Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory

Saint Bonaventure, NY, United States

Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory

Saint Bonaventure, NY, United States
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Degenaar N.,University of Cambridge | Degenaar N.,University of Amsterdam | Pinto C.,University of Cambridge | Miller J.M.,University of Michigan | And 6 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2017

Due to observational challenges, our knowledge of low-level accretion flows around neutron stars is limited. We present NuSTAR, Swift and Chandra observations of the low-mass X-ray binary IGR J17062-6143, which has been persistently accreting at ≃0.1 per cent of the Eddington limit since 2006. Our simultaneous NuSTAR/Swift observations show that the 0.5-79 keV spectrum can be described by a combination of a power law with a photon index of Γ ≃ 2, a blackbody with a temperature of kTbb ≃ 0.5 keV (presumably arising from the neutron star surface) and disc reflection. Modelling the reflection spectrum suggests that the inner accretion disc was located at Rin ≳ 100GM/c2 (≳225 km) from the neutron star. The apparent truncation may be due to evaporation of the inner disc into a radiatively-inefficient accretion flow, or due to the pressure of the neutron star magnetic field. Our Chandra gratings data reveal possible narrow emission lines near 1 keV that can be modelled as reflection or collisionally ionized gas, and possible low-energy absorption features that could point to the presence of an outflow. We consider a scenario in which this neutron star has been able to sustain its low accretion rate through magnetic inhibition of the accretion flow, which gives some constraints on its magnetic field strength and spin period. In this configuration, IGR J17062-6143 could exhibit a strong radio jet as well as a (propeller-driven) wind-like outflow. © 2016 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.


Kallivayalil N.,Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics | Kallivayalil N.,University of Virginia | Van Der Marel R.P.,US Space Telescope Science Institute | Besla G.,Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory | And 2 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2013

We present proper motions for the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC) based on three epochs of Hubble Space Telescope data, spanning a ∼7 yr baseline, and centered on fields with background QSOs. The first two epochs, the subject of past analyses, were obtained with ACS/HRC, and have been reanalyzed here. The new third epoch with WFC3/UVIS increases the time baseline and provides better control of systematics. The three-epoch data yield proper-motion random errors of only 1%-2% per field. For the LMC this is sufficient to constrain the internal proper-motion dynamics, as will be discussed in a separate paper. Here we focus on the implied center-of-mass proper motions: μW, LMC = -1.910 ± 0.020 mas yr -1, μN, LMC = 0.229 ± 0.047 mas yr-1, and μW, SMC = -0.772 ± 0.063 mas yr-1, μN, SMC = -1.117 ± 0.061 mas yr-1. We combine the results with a revised understanding of the solar motion in the Milky Way to derive Galactocentric velocities: vtot, LMC = 321 ± 24 km s-1 and vtot, SMC = 217 ± 26 km s-1. Our proper-motion uncertainties are now dominated by limitations in our understanding of the internal kinematics and geometry of the Clouds, and our velocity uncertainties are dominated by distance errors. Orbit calculations for the Clouds around the Milky Way allow a range of orbital periods, depending on the uncertain masses of the Milky Way and LMC. Periods ≲ 4 Gyr are ruled out, which poses a challenge for traditional Magellanic Stream models. First-infall orbits are preferred (as supported by other arguments as well) if one imposes the requirement that the LMC and SMC must have been a bound pair for at least several Gyr. © 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


Metzger B.D.,Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory | Bauswein A.,Aristotle University of Thessaloniki | Goriely S.,Free University of Colombia | Kasen D.,Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Kasen D.,University of California at Berkeley
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2014

The merger of binary neutron stars (NSs) ejects a small quantity of neutron-rich matter, the radioactive decay of which powers a day to week long thermal transient known as a kilonova. Most of the ejecta remains sufficiently dense during its expansion that all neutrons are captured into nuclei during the r-process. However, recent general relativistic merger simulations by Bauswein and collaborators show that a small fraction of the ejected mass (a few per cent, or ~10-4 M⊙) expands sufficiently rapidly for most neutrons to avoid capture. This matter originates from the shocked-heated interface between the merging NSs. Here, we show that the β-decay of these free neutrons in the outermost ejecta powers a 'precursor' to the main kilonova emission, which peaks on a time-scale of ~ few hours following merger at U-band magnitude ~22 (for an assumed distance of 200 Mpc). The high luminosity and blue colours of the neutron precursor render it a potentially important counterpart to the gravitational wave source, that may encode valuable information on the properties of the merging binary (e.g. NS-NS versus NS-black hole) and the NS equation of state. Future work is necessary to assess the robustness of the fast-moving ejecta and the survival of free neutrons in the face of neutrino absorptions, although the precursor properties are robust to a moderate amount of leptonization. Our results provide additional motivation for short latency gravitational wave triggers and rapid follow-up searches with sensitive ground-based telescopes. © 2014 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.


Komatsu E.,University of Texas at Austin | Smith K.M.,Princeton University | Dunkley J.,University of Oxford | Bennett C.L.,Johns Hopkins University | And 17 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal, Supplement Series | Year: 2011

The combination of seven-year data from WMAP and improved astrophysical data rigorously tests the standard cosmological model and places new constraints on its basic parameters and extensions. By combining the WMAP data with the latest distance measurements from the baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO) in the distribution of galaxies and the Hubble constant (H0) measurement, we determine the parameters of the simplest six-parameter ACDM model. The power-law index of the primordial power spectrum is ns = 0.968 ± 0.012 (68% CL) for this data combination, a measurement that excludes the Harrison-Zel'dovich- Peebles spectrum by 99.5% CL. The other parameters, including those beyond the minimal set, are also consistent with, and improved from, the five-year results. We find no convincing deviations from the minimal model. The seven-year temperature power spectrum gives a better determination of the third acoustic peak, which results in a better determination of the redshift of the matter-radiation equality epoch. Notable examples of improved parameters are the total mass of neutrinos, Σmν < 0.58 eV (95% CL), and the effective number of neutrino species, Neff = 4.34 +0.86 -0.88 (68% CL), which benefit from better determinations of the third peak and H0. The limit on a constant dark energy equation of state parameter from WMAP+BAO+H0, without high-redshift Type Ia supernovae, is ω = -1.10 ± 0.14 (68% CL). We detect the effect of primordial helium on the temperature power spectrum and provide a new test of big bang nucleosynthesis by measuring Yp = 0.326 ±0.075 (68% CL). We detect, and show on the map for the first time, the tangential and radial polarization patterns around hot and cold spots of temperature fluctuations, an important test of physical processes at z = 1090 and the dominance of adiabatic scalar fluctuations. The seven-year polarization data have significantly improved: we now detect the temperature-E-mode polarization cross power spectrum at 21σ, compared with 13σ from the five-year data. With the seven-year temperature-B-mode cross power spectrum, the limit on a rotation of the polarization plane due to potential parity-violating effects has improved by 38% to Δα = - 1°.1 ± 1°.4(statistical) ± 1°.5(systematic) (68% CL). We report significant detections of the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (SZ) effect at the locations of known clusters of galaxies. The measured SZ signal agrees well with the expected signal from the X-ray data on a cluster-by-cluster basis. However, it is a factor of 0.5-0.7 times the predictions from "universal profile" of Arnaud et al, analytical models, and hydrodynamical simulations. We find, for the first time in the SZ effect, a significant difference between the cooling-flow and non-cooling-flow clusters (or relaxed and non-relaxed clusters), which can explain some of the discrepancy. This lower amplitude is consistent with the lower-than-theoretically expected SZ power spectrum recently measured by the South Pole Telescope Collaboration. © 2011. The American Astronomical Society.


Larson D.,Johns Hopkins University | Dunkley J.,University of Oxford | Hinshaw G.,NASA | Komatsu E.,University of Texas at Austin | And 17 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal, Supplement Series | Year: 2011

The WMAP mission has produced sky maps from seven years of observations at L2. We present the angular power spectra derived from the seven-year maps and discuss the cosmological conclusions that can be inferred from WMAP data alone. With the seven-year data, the temperature (TT) spectrum measurement has a signal-to-noise ratio per multipole that exceeds unity for l < 919; and in band powers of width Δl = 10, the signal-to-noise ratio exceeds unity up to l = 1060. The third acoustic peak in the TT spectrum is now well measured by WMAP. In the context of a flat ACDM model, this improvement allows us to place tighter constraints on the matter density from WMAP data alone, Ωmh2 = 0.1334+0.0056 -0.0055, and on the epoch of matter-radiation equality, zeq = 3196 +134 -133. The temperature-polarization (TE) spectrum is detected in the seven-year data with a significance of 20σ, compared to 13s with the five-year data. We now detect the second dip in the TE spectrum near l ∼ 450 with high confidence. The TB and EB spectra remain consistent with zero, thus demonstrating low systematic errors and foreground residuals in the data. The low-lEE spectrum, a measure of the optical depth due to reionization, is detected at 5.5σ significance when averaged over l = 2-7: l(l+1)Cl EE/(2π) = 0.074+0.034 -0.025μK2 (68% CL). We now detect the high-l, 24 ≤ l ≤ 800, EE spectrum at over 8σ. The BB spectrum, an important probe of gravitational waves from inflation, remains consistent with zero; when averaged over l = 2-7, l(l + 1)Cl BB/(2π) < 0.055 μK 2 (95% CL). The upper limit on tensor modes from polarization data alone is a factor of two lower with the seven-year data than it was using the five-year data. The data remain consistent with the simple ACDM model: the best-fit TT spectrum has an effective χ2 of 1227 for 1170 degrees of freedom, with a probability to exceed of 9.6%. The allowable volume in the six-dimensional space of ACDM parameters has been reduced by a factor of 1.5 relative to the five-year volume, while the ACDM model that allows for tensor modes and a running scalar spectral index has a factor of three lower volume when fit to the seven-year data. We test the parameter recovery process for bias and find that the scalar spectral index, ns, is biased high, but only by 0.09σ, while the remaining parameters are biased by <0.15σ. The improvement in the third peak measurement leads to tighter lower limits from WMAP on the number of relativistic degrees of freedom (e.g., neutrinos) in the early universe: Neff > 2.7 (95% CL). Also, using WMAP data alone, the primordial helium mass fraction is found to be Y He = 0.28+0.14 -0.15, and with data from higher-resolution cosmic microwave background experiments included, we now establish the existence of pre-stellar helium at >3σ. These new WMAP measurements provide important tests of big bang cosmology. © 2011. The American Astronomical Society.


Bennett C.L.,Johns Hopkins University | Larson D.,Johns Hopkins University | Weiland J.L.,Johns Hopkins University | Jarosik N.,Princeton University | And 21 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal, Supplement Series | Year: 2013

We present the final nine-year maps and basic results from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) mission. The full nine-year analysis of the time-ordered data provides updated characterizations and calibrations of the experiment. We also provide new nine-year full sky temperature maps that were processed to reduce the asymmetry of the effective beams. Temperature and polarization sky maps are examined to separate cosmic microwave background (CMB) anisotropy from foreground emission, and both types of signals are analyzed in detail. We provide new point source catalogs as well as new diffuse and point source foreground masks. An updated template-removal process is used for cosmological analysis; new foreground fits are performed, and new foreground-reduced CMB maps are presented. We now implement an optimal C -1 weighting to compute the temperature angular power spectrum. The WMAP mission has resulted in a highly constrained ΛCDM cosmological model with precise and accurate parameters in agreement with a host of other cosmological measurements. When WMAP data are combined with finer scale CMB, baryon acoustic oscillation, and Hubble constant measurements, we find that big bang nucleosynthesis is well supported and there is no compelling evidence for a non-standard number of neutrino species (N eff = 3.84 ± 0.40). The model fit also implies that the age of the universe is t 0 = 13.772 ± 0.059 Gyr, and the fit Hubble constant is H 0 = 69.32 ± 0.80 km s-1 Mpc-1. Inflation is also supported: the fluctuations are adiabatic, with Gaussian random phases; the detection of a deviation of the scalar spectral index from unity, reported earlier by the WMAP team, now has high statistical significance (ns = 0.9608 ± 0.0080); and the universe is close to flat/Euclidean (). Overall, the WMAP mission has resulted in a reduction of the cosmological parameter volume by a factor of 68,000 for the standard six-parameter ΛCDM model, based on CMB data alone. For a model including tensors, the allowed seven-parameter volume has been reduced by a factor 117,000. Other cosmological observations are in accord with the CMB predictions, and the combined data reduces the cosmological parameter volume even further. With no significant anomalies and an adequate goodness of fit, the inflationary flat ΛCDM model and its precise and accurate parameters rooted in WMAP data stands as the standard model of cosmology. © 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved..


Hinshaw G.,University of British Columbia | Larson D.,Johns Hopkins University | Komatsu E.,Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics | Komatsu E.,University of Tokyo | And 21 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal, Supplement Series | Year: 2013

We present cosmological parameter constraints based on the final nine-year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) data, in conjunction with a number of additional cosmological data sets. The WMAP data alone, and in combination, continue to be remarkably well fit by a six-parameter ΛCDM model. When WMAP data are combined with measurements of the high-l cosmic microwave background anisotropy, the baryon acoustic oscillation scale, and the Hubble constant, the matter and energy densities, Ωb h 2, Ωc h 2, and ΩΛ, are each determined to a precision of ∼1.5%. The amplitude of the primordial spectrum is measured to within 3%, and there is now evidence for a tilt in the primordial spectrum at the 5σ level, confirming the first detection of tilt based on the five-year WMAP data. At the end of the WMAP mission, the nine-year data decrease the allowable volume of the six-dimensional ΛCDM parameter space by a factor of 68,000 relative to pre-WMAP measurements. We investigate a number of data combinations and show that their ΛCDM parameter fits are consistent. New limits on deviations from the six-parameter model are presented, for example: the fractional contribution of tensor modes is limited to r < 0.13 (95% CL); the spatial curvature parameter is limited to ; the summed mass of neutrinos is limited to ∑m ν < 0.44 eV (95% CL); and the number of relativistic species is found to lie within N eff = 3.84 ± 0.40, when the full data are analyzed. The joint constraint on N eff and the primordial helium abundance, Y He, agrees with the prediction of standard big bang nucleosynthesis. We compare recent Planck measurements of the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect with our seven-year measurements, and show their mutual agreement. Our analysis of the polarization pattern around temperature extrema is updated. This confirms a fundamental prediction of the standard cosmological model and provides a striking illustration of acoustic oscillations and adiabatic initial conditions in the early universe. © 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


Paerels F.,Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory
Space Science Reviews | Year: 2010

Over the past year, we have celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Chandra and XMM-Newton X-ray observatories. Both carry powerful, novel diffraction grating spectrometers, which have opened true X-ray spectroscopy for astrophysics. I will describe the design and operation of these instruments, as the background to some of the beautiful results they have produced. But these designs do not exhaust the versatility and essential simplicity of diffraction grating spectrometers, and I will discuss applications for the International X-ray Observatory IXO. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


Metzger B.D.,Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory | Williams P.K.G.,Harvard - Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics | Berger E.,Harvard - Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2015

The impending era of wide-field radio surveys has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of astrophysical transients. Here we evaluate the prospects of a wide range of planned and hypothetical radio surveys using the properties and volumetric rates of known and hypothetical classes of extragalactic synchrotron radio transients (e.g., on-axis and off-axis gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), supernovae, tidal disruption events, compact object mergers). Utilizing these sources and physically motivated considerations we assess the allowed phase space of radio luminosity and peak timescale for extragalactic transients. We also include for the first time effects such as redshift evolution of the rates, K-corrections, and non-Euclidean luminosity distance, which affect the detection rates of the most sensitive surveys. The number of detected events is calculated by means of a Monte Carlo method, using the various survey properties (depth, cadence, area) and realistic detection criteria that include a cut on the minimum variability of the transients during the survey and an assessment of host galaxy contamination. We find that near-term GHz frequency surveys (ASKAP/VAST, Very Large Array Sky Survey) will detect few events: ≲30-50 on- and off-axis long GRBs (LGRBs) and off-axis tidal disruption events, and ∼50-100 neutron star binary mergers if ∼0.5% of the mergers result in a stable millisecond magnetar. Low-frequency surveys (e.g., LOFAR) are unlikely to detect any transients, while a hypothetical large-scale mm survey may detect ∼40 on-axis LGRBs. On the other hand, we find that SKA1 surveys at ∼0.1-1GHz have the potential to uncover thousands of transients, mainly on-axis and off-axis LGRBs, on-axis short GRBs, off-axis TDEs, and neutron star binary mergers with magnetar remnants. © 2015. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


Metzger B.D.,Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory | Finzell T.,Michigan State University | Vurm I.,Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory | Hascoet R.,Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory | And 2 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2015

The Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) discovery that classical novae produce ≳100 MeV gamma-rays establishes that shocks and relativistic particle acceleration are key features of these events. These shocks are likely to be radiative due to the high densities of the nova ejecta at early times coincident with the gamma-ray emission. Thermal X-rays radiated behind the shock are absorbed by neutral gas and reprocessed into optical emission, similar to Type IIn (interacting) supernovae. Gamma-rays are produced by collisions between relativistic protons with the nova ejecta (hadronic scenario) or inverse Compton/bremsstrahlung emission from relativistic electrons (leptonic scenario), where in both scenarios the efficiency for converting relativistic particle energy into LAT gamma-rays is at most a few tens of per cent. The measured ratio of gamma-ray and optical luminosities, Lγ/Lopt, thus sets a lower limit on the fraction of the shock power used to accelerate relativistic particles, ε{lunate}nth. The measured value of Lγ/Lopt for two classical novae, V1324 Sco and V339 Del, constrains ε{lunate}nth ≳ 10-2 and ≳10-3, respectively. Leptonic models for the gamma-ray emission are disfavoured given the low electron acceleration efficiency, ε{lunate}nth ~ 10-4-10-3, inferred from observations of Galactic cosmic rays and particle-in-cell numerical simulations. A fraction fsh ≳ 100(ε{lunate}nth/0.01)-1 and ≳10(ε{lunate}nth/0.01)-1 per cent of the optical luminosity is powered by shocks in V1324 Sco and V339 Del, respectively. Such high fractions challenge standard models that instead attribute all nova optical emission to the direct outwards transport of thermal energy released near the white dwarf surface. We predict hard ~10-100 keV X-ray emission coincident with the LAT emission, which should be detectable by NuSTAR or ASTRO-H, even at times when softer ≲10 keV emission is absorbed by neutral gas ahead of the shocks. © 2015 The Authors.

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