Astronomer H-R diagram

Most people who've done an astronomy course will have heard of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. It was developed to show the relationships between the temperature (or colour) of a star and its luminosity. The other week I saw a tweet referring to someone as an "astronomy media star". This interesting stellar classification got me thinking about an alternative version of the H-R diagram. In my alternate reality I imagined a version classifying astronomers* and so, after a little consultation with other astronomers (thanks Sarah, Tess, Mike, Paul and Amanda) and some free time**, I present...

Click to embiggen. Apologies to Hertzsprung and Russell. If you are one of the names on this plot and you feel your numbers are very wrong, let me know and I'll update it. CREDIT: Stuart
This isn't in any way supposed to be accurate - it is qualitative - and most of the "Main Career Sequence" is invented based on expectations of an evolutionary sequence assuming little use of the internet before becoming an astronomer. Mega-stars such as Dr Brian May may follow a totally different path. Of course, not all astronomers make it along the main sequence and many go off to other jobs through either an "academia runaway" or a "funding instability crisis". The "dark astronomers" (we have dark matter and dark energy so why not?) are theorised to exist but haven't been directly detected so if you have evidence for one, please let me know.

For those wanting technical details, the data for the red stars comes from NASA's ADS/SPIRES-HEP (limited to peer review) and searching for the person's name (in quotation marks) on Google. Both numbers are affected by name-sake contamination and the Google-dance/search customisation adds to the uncertainty on the y-axis. Update 2010-07-22T11:10:00 UT: It turns out that Google gives wildly different results depending on which Google you are connected to. Being in the UK I was automatically redirected to and that is where these numbers come from. seems to produce more search results. I may re-make this plot using as the standard.

If anyone has the time to properly classify a few hundred astronomers you are welcome to do that and send me the data!

* I know Brian Cox is technically a particle physicist but he is the Sun Professor which makes him almost a solar physicist ;-)
** Internet-based diversions such as this usually result in people saying "he has too much free time". That is not entirely inaccurate.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Wednesday 21st Jul 2010 (12:36 BST) | 37 Comments | Permalink
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