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The Flux Lords

Submitter: Jan Noordam
Description: The radio astronomical flux scale has a long and distinguished history of unpublished data. The last major publication on this subject is Baars et al (1977), probably the most cited article in this particular field of scientific endeavour.

Of course this does not mean that nothing has been happening on this important subject in the last few decades. The picture shows a chance meeting of "Mr WSRT" and "Mr VLA", the guardians of probably the two most consistent sets of flux data in existence. Standing among piles of other hidden treasures, they are studying a hand-sketched graph of roughly pencilled curves, drawn as smoothly as possible through calibrator measurements taken over many years.

The two Flux Lords were rather gratified to note that their respective sets of curves were more similar than they had dared to hope. They parted with firm plans to compare them more closely, and to try and explain away the remaining differences. They also vowed to collaborate in extending the curves towards the low frequencies (using LOFAR) and the high (using the EVLA).

Note, by the way, that, despite a slight difference in scale, the Flux Lords themselves look remarkably similar in many ways.

Who knows, one day, all this global collaboration might lead to a new publication, which will rule as long as the last one, and be cited even more. After all, that is how scientific output is measured by the People's funding agencies.
Copyright: ASTRON/NRAO
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