237th meeting

Press Information

Virtually Anywhere
237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society
Virtually Anywhere
10 – 15 January 2021

29 December 2020 (updated 15 January 2021)

Dr. Rick Fienberg
AAS Press Officer
+1 202-328-2010 x116; cell: +1 857-891-5649

Press Kit for the 237th AAS Meeting

The Super Bowl of Astronomy, otherwise known as the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), will last five short days rather than the usual four long ones and will feature two daily press conferences — 10 in all. During the briefings astronomers will share exciting new discoveries from our own solar system to planetary systems around other stars, on erupting and exploding stars within the Milky Way and in nearby galaxies, and from active black holes and clouds of gas and dust at distances ranging from thousands to billions of light-years.

The 237th AAS meeting, convened jointly with the AAS Historical Astronomy Division (HAD) and High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD), was originally scheduled in Phoenix, Arizona, but the coronavirus pandemic led the Society to convert it to a virtual conference. AAS 237 will be held 11-15 January 2021 "virtually anywhere" with internet connectivity. In addition to the twice-daily press conferences, the meeting will feature a robust science program of prize and invited talks by distinguished astronomers, a virtual exhibition, public-policy Town Halls, and a wide variety of scientific talks, digital interactive iPosters, and iPoster-Plus presentations combining talks and iPosters.

New for AAS 237, we will use Slack to facilitate and encourage more personal interactions during the virtual conference. Every session and virtual Exhibit Hall booth will have its own Slack channel. Meeting hashtag: #aas237.

The AAS offers complimentary press registration to bona fide working journalists and public-information officers (PIOs), as explained below.

Enter the virtual meeting here (you must register first so that you can log in; see below):

Enter the Virtual AAS Meeting

Once you log in via the "Attendee Login" button, look for the "Press Room" sign — that's how you enter the press conferences.

AAS 237 Meeting Links

Press Registration

To request complimentary press registration, first check our eligibility criteria, then send an email message to AAS Press Officer Dr. Rick Fienberg with your name and media affiliation (or “freelance” if applicable). Upon confirming your eligibility, he’ll email you a special promotional code that you can use to register the same way regular attendees do, i.e., via the AAS 237 registration page. This is a change from how we used to handle press registration, so please follow these instructions carefully.

Once you’ve received your promo code, go to the AAS 237 registration page and click the “Register for AAS 237” button. This will take you to our “members only” website, where you can sign in if you already have AAS credentials, which is likely if you’ve attended a recent AAS or Division meeting, even if you’re not a member of the Society. If you’re not sure, or if you’ve forgotten your AAS credentials, click the “Forgot username?” or “Forgot password?” link and follow the instructions that pop up, or email [email protected] for assistance. Otherwise you can create a new account (again, you don’t have to be a member of the AAS to do so).

After you sign in, click the “Register Myself” button. You will see several options at different prices. Click the radio button labeled “Press Registration,” shown with a $473 fee. Don’t panic! Your promo code will reduce the fee to $0 during checkout. After answering a few questions to confirm that you understand and agree to our meeting policies, click “Save Responses.”

Next, click the “Proceed to Checkout” button. You’ll see “AAS 237 Virtual Meeting” listed with a charge that includes the $473 registration fee. Enter your promo code in the “Promotional Code” box and click the “Apply” button; you should now see the $473 registration fee wiped out. Click the “Submit Order” button to complete your registration; the next screen will confirm your registration.

If you encounter any problems during the registration process, email [email protected] and/or AAS Press Officer Rick Fienberg. Please register by Wednesday, 6 January 2021. If you wait till the science sessions are under way, we may not be able to process your registration in time for you to attend that day’s events.

USRA LogoTo see who's registered as press so far, visit our AAS 237 Press Registrants page.

A very special “Thank you!” goes out to the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) for generously sponsoring the AAS 237 virtual press office!

Press Conferences

News briefings will be held twice each day Monday, 11 January, through Friday, 15 January, via Zoom. Although they are designed for press registrants, they are open to all meeting registrants. They'll be live-streamed to the public on the AAS Press Office YouTube channel, but viewers watching on YouTube will not be able to ask questions. Note that the briefings occur in parallel with scientific oral sessions, digital interactive iPoster sessions, and iPoster-Plus presentations (short talks illustrated with iPosters). Recordings of the press conferences will be archived on the AAS Press Office YouTube channel afterward.

Following is the press conference program, which remains subject to change. Briefings are scheduled as follows (all times are EST = GMT/UTC – 5 hours):

In [square brackets] under the speakers' names are the abstract numbers on which their presentations are based, where applicable. Abstracts are available in the online program planner.

All findings are embargoed until the time of presentation at the meeting. "Time of presentation" means the start time of the scientific session in which the paper will be given, or the start time of the corresponding press conference (if any), whichever comes first. See the complete AAS embargo policy for more information.

Note: All new discoveries are subject to confirmation by independent teams of scientists. Inclusion here does not imply endorsement by the American Astronomical Society. The AAS does not endorse individual scientific results.

Within 24 hours after each briefing, we add a link to the archived video on the AAS Press Office YouTube channel. We also link presentation titles to the speakers' presentation files (PDFs) when provided. These files are for personal use only. If you wish to publish or otherwise reproduce any of the content in these files, you must obtain permission from the presenters — otherwise you may be in violation of copyright law. If you need help contacting a presenter, email AAS Press Officer Rick Fienberg.

Monday, 11 January 2021, 12:15 pm EST
News from the Dark Side (Briefing Video)

Globular Clusters as Tracers of the Dark Matter Content in Dwarf Galaxies
Jessica Doppel (University of California, Riverside)

Measurements of Pulsar Acceleration Reveal Milky Way’s Dark Side
Sukanya Chakrabarti (Institute for Advanced Study & Rochester Institute of Technology)
[149.06] | Press Release

Searching for the Gravitational-Wave Background in 12½ Years of NANOGrav Data
Joseph Simon (University of Colorado, Boulder)
[335.14] | CU-Boulder Press Release | JPL Press Release | Cornell Press Release

Interpretations of the Fermi-LAT Galactic Center Gamma-Ray Excess
Mattia di Mauro (National Institute for Nuclear Physics, Torino, Italy)

Monday, 11 January 2021, 4:30 pm EST
Exoplanets & Brown Dwarfs (Briefing Video)

At Last! Confirmation of Kepler's Second Planetary Candidate
David Ciardi (California Institute of Technology)
[239.02] | Press Release

First Results of the Giant Outer Transiting Exoplanet Mass (GOT 'EM) Survey
Paul Dalba (University of California, Riverside)
[239.06] | Press Release

A Rocky Planet and Its Siblings from the Dawn of the Milky Way Galaxy
Lauren Weiss (University of Hawaii, Manoa)
[302.10] | UH IfA Press Release | UC Riverside Press Release

Planet Atmospheres Are Stripped Over Billions of Years
Travis Berger (University of Hawaii, Manoa)
[317.03] | Press Release

Tuesday, 12 January 2021, 12:15 pm EST
Galaxies & Quasars I (Briefing Video)

A Periodic Nuclear Transient in an Active Galaxy
Anna Payne (University of Hawaii, Manoa)
[138.07] | UH IfA Press Release | NASA Press Release | Carnegie Press Release

Discovery of the Brightest Galaxy in the Redshift > 5 Universe
Gourav Khullar (University of Chicago)
[240.06] | Press Release

A Heavily Obscured Quasar in the Early Universe
Bradford Snios (Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian)

The Most Distant Quasar in the Universe
Feige Wang (University of Arizona)
[238.01] UA Press Release | NOIRLab Press Release | Keck Press Release

Tuesday, 12 January 2021, 4:30 pm EST
Sloan: The Energizer Bunny of Sky Surveys (Briefing Video)

Extragalactic Symbiotic Stars in the APOGEE Survey
Hannah Lewis (University of Virginia) & Jasmin Washington (University of Arizona)
[115.05] | SDSS Press Release

Identifying New Members of the Jhelum Stellar Stream
Allyson Sheffield (LaGuardia Community College)
[154.10] | SDSS Press Release

Galaxy Zoo 3D: Crowdsourcing the Identification of Features in Nearby Galaxies
Karen Masters (Haverford College)
[351.08] | SDSS Press Release

A Handoff from SDSS IV to SDSS V
Michael Blanton (New York University) & Juna Kollmeier (Carnegie Observatories)

Wednesday, 13 January 2021, 12:15 pm EST
Bursting Magnetars (Briefing Video)

A Masquerading Magnetar in the Sculptor Galaxy
Kevin Hurley (University of California, Berkeley)
[340.06] | Press Release

GRB 200415A: Gamma-Ray Burst or Magnetar Giant Flare?
Oliver Roberts (Universities Space Research Association)
[233.02] | Press Release

High-Energy Emission from a Magnetar Giant Flare
Nicola Omodei (Stanford University)
[517.03] | NASA Press Release

Extragalactic Magnetar Giant Flares Are a Source of Gamma-Ray Bursts
Eric Burns (Louisiana State University)
[233.03] | Rice University Press Release

Independent Commentary
Victoria Kaspi (McGill University)

Wednesday, 13 January 2021, 4:30 pm EST
Dizzy with Data for DESI (Briefing Video)

DESI Legacy Imaging Surveys Data Release 9
David Schlegel (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
[235.03] | LBNL Press Release | NOIRLab Press Release

Discovering New Strong Gravitational Lenses in the DESI Legacy Imaging Surveys
Xiaosheng Huang (University of San Francisco)
[125.04] | LBNL Press Release | NOIRLab Press Release

Citizen Scientists Discover Extremely Cold Brown Dwarfs
Aaron Meisner (NSF's NOIRLab)
[314.06] | NASA Press Release | NOIRLab Press Release

Improved Methods to Identify Active Galactic Nuclei
Stephanie Juneau (NSF's NOIRLab)

Thursday, 14 January 2021, 12:15 pm EST
Galaxies & Quasars II (Briefing Video)

Three's a Crowd: Triple Galaxy Collisions & Their Impact on Black Hole Accretion
Adi Foord (Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Stanford University)
[106.02] | Chandra Press Release

The Deep Images of Mergers (DIM) Project
Duilia de Mello (Catholic University of America)
[342.25] | Press Release

Magnetic Highway: Channeling the M82 Super Wind
Jordan Guerra Aguilera (Villanova University)
[228.05] | USRA Press Release

Magnetic Chaos Hidden in the Whirlpool Galaxy
Alejandro Borlaff (NASA Ames Research Center & Universities Space Research Association)
[430.01] | USRA Press Release

Thursday, 14 January 2021, 4:30 pm EST
Evolving Stars & Nebulae I (Briefing Video)

The Rise and Fall of a Remarkable Eclipsing Binary Star
James Davenport (University of Washington)
[133.06] | Press Release

Hundreds of Thousands of Eclipsing Binaries Discovered Through Machine Learning
Ethan Kruse (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

Unbinding the Stellar Envelope in Grazing Envelope Evolution
Sagiv Shiber (Louisiana State University)
[533.09] | Press Release

Exploring the Supernova-Supernova Remnant Connection
Daniel Patnaude (Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian)

The Center of Expansion and Age of an Oxygen-Rich Supernova Remnant
John Banovetz & Danny Milisavljevic (Purdue University)
[551.20] | STScI Press Release

Friday, 15 January 2021, 12:15 pm EST
The Modern Milky Way (Briefing Video)

Extreme-Contrast-Ratio Imaging of Sirius with a Charge-Injection Device
Sailee Sawant (Florida Institute of Technology)
[241.03] | Press Release

Galactic Warp Through the Lenses of Gaia Data Release 2 and the APOGEE Survey
Xinlun Cheng & Borja Anguiano (University of Virginia)
[210.05] | SDSS Press Release

Theia 456: A New Stellar Association in the Galactic Disk?
Jeffrey Andrews (Northwestern University)
[407.05] | Press Release

Milky Way’s Defensive Halo Blocks Incoming Gas Cloud
Kat Barger (Texas Christian University)
[527.09] | GBO Press Release

Friday, 15 January 2021, 4:30 pm EST
Evolving Stars & Nebulae II (Briefing Video)

Scientists Explain a Jet Pointing the Wrong Way
Daniel Q. Wang (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
[436.01] | Press Release

New Looks at Old Friends: Hubble Space Telescope and Radio Imaging of Two Quintessential Planetary Nebulae

The Butterfly (NGC 6302)
Joel Kastner (Rochester Institute of Technology)
[507.01] | Press Release

The Jewel Bug (NGC 7027) | PMB Slides | JB Slides
Paula Moraga Baez (Rochester Institute of Technology) & Jesse Bublitz (Green Bank Observatory)
[507.02, 507.03] | Press Release

Press conference attendees may interact with each other before, during, and/or after the briefings via the dedicated AAS 237 Slack channel (000_aas_press_conferences), but questions during the briefings should be submitted to the presenters via the Zoom Q&A box in real time.

Plenary Lectures, Special Sessions & Town Halls

A highlight of every AAS meeting are the daily invited talks by recent prizewinners and other distinguished astronomers. AAS 237 will feature no fewer than 15 such lectures, kicking off on Monday morning with the Fred Kavli Plenary Lecture and wrapping up on Friday afternoon with the Lancelot M. Berkeley Prize lecture.

Among the many sessions of short talks and iPoster presentations are numerous Special Sessions on topics of keen interest to the astronomical community. AAS 237 will also feature a wide assortment of Town Halls where you can hear from, and ask questions of, representatives from NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and several key ground- and space-based observatories.

One Special Session (no. 422) may be of particular interest to press registrants who have been reporting on the challenges to ground-based observations posed by large swarms of communication satellites in low Earth orbits: "Astronomy and Satellite Constellations" on Thursday, 14 January, from 4:10 to 5:40 pm EST. Speakers will include both astronomers and representatives from companies launching (or planning to launch) satellite constellations. Note that this session conflicts with a press conference but that both the session and the briefing will be recorded for subsequent viewing by all meeting registrants.

See our 1st media advisory for more information about plenary lectures, Special Sessions, and Town Halls.

Every day's program concludes with a social hour, networking opportunity, and/or contest. Wednesday features our always-popular Open Mic Night, where you can enjoy watching astronomers show off their talents as musicians, singers, storytellers, comedians, magicians, poets, jugglers, and more.

AAS 237: Your inside look at the latest discoveries in astronomy. We hope to see you there (wherever you happen to be)!

Join the AAS Press List

If you don't already receive press releases by email from the AAS Press Office, you should sign up now to guarantee that you receive future meeting advisories as well as other important announcements. To sign up at no charge, please fill out and submit the form you'll find linked from our Join the AAS Press List page. With few exceptions, only accredited journalists and PIOs are eligible to receive press releases from the AAS, as described on our press-credentials page.