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Boehle A.,University of California at Los Angeles | Schodel R.,Istituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia | Meyer L.,University of California at Los Angeles | Ghez A.M.,University of California at Los Angeles
Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union | Year: 2014

We present initial results of a study that has more than doubled the time baseline for astrometric measurements of faint stars orbiting the supermassive black hole (SMBH) at the Galactic center. The advent of adaptive optics has enabled stars as faint as K = 19 mag to be tracked at 50 mas resolution for the last decade. While similar resolution images exist from the prior decade, they were obtained from speckle imaging data analyzed with the technique of shift-and-add, which limited detections to stars brighter than K = 16 mag. By improving the speckle data analysis technique with speckle holography and using prior orbital knowledge, we are now able to track stars as faint as ~18 mag at 50 mas resolution through the early Keck speckle data sets (1995-2005). This methodology has already led to the detection of two short-period stars never previously seen in speckle images, such that our data now spans their full orbits. We can now better constrain the orbital parameters of all stars in the intriguing "S-star cluster," which will ultimately give us insight into the origin of these stars and be used to probe the curvature of space-time in the unexplored regime near a SMBH. Copyright © International Astronomical Union 2014. Source

Gandhi P.,University of Southampton | Littlefair S.P.,University of Sheffield | Hardy L.K.,University of Sheffield | Dhillon V.S.,University of Sheffield | And 31 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2016

We present observations of rapid (sub-second) optical flux variability in V404 Cyg during its 2015 June outburst. Simultaneous three-band observations with the ULTRACAM fast imager on four nights show steep power spectra dominated by slow variations on ~100-1000 s time-scales. Near the peak of the outburst on June 26, a dramatic change occurs and additional, persistent sub-second optical flaring appears close in time to giant radio and X-ray flaring. The flares reach peak optical luminosities of ~ few × 1036 erg s-1. Some are unresolved down to a time resolution of 24 ms. Whereas the fast flares are stronger in the red, the slow variations are bluer when brighter. The redder slopes, emitted power and characteristic time-scales of the fast flares can be explained as optically thin synchrotron emission from a compact jet arising on size scales ~140-500 Gravitational radii (with a possible additional contribution by a thermal particle distribution). The origin of the slower variations is unclear. The optical continuum spectral slopes are strongly affected by dereddening uncertainties and contamination by strong Hα emission, but the variations of these slopes follow relatively stable loci as a function of flux. Cross-correlating the slow variations between the different bands shows asymmetries on all nights consistent with a small red skew (i.e. red lag). X-ray reprocessing and non-thermal emission could both contribute to these. These data reveal a complex mix of components over five decades in time-scale during the outburst. © 2016 The Authors. Source

Xia J.-Q.,Scuola Internazionale di Studi Avanzati | Cuoco A.,The Oskar Klein Center | Branchini E.,Third University of Rome | Branchini E.,National institute for astrophysics | And 3 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2011

In this work, starting from 21 months of data from the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT), we derive maps of the residual isotropic γ-ray emission, a relevant fraction of which is expected to be contributed by the extragalactic diffuse γ-ray background (EGB). We search for the auto-correlation signals in the above γ-ray maps and for the cross-correlation signal with the angular distribution of different classes of objects that trace the large-scale structure of the Universe. We compute the angular two-point auto-correlation function of the residual Fermi-LAT maps at energies E > 1 GeV, E > 3 GeV and E > 30 GeV well above the Galactic plane and find no significant correlation signal. This is, indeed, what is expected if the EGB were contributed by BL Lacertae (BLLacs), Flat Spectrum Radio Quasars (FSRQs) or star-forming galaxies, since, in this case, the predicted signal is very weak. Then, we search for the Integrated Sachs-Wolfe (ISW) signature by cross-correlating the Fermi-LAT maps with the 7-year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP7) cosmic microwave background map. We find a cross-correlation consistent with zero, even though the expected signal is larger than that of the EGB auto-correlation. Finally, in an attempt to constrain the nature of the γ-ray background, we cross-correlate the Fermi-LAT maps with the angular distributions of objects that may contribute to the EGB: quasi-stellar objects (QSOs) in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 6 (SDSS-DR6) catalogue, NRAO VLA Sky Survey (NVSS) galaxies, Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) galaxies and Luminous Red Galaxies (LRGs) in the SDSS catalogue. The cross-correlation is always consistent with zero, in agreement with theoretical expectations, but we find (with low statistical significance) some interesting features that may indicate that some specific classes of objects contribute to the EGB. A χ2 analysis confirms that the correlation properties of the 21-month data do not provide strong constraints of the EGB origin. However, the results suggest that the situation will significantly improve with the 5- and 10-yr Fermi-LAT data. In future, the EGB analysis will then allow placing significant constraints on the nature of the EGB and might provide, in addition, a detection of the ISW signal. © 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS. Source

Costagliola F.,Istituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia | Costagliola F.,Chalmers University of Technology | Aalto S.,Chalmers University of Technology | Sakamoto K.,Academia Sinica, Taiwan | And 5 more authors.
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2013

Context. Understanding the nature of the power-source in luminous infrared galaxies (LIRG) is difficult due to their extreme obscuration. Observations at radio and mm wavelengths can penetrate large columns of dust and gas and provide unique insights into the properties of the compact obscured nuclei of LIRGs. Aims. The aim of this study is to constrain the dynamics, structure, and feeding of the compact nucleus of NGC 4418, and to reveal the nature of the main hidden power-source: starburst or active galactic nucleus (AGN). Methods. We obtained high spatial resolution observations of NGC 4418 at 1.4 and 5 GHz with MERLIN, and at 230 and 270 GHz with the SMA in very extended configuration. We used the continuum morphology and flux density to estimate the size of the emitting region, the star formation rate, and the dust temperature. Emission lines were used to study kinematics through position-velocity diagrams. Molecular emission was studied with population diagrams and by fitting a local thermal equilibrium (LTE) synthetic spectrum. Results. We detect bright 1-mm-line emission from CO, HC3N, HNC, and C34S and 1.4 GHz absorption from HI. The CO 2-1 emission and HI absorption can be fit by two velocity components at 2090 and 2180 km s-1. We detect vibrationally excited HC3N and HNC, with Tvib ~ 300 K. Molecular excitation is consistent with a layered temperature structure, with three main components at 80, 160, and 300 K. For the hot component we estimate a source size of less than 5 pc. The nuclear molecular gas surface density of 104M pc-2 is extremely high and similar to that found in the ultra-luminous infrared galaxy (ULIRG) Arp220. Conclusions. Our observations confirm the presence of a molecular and atomic in-flow, previously suggested by Herschel observations, which is feeding the activity in the center of NGC 4418. Molecular excitation confirms the presence of a very compact, hot dusty core. If a starburst is responsible for the observed IR flux, this has to be at least as extreme as the one in the ULIRG Arp 220, with an age of 3-10 Myr and a star formation rate >10 M yr -1. If an AGN is present, it must be extremely Compton-thick. © ESO, 2013. Source

De Pasquale M.,University College London | De Pasquale M.,Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica | Oates S.R.,University College London | Racusin J.L.,NASA | And 42 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2016

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most luminous explosions in the Universe, yet the nature and physical properties of their energy sources are far from understood. Very important clues, however, can be inferred by studying the afterglows of these events. We present optical and X-ray observations of GRB 130831A obtained by Swift, Chandra, Skynet, Reionization And Transients Infra-Red camera, Maidanak, International Scientific Optical-Observation Network, Nordic Optical Telescope, Liverpool Telescope and Gran Telescopio Canarias. This burst shows a steep drop in the X-ray light curve at ≃105 s after the trigger, with a power-law decay index of α ~6. Such a rare behaviour cannot be explained by the standard forward shock (FS) model and indicates that the emission, up to the fast decay at 105 s, must be of 'internal origin', produced by a dissipation process within an ultrarelativistic outflow. We propose that the source of such an outflow, which must produce the X-ray flux for ≃1 d in the cosmological rest frame, is a newly born magnetar or black hole. After the drop, the faint X-ray afterglow continues with a much shallower decay. The optical emission, on the other hand, shows no break across the X-ray steep decrease, and the late-time decays of both the X-ray and optical are consistent. Using both the X-ray and optical data, we show that the emission after ≃105 s can be explained well by the FS model. We model our data to derive the kinetic energy of the ejecta and thus measure the efficiency of the central engine of a GRB with emission of internal origin visible for a long time. Furthermore, we break down the energy budget of this GRB into the prompt emission, the late internal dissipation, the kinetic energy of the relativistic ejecta, and compare it with the energy of the associated supernova, SN 2013 fu. © 2015 The Authors. Source

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