Michael E. Brown

Michael E. Brown

Overview
} || November 3, 2002
|-
| align="left" | (90377) Sedna  || November 14, 2003
|-
| align="left" | (90482) Orcus  || February 17, 2004
|-
| align="left" | || May 17, 2002
|-
| align="left" | || July 26, 2003
|-
| align="left" | 120347 Salacia  || September 22, 2004
|-
| align="left" | || October 3, 2004
|-
| align="left" | || December 18, 2001
|-
| align="left" | || December 20, 2001
|-
| align="left" | (136108) Haumea  || December 28, 2004
|-
| align="left" | (136472) Makemake  || March 31, 2005
|-
| align="left" | (136199) Eris
Eris (dwarf planet)
Eris, formal designation 136199 Eris, is the most massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the ninth most massive body known to orbit the Sun directly...

  || January 8, 2005
|-
| align="left" | (136199) Eris I Dysnomia
Dysnomia (moon)
- References :...

  || September 10, 2005
|-
| align="left" | || July 17, 2007
|-
! colspan="2" style="white-space: nowrap" | Other objects discovered
|-
| align="left" | (87) Sylvia I Romulus
Romulus (moon)
Romulus is the outer and larger moon of the main-belt asteroid 87 Sylvia, not to be confused with the directly Sun-orbiting asteroid 10386 Romulus. It follows an almost-circular close-to-equatorial orbit around the parent asteroid. In this respect it is similar to the other moon Remus.Romulus was...

|| February 18, 2001
|-
| colspan="2" align="left" style="font-size: smaller" |
with Chad Trujillo
Chad Trujillo
Chadwick A. "Chad" Trujillo is an astronomer and the co-discoverer of the dwarf planet Eris.Trujillo works with computer software and has examined the orbits of the numerous trans-Neptunian objects , which is the outer area of the solar system that he specialized in. In late August 2005, it was...

with David L. Rabinowitz
David L. Rabinowitz
David Lincoln Rabinowitz is a researcher at Yale University. He has built CCD cameras and software for the detection of near-Earth asteroids and Kuiper Belt Objects, and his research has helped reduce the assumed number of near-Earth asteroids by half, from 1,000-2,000 to 500-1,000 He has also...

with Henry G.
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I may go down in history as the guy who killed Pluto.

Encyclopedia
Michael E. Brown
Trans-Neptunian objects discovered: 14
} > June 4, 2002 } || November 3, 2002
|-
| align="left" | (90377) Sedna  || November 14, 2003
|-
| align="left" | (90482) Orcus  || February 17, 2004
|-
| align="left" | || May 17, 2002
|-
| align="left" | || July 26, 2003
|-
| align="left" | 120347 Salacia  || September 22, 2004
|-
| align="left" | || October 3, 2004
|-
| align="left" | || December 18, 2001
|-
| align="left" | || December 20, 2001
|-
| align="left" | (136108) Haumea  || December 28, 2004
|-
| align="left" | (136472) Makemake  || March 31, 2005
|-
| align="left" | (136199) Eris
Eris (dwarf planet)
Eris, formal designation 136199 Eris, is the most massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the ninth most massive body known to orbit the Sun directly...

  || January 8, 2005
|-
| align="left" | (136199) Eris I Dysnomia
Dysnomia (moon)
- References :...

  || September 10, 2005
|-
| align="left" | || July 17, 2007
|-
! colspan="2" style="white-space: nowrap" | Other objects discovered
|-
| align="left" | (87) Sylvia I Romulus
Romulus (moon)
Romulus is the outer and larger moon of the main-belt asteroid 87 Sylvia, not to be confused with the directly Sun-orbiting asteroid 10386 Romulus. It follows an almost-circular close-to-equatorial orbit around the parent asteroid. In this respect it is similar to the other moon Remus.Romulus was...

|| February 18, 2001
|-
| colspan="2" align="left" style="font-size: smaller" |
with Chad Trujillo
Chad Trujillo
Chadwick A. "Chad" Trujillo is an astronomer and the co-discoverer of the dwarf planet Eris.Trujillo works with computer software and has examined the orbits of the numerous trans-Neptunian objects , which is the outer area of the solar system that he specialized in. In late August 2005, it was...

with David L. Rabinowitz
David L. Rabinowitz
David Lincoln Rabinowitz is a researcher at Yale University. He has built CCD cameras and software for the detection of near-Earth asteroids and Kuiper Belt Objects, and his research has helped reduce the assumed number of near-Earth asteroids by half, from 1,000-2,000 to 500-1,000 He has also...

with Henry G. Roe
with Kristina M. Barkume
with Glenn Smith
sole credit went to José Luis Ortiz Moreno
José Luis Ortiz Moreno
José Luis Ortiz Moreno is an astronomer, and former Vicedirector of Technology at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía , Spain. He leads a team working on minor solar system objects at the Sierra Nevada Observatory in Granada, Spain....

 et al.
with M. A. van Dam, A. H. Bouchez, D. Le Mignant
with Jean-Luc Margot
Jean-Luc Margot
Jean-Luc Margot is a Belgian-born astronomer and a Professor at UCLA. He specializes in planetary sciences. He was awarded the H. C. Urey Prize by the American Astronomical Society in 2004....


|}
|}

Michael E. Brown (born June 5, 1965) has been a professor of planetary astronomy at the California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

 (Caltech) since 2003.
His team has discovered many trans-Neptunian object
Trans-Neptunian object
A trans-Neptunian object is any minor planet in the Solar System that orbits the Sun at a greater distance on average than Neptune.The first trans-Neptunian object to be discovered was Pluto in 1930...

s (TNOs), notably the dwarf planet
Dwarf planet
A dwarf planet, as defined by the International Astronomical Union , is a celestial body orbiting the Sun that is massive enough to be spherical as a result of its own gravity but has not cleared its neighboring region of planetesimals and is not a satellite...

 Eris
Eris (dwarf planet)
Eris, formal designation 136199 Eris, is the most massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the ninth most massive body known to orbit the Sun directly...

, the only known TNO more massive than Pluto
Pluto
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

. He has humorously referred to himself as the man who killed Pluto, because he furthered Pluto being downgraded to a dwarf planet in the aftermath of the discovery of Eris and several other trans-Neptunian dwarf-planet candidates. He is also the author of How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming
How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming
How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming is the title of the memoir by Mike Brown, the Caltech astronomer most responsible for the eventual demotion of the planet Pluto from its status of a planet to that of a dwarf object. - Summary :...

, published in 2010.

Youth and education


Brown is a Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the central part of the far northern region of the U.S. state of Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 Census....

 native and graduated from Virgil I. Grissom High School in 1983. He earned his A.B.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 in physics from Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 in 1987, where he was a member of the Princeton Tower Club
Princeton Tower Club
Princeton Tower Club is one of the ten eating clubs at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, United States, and one of five clubs to choose its members through a selective process called bicker...

. He did his graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

 where he earned an M.Sc.
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

 in astronomy in 1990 and a Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 in astronomy in 1994.

Discoveries


Brown is well known in the scientific community for his surveys for distant objects orbiting the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

. His team has discovered many trans-Neptunian object
Trans-Neptunian object
A trans-Neptunian object is any minor planet in the Solar System that orbits the Sun at a greater distance on average than Neptune.The first trans-Neptunian object to be discovered was Pluto in 1930...

s (TNOs). Particularly notable are Eris, the only TNO discovered that may be more massive than Pluto
Pluto
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

, and is one of a number of dwarf planets in the Solar System
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

; 90377 Sedna
90377 Sedna
90377 Sedna is a trans-Neptunian object discovered in 2003, which was about three times as far from the Sun as Neptune. For most of its orbit it is even further from the Sun, with its aphelion estimated at 960 astronomical units , making it one of the most distant known objects in the Solar System...

, a planetoid thought to be the first observed body belonging to the inner Öpik–Oort cloud
Oort cloud
The Oort cloud , or the Öpik–Oort cloud , is a hypothesized spherical cloud of comets which may lie roughly 50,000 AU, or nearly a light-year, from the Sun. This places the cloud at nearly a quarter of the distance to Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun...

; and 90482 Orcus
90482 Orcus
90482 Orcus is a trans-Neptunian object in the Kuiper belt with a large moon. It was discovered on February 17, 2004 by Michael Brown of Caltech, Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory, and David Rabinowitz of Yale University. Precovery images as early as November 8, 1951 were later identified...

.

Brown's team famously named Eris
Eris (dwarf planet)
Eris, formal designation 136199 Eris, is the most massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the ninth most massive body known to orbit the Sun directly...

 and its moon Dysnomia
Dysnomia (moon)
- References :...

 with the informal names Xena
Xena
Xena is a fictional character from Robert Tapert's Xena: Warrior Princess franchise. She first appeared in the 1995–1999 television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, before going on to appear in Xena: Warrior Princess TV show and subsequent comic book of the same name...

 and Gabrielle, respectively, after the two main characters of Xena: Warrior Princess
Xena: Warrior Princess
Xena: Warrior Princess is an American–New Zealand supernatural fantasy adventure series that aired in syndication from September 4, 1995 until June 18, 2001....

.

Haumea controversy



Brown and his team also had been observing the dwarf planet for approximately six months before its announced discovery by José Luis Ortiz Moreno
José Luis Ortiz Moreno
José Luis Ortiz Moreno is an astronomer, and former Vicedirector of Technology at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía , Spain. He leads a team working on minor solar system objects at the Sierra Nevada Observatory in Granada, Spain....

 and colleagues from the Sierra Nevada Observatory
Sierra Nevada Observatory
The Observatorio de Sierra Nevada is located at Loma de Dilar in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, in the province of Granada, established in 1981...

 in Spain. Brown originally indicated his support for Ortiz's team being given credit for the discovery of Haumea. However, further investigation showed that a website containing archives of where Brown's team's telescopes had been pointed while tracking Haumea had been accessed eight times in the three days preceding Ortiz's announcement, by computers with IP address
IP address
An Internet Protocol address is a numerical label assigned to each device participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. An IP address serves two principal functions: host or network interface identification and location addressing...

es that were traced back to the website of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía
Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía
The Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía is an astrophysics-related research institute funded by the High Council of Scientific Research of the Spanish government Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas , and is located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain...

 (CSIC
CSIC
The Spanish National Research Council is the largest public institution dedicated to research in Spain and the third largest in Europe...

, Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia), where Ortiz works, and to e-mail messages sent by Ortiz and his student. These website accesses came a week after Brown had published an abstract for an upcoming conference talk at which he had planned to announce the discovery of Haumea; the abstract referred to Haumea by a code that was the same code used in the online telescope logs; and the Andalusia computers had accessed the logs containing that code directly, as would be the case after an internet search, without going through the home page or other pages of the archives. When asked about this online activity, Ortiz responded with an email to Brown that suggested Brown was at fault for "hiding objects", and said that "the only reason why we are now exchanging e-mail is because you did not report your object." Brown says that this statement by Ortiz contradicts the accepted scientific practice of analyzing one's research until one is satisfied that it is accurate, then submitting it to peer review
Peer review
Peer review is a process of self-regulation by a profession or a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility...

 prior to any public announcement. However, the Minor Planet Center
Minor Planet Center
The Minor Planet Center operates at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory , which is part of the Center for Astrophysics along with the Harvard College Observatory ....

 only needs precise enough orbit determination on the object in order to provide discovery credit, which Ortiz provided.

The then director of the IAA, José Carlos del Toro, distanced himself from Ortiz, insisting that its researchers have "sole responsibility" for themselves. Brown petitioned the International Astronomical Union
International Astronomical Union
The International Astronomical Union IAU is a collection of professional astronomers, at the Ph.D. level and beyond, active in professional research and education in astronomy...

 to credit his team rather than Ortiz as the discoverers of Haumea. The IAU has deliberately not acknowledged a discoverer of Haumea. The discovery date and location are listed as March 7, 2003 at Ortiz's Sierra Nevada Observatory. However, the IAU accepted Brown's suggested name of Haumea, which fit the names of Haumea's two moons, rather than Ortiz's Ataecina.

Honors, awards and accolades


Brown was named one of Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

's 100 most influential people
Time 100
Time 100 is an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, as assembled by Time. First published in 1999 as a result of a debate among several academics, the list has become an annual event.-History and format:...

 of 2006. In 2007 he received Caltech's annual Feynman Prize, Caltech's most prestigious teaching honor. Asteroid 11714 Mikebrown
11714 Mikebrown
11714 Mikebrown is a main-belt asteroid discovered by Lowell Observatory. It is named after the astronomer Mike Brown.Mikebrown is unusually eccentric and not very bright....

, discovered on 28 April 1998, was named in his honor.

Students and postdocs


Brown's former graduate students and postdocs include astrophysicists Jean-Luc Margot
Jean-Luc Margot
Jean-Luc Margot is a Belgian-born astronomer and a Professor at UCLA. He specializes in planetary sciences. He was awarded the H. C. Urey Prize by the American Astronomical Society in 2004....

, Chad Trujillo
Chad Trujillo
Chadwick A. "Chad" Trujillo is an astronomer and the co-discoverer of the dwarf planet Eris.Trujillo works with computer software and has examined the orbits of the numerous trans-Neptunian objects , which is the outer area of the solar system that he specialized in. In late August 2005, it was...

, Marc Kuchner
Marc Kuchner
Marc Kuchner is an American astrophysicist, a staff member at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Together with Wesley Traub, he invented the band-limited coronagraph, a design for the proposed Terrestrial Planet Finder telescope, also to be used on the James Webb Space Telescope...

, Emily Schaller, Darin Ragozzine, and Megan Schwamb.

Personal life


Brown married Diane Binney on March 1, 2003. They have one daughter, Lilah Binney Brown, born July 7, 2005. Brown in 2010 published a memoir of his discoveries and surrounding family life, How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming.

External links