350 research outputs found

    Novae as distance indicators

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    Nova shells are characteristically prolate with equatorial bands and polar caps. Failure to account for the geometry can lead to large errors in expansion parallaxes for individual novae. When simple prescriptions are used for deriving expansion parallaxes from an ensemble of randomly oriented prolate spheroids, the average distance will be too small by factors of 10 to 15 percent. The absolute magnitudes of the novae will be underestimated and the resulting distance scale will be too small by the same factors. If observations of partially resolved nova shells select for large inclinations, the systematic error in the resulting distance scale could easily be 20 to 30 percent. Extinction by dust in the bulge of M31 may broaden and shift the intrinsic distribution of maximum nova magnitudes versus decay rates. We investigated this possibility by projecting Arp's and Rosino's novae onto a composite B - 6200A color map of M31's bulge. Thirty two of the 86 novae projected onto a smooth background with no underlying structure due to the presence of a dust cloud along the line of sight. The distribution of maximum magnitudes versus fade rates for these unreddened novae is indistinguishable from the distribution for the entire set of novae. It is concluded that novae suffer very little extinction from the filamentary and patchy distribution of dust seen in the bulge of M31. Time average B and H alpha nova luminosity functions are potentially powerful new ways to use novae as standard candles. Modern CCD observations and the photographic light curves of M31 novae found during the last 60 years were analyzed to show that these functions are power laws. Consequently, unless the eruption times for novae are known, the data cannot be used to obtain distances

    Hubble Space Telescope: Faint object spectrograph instrument handbook. Version 1.1

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    The Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS) has undergone substantial rework since the 1985 FOS Instrument Handbook was published, and we are now more knowledgeable regarding the spacecraft and instrument operations requirements and constraints. The formal system for observation specification has also evolved considerably, as the GTO programs were defined in detail. This supplement to the FOS Instrument Handbook addresses the important aspects of these changes, to facilitate proper selection and specification of FOS observing programs. Since the Handbook was published, the FOS red detector has been replaced twice, first with the best available spare in 1985 (which proved to have a poor, and steadily degrading red response), and later with a newly developed Digicon, which exhibits a high, stable efficiency and a dark-count rate less than half that of its predecessors. Also, the FOS optical train was realigned in 1987-88 to eliminate considerable beam-vignetting losses, and the collimators were both removed and recoated for greater reflectivity. Following the optics and detector rework, the FOS was carefully recalibrated (although only ambient measurements were possible, so the far-UV characteristics could not be re-evaluated directly). The resulting efficiency curves, including improved estimates of the telescope throughput, are shown. A number of changes in the observing-mode specifications and addition of several optional parameters resulted as the Proposal Instructions were honed during the last year. Target-brightness limitations, which have only recently been formulated carefully, are described. Although these restrictions are very conservative, it is imperative that the detector safety be guarded closely, especially during the initial stages of flight operations. Restrictions on the use of the internal calibration lamps and aperture-illumination sources (TA LEDs), also resulting from detector safety considerations, are outlined. Finally, many changes have been made to the instructions for target acquisition specification

    Hubble Frontier Field Free-Form Mass Mapping of the Massive Multiple-Merging Cluster MACSJ0717.5+3745

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    We examine the latest data on the cluster MACSJ0717.5+3745 from the Hubble Frontier Fields campaign. The critically lensed area is the largest known of any lens and very irregular making it a challenge for parametric modelling. Using our Free-Form method we obtain an accurate solution, identify here many new sets of multiple images, doubling the number of constraints and improving the reconstruction of the dark matter distribution. Our reconstructed mass map shows several distinct central substructures with shallow density profiles, clarifying earlier work and defining well the relation between the dark matter distribution and the luminous and X-ray peaks within the critically lensed region. Using our free-form method, we are able to meaningfully subtract the mass contribution from cluster members to the deflection field to trace the smoothly distributed cluster dark matter distribution. We find 4 distinct concentrations, 3 of which are coincident with the luminous matter. The fourth peak has a significant offset from both the closest luminous and X-ray peaks. These findings, together with dynamical data from the motions of galaxies and gas will be important for uncovering the potentially important implications of this extremely massive and intriguing system.Comment: 16 pages, 10 figures, 2 tables. Matches the verson submitted to mnras. New table (A2) included with additional system candidate

    A Rigorous Free-form Lens Model of Abell 2744 to Meet the Hubble Frontier Fields Challenge

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    Hubble Frontier Fields (HFF) imaging of the most powerful lensing clusters provides access to the most magnified distant galaxies. The challenge is to construct lens models capable of describing these complex massive, merging clusters so that individual lensed systems can be reliably identified and their intrinsic properties accurately derived. We apply the free-form lensing method (WSLAP+) to A2744, providing a model independent map of the cluster mass, magnification, and geometric distance estimates to multiply-lensed sources. We solve simultaneously for a smooth cluster component on a pixel grid, together with local deflections by the cluster member galaxies. Combining model prediction with photometric redshift measurements, we correct and complete several systems recently claimed, and identify 4 new systems - totalling 65 images of 21 systems spanning a redshift range of 1.4<z<9.8. The reconstructed mass shows small enhancements in the directions where significant amounts of hot plasma can be seen in X-ray. We compare photometric redshifts with "geometric redshifts", finding a high level of self-consistency. We find excellent agreement between predicted and observed fluxes - with a best-fit slope of 0.999+-0.013 and an RMS of ~0.25 mag, demonstrating that our magnification correction of the lensed background galaxies is very reliable. Intriguingly, few multiply-lensed galaxies are detected beyond z~7.0, despite the high magnification and the limiting redshift of z~11.5 permitted by the HFF filters. With the additional HFF clusters we can better examine the plausibility of any pronounced high-z deficit, with potentially important implications for the reionization epoch and the nature of dark matter.Comment: Accepted for publication in ApJ with newly identified lensed images in complete HFF dat

    A Search for Planets Transiting the M Dwarf Debris Disk Host, AU Microscopii

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    We present high cadence, high precision multi-band photometry of the young, M1Ve, debris disk star, AU Microscopii. The data were obtained in three continuum filters spanning a wavelength range from 4500\AA to 6600\AA, plus Hα\alpha, over 28 nights in 2005. The lightcurves show intrinsic stellar variability due to starspots with an amplitude in the blue band of 0.051 magnitudes and a period of 4.847 days. In addition, three large flares were detected in the data which all occur near the minimum brightness of the star. We remove the intrinsic stellar variability and combine the lightcurves of all the filters in order to search for transits by possible planetary companions orbiting in the plane of the nearly edge-on debris disk. The combined final lightcurve has a sampling of 0.35 minutes and a standard deviation of 6.8 millimags (mmag). We performed Monte Carlo simulations by adding fake transits to the observed lightcurve and find with 95% significance that there are no Jupiter mass planets orbiting in the plane of the debris disk on circular orbits with periods, P ≤5\le 5 days. In addition, there are no young Neptune-like planets (with radii 2.5×\times smaller than the young Jupiter) on circular orbits with periods, P ≤3\le 3 days.Comment: accepted to MNRA

    The Planetary Nebula System and Dynamics in the Outer Halo of NGC 5128

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    The halos of elliptical galaxies are faint and difficult to explore, but they contain vital clues to both structure and formation. We present the results of an imaging and spectroscopic survey for planetary nebulae (PNe) in the nearby elliptical NGC 5128. We extend the work of Hui et al.(1995) well into the halo of the galaxy--out to distances of 100 and 50 kpc along the major and minor axes. We now know of 1141 PNe in NGC 5128, 780 of which are confirmed. Of these 780 PNe, 349 are new from this survey, and 148 are at radii beyond 20 kpc. PNe exist at distances up to 80 kpc (~15 r_e), showing that the stellar halo extends to the limit of our data. This study represents by far the largest kinematic study of an elliptical galaxy to date, both in the number of velocity tracers and in radial extent. We confirm the large rotation of the PNe along the major axis, and show that it extends in a disk-like feature into the halo. The rotation curve of the stars flattens at ~100 km/s with V/sigma between 1 and 1.5, and with the velocity dispersion of the PNe falling gradually at larger radii. The two-dimensional velocity field exhibits a zero-velocity contour with a pronounced twist, showing that the galaxy potential is likely triaxial in shape, tending toward prolate. The total dynamical mass of the galaxy within 80 kpc is ~5 x 10^{11} M_sun, with M/L_B ~ 13. This mass-to-light ratio is much lower than what is typically expected for elliptical galaxies.Comment: 21 pages, 13 figures (figures 3-8 best viewed in color), accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journa

    The Surface Brightness Fluctuations and Globular Cluster Populations of M87 and its Companions

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    Using the surface brightness fluctuations in HST WFPC-2 images, we determine that M87, NGC 4486B, and NGC 4478 are all at a distance of ~16 Mpc, while NGC 4476 lies in the background at ~21 Mpc. We also examine the globular clusters of M87 using archived HST fields. We detect the bimodal color distribution, and find that the amplitude of the red peak relative to the blue peak is greatest near the center. This feature is in good agreement with the merger model of elliptical galaxy formation, where some of the clusters originated in progenitor galaxies while other formed during mergers.Comment: 5 pages, 2 figure

    The Host Galaxies and Environment of Chandra-Selected Active Galactic Nuclei in the Deep ACS GTO Cluster Fields*

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    We present catalogs and images of optical counterparts to the Chandra-selected X-ray sources found in the fields of the five clusters RX J0152-1357, RX J0849+4452, RDCS J0910+5422, MS 1054-0321, and RDCS J1252-2927, which were imaged with the Advanced Camera for Surveys as part of the ACS Guaranteed Time Observer programs. A total of 98 X-ray sources fall within the ACS mosaics, and positive identifications are made for ~96% of them, including confirmed cluster members. We classify the sources as active galactic nuclei (AGNs) or QSOs depending on their X-ray output. The log N(> S)- log S test indicates a significant overdensity of X-ray sources in the RX J0152-1357, RDCS J0910+5422, and MS 1054-0321 fields with respect to the CDF-S, suggesting an association of some X-ray sources with the large-scale structure of the clusters. From the asymmetry and concentration indices, ~52% of the optical counterparts are early-type galaxies, ~35% late-type, and the remainder irregular. A blue core is found in approximately half of the early-type galaxies. From visual examination, approximately 40% of the counterparts possess an unresolved nucleus, a common signature of nuclear activity. A majority of these nuclei are found in near face-on late-type galaxies although selection effects might be important. The X-ray to optical flux ratio of the nuclei correlates with the inclination angle of the late-type galaxies but not of the early types, as expected if dust is significant in the circumnuclear regions. The AGNs possess a ~50% excess of nearby companions compared to the overall galaxy population in the same fields. The surface density of the X-ray sources is highest at projected radii of 1 Mpc from the cluster center and relatively flat at larger radii. We describe the morphology and environment of the cluster members and compare them with the other optical counterparts
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