Hot papers in astronomy and astrophysics

July 14, 2011

The table above lists the 10 most-cited recent journal articles in astronomy and astrophysics. All were published between early 2009 and early 2011. Thomson Reuters designates as "hot papers" any papers published in the past two years that rank in the top 0.1 per cent of their field by citations, as these do. Of course, older papers will have had more time to collect citations than more recent ones. Thus, of the 10 hot papers listed here, seven appeared in 2009, two in 2010 and one in 2011. That a 2011 paper turns up at all is remarkable. In a scant three months, the paper ranked seventh has already racked up 139 citations.

The top-ranked paper, with more than 400 citations, reports the seventh data release of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Simon Mitton, columnist for Thomson Reuters' Science Watch newsletter, calls the SDSS "the most ambitious optical survey of the sky in the history of astronomy" (see The SDSS uses a 2.5m telescope at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico to map the structure of the Universe and provide detailed data to explain how that structure arose. Astronomers studying many different phenomena draw profitably on these data. The SDSS, Dr Mitton notes, "has, in a decade, spawned about 2,200 papers that use its data as a primary source, and [these] have accumulated some 70,000 citations" (see Science Watch, 21(5): 6, September/October 2010,

The 2011 paper in the list summarises seven-year data from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) mission (see Lead author Eiichiro Komatsu, director of the Texas Cosmology Center at the University of Texas at Austin, has observed, regarding the earlier version of this paper that reported on five-year data, that "the observational data of temperature and polarization anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background radiation, obtained by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, still maintains its position as a prime source of information for cosmologists...Demands and appetite for better data and some observational guidance as to which directions to take next are always very high in the area of cosmology. I think that such high demands from the cosmology community are reflected in the citation counts." (See

For an analysis of top-cited papers in astronomy and astrophysics over the past decade, published between 2000 and 2009, see

For more information, see

Hot papers in astronomy and astrophysics
Data provided by Thomson Reuters from its Essential Science Indicators, 2009-11
 %3Cb%3EPaper%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EAuthor(s), journalCitations
1%3Cb%3EThe Seventh Data Release of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EK. N. Abazajian et al %3Cbr /%3E%3Ci%3EAstrophysical Journal Supplement Series%3C/i%3E, %3Cbr /%3E182 (2): 543-558, June 2009424
2%3Cb%3EThe Large Area Telescope on the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope Mission%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EW. B. Atwood et al %3Cbr /%3E%3Ci%3EAstrophysical Journal%3C/i%3E, 697 (2): 1071-1102, 1 June 20092
3%3Cb%3EThe Chemical Composition of the Sun%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EM. Asplund, N. Grevesse, A. J. Sauval and P. Scott %3Cbr /%3E%3Ci%3EAnnual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics%3C/i%3E, %3Cbr /%3E47: 481-522, 2009248
4%3Cb%3EHerschel Space Observatory: An ESA Facility for Far-Infrared and Submillimetre Astronomy%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EG. L. Pilbratt, J. R. Riedinger, T. Passvogel et al %3Cbr /%3E%3Ci%3EAstronomy & Astrophysics%3C/i%3E, 518: Article No L1, %3Cbr /%3EJuly-August 2010233
5%3Cb%3EImproved Dark Energy Constraints from -100 New CfA Supernova Type Ia Light Curves%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EM. Hicken, W. M. Wood-Vasey, S. Blondin et al %3Cbr /%3E%3Ci%3EAstrophysical Journal%3C/i%3E, 700 (2): 1097-1140, 1 August 2009182
6%3Cb%3EMonitoring Stellar Orbits around the Massive Black Hole in the Galactic Center%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3ES. Gillessen, F. Eisenhauer, S. Trippe et al %3Cbr /%3E%3Ci%3EAstrophysical Journal%3C/i%3E, 692 (2): 1075-1109, 20 February 2009152
7%3Cb%3ESeven-Year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) Observations: Cosmological Interpretation%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EE. Komatsu, K. M. Smith, J. Dunkley et al %3Cbr /%3E%3C/i%3EAstrophysical Journal Supplement Series%3C/i%3E, 192 (2): Article No 18, February 2011139
%3D8%3Cb%3EThe Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) on the Herschel Space Observatory%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EA. Poglitsch et al %3Cbr /%3E%3Ci%3EAstronomy & Astrophysics%3C/i%3E, 518: Article No L2, July-August 2010138
%3D8%3Cb%3EThe Spitzer c2d Legacy Results: Star-Formation Rates and Efficiencies: Evolution and Lifetimes%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EN. J. Evans, M. M. Dunham, J. K. Jørgensen et al %3Cbr /%3E%3Ci%3EAstrophysical Journal Supplement Series%3C/i%3E, 181 (2): 321-350, April 2009138
10%3Cb%3ETrigonometric Parallaxes of Massive Star-Forming Regions. VI. Galactic Structure, Fundamental Parameters, and Noncircular Motions%3C/b%3E %3Cbr /%3EM. J. Reid, K. M. Menten, X. W. Zheng et al %3Cbr /%3E%3Ci%3EAstrophysical Journal%3C/i%3E, 700 (1): 137-148, 20 July 2009120

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