Recent Postings from Galactic

The Identification of Extreme Asymptotic Giant Branch Stars and Red Supergiants in M33 by 24 {\mu}m Variability

We present the first detection of 24 {\mu}m variability in 24 sources in the Local Group galaxy M33. These results are based on 4 epochs of MIPS observations, which are irregularly spaced over ~750 days. We find that these sources are constrained exclusively to the Holmberg radius of the galaxy, which increases their chances of being members of M33. We have constructed spectral energy distributions (SEDs) ranging from the optical to the sub-mm to investigate the nature of these objects. We find that 23 of our objects are most likely heavily self-obscured, evolved stars; while the remaining source is the Giant HII region, NGC 604. We believe that the observed variability is the intrinsic variability of the central star reprocessed through their circumstellar dust shells. Radiative transfer modeling was carried out to determine their likely chemical composition, luminosity, and dust production rate (DPR). As a sample, our modeling has determined an average luminosity of (3.8 $\pm$ 0.9) x 10$^4$ L$_\odot$ and a total DPR of (2.3 $\pm$ 0.1) x 10$^{-5}$ M$_\odot$ yr$^{-1}$. Most of the sources, given the high DPRs and short wavelength obscuration, are likely "extreme" AGB (XAGB) stars. Five of the sources are found to have luminosities above the classical AGB limit (M$_{\rm bol}$ < -7.1, L > 54,000 L$_\odot$), which classifies them as probably red supergiants (RSGs). Almost all of the sources are classified as oxygen rich. As also seen in the LMC, a significant fraction of the dust in M33 is produced by a handful of XAGB and RSG stars.

A Forming Wide Polar Ring Galaxy at z~0.05 in the VST Deep Field of the Fornax Cluster

We present the first deep photometry of a good candidate for a forming polar ring galaxy at redshift z~0.05. This object, named FCSS J033710.0-354727, is a background galaxy in the VST deep field of the Fornax cluster. The deep exposures combined with the high angular resolution of the OmegaCAM at VST allow us to carry out the first detailed photometric analysis for this system in the g and i bands to derive the galaxy structure and colors. Results show that the central object resembles a disk galaxy, surrounded by a ring-like structure 2 times more extended than the central disk. The warped geometry and the presence of bright knots observed along the polar direction, as well as the several debris detected on the NW side with colors comparable to those of the galaxy, suggest that the polar structure is still forming. We argue that the wide polar ring/disk is the result of the ongoing disruption of a companion galaxy in the potential of the central object, which is 2-3 times more massive than the accreting galaxy.

MilkyWay@home: Harnessing volunteer computers to constrain dark matter in the Milky Way

MilkyWay@home is a volunteer computing project that allows people from every country in the world to volunteer their otherwise idle processors to Milky Way research. Currently, more than 25,000 people (150,000 since November 9, 2007) contribute about half a PetaFLOPS of computing power to our project. We currently run two types of applications: one application fits the spatial density profile of tidal streams using statistical photometric parallax, and the other application finds the N-body simulation parameters that produce tidal streams that best match the measured density profile of known tidal streams. The stream fitting application is well developed and is producing published results. The Sagittarius dwarf leading tidal tail has been fit, and the algorithm is currently running on the trailing tidal tail and bifurcated pieces. We will soon have a self-consistent model for the density of the smooth component of the stellar halo and the largest tidal streams. The $N$-body application has been implemented for fitting dwarf galaxy progenitor properties only, and is in the testing stages. We use an Earth-Mover Distance method to measure goodness-of-fit for density of stars along the tidal stream. We will add additional spatial dimensions as well as kinematic measures in a piecemeal fashion, with the eventual goal of fitting the orbit and parameters of the Milky Way potential (and thus the density distribution of dark matter) using multiple tidal streams.

Determining distances to stars statistically from photometry

In determining the distances to stars within the Milky Way galaxy, one often uses photometric or spectroscopic parallax. In these methods, the type of each individual star is determined, and the absolute magnitude of that star type is compared with the measured apparent magnitude to determine individual distances. In this article, we define the term statistical photometric parallax, in which statistical knowledge of the absolute magnitudes of stellar populations is used to determine the underlying density distributions of those stars. This technique has been used to determine the density distribution of the Milky Way stellar halo and its component tidal streams, using very large samples of stars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Most recently, the volunteer computing platform MilkyWay@home has been used to find the best fit model parameters for the density of these halo stars.

NuSTAR and XMM-Newton observations of the extreme ultraluminous X-ray source NGC 5907 ULX1: A Vanishing Act

We present results obtained from two broadband X-ray observations of the extreme ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX) NGC5907 ULX1, known to have a peak X-ray luminosity of ~5e40 erg/s. These XMM-Newton and NuSTAR observations, separated by only ~4 days, revealed an extreme level of short-term flux variability. In the first epoch, NGC5907 ULX1 was undetected by NuSTAR, and only weakly detected (if at all) with XMM-Newton, while in the second NGC5907 ULX1 was clearly detected at high luminosity by both missions. This implies an increase in flux of ~2 orders of magnitude or more during this ~4 day window. We argue that this is likely due to a rapid rise in the mass accretion rate, rather than to a transition from an extremely obscured to an unobscured state. During the second epoch we observed the broadband 0.3-20.0 keV X-ray luminosity to be (1.55+/-0.06)e40 erg/s, similar to the majority of the archival X-ray observations. The broadband X-ray spectrum obtained from the second epoch is inconsistent with the low/hard accretion state observed in Galactic black hole binaries, but is well modeled with a simple accretion disk model incorporating the effects of photon advection. This strongly suggests that, when bright, NGC5907 ULX1 is a high-Eddington accretor.

Comparing readout strategies to directly detect dark matter [Cross-Listing]

Over the past decades, several ideas and technologies have been developed to directly detect WIMP from the galactic halo. All these detection strategies share the common goal of discriminating a WIMP signal from the residual backgrounds. By directly detecting WIMPs, one can measure some or all of the observables associated to each nuclear recoil candidates, such as their energy and direction. In this study, we compare and examine the discovery potentials of each readout strategies from counting only (bubble chambers) to directional detectors (Time Projection Chambers) with 1d-, 2d-, and 3d-sensitivity. Using a profile likelihood analysis, we show that, in the case of a large and irreducible background contamination characterized by an energy distribution similar to the expected WIMP signal, directional information can improve the sensitivity of the experiment by several orders of magnitude. We also found that 1d directional detection is only less effective than a full 3d directional sensitivity by about a factor of 3, or 10 if we assume no sense recognition, still improving by a factor of 2 or more if only the energy of the events is being measured.

The formation of massive primordial stars in rapidly rotating disks

Massive primordial halos exposed to moderate UV backgrounds are the potential birthplaces of very massive stars or even supermassive black holes. In such a halo, an initially isothermal collapse will occur, leading to high accretion rates of $\sim0.1$~M$_\odot$~yr$^{-1}$. During the collapse, the gas in the interior will turn into a molecular state, and form an accretion disk due to the conservation of angular momentum. We consider here the structure of such an accretion disk and the role of viscous heating in the presence of high accretion rates for a central star of $10$, $100$ and $10^4$~M$_\odot$. Our results show that the temperature in the disk increases considerably due to viscous heating, leading to a transition from the molecular to the atomic cooling phase. We found that the atomic cooling regime may extend out to several $100$~AU for a $10^4$~M$_\odot$ central star and provides substantial support to stabilize the disk. It therefore favors the formation of a massive central object. The comparison of clump migration and contraction time scales shows that stellar feedback from these clumps may occur during the later stages of the evolution. Overall, viscous heating provides an important pathway to obtain an atomic gas phase within the center of the halo, and helps in the formation of very massive objects.

Models of Diffuse H{\alpha} in the Interstellar Medium: The Relative Contributions from In Situ Ionisation and Dust Scattering

Using three dimensional Monte Carlo radiation transfer models of photoionisation and dust scattering, we explore different components of the widespread diffuse H$\alpha$ emission observed in the interstellar medium of the Milky Way and other galaxies. We investigate the relative contributions of H$\alpha$ from recombination emission in ionised gas and H$\alpha$ that originates in H{\sc ii} regions near the Galactic midplane and scatters off high altitude dust in the diffuse interstellar medium. For the radiation transfer simulations we consider two geometries for the interstellar medium: a three dimensional fractal geometry that reproduces the average density structure inferred for hydrogen in the Milky Way, and a density structure from a magneto hydrodynamic simulation of a supernovae driven turbulent interstellar medium. Although some sight lines that are close to H{\sc ii} regions can be dominated by scattered light, overall we find that less than $\sim 20\%$ of the total H$\alpha$ intensity in our simulations can be attributed to dust scattering. Our findings on the relative contribution of scattered H$\alpha$ are consistent with previous observational and theoretical analyses. We also investigate the relative contributions of dust scattering and in situ ionisation of high density dust clouds in the diffuse gas. Dust scattering in these partially ionised clouds contribute $\sim 40\%$ to the total intensity of H$\alpha$.

The cycling of carbon into and out of dust

Observational evidence seems to indicate that the depletion of interstellar carbon into dust shows rather wide variations and that carbon undergoes rather rapid recycling in the interstellar medium (ISM). Small hydrocarbon grains are processed in photo-dissociation regions by UV photons, by ion and electron collisions in interstellar shock waves and by cosmic rays. A significant fraction of hydrocarbon dust must therefore be re-formed by accretion in the dense, molecular ISM. A new dust model (Jones et al., Astron. Astrophys., 2013, 558, A62) shows that variations in the dust observables in the diffuse interstellar medium (nH = 1000 cm^3), can be explained by systematic and environmentally-driven changes in the small hydrocarbon grain population. Here we explore the consequences of gas-phase carbon accretion onto the surfaces of grains in the transition regions between the diffuse ISM and molecular clouds (e.g., Jones, Astron. Astrophys., 2013, 555, A39). We find that significant carbonaceous dust re-processing and/or mantle accretion can occur in the outer regions of molecular clouds and that this dust will have significantly different optical properties from the dust in the adjacent diffuse ISM. We conclude that the (re-)processing and cycling of carbon into and out of dust is perhaps the key to advancing our understanding of dust evolution in the ISM.

Heteroatom-doped hydrogenated amorphous carbons, a-C:H:X 'Volatile' silicon, sulphur and nitrogen depletion, blue photoluminescence, diffuse interstellar bands and ferro-magnetic carbon grain connections (Research Note)

Context. Hydrogenated amorphous carbons, a-C:H, can incorporate a variety of heteroatoms, which can lead to interesting effects. Aims. To investigate the doping of interstellar a-C:H grains with, principally, Si, O, N and S atoms within the astrophysical context. Methods. A search of the literature on doped a-C:H reveals a number of interesting phenomena of relevance to astrophysics. Results. X dopants in a-C:H:X materials can affect the sp3/sp2 ratio (X = Si, O and N), lead to blue photoluminescence (undoped or X = N), induce ferromagnetic-like behaviour (X = N and S) or simply be incorporated (depleted) into the structure (X = Si, O, N and S). Si and N atoms could also incorporate into fullerenes, possibly forming colour-centres that could mimic diffuse interstellar bands. Conclusions. Doped a-C:H grains could explain several dust-related conundrums, such as: ‘volatile’ Si in photo-dissociation regions, S and N depletion in molecular clouds, blue luminescence, some diffuse interstellar bands and ferromagnetism in carbonaceous grains.

A framework for resolving the origin, nature and evolution of the diffuse interstellar band carriers?

The carriers of the diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs) still remain an unknown commodity. Both dust and molecules have been suggested as carriers but none proposed have yet been able to explain the nature and the diversity of the DIBs. Hence, it is perhaps time to review the problem in terms of the intermediate-sized nano-particles. It is here proposed that the DIB carriers are the nm-sized and sub- nm-sized products of the UV photo-fragmentation of hydrogenated amorphous carbon grains, a-C(:H), and their heteroatom-doped variants, a-C:H:X (where X may be O, N, Mg, Si, Fe, S, Ni, P, …). An interstellar hydrogenated amorphous carbon dust evolutionary framework is described within which a solution to the age-old DIB problem could perhaps be found.

Spiral structure in nearby galaxies II. comparative analysis and conclusions

This paper presents a detailed analysis of two-armed spiral structure in a sample of galax- ies from the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey (SINGS), with particular focus on the relationships between the properties of the spiral pattern in the stellar disc and the global struc- ture and environment of the parent galaxies. Following Paper I we have used a combination of Spitzer Space Telescope mid-infrared imaging and visible multi-colour imaging to isolate the spiral pattern in the underlying stellar discs, and we examine the systematic behaviours of the observed amplitudes and shapes (pitch angles) of these spirals. In general, spiral morphology is found to correlate only weakly at best with morphological parameters such as stellar mass, gas fraction, disc/bulge ratio, and vflat. In contrast to weak correlations with galaxy structure a strong link is found between the strength of the spiral arms and tidal forcing from nearby companion galaxies. This appears to support the longstanding suggestion that either a tidal interaction or strong bar is a necessary condition for driving grand-design spiral structure. The pitch angles of the stellar arms are only loosely correlated with the pitch angles of the corresponding arms traced in gas and young stars. We find that the strength of the shock in the gas and the contrast in the star formation rate are strongly correlated with the stellar spiral amplitude.

Census of blue stars in SDSS DR8

We present a census of the 12,060 spectra of blue objects ($(g-r)_0<-0.25$) in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Data Release 8 (DR8). As part of the data release, all of the spectra were cross-correlated with 48 template spectra of stars, galaxies and QSOs to determine the best match. We compared the blue spectra by eye to the templates assigned in SDSS DR8. 10,856 of the objects matched their assigned template, 170 could not be classified due to low signal-to-noise (S/N), and 1034 were given new classifications. We identify 7458 DA white dwarfs, 1145 DB white dwarfs, 273 rarer white dwarfs (including carbon, DZ, DQ, and magnetic), 294 subdwarf O stars, 648 subdwarf B stars, 679 blue horizontal branch stars, 1026 blue stragglers, 13 cataclysmic variables, 129 white dwarf – M dwarf binaries, 36 objects with spectra similar to DO white dwarfs, 179 QSOs, and 10 galaxies. We provide two tables of these objects, sample spectra that match the templates, figures showing all of the spectra that were grouped by eye, and diagnostic plots that show the positions, colors, apparent magnitudes, proper motions, etc. for each classification. Future surveys will be able to use templates similar to stars in each of the classes we identify to classify blue stars, including rare types, automatically.

Update on HI data collection from GBT, Parkes and Arecibo telescopes for the Cosmic Flows project

Cosmic Flows is an international multi-element project with the goal to map motions of galaxies in the Local Universe. Kinematic information from observations in the radio HI line and photometry at optical or near-infrared bands are acquired to derive the large majority of distances that are obtained through the luminosity-linewidth or Tully-Fisher relation. This paper gathers additional observational radio data, frequently unpublished, retrieved from the archives of Green Bank, Parkes and Arecibo telescopes. Extracted HI profiles are consistently processed to produce linewidth measurements. Our current "All-Digital HI Catalog" contains a total of 20,343 HI spectra for 17,738 galaxies with 14,802 galaxies with accurate linewidth measurement useful for Tully-Fisher galaxy distances. This addition of 4,117 new measurements represents an augmentation of 34\% compared to our last release.

A search for Population III galaxies in CLASH. I. Singly-imaged candidates at high redshift

Population III galaxies are predicted to exist at high redshifts and may be rendered sufficiently bright for detection with current telescopes when gravitationally lensed by a foreground galaxy cluster. Population III galaxies that exhibit strong Lya emission should furthermore be identifiable from broadband photometry because of their unusual colors. Here, we report on a search for such objects at z > 6 in the imaging data from the Cluster Lensing And Supernova survey with Hubble (CLASH), covering 25 galaxy clusters in 16 filters. Our selection algorithm returns five singly-imaged candidates with Lya-like color signatures, for which ground-based spectroscopy with current 8-10 m class telescopes should be able to test the predicted strength of the Lya line. None of these five objects have been included in previous CLASH compilations of high-redshift galaxy candidates. However, when large grids of spectral synthesis models are applied to the study of these objects, we find that only two of these candidates are significantly better fitted by Population III models than by more mundane, low-metallicity stellar populations.

Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope detection of two new HI 21cm absorbers at $z \approx 2$

I report the detection of HI 21cm absorption in two high column density damped Lyman-$\alpha$ absorbers (DLAs) at $z \approx 2$ using new wide-band $250-500$ MHz receivers onboard the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope. The integrated HI 21cm optical depths are $0.85 \pm 0.16$ km/s (TXS1755+578) and $2.95 \pm 0.15$ km/s (TXS1850+402). For the $z=1.9698$ DLA towards TXS1755+578, the difference in HI 21cm and CI profiles and the weakness of the radio core suggest that the HI 21cm absorption arises towards radio components in the jet, and that the optical and radio sightlines are not the same. This precludes an estimate of the DLA spin temperature. For the $z = 1.9888$ DLA towards TXS1850+402, the absorber covering factor is likely to be close to unity, as the background source is extremely compact, with all the 5 GHz emission arising from a region of size $\leq 1.4$ mas. This yields a DLA spin temperature of ${\rm T_s} = (372 \pm 18) \times (f/1.0)$ K, lower than typical ${\rm T_s}$ values in high-$z$ DLAs. This low spin temperature and the relatively high metallicity of the $z = 1.9888$ DLA ([Zn/H] $= (-0.68 \pm 0.04)$) are consistent with the anti-correlation between metallicity and spin temperature that has been earlier found in damped Lyman-$\alpha$ systems.

On the importance of using appropriate spectral models to derive physical properties of galaxies at 0.7<z<2.8

Interpreting observations of distant galaxies in terms of constraints on physical parameters – such as stellar mass, star-formation rate (SFR) and dust optical depth – requires spectral synthesis modelling. We analyse the reliability of these physical parameters as determined under commonly adopted `classical’ assumptions: star-formation histories assumed to be exponentially declining functions of time, a simple dust law and no emission-line contribution. Improved modelling techniques and data quality now allow us to use a more sophisticated approach, including realistic star-formation histories, combined with modern prescriptions for dust attenuation and nebular emission (Pacifici et al. 2012). We present a Bayesian analysis of the spectra and multi-wavelength photometry of 1048 galaxies from the 3D-HST survey in the redshift range 0.7<z<2.8 and in the stellar mass range 9<log(M/Mo)<12. We find that, using the classical spectral library, stellar masses are systematically overestimated (~0.1 dex) and SFRs are systematically underestimated (~0.6 dex) relative to our more sophisticated approach. We also find that the simultaneous fit of photometric fluxes and emission-line equivalent widths helps break a degeneracy between SFR and optical depth of the dust, reducing the uncertainties on these parameters. Finally, we show how the biases of classical approaches can affect the correlation between stellar mass and SFR for star-forming galaxies (the `Star-Formation Main Sequence’). We conclude that the normalization, slope and scatter of this relation strongly depend on the adopted approach and demonstrate that the classical, oversimplified approach cannot recover the true distribution of stellar mass and SFR.

The evolving SFR-M_star relation and sSFR since z~5 from the VUDS spectroscopic survey

We study the evolution of the star formation rate (SFR) – stellar mass (M_star) relation and specific star formation rate (sSFR) of star forming galaxies (SFGs) since a redshift z~5.5 using 2435 (4531) galaxies with highly reliable (reliable) spectroscopic redshifts in the VIMOS Ultra-Deep Survey (VUDS). It is the first time that these relations can be followed over such a large redshift range from a single homogeneously selected sample of galaxies with spectroscopic redshifts. The log(SFR) – log(M_star) relation for SFGs remains roughly linear all the way up to z=5 but the SFR steadily increases at fixed mass with increasing redshift. We find that for stellar masses M_star>3.2 x 10^9 M_sun the SFR increases by a factor ~13 between z=0.4 and z=2.3. We extend this relation up to z=5, finding an additional increase in SFR by a factor 1.7 from z=2.3 to z=4.8 for masses M_star > 10^10 M_sun. We observe a turn-off in the SFR-M_star relation at the highest mass end up to a redshift z~3.5. We interpret this turn-off as the signature of a strong on-going quenching mechanism and rapid mass growth. The sSFR increases strongly up to z~2 but it grows much less rapidly in 2<z<5. We find that the shape of the sSFR evolution is not well reproduced by cold gas accretion-driven models or the latest hydrodynamical models. Below z~2 these models have a flatter evolution (1+z)^{Phi} with Phi=2-2.25 compared to the data which evolves more rapidly with Phi=2.8+-0.2. Above z~2, the reverse is happening with the data evolving more slowly with Phi=1.2+-0.1. The observed sSFR evolution over a large redshift range 0<z<5 and our finding of a non linear main sequence at high mass both indicate that the evolution of SFR and M_star is not solely driven by gas accretion. The results presented in this paper emphasize the need to invoke a more complex mix of physical processes {abridge}

Direct formation of supermassive black holes in metal-enriched gas at the heart of high-redshift galaxy mergers

We present novel 3D multi-scale SPH simulations of gas-rich galaxy mergers between the most massive galaxies at $z \sim 8 – 10$, designed to scrutinize the direct collapse formation scenario for massive black hole seeds proposed in \citet{mayer+10}. The simulations achieve a resolution of 0.1 pc, and include both metallicity-dependent optically-thin cooling and a model for thermal balance at high optical depth. We consider different formulations of the SPH hydrodynamical equations, including thermal and metal diffusion. When the two merging galaxy cores collide, gas infall produces a compact, optically thick nuclear disk with densities exceeding $10^{-10}$ g cm$^3$. The disk rapidly accretes higher angular momentum gas from its surroundings reaching $\sim 5$ pc and a mass of $\gtrsim 10^9$ $M_{\odot}$ in only a few $10^4$ yr. Outside $\gtrsim 2$ pc it fragments into massive clumps. Instead, supersonic turbulence prevents fragmentation in the inner parsec region, which remains warm ($\sim 3000-6000$ K) and develops strong non-axisymmetric modes that cause prominent radial gas inflows ($> 10^4$ $M_{\odot}$ yr$^{-1}$), forming an ultra-dense massive disky core. Angular momentum transport by non-axisymmetric modes should continue below our spatial resolution limit, quickly turning the disky core into a supermassive protostar which can collapse directly into a massive black hole of mass $10^8-10^9$ $M_{\odot}$ via the relativistic radial instability. Such a "cold direct collapse"’ explains naturally the early emergence of high-z QSOs. Its telltale signature would be a burst of gravitational waves in the frequency range $10^{-4} – 10^{-1}$ Hz, possibly detectable by the planned eLISA interferometer.

Cosmological Tests Using the Angular Size of Galaxy Clusters [Cross-Listing]

We use measurements of the galaxy-cluster angular size versus redshift to test and compare the standard model (LCDM) and the R_h=ct Universe. We show that the latter fits the data with a reduced chi^2_dof=0.786 for a Hubble constant H_0= 72.6 (-3.4+3.8) km/s/Mpc, and H_0 is the sole parameter in this model. By comparison, the optimal flat LCDM model, with two free parameters (including Omega_m=0.50 and H_0=73.9 (-9.5+10.6) km/s/Mpc), fits the angular-size data with a reduced chi^2_dof=0.806. On the basis of their chi^2_dof values alone, both models appear to account for the data very well in spite of the fact that the R_h=ct Universe expands at a constant rate, while LCDM does not. However, because of the different number of free parameters in these models, selection tools, such as the Bayes Information Criterion, favour R_h=ct over LCDM with a likelihood of ~86% versus ~14%. These results impact the question of galaxy growth at large redshifts. Previous work suggested an inconsistency with the underlying cosmological model unless elliptical and disk galaxies grew in size by a surprisingly large factor ~6 from z~3 to 0. The fact that both LCDM and R_h=ct fit the cluster-size measurements quite well casts some doubt on the suggestion that the unexpected result with individual galaxies may be due to the use of an incorrect expansion scenario, rather than astrophysical causes, such as mergers and/or selection effects.

Cosmological Tests Using the Angular Size of Galaxy Clusters [Cross-Listing]

We use measurements of the galaxy-cluster angular size versus redshift to test and compare the standard model (LCDM) and the R_h=ct Universe. We show that the latter fits the data with a reduced chi^2_dof=0.786 for a Hubble constant H_0= 72.6 (-3.4+3.8) km/s/Mpc, and H_0 is the sole parameter in this model. By comparison, the optimal flat LCDM model, with two free parameters (including Omega_m=0.50 and H_0=73.9 (-9.5+10.6) km/s/Mpc), fits the angular-size data with a reduced chi^2_dof=0.806. On the basis of their chi^2_dof values alone, both models appear to account for the data very well in spite of the fact that the R_h=ct Universe expands at a constant rate, while LCDM does not. However, because of the different number of free parameters in these models, selection tools, such as the Bayes Information Criterion, favour R_h=ct over LCDM with a likelihood of ~86% versus ~14%. These results impact the question of galaxy growth at large redshifts. Previous work suggested an inconsistency with the underlying cosmological model unless elliptical and disk galaxies grew in size by a surprisingly large factor ~6 from z~3 to 0. The fact that both LCDM and R_h=ct fit the cluster-size measurements quite well casts some doubt on the suggestion that the unexpected result with individual galaxies may be due to the use of an incorrect expansion scenario, rather than astrophysical causes, such as mergers and/or selection effects.

Cosmological Tests Using the Angular Size of Galaxy Clusters

We use measurements of the galaxy-cluster angular size versus redshift to test and compare the standard model (LCDM) and the R_h=ct Universe. We show that the latter fits the data with a reduced chi^2_dof=0.786 for a Hubble constant H_0= 72.6 (-3.4+3.8) km/s/Mpc, and H_0 is the sole parameter in this model. By comparison, the optimal flat LCDM model, with two free parameters (including Omega_m=0.50 and H_0=73.9 (-9.5+10.6) km/s/Mpc), fits the angular-size data with a reduced chi^2_dof=0.806. On the basis of their chi^2_dof values alone, both models appear to account for the data very well in spite of the fact that the R_h=ct Universe expands at a constant rate, while LCDM does not. However, because of the different number of free parameters in these models, selection tools, such as the Bayes Information Criterion, favour R_h=ct over LCDM with a likelihood of ~86% versus ~14%. These results impact the question of galaxy growth at large redshifts. Previous work suggested an inconsistency with the underlying cosmological model unless elliptical and disk galaxies grew in size by a surprisingly large factor ~6 from z~3 to 0. The fact that both LCDM and R_h=ct fit the cluster-size measurements quite well casts some doubt on the suggestion that the unexpected result with individual galaxies may be due to the use of an incorrect expansion scenario, rather than astrophysical causes, such as mergers and/or selection effects.

The spectral energy distribution of the redshift 7.1 quasar ULAS J1120+0641

We present new observations of the highest-redshift quasar known, ULAS J1120+0641, redshift $z=7.084$, obtained in the optical, at near-, mid-, and far-infrared wavelengths, and in the sub-mm. We combine these results with published X-ray and radio observations to create the multiwavelength spectral energy distribution (SED), with the goals of measuring the bolometric luminosity $L_{\rm bol}$, and quantifying the respective contributions from the AGN and star formation. We find three components are needed to fit the data over the wavelength range $0.12-1000\,\mu$m: the unobscured quasar accretion disk and broad-line region, a dusty clumpy AGN torus, and a cool 47K modified black body to characterise star formation. Despite the low signal-to-noise ratio of the new long-wavelength data, the normalisation of any dusty torus model is constrained within $\pm40\%$. We measure a bolometric luminosity $L_{\rm bol}=2.6\pm0.6\times10^{47}\,$erg$\,$s$^{-1}=6.7 \pm 1.6\times10^{13}L_{\odot}$, to which the three components contribute $31\%,32\%,3\%$, respectively, with the remainder provided by the extreme UV $<0.12\,\mu$m. We tabulate the best-fit model SED. We use local scaling relations to estimate a star formation rate (SFR) in the range $60-270\,{\rm M}_\odot$/yr from the [C$\,{\scriptsize \rm II}$] line luminosity and the $158\,\mu$m continuum luminosity. An analysis of the equivalent widths of the [C$\,{\scriptsize \rm II}$] line in a sample of $z>5.7$ quasars suggests that these indicators are promising tools for estimating the SFR in high-redshift quasars in general. At the time observed the black hole was growing in mass more than 100 times faster than the stellar bulge, relative to the mass ratio measured in the local universe, i.e. compared to ${M_{\rm BH}}/{M_{\rm bulge}} \simeq 1.4\times10^{-3}$, for ULAS J1120+0641 we measure ${\dot{M}_{\rm BH}}/{\dot{M}_{\rm bulge}} \simeq 0.2$.

On the origin of the faint-end of the red sequence in high density environments

With the advent of the next generation wide-field cameras it became possible to survey in an unbiased mode galaxies spanning a variety of local densities, from the core of rich clusters, to compact and loose groups, down to filaments and voids. The sensitivity reached by these instruments allowed to extend the observation to dwarf galaxies, the most "fragile" objects in the universe. At the same time models and simulations have been tailored to quantify the different effects of the environment on the evolution of galaxies. Simulations, models, and observations consistently indicate that star-forming dwarf galaxies entering high-density environments for the first time can be rapidly stripped from their interstellar medium. The lack of gas quenches the activity of star formation, producing on timescales of ${\sim}$1~Gyr quiescent galaxies with spectro-photometric, chemical, structural, and kinematical properties similar to those observed in dwarf early-type galaxies inhabiting rich clusters and loose groups. Simulations and observations consistently identify ram pressure stripping as the major effect responsible for the quenching of the star-formation activity in rich clusters. Gravitational interactions (galaxy harassment) can also be important in groups or in clusters whenever galaxies have been members since early epochs. The observation of clusters at different redshifts combined with the present high infalling rate of galaxies onto clusters indicate that the quenching of the star-formation activity in dwarf systems and the formation of the faint end of the red sequence is a very recent phenomenon.

Searching for Be Stars in the Open Cluster NGC 663

We present Be star candidates in the open cluster NGC\,663, identified by H$\alpha$ imaging photometry with the Palomar Transient Factory Survey, as a pilot program to investigate how the Be star phenomena, the emission spectra, extended circumstellar envelopes, and fast rotation, correlate with massive stellar evolution. Stellar membership of the candidates was verified by 2MASS magnitudes and colors, and by proper motions. We discover 4 new Be stars and exclude one known Be star from being a member due to its inconsistent proper motions. The fraction of Be stars to member stars [N(Be)/N(members)] in NGC\,663 is 3.5\%. The spectral type of the 34 Be stars in NGC\,663 shows bimodal peaks at B0–B2 and B5–B7, which is consistent with the statistics in most star clusters. Additionally, we also discover 23 emission-line stars of different types, including non-member Be stars, dwarfs, and giants.

The HI dominated Low Surface Brightness Galaxy KKR17

We present new narrow-band (H$\alpha$ and [OIII]) imagings and optical spectrophotometry of HII regions for a gas-rich low surface brightness irregular galaxy, KKR 17. The central surface brightness of the galaxy is $\mu_0(B)$ = 24.15 $\pm$0.03 mag~sec$^{-2}$. The galaxy was detected by \emph{Arecibo Legacy Fast ALFA survey} (ALFALFA), and its mass is dominated by neutral hydrogen (HI) gas. In contrast, both the stellar masses of the bright HII and diffuse stellar regions are small. In addition, the fit to the spectral energy distribution to each region shows the stellar populations of HII and diffuse regions are different. The bright HII region contains a large fraction of O-type stars, revealing the recent strong star formation, whereas the diffuse region is dominated by median age stars, which has a typical age of $\sim$ 600 Myrs. Using the McGaugh’s abundance model, we found that the average metallicity of KKR 17 is 12 + (O/H) = 8.0 $\pm$ 0.1. The star formation rate of KKR 17 is 0.21$\pm$0.04 M$_{\odot}$/yr, which is $\sim$1/5 of our Milky Way’s. Based on the analysis results to young stellar clusters in HII region, it is found that the bright HII region showed two sub-components with different velocities and metallicities. This may be caused by the outflow of massive stars or merging events. However, the mechanism of triggering star formation in the HII region is still uncertain.

Recalibrating the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) W4 Filter

We present a revised effective wavelength and photometric calibration for the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) W4 band, including tests of empirically motivated modifications to its pre-launch laboratory-measured relative system response curve. We derived these by comparing measured W4 photometry with photometry synthesised from spectra of galaxies and planetary nebulae. The difference between measured and synthesised photometry using the pre-launch laboratory-measured W4 relative system response can be as large as 0.3 mag for galaxies and 1 mag for planetary nebulae. We find the W4 effective wavelength should be revised upward by 3.3%, from 22.1 micron to 22.8 micron, and the W4 AB magnitude of Vega should be revised from m = 6.59 to m = 6.66. In an attempt to reproduce the observed W4 photometry, we tested three modifications to the pre-launch laboratory-measured W4 relative system response curve, all of which have an effective wavelength of 22.8 micron. Of the three relative system response curve models tested, a model that matches the laboratory-measured relative system response curve, but has the wavelengths increased by 3.3% (or 0.73 micron) achieves reasonable agreement between the measured and synthesised photometry.

Nonlocal General Relativity [Cross-Listing]

A brief account of the present status of the recent nonlocal generalization of Einstein’s theory of gravitation is presented. The main physical assumptions that underlie this theory are described. We clarify the physical meaning and significance of Weitzenb\"ock’s torsion, and emphasize its intimate relationship with the gravitational field, characterized by the Riemannian curvature of spacetime. In this theory, nonlocality can simulate dark matter; in fact, in the Newtonian regime, we recover the phenomenological Tohline-Kuhn approach to modified gravity. To account for the observational data regarding dark matter, nonlocality is associated with a characteristic length scale of order 1 kpc. The confrontation of nonlocal gravity with observation is briefly discussed.

Nonlocal General Relativity

A brief account of the present status of the recent nonlocal generalization of Einstein’s theory of gravitation is presented. The main physical assumptions that underlie this theory are described. We clarify the physical meaning and significance of Weitzenb\"ock’s torsion, and emphasize its intimate relationship with the gravitational field, characterized by the Riemannian curvature of spacetime. In this theory, nonlocality can simulate dark matter; in fact, in the Newtonian regime, we recover the phenomenological Tohline-Kuhn approach to modified gravity. To account for the observational data regarding dark matter, nonlocality is associated with a characteristic length scale of order 1 kpc. The confrontation of nonlocal gravity with observation is briefly discussed.

Nonlocal General Relativity [Cross-Listing]

A brief account of the present status of the recent nonlocal generalization of Einstein’s theory of gravitation is presented. The main physical assumptions that underlie this theory are described. We clarify the physical meaning and significance of Weitzenb\"ock’s torsion, and emphasize its intimate relationship with the gravitational field, characterized by the Riemannian curvature of spacetime. In this theory, nonlocality can simulate dark matter; in fact, in the Newtonian regime, we recover the phenomenological Tohline-Kuhn approach to modified gravity. To account for the observational data regarding dark matter, nonlocality is associated with a characteristic length scale of order 1 kpc. The confrontation of nonlocal gravity with observation is briefly discussed.

3D Dust Mapping Reveals that Orion Forms Part of a Large Ring of Dust

The Orion Molecular Complex is the nearest site of ongoing high-mass star formation, making it one of the most extensively studied molecular complexes in the Galaxy. We have developed a new technique for mapping the 3D distribution of dust in the Galaxy using Pan-STARRS1 photometry. We isolate the dust at the distance to Orion using this technique, revealing a large (100 pc, 14 degree diameter), previously unrecognized ring of dust, which we term the "Orion dust ring." The ring includes Orion A and B, and is not coincident with current H-alpha features. The circular morphology suggests formation as an ancient bubble in the interstellar medium, though we have not been able to conclusively identify the source of the bubble. This hint at the history of Orion may have important consequences for models of high-mass star formation and triggered star formation.

Chitah: Strong-gravitational-lens hunter in imaging surveys

Strong gravitationally lensed quasars provide powerful means to study galaxy evolution and cosmology. Current and upcoming imaging surveys will contain thousands of new lensed quasars, augmenting the existing sample by at least two orders of magnitudes. To find such lens systems, we built a robot, Chitah, that hunts for lensed quasars by modeling the configuration of the multiple quasar images. Specifically, given an image of an object that might be a lensed quasar, Chitah first disentangles the light from the supposed lens galaxy and the light from the multiple quasar images based on color information. A simple rule is designed to categorize the given object into a potential four-image (quad) or two-image (double) lensed quasar system. The configuration of the identified quasar images is subsequently modeled to classify whether the object is a lensed quasar system. We test the performance of Chitah using simulated lens systems based on the Canada-France-Hawaii-Telescope Legacy Survey. For bright quads with large image separations (with Einstein radius $r_{\rm ein}>1.1"$), a high true-positive rate of $>$$90\%$ and a low false-positive rate of $<$$3\%$ show that this is a promising approach to search for new lens systems. We obtain high true-positive rate for lens systems with $r_{\rm ein}\gtrsim0.5"$, so the performance of Chitah is set by the seeing. We further feed a known gravitational lens system, COSMOS 5921+0638, to Chitah, and demonstrate that Chitah is able to classify successfully this real gravitational lens system. Our newly built Chitah is omnivorous and can hunt in any ground-based imaging surveys.

The Relation between Dynamical Mass-to-Light Ratio and Color for Massive Quiescent Galaxies out to z~2 and Comparison with Stellar Population Synthesis Models

We explore the relation between the dynamical mass-to-light ratio ($M/L$) and rest-frame color of massive quiescent galaxies out to z~2. We use a galaxy sample with measured stellar velocity dispersions in combination with Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based multi-band photometry. Our sample spans a large range in $\log M_{dyn}/L_{g}$ (of 1.6~dex) and $\log M_{dyn}/L_{K}$ (of 1.3~dex). There is a strong, approximately linear correlation between the $M/L$ for different wavebands and rest-frame color. The root-mean-scatter scatter in $\log~M_{dyn}/L$ residuals implies that it is possible to estimate the $M/L$ with an accuracy of ~0.25 dex from a single rest-frame optical color. Stellar population synthesis (SPS) models with a Salpeter stellar initial mass function (IMF) can not simultaneously match $M_{dyn}/L_{g}$ vs. $(g-z)_{rest-frame}$ and $M_{dyn}/L_{K}$ vs. $(g-K)_{rest-frame}$. By changing the slope of the IMF we are still unable to explain the M/L of the bluest and reddest galaxies. We find that an IMF with a slope between $\alpha=2.35$ and $\alpha=1.35$ provides the best match. We also explore a broken IMF with a Salpeter slope at $M<1M_{\odot}$ and $M>4M_{\odot}$ and a slope $\alpha$ in the intermediate region. The data favor a slope of $\alpha=1.35$ over $\alpha=2.35$. Nonetheless, our results show that variations between different SPS models are comparable to the IMF variations. In our analysis we assume that the variation in $M/L$ and color is driven by differences in age, and that other contributions (e.g., metallicity evolution, dark matter) are small. These assumptions may be an important source of uncertainty as galaxies evolve in more complex ways.

Leaving the dark ages with AMIGA

We present an Analytic Model of Intergalactic-medium and GAlaxy evolution since the dark ages. AMIGA is in the spirit of the popular semi-analytic models of galaxy formation, although it does not use halo merger trees but interpolates halo properties in grids that are progressively built. This strategy is less memory-demanding and allows one to start the modeling at redshifts high enough and halo masses low enough to have trivial boundary conditions. The number of free parameters is minimized by making the causal connection between physical processes usually treated as independent from each other, which leads to more reliable predictions. But the strongest points of AMIGA are: i) the inclusion of molecular cooling and metal-poor, population III (Pop III) stars, with the most dramatic feedback, and ii) the accurate follow-up of the temperature and volume filling factor of neutral, singly, and doubly ionized regions, taking into account the distinct halo mass functions in those environments. We find the following general results. Massive Pop III stars determine the IGM metallicity and temperature, and the growth of spheroids and disks is self-regulated by that of massive black holes developed from the remnants of those stars. Yet, the properties of normal galaxies and active galactic nuclei appear to be quite insensitive to Pop III star properties owing to the much higher yield of ordinary stars compared to Pop III stars and the dramatic growth of MBHs when normal galaxies begin to develop, which cause the memory loss of the initial conditions.

Astrochemistry of dust, ice and gas: introduction and overview

A brief introduction and overview of the astrochemistry of dust, ice and gas and their interplay is presented, aimed at non-specialists. The importance of basic chemical physics studies of critical reactions is illustrated through a number of recent examples. Such studies have also triggered new insight into chemistry, illustrating how astronomy and chemistry can enhance each other. Much of the chemistry in star- and planet-forming regions is now thought to be driven by gas-grain chemistry rather than pure gas-phase chemistry, and a critical discussion of the state of such models is given. Recent developments in studies of diffuse clouds and PDRs, cold dense clouds, hot cores, protoplanetary disks and exoplanetary atmospheres are summarized, both for simple and more complex molecules, with links to papers presented in this volume. In spite of many lingering uncertainties, the future of astrochemistry is bright: new observational facilities promise major advances in our understanding of the journey of gas, ice and dust from clouds to planets.

The Megamaser Cosmology Project. VI. Observations of NGC 6323

We present observations of the H2O megamasers in the accretion disk of NGC 6323. By combining interferometric and spectral monitoring data, we estimate H$_{0} = 73^{+26}_{-22}$ km/s/Mpc, where the low strength of the systemic masers (<15 mJy) limits the accuracy of this estimate. The methods developed here for dealing with weak maser emission provide guidance for observations of similar sources, until significant increases in radio telescope sensitivity, such as anticipated from the next generation Very Large Array, are realized.

The Implementation of Binned Kernel Density Estimation to Determine Open Clusters' Proper Motions: Validation of the Method

Stellar membership determination of an open cluster is an important process to do before further analysis. Basically, there are two classes of membership determination method: parametric and non-parametric. In this study, an alternative of non-parametric method based on Binned Kernel Density Estimation that accounts measurements errors (simply called BKDE-e) is proposed. This method is applied upon proper motions data to determine cluster’s membership kinematically and estimate the average proper motions of the cluster. Monte Carlo simulations show that the average proper motions determination using this proposed method is statistically more accurate than ordinary Kernel Density Estimator (KDE). By including measurement errors in the calculation, the mode location from the resulting density estimate is less sensitive to non-physical or stochastic fluctuation as compared to ordinary KDE that excludes measurement errors. For the typical mean measurement error of 7 mas/yr, BKDE-e suppresses the potential of miscalculation by a factor of two compared to KDE. With median accuracy of about 93%, BKDE-e method has comparable accuracy with respect to parametric method (modified Sanders algorithm). Application to real data from The Fourth USNO CCD Astrograph Catalog (UCAC4), especially to NGC 2682 is also performed. The mode of member stars distribution on Vector Point Diagram is located at $\mu_{\alpha}\cos\delta=-9.94\pm0.85$ mas/yr and $\mu_{\delta}=-4.92\pm0.88$ mas/yr. Although the BKDE-e performance does not overtake parametric approach, it serves a new view of doing membership analysis, expandable to astrometric and photometric data or even in binary cluster search.

HD/H2 as a probe of the roles of gas, dust, light, metallicity and cosmic rays in promoting the growth of molecular hydrogen in the diffuse interstellar medium

We modelled recent observations of UV absorption of HD and \HH\ in the Milky Way and toward damped/sub-damped Lyman alpha systems at z=0.18 and z $>$ 1.7. N(HD)/N(\HH) ratios reflect the separate self-shieldings of HD and \HH\ and the coupling introduced by deuteration chemistry. Locally, observations are explained by diffuse molecular gas with $ 16 \pccc \la$ n(H) $\la 128 \pccc $ if the cosmic-ray ionization rate per H-nucleus \zetaH $= 2\times 10^{-16}\ps$ as inferred from \H3\p\ and OH\p. The dominant influence on N(HD)/N(\HH) is the cosmic-ray ionization rate with a much weaker downward dependence on n(H) at Solar metallicity, but dust-extinction can drive N(HD) higher as with N(\HH). At z $>$ 1.7, N(HD) is comparable to the Galaxy but with 10x smaller N(\HH) and somewhat smaller N(\HH)/N(H I). Comparison of our Galaxy and the Magellanic Clouds shows that smaller \HH/H is expected at sub-Solar metallicity and we show by modelling that HD/\HH\ increases with density at low metallicity, opposite to the Milky Way. Observations of HD would be explained with higher n(H) at low metallicity but high-z systems have high HD/\HH\ at metallicity 0.04 $\la$ Z $\la$ 2 Solar. In parallel we trace dust-extinction and self-shielding effects. The abrupt \HH\ transition to \HH/H $\approx$ 1-10% occurs mostly from self-shielding although it is assisted by extinction for n(H) $\la 16 \pccc$. Interior \HH\ fractions are substantially increased by dust extinction below $\la 32\pccc$. At smaller n(H), \zetaH, small increases in \HH\ triggered by dust extinction can trigger abrupt increases in N(HD).

Compact starbursts in z~3-6 submillimeter galaxies revealed by ALMA

We report the source size distribution, as measured by ALMA millimetric continuum imaging, of a sample of 13 AzTEC-selected submillimeter galaxies (SMGs) believed to lie at z_photo ~ 3-6. Their infrared luminosities and star-formation rates (SFR) are L_IR ~ 2-6 x 10^12 L_sun and ~ 200-500 M_sun yr-1, respectively. The size of z ~ 3-6 SMGs ranges from 0”.10 to 0”.38 with a median of 0”.22 (FWHM), corresponding to a median effective radius (Re) of ~ 0.8 kpc, comparable to the typical size of the stellar component measured in compact quiescent galaxies at z ~ 2 (cQGs) — R ~ 1 kpc. The surface SFR density of our z ~ 3-6 SMGs is 160+610-82 M_sun yr-1 kpc-2, comparable to that seen in local merger-driven (U)LIRGs, which implies that these SMGs are also likely to be merger-driven. The discovery of compact starbursts in z >~ 3 SMGs strongly supports a massive galaxy formation scenario wherein z ~ 3-6 SMGs evolve into the compact stellar components of z ~ 2 cQGs. These cQGs are then thought to evolve into the most massive ellipticals in the local Universe, mostly via dry mergers. Our results thus suggest that z >~ 3 SMGs are the likely progenitors of massive local ellipticals, via cQGs, meaning that we can now trace the evolutionary path of the most massive galaxies over a period encompassing ~ 90% of the age of the Universe.

Triggering optical AGN: the need for cold gas, and the indirect roles of galaxy environment and interactions

We present a study of the prevalence and luminosity of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN; traced by optical spectra) as a function of both environment and galaxy interactions. For this study we used a sample of more than 250000 galaxies drawn from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and, crucially, we controlled for the effect of both stellar mass and central star formation activity. Once these two factors are taken into account, the effect of the local density of galaxies and of one-on-one interactions is minimal in both the prevalence of AGN activity and AGN luminosity. This suggests that the level of nuclear activity depends primarily on the availability of cold gas in the nuclear regions of galaxies and that secular processes can drive the AGN activity in the majority of cases. Large scale environment and galaxy interactions only affect AGN activity in an indirect manner, by influencing the central gas supply.

Observational Cosmology With Semi-Relativistic Stars

Galaxy mergers lead to the formation of massive black hole binaries which can accelerate background stars close to the speed of light. We estimate the comoving density of ejected stars with a peculiar velocity in excess of $0.1c$ or $0.5c$ to be $\sim 10^{10}$ and $10^5$ Gpc$^{-3}$ respectively, in the present-day Universe. Semi-relativistic giant stars will be detectable with forthcoming telescopes out to a distance of a few Mpc, where their proper motion, radial velocity, and age, can be spectroscopically measured. In difference from traditional cosmological messengers, such as photons, neutrinos, or cosmic-rays, these stars shine and so their trajectories need not be directed at the observer for them to be detected. Tracing the stars to their parent galaxies as a function of speed and age will provide a novel test of the equivalence principle and the standard cosmological parameters. Semi-relativistic stars could also flag black hole binaries as gravitational wave sources for the future eLISA observatory.

Probing the Physical Conditions of Atomic Gas at High Redshift

A new method is used to measure the physical conditions of the gas in damped Lyman-alpha systems (DLAs). Using high resolution absorption spectra of a sample of 80 DLAs, we are able to measure the ratio of the upper to lower fine-structure levels of the ground state of C II and Si II. These ratios are determined solely by the physical conditions of the gas. We explore the allowed physical parameter space using a Monte Carlo Markov Chain method to constrain simultaneously the temperature, neutral hydrogen density, and electron density of each DLA. The results indicate that at least 5 % of all DLAs have the bulk of their gas in a dense, cold phase with typical densities of ~100 cm-3 and temperatures below 500 K. We further find that the typical pressure of DLAs in our sample is log(P/k) = 3.4 [K cm-3], which is comparable to the pressure of the local interstellar medium (ISM), and that the components containing the bulk of the neutral gas can be quite small with absorption sizes as small as a few parsec. We show that the majority of the systems are consistent with having densities significantly higher than expected from a purely canonical WNM, indicating that significant quantities of dense gas (i.e. n_H > 0.1 cm-3) are required to match observations. Finally, we identify 8 systems with positive detections of Si II*. These systems have pressures (P/k) in excess of 20000 K cm-3, which suggest that these systems tag a highly turbulent ISM in young, star-forming galaxies.

The SCUBA-2 Cosmology Legacy Survey: ALMA resolves the rest-frame far-infrared emission of sub-millimeter galaxies

We present high-resolution (0.3”) ALMA 870um imaging of 52 sub-millimeter galaxies (SMGs) in the Ultra Deep Survey (UDS) field and investigate the size and morphology of the sub-millimeter (sub-mm) emission on 2-10kpc scales. We derive a median intrinsic angular size of FWHM=0.30$\pm$0.04” for the 23 SMGs in the sample detected at a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) >10. Using the photometric redshifts of the SMGs we show that this corresponds to a median physical half-light diameter of 2.4$\pm$0.2kpc. A stacking analysis of the SMGs detected at an SNR <10 shows they have sizes consistent with the 870um-bright SMGs in the sample. We compare our results to the sizes of SMGs derived from other multi-wavelength studies, and show that the rest-frame ~250um sizes of SMGs are consistent with studies of resolved 12CO (J=3-2 to 7-6) emission lines, but that sizes derived from 1.4GHz imaging appear to be approximately two times larger on average, which we attribute to cosmic ray diffusion. The rest-frame optical sizes of SMGs are around four times larger than the sub-millimeter sizes, indicating that the star formation in these galaxies is compact relative to the pre-existing stellar distribution. The size of the starburst region in SMGs is consistent with the majority of the star formation occurring in a central region, a few kpc in extent, with a median star formation rate surface density of 90$\pm$30Msol/yr/kpc$^2$, which may suggest that we are witnessing an intense period of bulge growth in these galaxies.

Marginal likelihoods of distances and extinctions to stars: computation and compact representation

We present a method for obtaining the likelihood function of distance and extinction to a star given its photometry. The other properties of the star (its mass, age, metallicity and so on) are marginalised assuming a simple Galaxy model. We demonstrate that the resulting marginalised likelihood function can be described faithfully and compactly using a Gaussian mixture model. For dust mapping applications we strongly advocate using monochromatic over bandpass extinctions, and provide tables for converting from the former to the latter for different stellar types.

The ages, metallicities and element abundance ratios of massive quenched galaxies at z~1.6

We investigate the stellar population properties of a sample of 24 massive quenched galaxies at $1.25 < z_\text{spec} < 2.09$ identified in the COSMOS field with our Subaru/MOIRCS near-infrared spectroscopic observations. Tracing the stellar population properties as close to their major formation epoch as possible, we try to put constraints on the star formation history, post-quenching evolution, and possible progenitor star-forming populations for such massive quenched galaxies. By using a set of Lick absorption line indices on a rest-frame optical composite spectrum, the average age, metallicity [Z/H], and $\alpha$-to-iron element abundance ratio [$\alpha$/Fe] are derived as $\log(\text{age}/\text{Gyr})=0.18_{-0.06}^{+0.04}$, $\text{[Z/H]}=0.08_{-0.07}^{+0.08}$, and $\text{[$\alpha$/Fe]}=0.36_{-0.09}^{+0.08}$, respectively. Pure passive evolution to $z=0$ brings the $< z > = 1.6$ quenched galaxies to the parameters in excellent agreement with local counterparts at similar stellar velocity dispersions, which qualifies them as progenitors of local massive early-type galaxies. Redshift evolution of stellar population ages in quenched galaxies combined with the low redshift measurement from the literature suggests a formation redshift of $z_\text{f} \sim 2.5$ around which the bulk of stars in these galaxies have been formed. The measured [$\alpha$/Fe] value indicates a star formation time scale of $\lesssim 350$ Myr which can be translated into a specific star formation rate of $\simeq 3\,\text{Gyr}^{-1}$ prior to the quenching. Based on these findings, we discuss to identify possible progenitor star-forming galaxies at $z \simeq 2.5$ and find normal star-forming galaxies, i.e, those on the star-forming main sequence, followed by quenching event invoked by some internal mechanisms as likely precursors of quenched galaxies at $< z > = 1.6$ presented here.

The Fastest Unbound Stars in the Universe

The discovery of hypervelocity stars (HVS) leaving our galaxy with speeds of nearly $10^{3}$ km s$^{-1}$ has provided strong evidence towards the existence of a massive compact object at the galaxy’s center. HVS ejected via the disruption of stellar binaries can occasionally yield a star with $v_{\infty} \lesssim 10^4$ km s$^{-1}$, here we show that this mechanism can be extended to massive black hole (MBH) mergers, where the secondary star is replaced by a MBH with mass $M_2 \gtrsim 10^5 M_{\odot}$. We find that stars that are originally bound to the secondary MBH are frequently ejected with $v_{\infty} > 10^4$ km s$^{-1}$, and occasionally with velocities $\sim 10^5$ km s$^{-1}$ (one third the speed of light), for this reason we refer to stars ejected from these systems as "semi-relativistic" hypervelocity stars (SHS). Bound to no galaxy, the velocities of these stars are so great that they can cross a significant fraction of the observable universe in the time since their ejection (several Gpc). We demonstrate that if a significant fraction of MBH mergers undergo a phase in which their orbital eccentricity is $\gtrsim 0.5$ and their periapse distance is tens of the primary’s Schwarzschild radius, the space density of fast-moving ($v_{\infty} > 10^{4}$ km s$^{-1}$) SHS may be as large as $10^{3}$ Mpc$^{-3}$. Hundreds of the SHS will be giant stars that could be detected by future all-sky infrared surveys such as WFIRST or Euclid and proper motion surveys such as LSST, with spectroscopic follow-up being possible with JWST.

SMT CO (2-1) Observations of Nearby Star-Forming Galaxies

We present CO $J$=2-1 observations towards 32 nearby gas-rich star-forming galaxies selected from the ALFALFA and WISE catalogs, using the Sub-millimeter Telescope. Our sample is selected to be dominated by intermediate-$M_{\rm *}$ galaxies. The scaling-relations between molecular gas, atomic gas and galactic properties (stellar mass, NUV$- r$ and WISE color W3$-$W2) are examined and discussed. Our results show that (1). In the galaxies with stellar mass $M_{\rm *}$ $\leqslant 10^{10}$ $M_{\odot}$, HI fraction ($f_{\rm HI}$ $\equiv$ $M_{\rm HI}$/$M_{\rm *}$) is significantly higher than that of more massive galaxies, while H$_2$ gas fraction ($f_{\rm H_2}$ $\equiv$ $M_{\rm H_2}$/$M_{\rm *}$) remain nearly unchanged. (2). Comparing with $f_{\rm H_2}$, $f_{\rm HI}$ correlates better with both $M_{\rm *}$ and NUV$- r$. (3). A new parameter, WISE color W3$-$W2 (12\,$\mu$m$-$4.6\,$\mu$m) is introduced, which is similar to NUV$- r$ in tracing star formation activity, and we find that W3$-$W2 has a tighter anti-correlation with log $f_{\rm H_2}$ than the anti-correlation of (NUV$- r$) – $f_{\rm HI}$, (NUV$- r$) – $f_{\rm H_2}$ and (W3$-$W2) – $f_{\rm HI}$. This indicates that W3$-$W2 can trace the H$_2$ fraction in galaxies. For gas ratio $M_{\rm H_2}$/$M_{\rm HI}$, only in the intermediate-$M_{\rm *}$ galaxies it appears to depend on $M_{\rm *}$ and NUV$- r$. We find a tight correlation between the molecular gas mass $M_{\rm H_2}$ and 12\,$\mu$m (W3) luminosities ($L_{\rm 12\,\mu m}$), and the slope is close to unity (1.03 $\pm$ 0.06) for the SMT sample. This correlation may reflect that the cold gas and dust are well mixed on global galactic scale. Using the all-sky 12\,$\mu$m (W3) data available in WISE, this correlation can be used to estimate CO flux for molecular gas observations and can even predict H$_2$ mass for star-forming galaxies.

Two Local Volume Dwarf Galaxies Discovered in 21 cm Emission: Pisces A and B

We report the discovery of two dwarf galaxies, Pisces A and B, from a blind 21 cm HI search. These were the only two galaxies found via optical imaging and spectroscopy of 22 HI clouds identified in the GALFA-HI survey as dwarf galaxy candidates. They have properties consistent with being in the Local Volume ($<10$ Mpc), and one has resolved stellar populations such that it may be on the outer edge of the Local Group ($\sim 1 \, {\rm Mpc}$ from M31). While the distance uncertainty makes interpretation ambiguous, these may be among the faintest starforming galaxies known. Additionally, rough estimates comparing these galaxies to $\Lambda$CDM dark matter simulations suggest consistency in number density, implying that dark matter halos likely to host these galaxies are primarily HI-rich. The galaxies may thus be indicative of a large population of dwarfs at the limit of detectability that are comparable to the faint satellites of the Local Group. Because they are outside the influence of a large dark matter halo to alter their evolution, these galaxies can provide critical anchors to dwarf galaxy formation models.

XMM-Newton Measurement of the Galactic Halo X-ray Emission using a Compact Shadowing Cloud

Observations of interstellar clouds that cast shadows in the soft X-ray background can be used to separate the background Galactic halo emission from the local emission due to solar wind charge exchange (SWCX) and/or the Local Bubble (LB). We present an XMM-Newton observation of a shadowing cloud, G225.60-66.40, that is sufficiently compact that the on- and off-shadow spectra can be extracted from a single field of view (unlike previous shadowing observations of the halo with CCD-resolution spectrometers, which consisted of separate on- and off-shadow pointings). We analyzed the spectra using a variety of foreground models: one representing LB emission, and two representing SWCX emission. We found that the resulting halo model parameters (temperature $T_h \approx 2 \times 10^6$ K, emission measure $E_h \approx 4 \times 10^{-3}$ cm$^{-6}$ pc) were not sensitive to the foreground model used. This is likely due to the relative faintness of the foreground emission in this observation. However, the data do favor the existence of a foreground. The halo parameters derived from this observation are in good agreement with those from previous shadowing observations, and from an XMM-Newton survey of the Galactic halo emission. This supports the conclusion that the latter results are not subject to systematic errors, and can confidently be used to test models of the halo emission.

Carriers of 4964 and 6196 diffuse interstellar bands and environments dominated by either CH or CH$^{+}$ molecules

The analysis of radial velocities of interstellar spectral features: CH, CH$^{+}$ as well as 4964 and 6196 diffuse interstellar bands, seen in spectra of HD 151932 and 152233, suggests that carrier of the former is spatially correlated with CH while that of the latter — with CH$^{+}$. A further analysis, done in this paper and based on the sample of 106 reddened OB stars, partly confirms this suggestion, showing that the CH column density correlates indeed much better with the equivalent width of the 4964 DIB than with that of the 6196 DIB. However, the strengths of the 6196 DIB correlate only marginally better with CH$^+$ than with CH.

 

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