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Ngeow C.-C.,National Central University | Kanbur S.M.,State University of New York at Oswego | Bellinger E.P.,State University of New York at Oswego | Marconi M.,Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte | And 3 more authors.
Astrophysics and Space Science | Year: 2012

This paper discusses two aspects of current research on the Cepheid period-luminosity (P-L) relation: the derivation of mid-infrared (MIR) P-L relations and the investigation of multi-phase P-L relations. The MIR P-L relations for Cepheids are important in the James Webb Space Telescope era for the distance scale issue, as the relations have potential to derive the Hubble constant within ~2% accuracy-a critical constraint in precision cosmology. Consequently, we have derived the MIR P-L relations for Cepheids in the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, using archival data from Spitzer Space Telescope. We also compared currently empirical P-L relations for Cepheids in the Magellanic Clouds to the synthetic MIR P-L relations derived from pulsational models. For the study of multi-phase P-L relations, we present convincing evidence that the Cepheid P-L relations in the Magellanic Clouds are highly dynamic quantities that vary significantly when considered as a function of pulsational phase. We found that there is a difference in P-L relations as a function of phase between the Cepheids in each of the Clouds; the most likely cause for this is the metallicity difference between the two galaxies. We also investigated the dispersion of the multi-phase P-L relations, and found that the minimum dispersions do not differ significantly from the mean light P-L dispersion. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


Kanbur S.M.,State University of New York at Oswego | Marconi M.,Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte | Ngeow C.,National Central University | Musella I.,Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte | And 4 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2010

We present multiphase period-colour/amplitude-colour/period-luminosity relations using the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment III (OGLE III) and Galactic Cepheid data and compare with state of the art theoretical pulsation models. Using this new way to compare models and observations, we find convincing evidence that both period-colour and period-luminosity relations as a function of phase are dynamic and highly non-linear at certain pulsation phases. We extend this to a multiphase Wesenheit function and find the same result. Hence our results cannot be due to reddening errors. We present statistical tests and movies depicting the period-colour/period-luminosity and Wesenheit relations as a function of phase for the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) OGLE III Cepheid data: these tests and movies clearly demonstrate non-linearity as a function of phase and offer a new window towards a deeper understanding of stellar pulsation. When comparing with models, we find that the models also predict this non-linearity in both period-colour and period-luminosity planes. The models with (Z= 0.004, Y= 0.25) fare better in mimicking the LMC Cepheid relations, particularly at longer periods, though the models predict systematically higher amplitudes than the observations. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 RAS.


Ngeow C.-C.,National Central University | Marconi M.,Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte | Musella I.,Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte | Cignoni M.,University of Bologna | Kanbur S.M.,State University of New York at Oswego
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2012

In this paper, the synthetic period-luminosity (P-L) relations in Spitzer's IRAC bands, based on a series of theoretical pulsation models with varying metal and helium abundance, were investigated. Selected sets of these synthetic P-L relations were compared to the empirical IRAC band P-L relations recently determined from Galactic and Magellanic Clouds Cepheids. For the Galactic case, synthetic P-L relations from model sets with (Y = 0.26, Z = 0.01), (Y = 0.26, Z = 0.02), and (Y = 0.28, Z = 0.02) agree with the empirical Galactic P-L relations derived from the Hubble Space Telescope parallaxes. For Magellanic Cloud Cepheids, the synthetic P-L relations from model sets with (Y = 0.25, Z = 0.008) agree with both of the empirical Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and Small Magellanic Cloud P-L relations. Analysis of the synthetic P-L relations from all model sets suggested that the IRAC band P-L relations may not be independent of metallicity, as the P-L slopes and intercepts could be affected by the metallicity and/or helium abundance. We also derive the synthetic period-color (P-C) relations in the IRAC bands. Non-vanishing synthetic P-C relations were found for certain combinations of IRAC band filters and metallicity. However, the synthetic P-C relations disagreed with the [3.6]-[8.0] P-C relation recently found for the Galactic Cepheids. The synthetic [3.6]-[4.5] P-C slope from the (Y = 0.25, Z = 0.008) model set, on the other hand, is in excellent agreement to the empirical LMC P-C counterpart, if a period range 1.0 < log (P) < 1.8 is adopted. © 2012. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


Murphy J.,New Mexico State University | Steakley K.,New Mexico State University | Balme M.,Open University Milton Keynes | Deprez G.,Laboratoire Atmospheres | And 9 more authors.
Space Science Reviews | Year: 2016

Surface-based measurements of terrestrial and martian dust devils/convective vortices provided from mobile and stationary platforms are discussed. Imaging of terrestrial dust devils has quantified their rotational and vertical wind speeds, translation speeds, dimensions, dust load, and frequency of occurrence. Imaging of martian dust devils has provided translation speeds and constraints on dimensions, but only limited constraints on vertical motion within a vortex. The longer mission durations on Mars afforded by long operating robotic landers and rovers have provided statistical quantification of vortex occurrence (time-of-sol, and recently seasonal) that has until recently not been a primary outcome of more temporally limited terrestrial dust devil measurement campaigns. Terrestrial measurement campaigns have included a more extensive range of measured vortex parameters (pressure, wind, morphology, etc.) than have martian opportunities, with electric field and direct measure of dust abundance not yet obtained on Mars. No martian robotic mission has yet provided contemporaneous high frequency wind and pressure measurements. Comparison of measured terrestrial and martian dust devil characteristics suggests that martian dust devils are larger and possess faster maximum rotational wind speeds, that the absolute magnitude of the pressure deficit within a terrestrial dust devil is an order of magnitude greater than a martian dust devil, and that the time-of-day variation in vortex frequency is similar. Recent terrestrial investigations have demonstrated the presence of diagnostic dust devil signals within seismic and infrasound measurements; an upcoming Mars robotic mission will obtain similar measurement types. © 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht


News Article | December 7, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Hendrik Hildebrandt from the Argelander-Institut für Astronomie in Bonn, Germany and Massimo Viola from the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands led a team of astronomers [1] from institutions around the world who processed images from the Kilo Degree Survey (KiDS), which was made with ESO's VLT Survey Telescope (VST) in Chile. For their analysis, they used images from the survey that covered five patches of the sky covering a total area of around 2200 times the size of the full Moon [2], and containing around 15 million galaxies. By exploiting the exquisite image quality available to the VST at the Paranal site, and using innovative computer software, the team were able to carry out one of the most precise measurements ever made of an effect known as cosmic shear. This is a subtle variant of weak gravitational lensing, in which the light emitted from distant galaxies is slightly warped by the gravitational effect of large amounts of matter, such as galaxy clusters. In cosmic shear, it is not galaxy clusters but large-scale structures in the Universe that warp the light, which produces an even smaller effect. Very wide and deep surveys, such as KiDS, are needed to ensure that the very weak cosmic shear signal is strong enough to be measured and can be used by astronomers to map the distribution of gravitating matter. This study takes in the largest total area of the sky to ever be mapped with this technique so far. Intriguingly, the results of their analysis appear to be inconsistent with deductions from the results of the European Space Agency's Planck satellite, the leading space mission probing the fundamental properties of the Universe. In particular, the KiDS team's measurement of how clumpy matter is throughout the Universe -- a key cosmological parameter -- is significantly lower than the value derived from the Planck data [3]. Massimo Viola explains: "This latest result indicates that dark matter in the cosmic web, which accounts for about one-quarter of the content of the Universe, is less clumpy than we previously believed." Dark matter remains elusive to detection, its presence only inferred from its gravitational effects. Studies like these are the best current way to determine the shape, scale and distribution of this invisible material. The surprise result of this study also has implications for our wider understanding of the Universe, and how it has evolved during its almost 14-billion-year history. Such an apparent disagreement with previously established results from Planck means that astronomers may now have to reformulate their understanding of some fundamental aspects of the development of the Universe. Hendrik Hildebrandt comments: "Our findings will help to refine our theoretical models of how the Universe has grown from its inception up to the present day." The KiDS analysis of data from the VST is an important step but future telescopes are expected to take even wider and deeper surveys of the sky. The co-leader of the study, Catherine Heymans of the University of Edinburgh in the UK adds: "Unravelling what has happened since the Big Bang is a complex challenge, but by continuing to study the distant skies, we can build a picture of how our modern Universe has evolved." "We see an intriguing discrepancy with Planck cosmology at the moment. Future missions such as the Euclid satellite and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will allow us to repeat these measurements and better understand what the Universe is really telling us," concludes Konrad Kuijken (Leiden Observatory, the Netherlands), who is principal investigator of the KiDS survey. [1] The international KiDS team (http://kids. ) of researchers includes scientists from Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Australia, Italy, Malta and Canada. [2] This corresponds to about 450 square degrees, or a little more than 1% of the entire sky. [3] The parameter measured is called S8. Its value is a combination of the size of density fluctuations in, and the average density of, a section of the Universe. Large fluctuations in lower density parts of the Universe have an effect similar to that of smaller amplitude fluctuations in denser regions and the two cannot be distinguished by observations of weak lensing. The 8 refers to a cell size of 8 megaparsecs, which is used by convention in such studies. This research was presented in the paper entitled "KiDS-450: Cosmological parameter constraints from tomographic weak gravitational lensing", by H. Hildebrandt et al., to appear in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The team is composed of H. Hildebrandt (Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Bonn, Germany), M. Viola (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands), C. Heymans (Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK), S. Joudaki (Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia), K. Kuijken (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands), C. Blake (Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia), T. Erben (Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Bonn, Germany), B. Joachimi (University College London, London, UK), D Klaes (Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Bonn, Germany), L. Miller (Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK), C.B. Morrison (Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Bonn, Germany), R. Nakajima (Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Bonn, Germany), G. Verdoes Kleijn (Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands), A. Amon (Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK), A. Choi (Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK), G. Covone (Department of Physics, University of Napoli Federico II, Napoli, Italy), J.T.A. de Jong (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands), A. Dvornik (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands), I. Fenech Conti (Institute of Space Sciences and Astronomy (ISSA), University of Malta, Msida, Malta; Department of Physics, University of Malta, Msida, Malta), A. Grado (INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, Napoli, Italy), J. Harnois-Déraps (Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK; Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada), R. Herbonnet (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands), H. Hoekstra (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands), F. Köhlinger (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands), J. McFarland (Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands), A. Mead (Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada), J. Merten (Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK), N. Napolitano (INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, Napoli, Italy), J.A. Peacock (Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK), M. Radovich (INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Padova, Italy), P. Schneider (Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Bonn, Germany), P. Simon (Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Bonn, Germany), E.A. Valentijn (Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands), J.L. van den Busch (Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Bonn, Germany), E. van Uitert (University College London, London, UK) and L. van Waerbeke (Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada). ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world's largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky".


Ferrario L.,Australian National University | de Martino D.,Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte | Gansicke B.T.,University of Warwick
Space Science Reviews | Year: 2015

In this paper we review the current status of research on the observational and theoretical characteristics of isolated and binary magnetic white dwarfs (MWDs). Magnetic fields of isolated MWDs are observed to lie in the range 103–109 G. While the upper limit cutoff near 109 G appears to be real, the lower limit is more difficult to investigate. The incidence of magnetism below a few 103 G still needs to be established by sensitive spectropolarimetric surveys-conducted on 8 m class telescopes. Highly magnetic WDs tend to exhibit a complex and non-dipolar field structure with some objects showing the presence of higher order multipoles. There is no evidence that fields of highly magnetic WDs decay over time, which is consistent with the estimated Ohmic decay times scales of ∼1011 yrs. The slow rotation periods (∼100 yrs) inferred for a large number of isolated MWDs in comparison to those of non-magnetic WDs (a few days) suggest that strong magnetic fields augment the braking of the stellar core. MWDs, as a class, also appear to be more massive (0.784±0.047 M) than their weakly or non-magnetic counterparts (0.663±0.136 M). MWDs are also found in binary systems where they accrete matter from a low-mass donor star. These binaries, called magnetic Cataclysmic Variables (MCVs), comprise about 20–25 % of all known CVs. Zeeman and cyclotron spectroscopy of MCVs have revealed the presence of fields in the range ∼7–230 MG. Complex field geometries have been inferred in the high field MCVs (the polars) whilst magnetic field strength and structure in the lower field group (intermediate polars, IPs) are much harder to establish. The MCVs exhibit an orbital period distribution which is similar to that of non magnetic CVs. Polars dominate the distribution at orbital periods ≲4 h and IPs at longer periods. It has been argued that IPs above the 2–3 hr CV period gap with magnetic moments ≳ 5×1033 G cm3 may eventually evolve into polars. It is vital to enlarge the still incomplete sample of MCVs to understand not only their accretion processes but also their evolution. The origin of fields in MWDs is still being debated. While the fossil field hypothesis remains an attractive possibility, field generation within the common envelope of a binary system has been gaining momentum, since it would explain the absence of MWDs paired with non-degenerate companions and also the lack of relatively wide pre-MCVs. © 2015 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht


Toloza O.,University of Warwick | Gansicke B.T.,University of Warwick | Hermes J.J.,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Townsley D.M.,University of Alabama | And 23 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2016

Non-radial pulsations have been identified in a number of accreting white dwarfs in cataclysmic variables. These stars offer insight into the excitation of pulsation modes in atmospheres with mixed compositions of hydrogen, helium, and metals, and the response of these modes to changes in the white dwarf temperature. Among all pulsating cataclysmic variable white dwarfs, GW Librae stands out by having a well-established observational record of three independent pulsation modes that disappeared when the white dwarf temperature rose dramatically following its 2007 accretion outburst. Our analysis of Hubble Space Telescope (HST) ultraviolet spectroscopy taken in 2002, 2010, and 2011, showed that pulsations produce variations in the white dwarf effective temperature as predicted by theory. Additionally in 2013 May, we obtained new HST/Cosmic Origin Spectrograph ultraviolet observations that displayed unexpected behaviour: besides showing variability at ≃275 s, which is close to the post-outburst pulsations detected with HST in 2010 and 2011, the white dwarf exhibits high-amplitude variability on an ≃4.4 h time-scale. We demonstrate that this variability is produced by an increase of the temperature of a region on white dwarf covering up to ≃30 per cent of the visible white dwarf surface. We argue against a short-lived accretion episode as the explanation of such heating, and discuss this event in the context of non-radial pulsations on a rapidly rotating star. © 2016 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.


Holzlohner R.,European Southern Observatory | Rakich A.,European Southern Observatory | Noethe L.,European Southern Observatory | Kuijken K.,Leiden Observatory | Schipani P.,Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2014

We study a novel active optics control scheme at the VST on Cerro Paranal, an f/5:5 survey telescope with a 1x1 degree field of view and a 2.6m primary mirror. This scheme analyzes the elongation pattern of the star PSFs across the full science image (267 Mpixels) and compares their second moments with an analytical model based on 5th-order geometrical optics, comprising 9 degrees of freedom in mirror misalignments and deformations. Using a numerical optimization method, we can complete the star extraction and fitting process in under one minute, fast enough for effective closed-loop active optics control in survey observing cadences. © 2014 SPIE.


Schipani P.,Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte | D'Orsi S.,Instituto Nazionale Of Astrofisica Vstcen | Ferragina L.,Instituto Nazionale Of Astrofisica Vstcen | Fierro D.,Instituto Nazionale Of Astrofisica Vstcen | And 3 more authors.
Applied Optics | Year: 2010

The Very Large Telescope Survey Telescope (VST) is equipped with an active optics system in order to correct low-order aberrations. The 2.6m primary mirror is supported both axially and laterally and is surrounded by several safety devices for earthquake protection. We describe the mirror support system and discuss the results of the qualification test campaign. © 2010 Optical Society of America.


PubMed | Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Applied optics | Year: 2010

The Very Large Telescope Survey Telescope (VST) is equipped with an active optics system in order to correct low-order aberrations. The 2.6 m primary mirror is supported both axially and laterally and is surrounded by several safety devices for earthquake protection. We describe the mirror support system and discuss the results of the qualification test campaign.

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