730 research outputs found

    Discovery of a 3.6-hr Eclipsing Luminous X-Ray Binary in the Galaxy NGC 4214

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    We report the discovery of an eclipsing X-ray binary with a 3.62-hr period within 24" of the center of the dwarf starburst galaxy NGC 4214. The orbital period places interesting constraints on the nature of the binary, and allows for a few very different interpretations. The most likely possibility is that the source lies within NGC 4214 and has an X-ray luminosity of up to 7 e38 ergs/s. In this case the binary may well be comprised of a naked He-burning donor star with a neutron-star accretor, though a stellar-mass black-hole accretor cannot be completely excluded. There is no obvious evidence for a strong stellar wind in the X-ray orbital light curve that would be expected from a massive He star; thus, the mass of the He star should be <3-4 solar masses. If correct, this would represent a new class of very luminous X-ray binary -- perhaps related to Cyg X-3. Other less likely possibilities include a conventional low-mass X-ray binary that somehow manages to produce such a high X-ray luminosity and is apparently persistent over an interval of years; or a foreground AM Her binary of much lower luminosity that fortuitously lies in the direction of NGC 4214. Any model for this system must accommodate the lack of an optical counterpart down to a limiting magnitude of 22.6 in the visible.Comment: 7 pages, ApJ accepted versio

    The Distance Geometry of Music

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    We demonstrate relationships between the classic Euclidean algorithm and many other fields of study, particularly in the context of music and distance geometry. Specifically, we show how the structure of the Euclidean algorithm defines a family of rhythms which encompass over forty timelines (\emph{ostinatos}) from traditional world music. We prove that these \emph{Euclidean rhythms} have the mathematical property that their onset patterns are distributed as evenly as possible: they maximize the sum of the Euclidean distances between all pairs of onsets, viewing onsets as points on a circle. Indeed, Euclidean rhythms are the unique rhythms that maximize this notion of \emph{evenness}. We also show that essentially all Euclidean rhythms are \emph{deep}: each distinct distance between onsets occurs with a unique multiplicity, and these multiplicies form an interval 1,2,...,k11,2,...,k-1. Finally, we characterize all deep rhythms, showing that they form a subclass of generated rhythms, which in turn proves a useful property called shelling. All of our results for musical rhythms apply equally well to musical scales. In addition, many of the problems we explore are interesting in their own right as distance geometry problems on the circle; some of the same problems were explored by Erd\H{o}s in the plane.Comment: This is the full version of the paper: "The distance geometry of deep rhythms and scales." 17th Canadian Conference on Computational Geometry (CCCG '05), University of Windsor, Canada, 200

    New Constraints on Quantum Gravity from X-ray and Gamma-Ray Observations

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    One aspect of the quantum nature of spacetime is its "foaminess" at very small scales. Many models for spacetime foam are defined by the accumulation power α\alpha, which parameterizes the rate at which Planck-scale spatial uncertainties (and thephase shifts they produce) may accumulate over large path-lengths. Here α\alpha is defined by theexpression for the path-length fluctuations, δ\delta \ell, of a source at distance \ell, wherein δ1αPα\delta \ell \simeq \ell^{1 - \alpha} \ell_P^{\alpha}, with P\ell_P being the Planck length. We reassess previous proposals to use astronomical observations ofdistant quasars and AGN to test models of spacetime foam. We show explicitly how wavefront distortions on small scales cause the image intensity to decay to the point where distant objects become undetectable when the path-length fluctuations become comparable to the wavelength of the radiation. We use X-ray observations from {\em Chandra} to set the constraint α0.58\alpha \gtrsim 0.58, which rules out the random walk model (with α=1/2\alpha = 1/2). Much firmer constraints canbe set utilizing detections of quasars at GeV energies with {\em Fermi}, and at TeV energies with ground-based Cherenkovtelescopes: α0.67\alpha \gtrsim 0.67 and α0.72\alpha \gtrsim 0.72, respectively. These limits on α\alpha seem to rule out α=2/3\alpha = 2/3, the model of some physical interest.Comment: 11 pages, 9 figures, ApJ, in pres

    An Optimal Algorithm to Compute the Inverse Beacon Attraction Region

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    The beacon model is a recent paradigm for guiding the trajectory of messages or small robotic agents in complex environments. A beacon is a fixed point with an attraction pull that can move points within a given polygon. Points move greedily towards a beacon: if unobstructed, they move along a straight line to the beacon, and otherwise they slide on the edges of the polygon. The Euclidean distance from a moving point to a beacon is monotonically decreasing. A given beacon attracts a point if the point eventually reaches the beacon. The problem of attracting all points within a polygon with a set of beacons can be viewed as a variation of the art gallery problem. Unlike most variations, the beacon attraction has the intriguing property of being asymmetric, leading to separate definitions of attraction region and inverse attraction region. The attraction region of a beacon is the set of points that it attracts. It is connected and can be computed in linear time for simple polygons. By contrast, it is known that the inverse attraction region of a point - the set of beacon positions that attract it - could have Omega(n) disjoint connected components. In this paper, we prove that, in spite of this, the total complexity of the inverse attraction region of a point in a simple polygon is linear, and present a O(n log n) time algorithm to construct it. This improves upon the best previous algorithm which required O(n^3) time and O(n^2) space. Furthermore we prove a matching Omega(n log n) lower bound for this task in the algebraic computation tree model of computation, even if the polygon is monotone

    Transits and Occultations of an Earth-Sized Planet in an 8.5-Hour Orbit

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    We report the discovery of an Earth-sized planet (1.16±0.19R1.16\pm 0.19 R_\oplus) in an 8.5-hour orbit around a late G-type star (KIC 8435766, Kepler-78). The object was identified in a search for short-period planets in the {\it Kepler} database and confirmed to be a transiting planet (as opposed to an eclipsing stellar system) through the absence of ellipsoidal light variations or substantial radial-velocity variations. The unusually short orbital period and the relative brightness of the host star (mKepm_{\rm Kep} = 11.5) enable robust detections of the changing illumination of the visible hemisphere of the planet, as well as the occultations of the planet by the star. We interpret these signals as representing a combination of reflected and reprocessed light, with the highest planet dayside temperature in the range of 2300 K to 3100 K. Follow-up spectroscopy combined with finer sampling photometric observations will further pin down the system parameters and may even yield the mass of the planet.Comment: Accepted for publication, ApJ, 10 pages and 6 figure