement, as it involves hugely inflated costs to the authors in attempt to protect revenue in the face of declining subscription income. Switching from a ‘fleece-the-libraries’ model to a ‘fleece-the-authors’ alternative can in no way be regarded as a progressive move.

Other notable astronomy-related journals, such as the Astrophysical Journal (ApJ) and Astronomy & Astrophysics (A&A), have levied “page charges” (effectively APCs by another name) for as long as I can remember, though in the latter case there is a waiver for researchers in “member” countries. ApJ and other journals also have a waiver scheme for those who cannot afford to pay. For those who have to pay, the fee is usually about $100 per page. For a long time MNRAS was the exception and indeed the only feasible choice for people who don’t have access to funding to cover page charges, including many in the developing world. More recently, however, MNRAS introduced a charge for longer papers: £50 per page over 20 pages, so a paper of 21 pages costs £50 and one of 30 pages costs £500, etc. Now there will be a flat fee of £2310 per paper.

It is true that some institutions will pay the APC on behalf of their authors, but that is hardly the point. If institutions have cash to pay for astronomy publications to be open access then they would do far more good to the research community by giving it to the arXiv rather than to the publishing industry. When authors themselves see how much they have to pay to publish their work, many will realize that it is simply not worth the money. (I refuse to pay any APC on principle.)

The Twitter feed for the Open Journal of Astrophysics (OJAp) was buzzing all day yesterday with negative reactions to the RAS announcement. Obviously I am biased in this matter, but I do encourage those thinking of switching to give it a try. The RAS has played into the hands of OJAp, which publishes papers (online only) in all the areas of Astrophysics covered by MNRAS, and more, but is entirely free both for authors and readers. The annual running costs of OJAp are substantially less than one APC at the level proposed by MNRAS.

The comments I have seen brought this image to my mind:

(The allusion to sharks is not accidental.)

The question for the Royal Astronomical Society, and indeed the other learned societies that fund their activities in a similar way, is whether they can find a sustainable funding model that takes proper account of the digital publishing revolution. If their revenue from publishing does fall, can they replace it? And, if not, in what form can they survive? I’d like to think that future operating models for such organizations would involve serving their respective communities, rather than fleecing them.

New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics

Posted in OJAp Papers, Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on January 12, 2023 by telescoper

Time to announce another new paper at the Open Journal of Astrophysics. This one was published officially on 9th January 2023. The latest paper is the second paper in Volume 6 (2023) as well as the 67th in all. This one is in the Astrophysics of Galaxies folder.

The latest publication is entitled “Wide Binaries as a Modified Gravity test: prospects for detecting triple-system contamination” and the authors – Dhruv Manchanda, Will Sutherland Charalambos Pittordis – are all based at Queen Mary, University of London.

Here is a screen grab of the overlay which includes the  abstract:



You can click on the image to make it larger should you wish to do so. You can find the officially accepted version of the paper on the arXiv here.

New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics

Posted in OJAp Papers, Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , on January 7, 2023 by telescoper

Continuing the process of catching up with business at the Open Journal of Astrophysics, here is the first paper of 2023. This one was accepted before Christmas but the final version only appeared on arXiv after the holiday and was published officially on 4th January 2023.

The latest paper is the first paper in Volume 6 (2023) as well as the 66th in all. It’s yet another in the Cosmology and Non-Galactic Astrophysics folder.

The latest publication is entitled “It takes two to know one: Computing accurate one-point PDF covariances from effective two-point PDF models“. This is a British-French-German collaboration led by Cora Uhlemann of Newcastle University with co-authors  Oliver Friedrich, Aoife Boyle, Alex Gough, Alexandre Barthelemy, Francis Bernardeau, and Sandrine Codis.

This is such an interesting paper that we discussed it at our cosmology journal club at Maynooth University a while ago when it first appeared on arXiv and reading it again since then has suggested a nice project to me!

Anyway, here is a screen grab of the overlay which includes the  abstract:



You can click on the image to make it larger should you wish to do so. You can find the officially accepted version of the paper on the arXiv here.

New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics

Posted in OJAp Papers, Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , on November 10, 2022 by telescoper

I’m delighted to be able to announce the 10000th paper this year, and 1000000th publication overall, at the Open Journal of Astrophysics!

That is counting in binary, of course. In base ten the  new paper at the 16th paper in Volume 5 (2022) as well as the 64th in all.

The latest publication is entitled “Evolution of Cosmic Voids in the Schrödinger-Poisson Formalism” and the authors are Aoibhinn Gallagher and Peter Coles (Who he? Ed) both of the Department of Theoretical Physics at Maynooth University. Obviously as author I played no role in the selection of referees or any other aspect of the editorial process.

Aoibhinn Gallagher – bonus marks for pronouncing both names correctly – is my first Maynooth PhD student and this is her first paper, of many I hope (and expect)! We’re already working on extensions of this approach to other aspects of large-scale structure. You can find some discussion of this general approach here.

Anyway, here is a screen grab of the overlay which includes the  abstract:


You can click on the image to make it larger should you wish to do so. You can find the officially accepted version of the paper on the arXiv here.

Here is a nice animated version of Figure 5 of the paper showing, for a 1D slice, the radial expansion of a spherically symmetric void (i.e. underdense region) using periodic boundary conditions:

The x-axis is in (scaled) comoving coordinates, i.e. expanding with the cosmological background, so that the global expansion is removed.  You can see that the void expands in these coordinates, so is expanding more quickly than the background, initially pushing matter into a dense ring around the rim of the empty void. That part of the evolution is just the same as for “normal” matter but in this case the wave-mechanical behaviour of the matter prevents it from being confined to a strongly-localized structure as well as affecting the subsequent expansion rate.

Of course in the real Universe, voids are not isolated like this but instead tend to push into each other, but we felt it was worth studying the single void case to understand the dynamics!

New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics

Posted in OJAp Papers, Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on November 4, 2022 by telescoper

It’s time once again for me to announce new paper at the Open Journal of Astrophysics. The new paper, published last week, is the 15th paper in Volume 5 (2022) and the 63rd in all. The latest publication is entitled “Two-photon amplitude interferometry for precision astrometry” and the authors are Paul Stankus, Andrei Nomerotski and Anže Slosar of Brookhaven National Laboratory (USA) and Stephen Vintskevich (Moscow Institute of Physics & Technology, Russia).

The paper presents a new method for doing interferometry with quantum-mechanically entangled photons and is thus is in the folder marked Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics. I don’t know much about this area – and there are many whose baseline opinion is that interferometry is a bit of a fringe topic that is rather complex perhaps needs more visibility in the current phase of its development  (geddit?) – but the physics looks fascinating to me. Amplitude interferometry should be contrasted with the intensity interferometry method of Hanbury Brown and Twiss which I remember learning about as an undergraduate.

Anyway, here is a screen grab of the overlay which includes the  abstract:

You can click on the image to make it larger should you wish to do so. The full image used in the overlay is this:


You can find the officially accepted version of the paper on the arXiv here.

Open Access Week and the arXiv

Posted in Open Access with tags , , on October 17, 2022 by telescoper

Just time for a quick post to advertise the fact that next week (commencing October 24th 2022) is International Open Access Week.

I’ll be participating in one of the events – a panel discussion – organized by arXiv as part of Open Access Week. This event is entitled Trends in Peer Review of Open Access Preprints and the description is:

Speed of research is a major feature of open access preprint platforms like arXiv – formal peer review can follow later after rapid distribution of results. However, as submissions to arXiv and other preprint servers have grown, many researchers are seeking new avenues for community feedback and peer review. At this panel discussion, leaders in preprints and peer review will discuss current trends in virtual overlay journals, open peer reviews, and more. (Video recording will be available to registrants after the event)


  • Peter Coles, PhD, Theoretical Cosmologist at Maynooth University in Ireland and Managing Editor of The Open Journal of Astrophysics
  • Jessica Polka, PhD, Executive Director of ASAPbio
  • Antti Mikael Rousi, PhD, Senior Advisor, Research Services at Aalto University, Finland
  • Steinn Sigurdsson, PhD, Professor of Astronomy at Penn State University and arXiv Scientific Director

The event is at on Wednesday, October 26, 2022 at 15:00 UTC /11:00 EDT; that’s 16:00 Irish Time. It’s on Zoom (unless you are at Cornell and can attend in person). You need to register here.

Ethics Statement for the Open Journal of Astrophysics

Posted in Open Access with tags , , , on August 3, 2022 by telescoper

For various reasons I spent yesterday evening, the last evening of my “break”, concocting an Ethics Statement for the Open Journal of Astrophysics. I don’t know much about this sort of thing so some of the text is based on similar statements elsewhere, e.g. at the AAS Journals site. So far we haven’t had many instances of misconduct but I have had to ban a couple of authors for violations.

Anyway, you can find the statement on the OJAp website but I’ve copied it below in case anyone has suggestions of things we might wish to add. If you have any such comments please use the box below:


  1. Ethics and Professionalism
    Authors of papers published in the Open Journal of Astrophysics (OJAp) are expected to adhere to basic standards of professional ethics and conduct that are common across all areas of scholarly publishing. Because we are an arXiv overlay journal we also require adherence to the specific standards stipulated in the arXiv code of conduct of conduct. By submitting a paper authors affirm that their work is theirs, is original and has not been published elsewhere. All parties are also expected to conform to common standards of professional respect and civility. This page summarizes the expected standards of professional and ethical conduct required for OJAp.
  2. Plagiarism (including Self-Plagarism)
    Plagiarism (understood as the act of reproducing text or other materials from other papers without properly crediting the source) represents a serious ethical breach, and may constitute legal breach of copyright if the reproduced material has been previously published. This includes repeating text from previously published papers by the author or authors (i.e., “self-plagiarism”). The arXiv submission process does an initial screen for plagiarism, and we will look very carefully at submissions that have triggered the arXiv filter.
  3. Citations and References
    Articles published in OJAp should include citations to previously published articles which are directly relevant to the results being presented. This requirement is especially important when new ideas or results are being presented. Deliberate refusal to credit or cite prior or corroborating results represents a breach of professional ethics, and can result in summary rejection of a manuscript but an unintentional failure to cite a relevant article does not necessarily imply misconduct. Responsibility for updating references after acceptance (but before publication) of an article rests fully with the authors, but the same principles should apply.
  4. Conflicts of Interest
    The referees selected by the editor assume responsibility for evaluating the scientific veracity, clarity, and significance of the results presented. For such a system to function effectively it is essential that the referee be free of any conflicts of interest that might influence the content or the promptness of the review. Authors may identify individuals who they believe are conflicted and should not serve as referees. Referees also have a responsibility to recuse themselves if they feel a conflict may arise. Editors are required to disqualify themselves whenever a real or perceived conflict is present.
  5. Confidentiality
    The Editorial Board of OJAp will not reveal the identities of referees nor the contents of peer-review-related materials to individuals outside of the respective peer-review process. Referees are also bound by strict confidentiality; neither the manuscripts nor the contents of referee correspondence may be shared with other parties without written permission from the editor. Authors are not bound by similar confidentiality requirements (for example, they may choose to consult with co-authors and colleagues when revising a manuscript in response to a referee report), but public dissemination of the contents of referee reports and editorial correspondence is highly inappropriate.
  6. Professional Conduct
    All participants in the publication process, including Editors, Authors and Referees, are expected to conform to basic standards of professional courtesy, and respect the basic rules and guidelines that govern the peer-review and publication process. Authors should also recognize that all our Editors and Referees are volunteers who give their time freely; that’s part of the reason why the journal is free. Personal attacks or verbal abuse are unacceptable and OJAp reserves the right to refuse submissions from individuals who repeatedly violate these guidelines or refuse to cooperate with editors and referees in the normal peer review and publication processes.
  7. Allegations of Misconduct
    The integrity of OJAp rests on the professionalism of its authors, referees, and editors. Alleged cases of unethical conduct within the editorial process will be investigated vigorously by the Editor-in-Chief or an appropriately delegated individual or individuals and with respect for confidentiality. Accusations of misconduct falling outside of the peer review or publication process may be more properly directed elsewhere. OJAp also recognizes its obligation to protect their authors and referees against malicious, frivolous, vexatious or unfounded allegations of misconduct. Repeated complaints of this type by individuals may be summarily dismissed.