Peer-reviewed publication · Physics · Science

First Paper

Galaxy Cluster MACS J1149+2223
Color-composite image of MACS J1149.5+2223 taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The yellow-orange blobs are each individual galaxies and are gravitationally bound to the cluster’s invisible and expansive dark matter halo.


My first paper was published yesterday by the Astrophysical Journal.

Here are a few things that I learned during the process of researching, doing the dirty work, writing, editing, submitting, waiting, etc.

  1. Successfully publishing a paper is 90% dirty work.
  2. When all of the research is done, there is still at least half of the work to be done.
  3. Pride peaks around the halfway point.
  4. Annoyance is an increasing function.
  5. The final published product may have more uncertainty than the first version.
  6. The anonymous peer-revision process, however flawed it may be, is still very useful.
  7. Co-authors are your friends.
  8. My second paper is almost ready to submit, therefore it’ll be a while.


This paper presents an analysis of a merging galaxy cluster, MACS J1149.5+2223, which is among the most examined galaxy clusters in the universe. I compiled archival data — those taken and made public by other astronomers — and completed novel analyses. Utilizing red, green, and blue images of the cluster and optical spectroscopy of specifically targeted galaxies, I characterized the substructure or clumping of the galaxies in the cluster and analyzed the dynamics between the distinct components. Finally, I studied the literature in order to frame the results in light of the substantial amount of information regarding this cluster already published and to develop a full understanding of the merger.

Fun facts:

This is one of the most massive objects in the universe — more than 2000 trillion times the mass of the sun.

This object is 300 billion times further away than the sun.

This object is five million times greater in diameter than the solar system.

This collision started over one billion years ago, and it will take several more billion years before the two main components are settled into a single, more massive cluster.

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