Recent Postings from Galactic

Unfolding the Laws of Star Formation: The Density Distribution of Molecular Clouds

The formation of stars shapes the structure and evolution of entire galaxies. The rate and efficiency of this process are affected substantially by the density structure of the individual molecular clouds in which stars form. The most fundamental measure of this structure is the probability density function of volume densities (rho-PDF), which determines the star formation rates predicted with analytical models. This function has remained unconstrained by observations. We have developed an approach to quantify rho-PDFs and establish their relation to star formation. The rho-PDFs instigate a density threshold of star formation and allow us to quantify the star formation efficiency above it. The rho-PDFs provide new constraints for star formation theories and correctly predict several key properties of the star-forming interstellar medium.

Ca II Absorbers in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey: Statistics

We present the results of a survey for CaII 3934,3969 absorption-line systems culled from ~ 95,000 Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Data Release 7 and Data Release 9 quasar spectra. With 435 doublets identified in the catalog, this list is the largest CaII catalog compiled to date, spanning redshifts z < 1.34, which corresponds to the most recent ~ 8.9 Gyrs of the history of the Universe. We derive statistics on the CaII rest equivalent width distribution (REW) and incidence (number density per unit redshift). We find that the lambda3934 REW distribution cannot be described by a single exponential function. A double exponential function is required to produce a satisfactory description. The function can be written as a sum of weak and strong components: dn/dW = (N_wk*/W_wk*) exp(-W/W_wk*) + (N_str*/W_str*) exp(-W/W_str*). A maximum likelihood fit to the unbinned data indicates: N_wk*=0.140 +/- 0.029, W_wk*=0.165 +/- 0.020 A, N_str*=0.024 +/- 0.020, and W_str*=0.427 +/- 0.101 A. This suggests that the CaII absorbers are composed of at least two distinct populations. The incidence (product of integrated absorber cross section and their co-moving number density) of the overall CaII absorber population does not show evidence for evolution in the standard cosmology. The normalization of the no-evolution curve, i.e., the value of the CaII incidence extrapolated to redshift z=0, for lambda 3934 >= 0.3 A, is n_0=0.017 +/- 0.001. In comparison to MgII surveys, we found that only 3% of MgII systems in the SDSS have CaII, confirming that it is rare to identify CaII in quasar absorption-line surveys. We also report on some preliminary investigations of the nature of the two populations of CaII absorbers, and show that they can likely be distinguished using their MgII properties.

Diffuse Interstellar Bands vs. Known Atomic and Molecular Species in the Interstellar Medium of M82 toward SN 2014J

We discuss the absorption due to various constituents of the interstellar medium of M82 seen in moderately high resolution, high signal-to-noise ratio optical spectra of SN 2014J. Complex absorption from M82 is seen, at velocities 45 $\le$ $v_{\rm LSR}$ $\le$ 260 km s$^{-1}$, for Na I, K I, Ca I, Ca II, CH, CH$^+$, and CN; many of the diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs) are also detected. Comparisons of the column densities of the atomic and molecular species and the equivalent widths of the DIBs reveal both similarities and differences in relative abundances, compared to trends seen in the ISM of our Galaxy and the Magellanic Clouds. Of the ten relatively strong DIBs considered here, six (including $\lambda$5780.5) have strengths within $\pm$20% of the mean values seen in the local Galactic ISM, for comparable N(K I); two are weaker by 20–45% and two (including $\lambda$5797.1) are stronger by 25–40%. Weaker than "expected" DIBs [relative to N(K I), N(Na I), and E(B-V)] in some Galactic sight lines and toward several other extragalactic supernovae appear to be associated with strong CN absorption and/or significant molecular fractions. While the N(CH)/N(K I) and N(CN)/N(CH) ratios seen toward SN 2014J are similar to those found in the local Galactic ISM, the combination of high N(CH$^+$)/N(CH) and high W(5797.1)/W(5780.5) ratios has not been seen elsewhere. The centroids of many of the M82 DIBs are shifted, relative to the envelope of the K I profile — likely due to component-to-component variations in W(DIB)/N(K I) that may reflect the molecular content of the individual components. We compare estimates for the host galaxy reddening E(B-V) derived from the various interstellar species with the values estimated from optical and near-IR photometry of SN 2014J.

Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA): autoz spectral redshift measurements, confidence and errors

The Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey has obtained spectra of over 230000 targets using the Anglo-Australian Telescope. To homogenise the redshift measurements and improve the reliability, a fully automatic redshift code was developed (autoz). The measurements were made using a cross-correlation method for both absorption-line and emission-line spectra. Large deviations in the high-pass filtered spectra are partially clipped in order to be robust against uncorrected artefacts and to reduce the weight given to single-line matches. A single figure of merit (FOM) was developed that puts all template matches onto a similar confidence scale. The redshift confidence as a function of the FOM was fitted with a tanh function using a maximum likelihood method applied to repeat observations of targets. The method could be adapted to provide robust automatic redshifts for other large galaxy redshift surveys. For the GAMA survey, there was a substantial improvement in the reliability of assigned redshifts and in the lowering of redshift uncertainties with a median velocity uncertainty of 33 km/s.

Gas and Stellar Motions and Observational Signatures of Co-Rotating Spiral Arms

We have observed a snapshot of our N-body/Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics simulation of the Milky Way-sized barred spiral galaxy in a similar way to how we can observe the Milky Way. The simulated galaxy shows a co-rotating spiral arm, i.e. the spiral arm rotates with the same speed as the circular speed. We observed the rotation and radial velocities of the gas and stars as a function of the distance from our assumed location of the observer at the three lines of sight on the disc plane, (l,b)=(90,0), (120,0) and (150,0) deg. We find that the stars tend to rotate slower (faster) behind (at the front of) the spiral arm and move outward (inward), because of the radial migration. However, because of their epicycle motion, we see a variation of rotation and radial velocities around the spiral arm. On the other hand, the cold gas component shows a clearer trend of rotating slower (faster) and moving outward (inward) behind (at the front of) the spiral arm, because of the radial migration. We have compared the results with the velocity of the maser sources from Reid et al. (2014), and find that the observational data show a similar trend in the rotation velocity around the expected position of the spiral arm at l=120 deg. We also compared the distribution of the radial velocity from the local standard of the rest, V_LSR, with the APOGEE data at l=90 deg as an example. Interestingly, the APOGEE data have high V_LSR stars which may be difficult to reach without a resonance such as co-rotation.

On the interplay between star formation and feedback in galaxy formation simulations

Using high resolution cosmological zoom-in simulations of galaxy formation, we investigate the star formation-feedback cycle at high redshifts ($z>1$), focusing on progenitors of Milky Way-sized galaxies. Our star formation model is based on the local density of molecular hydrogen (H$_2$) forming on dust grains, as this may be an important ingredient for regulating star formation in the high redshift, metal-poor regime of galaxy formation. Our stellar feedback model accounts for energy and momentum from supernovae, stellar winds and radiation pressure. We use a suite of simulations with different parameters and assumptions about star formation and prescription recipes. We find that in order to reproduce global properties of the Milky Way progenitors, such as star formation history and stellar mass-halo mass relation, simulations should include 1) a combination of local early ($t\lesssim 4$ Myr) momentum feedback via radiation pressure and stellar winds and subsequent efficient supernovae feedback, and 2) the global star formation efficiency on kiloparsec scales should be feedback regulated. In particular, we find that in models with efficient feedback, the local efficiency of star formation per free fall time can be substantially larger than the global star formation efficiency inferred from the Kennicutt-Schmidt relation. We find that simulations that adopt inefficient star formation inferred from such relation fail to produce vigorous outflows and eject sufficient amounts of enriched gas in order to regulate the galactic baryon content. This illustrates the importance of understanding the complex interplay between star formation and feedback and the detailed processes that contribute to the feedback-regulated formation of galaxies. (Abridged for arXiv)

Careers in astronomy in Germany and the UK [Cross-Listing]

We discuss the outcomes of surveys addressing the career situation of astronomers in Germany and the UK, finding social and cultural differences between communities as well as gender bias in both.

Directly imaging damped Ly-alpha galaxies at z>2. II: Imaging and spectroscopic observations of 32 quasar fields

Damped Ly-alpha absorbers (DLAs) are a well-studied class of absorption line systems, and yet the properties of their host galaxies remain largely unknown. To investigate the origin of these systems, we have conducted an imaging survey of 32 quasar fields with intervening DLAs between z~1.9-3.8, leveraging a technique that allows us to image galaxies at any small angular separation from the background quasars. In this paper, we present the properties of the targeted DLA sample, new imaging observations of the quasar fields, and the analysis of new and archival spectra of the background quasars. In a companion paper we use these data to obtain an unbiased census of the DLA host galaxy population(s) and to directly measure the in-situ star formation rates of gas-rich galaxies at z>2.

Herschel-PACS Measurements of Nitrogen Enrichment in Nebulae around Wolf-Rayet Stars

For three nebulae that have early-WN Wolf-Rayet exciting stars, NGC 6888, WR 8 and Abell 48, we have obtained Herschel-PACS line scans of the [N III] 57 um and [O III] 88 micron lines, along with the 122 and 205 micron lines of [N II]. From the former two lines we have derived N$^{2+}$/O$^{2+}$ abundance ratios, equal to the overall N/O ratio under a wide range of nebular conditions. We find that all of the nebulae observed possess significant nitrogen enrichment, with derived N/O ratios greater than solar. The two nebulae with massive Wolf-Rayet exciting stars, NGC 6888 and WR8 are found to have N/O ratios that are enhanced by factors of 4.5 – 6.0 relative to the solar N/O ratio, consistent with an origin as material ejected just before the onset of the Wolf-Rayet phase. The other nebula, Abell 48, has recently been reclassified as a member of the rare class of three planetary nebulae that have early-WN central stars and are not of Peimbert Type I. We derive a nebular N/O ratio for it that is a factor of 2.4 enhanced relative to solar and within the range of N/O values that have been measured for the other three members of its [WN] planetary nebula class.

The X-ray Properties of the Cometary Blue Compact Dwarf galaxies Mrk 59 and Mrk 71

We present XMM-Newton and Chandra observations of two low-metallicity cometary blue compact dwarf (BCD) galaxies, Mrk 59 and Mrk 71. The first BCD, Mrk 59, contains two ultraluminous X-ray (ULX) sources, IXO 72 and IXO 73, both associated with bright massive stars and H II complexes, as well as one fainter extended source associated with a massive H II complex at the head of the cometary structure. The low-metallicity of Mrk 59 appears to be responsible for the presence of the two ULXs. IXO 72 has varied little over the last 10 yr, while IXO 73 has demonstrated a variability factor of ~4 over the same period. The second BCD, Mrk 71, contains two faint X-ray point sources and two faint extended sources. One point source is likely a background AGN, while the other appears to be coincident with a very luminous star and a compact H II region at the "head" of the cometary structure. The two faint extended sources are also associated with massive H II complexes. Although both BCDs have the same metallicity, the three sources in Mrk 71 have X-ray luminosities ~1-2 orders of magnitude fainter than those in Mrk 59. The age of the starburst may play a role.

X-Ray Emission from Star-Forming Galaxies - Signatures of Cosmic Rays and Magnetic Fields

The evolution of magnetic fields in galaxies is still an open problem in astrophysics. In nearby galaxies the far-infrared-radio correlation indicates the coupling between magnetic fields and star formation. The correlation arises from the synchrotron emission of cosmic ray electrons traveling through the interstellar magnetic fields. However, with an increase of the interstellar radiation field (ISRF), inverse Compton scattering becomes the dominant energy loss mechanism of cosmic ray electrons with a typical emission frequency in the X-ray regime. The ISRF depends on the one hand on the star formation rate and becomes stronger in starburst galaxies, and on the other hand increases with redshift due to the evolution of the cosmic microwave background. With a model for the star formation rate of galaxies, the ISRF, and the cosmic ray spectrum, we can calculate the expected X-ray luminosity resulting from the inverse Compton emission. Except for galaxies with an active galactic nucleus the main additional contribution to the X-ray luminosity comes from X-ray binaries. We estimate this contribution with an analytical model as well as with an observational relation, and compare it to the pure inverse Compton luminosity. Using data from the Chandra Deep Field Survey and far-infrared observations from ALMA we then determine upper limits for the cosmic ray energy. Assuming that the magnetic energy in a galaxy is in equipartition with the energy density of the cosmic rays, we obtain upper limits for the magnetic field strength. Our results suggest that the mean magnetic energy of young galaxies is similar to the one in local galaxies. This points toward an early generation of galactic magnetic fields, which is in agreement with current dynamo evolution models.

Mapping of interstellar clouds with infrared light scattered from dust: TMC-1N

Mapping of near-infrared (NIR) scattered light is a recent method for the study of interstellar clouds, complementing other, more commonly used methods, like dust emission and extinction. Our goal is to study the usability of this method on larger scale, and compare the properties of a filament using NIR scattering and other methods. We also study the radiation field and differences in grain emissivity between diffuse and dense areas. We have used scattered J, H, and K band surface brightness WFCAM-observations to map filament TMC-1N in Taurus, covering an area of 1dx1d corresponding to ~(2.44 pc)^2. We have converted the data into optical depth and compared the results with NIR extinction and Herschel observations of submm dust emission. We see the filament in scattered light in all three NIR bands. We note that our WFCAM observations in TMC-1N show notably lower intensity than previous results in Corona Australis using the same method. We show that 3D radiative transfer simulations predict similar scattered surface brightness levels as seen in the observations. However, changing the assumptions about the background can change the results of simulations notably. We derive emissivity by using optical depth in the J band as an independent tracer of column density. We obtain opacity sigma(250um) values 1.7-2.4×10^-25 cm^2/H, depending on assumptions of the extinction curve, which can change the results by over 40%. These values are twice as high as obtained for diffuse areas, at the lower limit of earlier results for denser areas. We show that NIR scattering can be a valuable tool in making high resolution maps. We conclude, however, that NIR scattering observations can be complicated, as the data can show relatively low-level artefacts. This suggests caution when planning and interpreting the observations.

Chemical evolution of classical and ultra-faint dwarf spheroidal galaxies

We present updated chemical evolution models of two dwarf spheroidal galaxies (Sculptor and Carina) and the first detailed chemical evolution models of two ultra-faint dwarfs (Hercules and Bo\"otes I). Our results suggest that the dwarf spheroidals evolve with a low efficiency of star formation, confirming previous results, and the ultra-faint dwarfs with an even lower one. Under these assumptions, we can reproduce the stellar metallicity distribution function, the $[\alpha/Fe]$ vs. $[Fe/H]$ abundance patterns and the total stellar and gas masses observed at the present time in these objects. In particular, for the ultra-faint dwarfs we assume a strong initial burst of star formation, with the mass of the system being already in place at early times. On the other hand, for the classical dwarf spheroidals the agreement with the data is found by assuming the star formation histories suggested by the Color-Magnitude diagrams and a longer time-scale of formation via gas infall. We find that all these galaxies should experience galactic winds, starting in all cases before $1$ Gyr from the beginning of their evolution. From comparison with Galaxy data, we conclude that it is unlikely that the ultra-faint dwarfs have been the building blocks of the whole Galactic halo, although more data are necessary before drawing firm conclusions.

Herschel Planetary Nebula Survey (HerPlaNS) - First Detection of OH+ in Planetary Nebulae

We report the first detections of OH+ emission in planetary nebulae (PNe). As part of an imaging and spectroscopy survey of 11 PNe in the far-IR using the PACS and SPIRE instruments aboard the Herschel Space Observatory, we performed a line survey in these PNe over the entire spectral range between 51 and 672$\mu$m to look for new detections. OH+ rotational emission lines at 152.99, 290.20, 308.48, and 329.77$\mu$m were detected in the spectra of three planetary nebulae: NGC 6445, NGC 6720, and NGC 6781. Excitation temperatures and column densities derived from these lines are in the range of 27 to 47 K and 2 x $10$^{10}$ to 4 x $10$^{11}$ cm$^{-2}$, respectively. In PNe, the OH+ rotational line emission appears to be produced in the photodissociation region (PDR) in these objects. The emission of OH+ is observed only in PNe with hot central stars (Teff > 100000 K), suggesting that high-energy photons may play a role in the OH+ formation and its line excitation in these objects, as it seems to be the case for ultraluminous galaxies.

Filaments in the southern giant lobe of Centaurus A: constraints on nature and origin from modelling and GMRT observations

We present results from imaging of the radio filaments in the southern giant lobe of Centaurus A using data from GMRT observations at 325 and 235 MHz, and outcomes from filament modelling. The observations reveal a rich filamentary structure, largely matching the morphology at 1.4 GHz. We find no clear connection of the filaments to the jet. We seek to constrain the nature and origin of the vertex and vortex filaments associated with the lobe and their role in high-energy particle acceleration. We deduce that these filaments are at most mildly overpressured with respect to the global lobe plasma showing no evidence of large-scale efficient Fermi I-type particle acceleration, and persist for ~ 2-3 Myr. We demonstrate that the dwarf galaxy KK 196 (AM 1318-444) cannot account for the features, and that surface plasma instabilities, the internal sausage mode and radiative instabilities are highly unlikely. An internal tearing instability and the kink mode are allowed within the observational and growth time constraints and could develop in parallel on different physical scales. We interpret the origin of the vertex and vortex filaments in terms of weak shocks from transonic MHD turbulence or from a moderately recent jet activity of the parent AGN, or an interplay of both.

A compendium of AGN inclinations with corresponding UV/optical continuum polarization measurements

The anisotropic nature of active galactic nuclei (AGN) is thought to be responsible for the observational differences between type-1 (pole-on) and type-2 (edge-on) nearby Seyfert-like galaxies. In this picture, the detection of emission and/or absorption features is directly correlated to the inclination of the system. The AGN structure can be further probed by using the geometry-sensitive technique of polarimetry, yet the pairing between observed polarization and Seyfert type remains poorly examined. Based on archival data, I report here the first compilation of 53 estimated AGN inclinations matched with ultraviolet/optical continuum polarization measurements. Corrections, based on the polarization of broad emission lines, are applied to the sample of Seyfert-2 AGN to remove dilution by starburst light and derive information about the scattered continuum alone. The resulting compendium agrees with past empirical results, i.e. type-1 AGN show low polarization degrees (P < 1%) predominantly associated with a polarization position angle parallel to the projected radio axis of the system, while type-2 objects show stronger polarization percentages (P > 7%) with perpendicular polarization angles. The transition between type-1 and type-2 inclination occurs between 45 and 60 degrees without noticeable impact on P. The compendium is further used as a test to investigate the relevance of four AGN models. While an AGN model with fragmented regions matches observations better than uniform models, a structure with a failed dusty wind along the equator and disc-born, ionized, polar outflows is by far closer to observations. However, although the models correctly reproduce the observed dichotomy between parallel and perpendicular polarization, as well as correct polarization percentages at type-2 inclinations, further work is needed to account for some highly polarized type-1 AGN

Color-Magnitude Distribution of Face-on Nearby Galaxies in SDSS DR7 [Replacement]

We have analyzed the distributions in the color-magnitude diagram (CMD) of a large sample of face-on galaxies to minimize the effect of dust extinctions on galaxy color. About 300 thousand galaxies with $log(a/b) < $ 0.2 and redshift $z < 0.2$ are selected from the SDSS DR7 catalog. Two methods are employed to investigate the distributions of galaxies in the CMD including 1-D Gaussian fitting to the distributions in individual magnitude bins and 2-D Gaussian mixture model (GMM) fitting to galaxies as a whole. We find that in the 1-D fitting only two Gaussians are not enough to fit galaxies with the excess present between the blue cloud and the red sequence. The fitting to this excess defines the centre of the green-valley in the local universe to be $(u-r)_{0.1} = -0.121M_{r,0.1}-0.061$. The fraction of blue cloud and red sequence galaxies turns over around $M_{r,0.1} \sim -20.1$ mag, corresponding to stellar mass of $3\times10^{10}M_\odot$. For the 2-D GMM fitting, a total of four Gaussians are required, one for the blue cloud, one for the red sequence and the additional two for the green valley. The fact that two Gaussians are needed to describe the distributions of galaxies in the green valley is consistent with some models that argue for two different evolutionary paths from the blue cloud to the red sequence.

Color-Magnitude Distribution of Face-on Nearby Galaxies in SDSS DR7

We have analyzed the distributions in the color-magnitude diagram (CMD) of a large sample of face-on galaxies to minimize the effect of dust extinctions on galaxy color. About 300 thousand galaxies with $log(a/b) < $ 0.2 and redshift $z < 0.2$ are selected from the SDSS DR7 catalog. Two methods are employed to investigate the distributions of galaxies in the CMD including 1-D Gaussian fitting to the distributions in individual magnitude bins and 2-D Gaussian mixture model (GMM) fitting to galaxies as a whole. We find that in the 1-D fitting only two Gaussians are not enough to fit galaxies with the excess present between the blue cloud and the red sequence. The fitting to this excess defines the centre of the green-valley in the local universe to be $(u-r)_{0.1} = -0.121M_{r,0.1}-0.061$. The fraction of blue cloud and red sequence galaxies turns over around $M_{r,0.1} \sim -20.1$ mag, corresponding to stellar mass of $3\times10^{10}M_\odot$. For the 2-D GMM fitting, a total of four Gaussians are required, one for the blue cloud, one for the red sequence and the additional two for the green valley. The fact that two Gaussians are needed to describe the distributions of galaxies in the green valley is consistent with some models that argue for two different evolutionary paths from the blue cloud to the red sequence.

A multiwavelength analysis of the clumpy FIR-bright sources in M33

We present a multiwavelength study of a sample of far-infrared (FIR) sources detected on the Herschel broad–band maps of the nearby galaxy M33. We perform source photometry on the FIR maps as well as mid-infrared (MIR), H$\alpha$, far-ultraviolet and integrated HI and CO line emission maps. By fitting MIR/FIR dust emission spectra, the source dust masses, temperatures and luminosities are inferred. The sources are classified based on their H$\alpha$ morphology (substructured versus not-substructured) and on whether they have a significant CO detection ($S/N>$3$\sigma$). We find that the sources have dust masses in the range 10$^2$-10$^4$~M$_\odot$ and that they present significant differences in their inferred dust/star formation/gas parameters depending on their H$\alpha$ morphology and CO detection classification. The results suggests differences in the evolutionary states or in the number of embedded HII regions between the subsamples. The source background–subtracted dust emission seems to be predominantly powered by local star formation, as indicated by a strong correlation between the dust luminosity and the dust-corrected H$\alpha$ luminosity and the fact that the extrapolated young stellar luminosity is high enough to account for the observed dust emission. Finally, we do not find a strong correlation between the dust-corrected H$\alpha$ luminosity and the dust mass of the sources, consistent with previous results on the breakdown of simple scaling relations at sub-kpc scales. However, the scatter in the relation is significantly reduced by correcting the H$\alpha$ luminosity for the age of the young stellar populations in the star–forming regions.

Close companions to two high-redshift quasars

We report the serendipitous discoveries of companion galaxies to two high-redshift quasars. SDSS J025617.7+001904 is a z=4.79 quasar included in our recent survey of faint quasars in the SDSS Stripe 82 region. The initial MMT slit spectroscopy shows excess Lyman alpha emission extending well beyond the quasar’s light profile. Further imaging and spectroscopy with LBT/MODS1 confirms the presence of a bright galaxy (i_AB = 23.6) located 2arcsec (11 kpc projected) from the quasar with strong Lyman alpha emission (EW_0 ~ 100Ang) at the redshift of the quasar, as well as faint continuum. The second quasar, CFHQS J005006.6+344522 (z=6.25), is included in our recent HST SNAP survey of z~6 quasars searching for evidence of gravitational lensing. Deep imaging with ACS and WFC3 confirms an optical dropout ~4.5 mag fainter than the quasar (Y_AB=25) at a separation of 0.9 arcsec. The red i_775-Y_105 color of the galaxy and its proximity to the quasar (7 kpc projected if at the quasar redshift) strongly favor an association with the quasar; although much fainter than the quasar it is remarkably bright when compared to field galaxies at this redshift, while showing no evidence for lensing. Both systems likely represent late-stage mergers of two massive galaxies, with the observed light for one dominated by powerful ongoing star formation and for the other by rapid black hole growth. Observations of close companions are rare; if major mergers are primarily responsible for high-redshift quasar fueling then the phase when progenitor galaxies can be observed as bright companions is relatively short.

ALMA resolves turbulent, rotating [CII] emission in a young starburst galaxy at z=4.8

We present spatially resolved Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) [CII] observations of the z=4.7555 submillimetre galaxy, ALESS 73.1. Our 0.5" FWHM map resolves the [CII] emitting gas which is centred close to the active galactic nucleus (AGN). The gas kinematics are dominated by rotation but with high turbulence, v_rot/sigma_int~3.1, and a Toomre Q parameter <1 throughout the disk. By fitting three independent thin rotating disk models to our data, we derive a total dynamical mass of 3+-2×10^10 M_sol. This is close to the molecular gas mass derived from previous CO(2-1) observations, and implies a CO to H_2 conversion factor alpha_CO<2.3M_sol(K km/s/pc^2)^-1. The mass budget also constrains the stellar mass to <3.1×10^10 M_sol, and entails a gas fraction of f_gas>~0.4. The diameter of the dust continuum emission is <2 kpc, while the star-formation rate is as high as 1000 M_sol/yr. Combined with our stellar mass constraint, this implies an extreme specific star formation rate >80 Gyr^{-1}, especially since there are no clear indications of recent merger activity. Finally, our high signal-to-noise [CII] measurement revises the observed [NII]/[CII] ratio, which suggests a close to solar metallicity, unless the [CII] flux contains significant contributions from HII regions. Our observations suggest that ALESS73.1 is a nascent galaxy undergoing its first major burst of star formation, embedded within an unstable but metal-rich gas disk.

Characterizing the structure of diffuse emission in Hi-GAL maps

We present a study of the structure of the Galactic interstellar medium through the Delta-variance technique, related to the power spectrum and the fractal properties of infrared/sub-mm maps. Through this method, it is possible to provide quantitative parameters which are useful to characterize different morphological and physical conditions, and to better constrain the theoretical models. In this respect, the Herschel Infrared Galactic Plane Survey carried out at five photometric bands from 70 to 500 \mu m constitutes an unique database for applying statistical tools to a variety of regions across the Milky Way. In this paper, we derive a robust estimate of the power-law portion of the power spectrum of four contiguous 2{\deg}x2{\deg} Hi-GAL tiles located in the third Galactic quadrant (217{\deg} < l < 225{\deg}, -2{\deg} < b < 0{\deg}). The low level of confusion along the line of sight testified by CO observations makes this region an ideal case. We find very different values of the power spectrum slope from tile to tile but also from wavelength to wavelength (2 < \beta < 3), with similarities between fields attributable to components located at the same distance. Thanks to the comparison with models of turbulence, an explanation of the determined slopes in terms of the fractal geometry is also provided, and possible relations with the underlying physics are investigated. In particular, an anti-correlation between ISM fractal dimension and star formation efficiency is found for the two main distance components observed in these fields. A possible link between the fractal properties of the diff?use emission and the resulting clump mass function is discussed.

Environments of interacting transients: Impostors and type IIn supernovae

This paper presents one of the first environmental analyses of the locations of the class of `interacting transients’, namely type IIn supernovae and supernova Impostors. We discuss the association of these transients with star formation, host galaxy type, metallicity, and the locations of each event within the respective host. Given the frequent assumption of very high mass progenitors for these explosions from various studies, most notably a direct progenitor detection, it is interesting to note the weak association of these subtypes with star formation as traced by H{\alpha} emission, particularly in comparison with type Ic supernovae, which trace the H{\alpha} emission and are thought to arise from high mass progenitors. The radial distributions of these transients compared to type Ic supernovae are also very different. This provides evidence for the growing hypothesis that these `interacting transients’ are in fact comprised of a variety of progenitor systems. The events contained within this sample are discussed in detail, where information in the literature exists, and compared to the environmental data provided. Impostors are found to split into two main classes, in terms of environment: SN2008S-like Impostors fall on regions of zero H{\alpha} emission, whereas {\eta}-Carina-like Impostors all fall on regions with positive H{\alpha} emission. We also find indications that the Impostor class originate from lower metallicity environments than type IIn, Ic and IIP SNe.

Probing Asymmetric Structures in the Outskirts of Galaxies

Upcoming large imaging surveys will allow detailed studies of the structure and morphology of galaxies aimed at addressing how galaxies form and evolve. Computational approaches are needed to characterize their morphologies over large samples. We introduce an automatic method to quantify the outer structure of galaxies. The key to our approach is the division of a galaxy image into two sections delineated by the isophote which encloses half the total brightness of the galaxy. We call the central section the inner half-flux region (IHR) and the outer section the outer half-flux region (OHR). From this division, we derive two parameters: $A_{\rm o}$, which measures the asymmetry of the OHR, and $D_{\rm o}$, which measures the deviation of the intensity weighted centroid of the OHR from that of the IHR relative to the effective radius. We derive the two parameters from $HST$/ACS $z_{850}$-band images for a sample of 764 galaxies with $z_{850}<22$ mag and $0.35<z<0.9$ selected from GEMS and GOODS-South surveys. We show that the sample galaxies having strong asymmetric structures, in particular tidal tails, are well-separated from those with regular morphologies in the $A_{\rm o}$-$D_{\rm o}$ space. Meanwhile, the widely used $CAS$ and Gini-$M_{20}$ methods turn out to be insensitive to such morphological features. We stress that the $A_{\rm o}$-$D_{\rm o}$ method is an efficient way to select galaxies with significant asymmetric features like tidal tails and study galaxy mergers in the dynamical phase traced by these delicate features.

Re-growth of stellar disks in mature galaxies: The two component nature of NGC 7217 revisited with VIRUS-W

Previous studies have reported the existence of two counter-rotating stellar disks in the early-type spiral galaxy NGC7217. We have obtained high-resolution optical spectroscopic data (R ~ 9000) with the new fiber-based Integral Field Unit instrument VIRUS-W at the 2.7m telescope of the McDonald Observatory in Texas. Our analysis confirms the existence of two components. However, we find them to be co-rotating. The first component is the more luminous (~ 77% of the total light), has the higher velocity dispersion (~ 170 km/s) and rotates relatively slowly (projected $v_{max}$ = 50 km/s). The lower luminosity second component, (~ 23% of the total light), has a low velocity dispersion (~ 20 km/s) and rotates quickly (projected $v_{max}$ = 150 km/s). The difference in the kinematics of the two stellar components allows us to perform a kinematic decomposition and to measure the strengths of their Mg and Fe Lick indices separately. The rotational velocities and dispersions of the less luminous and faster component are very similar to those of the interstellar gas as measured from the [OIII] emission. Morphological evidence of active star formation in this component further suggests that NGC7217 may be in the process of (re)growing a disk inside a more massive and higher dispersion stellar halo. The kinematically cold and regular structure of the gas disk in combination with the central almost dust-free morphology allows us to compare the dynamical mass inside of the central 500pc with predictions from a stellar population analysis. We find agreement between the two if a Kroupa stellar initial mass function is assumed.

Infrared H3+ and CO Studies of the Galactic Core: GCIRS 3 and GCIRS 1W

We have obtained improved spectra of key fundamental band lines of H3+, R(1,1)l, R(3,3)l, and R(2,2)l, and ro-vibrational transitions of CO on sightlines toward the luminous infrared sources GCIRS 3 and GCIRS 1W, each located in the Central Cluster of the Galactic center within several arcseconds of Sgr A*. The spectra reveal absorption occurring in three kinds of gaseous environments: (1) cold dense and diffuse gas associated with foreground spiral/lateral arms; (2) warm and diffuse gas absorbing over a wide and mostly negative velocity range, which appears to fill a significant fraction of the Galaxy’s Central Molecular Zone (CMZ); and (3) warm, dense and compact clouds with velocities near +50 km s^-1 probably within 1-2 pc of the center. The absorptions by the first two cloud types are nearly identical for all the sources in the Central Cluster, and are similar to those previously observed on sightlines from Sgr A* to 30 pc east of it. Cloud type (3), which has only been observed toward the Central Cluster, shows distinct differences between the sightlines to GCIRS 3 and GCIRS 1W, which are separated on the sky by only 0.33 pc in projection. We identify this material as part of an inward extension of the Circumnuclear Disk previously known from HCN mapping. Lower limits on the products of the hydrogen ionization rate zeta and the path length L are 2.3 x 10^5 cm s^-1 and 1.5 x 10^3 cm s^-1 for the warm and diffuse CMZ gas and for the warm and dense clouds in the core, respectively. The limits indicate that the ionization rates in these regions are well above 10^-15 s^-1.

The tiny globulettes in the Carina Nebula

Small molecular cloudlets are abundant in many H II regions surrounding newborn stellar clusters. In optical images these so-called globulettes appear as dark silhouettes against the bright nebular background. We have located close to 300 globulettes in the Carina Nebula. The objects appear as well-confined dense clumps and, as a rule, lack thinner envelopes, bright rims, and tails. Some globulettes are slightly elongated with their major axes oriented in the direction of young clusters in the complex. Many objects are quite isolated and reside at projected distances >1.5 pc from other molecular structures in the region. No globulette coincides in position with recognized pre-main-sequence objects in the area. The objects are systematically much smaller, less massive, and much denser than those surveyed in other H II regions. Practically all globulettes are of planetary mass, and most have masses less than one Jupiter mass. The average number densities exceed 10^5 cm^-3 in several objects. We have found a statistical relation between density and radius (mass) in the sense that the smallest objects are also the densest. The population of small globulettes in Carina appears to represent a more advanced evolutionary state than those investigated in other H II regions. The objects are subject to erosion in the intense radiation field, which would lead to a removal of any thinner envelope and an unveiling of the core, which becomes more compact with time. We discuss the possibility that the core may become gravitationally unstable, in which case free-floating planetary mass objects can form.

The bias of weighted dark matter halos from peak theory

We give an analytical form for the weighted correlation function of peaks in a Gaussian random field. In a cosmological context, this approach strictly describes the formation bias and is the main result here. Nevertheless, we show its validity and applicability to the evolved cosmological density field and halo field, using Gaussian random field realisations and dark matter N-body numerical simulations. Using this result from peak theory we compute the bias of peaks (and dark matter halos) and show that it reproduces results from the simulations at the ${\mathcal O}(10\%)$ level. Our analytical formula for the bias predicts a scale-dependent bias with two characteristics: a broad band shape which, however, is most affected by the choice of weighting scheme and evolution bias, and a more robust, narrow feature localised at the BAO scale, an effect that is confirmed in simulations. This scale-dependent bias smooths the BAO feature but, conveniently, does not move it. We provide a simple analytic formula to describe this effect. We envision that our analytic solution will be of use for galaxy surveys that exploit galaxy clustering.

The giant HII region NGC 588 as a benchmark for 2D photoionisation models

We use optical integral field spectroscopy and 8 and 24 micron mid-IR observations of the giant HII region NGC 588 in the disc of M33 as input and constraints for two-dimensional tailor-made photoionisation models. Two different geometrical approaches are followed for the modelling structure: i) Each spatial element of the emitting gas is studied individually using models which assume that the ionisation structure is complete in each element to look for azimuthal variations across gas and dust. ii) A single model is considered, and the two-dimensional structure of the gas and the dust are assumed to be due to the projection of an emitting sphere onto the sky. The models in both assumptions reproduce the radial profiles of Hbeta surface brightness, the observed number of ionising photons, and the strong optical emission-line relative intensities. The first approach produces a constant-density matter-bounded thin shell of variable thickness and dust-to-gas ratio, while the second gives place to a radiation-bounded thick shell sphere of decreasing particle density. However, the radial profile of the 8/24 microns IR ratio, depending on the gas and dust geometry, only fits well when the thick-shell model is used. The resulting dust-to-gas mass ratio, which was obtained empirically from the derived dust mass using data from Spitzer, also has a better fit using the thick-shell solution. In both approaches, models support the chemical homogeneity, and the ionisation-parameter radial decrease, These results must be taken with care in view of the very low extinction values that are derived from the IR, as compared to that derived from the Balmer decrement. Besides, the IR can be possibly contaminated with the emission from a cloud of diffuse gas and dust above the plane of the galaxy detected at 250 micron Herschel image.

The giant HII region NGC 588 as a benchmark for 2D photoionisation models [Replacement]

We use optical integral field spectroscopy and 8 and 24 micron mid-IR observations of the giant HII region NGC 588 in the disc of M33 as input and constraints for two-dimensional tailor-made photoionisation models. Two different geometrical approaches are followed for the modelling structure: i) Each spatial element of the emitting gas is studied individually using models which assume that the ionisation structure is complete in each element to look for azimuthal variations across gas and dust. ii) A single model is considered, and the two-dimensional structure of the gas and the dust are assumed to be due to the projection of an emitting sphere onto the sky. The models in both assumptions reproduce the radial profiles of Hbeta surface brightness, the observed number of ionising photons, and the strong optical emission-line relative intensities. The first approach produces a constant-density matter-bounded thin shell of variable thickness and dust-to-gas ratio, while the second gives place to a radiation-bounded thick shell sphere of decreasing particle density. However, the radial profile of the 8/24 microns IR ratio, depending on the gas and dust geometry, only fits well when the thick-shell model is used. The resulting dust-to-gas mass ratio, which was obtained empirically from the derived dust mass using data from Spitzer, also has a better fit using the thick-shell solution. In both approaches, models support the chemical homogeneity, and the ionisation-parameter radial decrease, These results must be taken with care in view of the very low extinction values that are derived from the IR, as compared to that derived from the Balmer decrement. Besides, the IR can be possibly contaminated with the emission from a cloud of diffuse gas and dust above the plane of the galaxy detected at 250 micron Herschel image.

The MOND External Field Effect on the Dynamics of the Globular Clusters: General Considerations and Application to NGC 2419

In this paper, we investigate the external field effect in the context of the MOdified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) on the surface brightness and velocity dispersion profiles of globular clusters (GCs). Using N-MODY, which is an N-body simulation code with a MOND potential solver, we show that the general effect of the external field for diffuse clusters, which obey MOND in most of their parts, is that it pushes the dynamics towards the Newtonian regime. On the other hand, for more compact clusters, which are essentially Newtonian in their inner parts, the external field is effective mainly in the outer parts of compact clusters. As a case study, we then choose the remote Galactic GC NGC 2419. By varying the cluster mass, half-light radius, and mass-to-light ratio we aim to find a model that will reproduce the observational data most effectively, using N-MODY. We find that even if we take the Galactic external field into account, a Newtonian Plummer sphere represents the observational data better than MOND to an order of magnitude in terms of the total $\chi^2$ of surface brightness and velocity dispersion.

How Robust Are the Size Measurements of High-redshift Compact Galaxies? [Replacement]

Massive quiescent galaxies at $z \approx 2$ are apparently much more compact than galaxies of comparable mass today. How robust are these size measurements? We perform comprehensive simulations to determine possible biases and uncertainties in fitting single-component light distributions to real galaxies. In particular, we examine the robustness of the measurements of the luminosity, size, and other structural parameters. We devise simulations with increasing realism to systematically disentangle effects due to the technique (specifically using GALFIT) and the intrinsic structures of the galaxies. By accurately capturing the detailed substructures of nearby elliptical galaxies and then rescaling their sizes and signal-to-noise to mimic galaxies at different redshifts, we confirm that the massive quiescent galaxies at $z \approx 2$ are significantly more compact intrinsically than their local counterparts. Their observed compactness is not a result of missing faint outer light due to systematic errors in modeling. In fact, we find that fitting multi-component galaxies with a single S\’ersic profile, the procedure most commonly adopted in the literature, biases the inferred sizes higher by up to 10% – 20%, which accentuates the amount of size evolution required. If the sky estimation has been done robustly and the model for the point-spread function is fairly accurate, GALFIT can retrieve the properties of single-component galaxies over a wide range of signal-to-noise ratios without introducing any systematic errors.

How Robust Are the Size Measurements of High-redshift Compact Galaxies?

Massive quiescent galaxies at $z \approx 2$ are apparently much more compact than galaxies of comparable mass today. How robust are these size measurements? We perform comprehensive simulations to determine possible biases and uncertainties in fitting single-component light distributions to real galaxies. In particular, we examine the robustness of the measurements of the luminosity, size, and other structural parameters. We devise simulations with increasing realism to systematically disentangle effects due to the technique (specifically using GALFIT) and the intrinsic structures of the galaxies. By accurately capturing the detailed substructures of nearby elliptical galaxies and then rescaling their sizes and signal-to-noise to mimic galaxies at different redshifts, we confirm that the massive quiescent galaxies at $z \approx 2$ are significantly more compact intrinsically than their local counterparts. Their observed compactness is not a result of missing faint outer light due to systematic errors in modeling. In fact, we find that fitting multi-component galaxies with a single S\’ersic profile, the procedure most commonly adopted in the literature, biases the inferred sizes higher by up to 10% – 20%, which accentuates the amount of size evolution required. If the sky estimation has been done robustly and the model for the point-spread function is fairly accurate, GALFIT can retrieve the properties of single-component galaxies over a wide range of signal-to-noise ratios without introducing any systematic errors.

Herschel spectral-mapping of the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293): Extended CO photodissociation and OH+ emission

The Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) is the closest planetary nebulae. Therefore, it is an ideal template for photochemical studies at small spatial scales in planetary nebulae. We aim to study the spatial distribution of the atomic and the molecular gas, and the structure of the photodissociation region along the western rims of the Helix Nebula as seen in the submillimeter range with Herschel. We use 5 SPIRE FTS pointing observations to make atomic and molecular spectral maps. We analyze the molecular gas by modeling the CO rotational lines using a non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (non-LTE) radiative transfer model. For the first time, we have detected extended OH+ emission in a planetary nebula. The spectra towards the Helix Nebula also show CO emission lines (from J= 4 to 8), [NII] at 1461 GHz from ionized gas, and [CI] (2-1), which together with the OH+ lines, trace extended CO photodissociation regions along the rims. The estimated OH+ column density is (1-10)x1e12 cm-2. The CH+ (1-0) line was not detected at the sensitivity of our observations. Non-LTE models of the CO excitation were used to constrain the average gas density (n(H2)=(1-5)x1e5 cm-3) and the gas temperature (Tk= 20-40 K). The SPIRE spectral-maps suggest that CO arises from dense and shielded clumps in the western rims of the Helix Nebula whereas OH+ and [CI] lines trace the diffuse gas and the UV and X-ray illuminated clumps surface where molecules reform after CO photodissociation. [NII] traces a more diffuse ionized gas component in the interclump medium.

Parametrizing the Stellar Haloes of Galaxies

We study the stellar haloes of galaxies out to 70-100 kpc as a function of stellar mass and galaxy type by stacking aligned $r$ and $g$ band images from a sample of 45508 galaxies from SDSS DR9 in the redshift range $0.06\,\le\,z\,\le\,0.1$ and in the mass range $10^{10.0} M_{\odot} < M_{*} < 10^{11.4} M_{\odot}$r. We derive surface brightness profiles to a depth of almost $\mu_r \sim 32 \,\mathrm{mag\,arcsec}^{-2}$. We find that the ellipticity of the stellar halo is a function of galaxy stellar mass and that the haloes of high concentration ($C > 2.6$) galaxies are more elliptical than those of low concentration ($C < 2.6$) galaxies. The $g$-$r$ colour profile of high concentration galaxies reveals that the $g$-$r$ colour of the stellar population in the stellar halo is bluer than in the main galaxy, and the colour of the stellar halo is redder for higher mass galaxies. We further demonstrate that the full two-dimensional surface intensity distribution of our galaxy stacks can only be fit through multi-component S\’{e}rsic models. Using the fraction of light in the outer component of the models as a proxy for the fraction of accreted stellar light, we show that this fraction is a function of stellar mass and galaxy type. For high concentration galaxies, the fraction of accreted stellar light rises from $30\%$ to $70\%$ for galaxies in the stellar mass range from $10^{10.0} M_{\odot}$ to $10^{11.4} M_{\odot}$. The fraction of accreted light is much smaller in low concentration systems, increasing from $2\%$ to $25\%$ over the same mass range. This work provides important constraints for the theoretical understanding of the formation of stellar haloes of galaxies.

Absolute evaporation rates of non-rotating neutral PAH clusters

Clusters of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been proposed as candidates for evaporating very small grains, which are thought to be precursors of free-flying PAHs. Evaporation rates have been calculated so far only for species containing up to a few 100 C atoms, whereas interstellar PAH clusters could contain up to ~1000 C atoms. We present a method that generalises the calculation of the statistical evaporation rate of large PAH clusters and provides rates for species containing up to ~1000 C-atoms. The evaporation of non-rotating neutral homo-molecular PAH clusters containing up to 12 molecules from a family of highly symmetric compact PAHs is studied. Statistical calculations were performed and completed with molecular dynamics simulations at high internal energies to provide absolute values for the evaporation rate and distributions of kinetic energy released. The calculations used explicit atom-atom Lennard-Jones potentials in the rigid molecule approximation. A new method is proposed to take both inter- and intra-molecular vibrations into account. Without any parameter adjustment, the calculated evaporation rates agree well with available experimental data. We find that the non-rotation assumption has a limited impact on the evaporation rates. The photostability of PAH clusters increases dramatically with the size of molecules in the clusters, and to a lesser extent with the number of molecules in the clusters. For values of the UV radiation field that are typical of the regions where evaporating very small grains are observed, the smallest clusters in this study (~50 C-atoms) are found to be quickly photo-evaporated, whereas the largest clusters (~1000 C-atoms) are photostable. Our results support the idea that large PAH clusters are good candidates for evaporating very small grains.

The Arecibo Galaxy Environment Survey VIII : Discovery of an Isolated Dwarf Galaxy in the Local Volume

The Arecibo Galaxy Environment Survey (AGES) has detected a nearby HI source at a heliocentric velocity of +363 km/s . The object was detected through its neutral hydrogen emission and has an obvious possible optical counterpart in Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) data (though it does not have an optical redshift measurement). We discuss three possible scenarios for the object : 1) It is within the Local Group, in which case its HI properties are comparable with recently discovered ultra-compact high velocity clouds; 2) It is just behind the Local Group, in which case its optical characteristics are similar to the newly discovered Leo P galaxy; 3) It is a blue compact dwarf galaxy within the local volume but not associated with the Local Group. We find the third possibility to be the most likely, based on distance estimates from the Tully-Fisher relation and its velocity relative to the Local Group.

The Arecibo Galaxy Environment Survey VIII : Discovery of an Isolated Dwarf Galaxy in the Local Volume [Replacement]

The Arecibo Galaxy Environment Survey (AGES) has detected a nearby HI source at a heliocentric velocity of +363 km/s . The object was detected through its neutral hydrogen emission and has an obvious possible optical counterpart in Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) data (though it does not have an optical redshift measurement). We discuss three possible scenarios for the object : 1) It is within the Local Group, in which case its HI properties are comparable with recently discovered ultra-compact high velocity clouds; 2) It is just behind the Local Group, in which case its optical characteristics are similar to the newly discovered Leo P galaxy; 3) It is a blue compact dwarf galaxy within the local volume but not associated with the Local Group. We find the third possibility to be the most likely, based on distance estimates from the Tully-Fisher relation and its velocity relative to the Local Group.

Higher prevalence of X-ray selected AGN in intermediate age galaxies up to z~1

We analyse the stellar populations in the host galaxies of 53 X-ray selected optically dull active galactic nuclei (AGN) at 0.34<z<1.07 with ultra-deep (m=26.5) optical medium-band (R~50) photometry from the Survey for High-z Absorption Red and Dead Sources (SHARDS). The spectral resolution of SHARDS allows us to consistently measure the strength of the 4000 AA break, Dn(4000), a reliable age indicator for stellar populations. We confirm that most X-ray selected moderate-luminosity AGN (L_X<10^44 erg/s) are hosted by massive galaxies (typically M*>10^10.5 M_sun) and that the observed fraction of galaxies hosting an AGN increases with the stellar mass. A careful selection of random control samples of inactive galaxies allows us to remove the stellar mass and redshift dependencies of the AGN fraction to explore trends with several stellar age indicators. We find no significant differences in the distribution of the rest-frame U-V colour for AGN hosts and inactive galaxies, in agreement with previous results. However, we find significantly shallower 4000 AA breaks in AGN hosts, indicative of younger stellar populations. With the help of a model-independent determination of the extinction, we obtain extinction-corrected U-V colours and light-weighted average stellar ages. We find that AGN hosts have younger stellar populations and higher extinction compared to inactive galaxies with the same stellar mass and at the same redshift. We find a highly significant excess of AGN hosts with Dn(4000)~1.4 and light weighted average stellar ages of 300-500 Myr, as well as a deficit of AGN in intrinsic red galaxies. We interpret failure in recognising these trends in previous studies as a consequence of the balancing effect in observed colours of the age-extinction degeneracy.

Photodissociation of interstellar ArH+

Aims. Following the recent detection of 36ArH+ in the Crab nebula spectrum, we have computed the photodissociation rate of ArH+ in order to constrain the physical processes at work in this environment. Methods. Photodissociation cross sections of ArH+ are computed in an ab initio approach including explicit account of spin-orbit coupling. Results. We report the photodissociation cross section of ArH+ as a function of wavelength. Photodissociation probabilities are derived for di?erent impinging radiation fields.The photodissociation probability of for a very small unshielded cloud surrounded on all sides by the unshielded InterStellar Radiation Field (ISRF) model described by Draine (1978) is equal to 9.9e-12 s-1 and 1.9e-9 s-1 in the Crab nebula conditions. The dependence on the visual extinction is obtained by using the Meudon Photon Dominated Region (PDR) code and corresponding analytical fits are provided. Conclusions. These data will help to produce a realistic chemical network to interpret the observations. Photodissociation of ArH+ is found to be moderate and the presence of this molecular ion is mainly dependent on the molecular fraction

The Link between Magnetic Fields and Cloud/Star Formation

The question whether magnetic fields play an important role in the processes of molecular cloud and star formation has been debated for decades. Recent observations have revealed a simple picture that may help illuminate these questions: magnetic fields have a tendency to preserve their orientation at all scales that have been probed – from 100-pc scale inter-cloud media down to sub-pc scale cloud cores. This ordered morphology has implications for the way in which self-gravity and turbulence interact with magnetic fields: both gravitational contraction and turbulent velocities should be anisotropic, due to the influence of dynamically important magnetic fields. Such anisotropy is now observed. Here we review these recent observations and discuss how they can improve our understanding of cloud/star formation.

The Local Dark Matter Density

I review current efforts to measure the mean density of dark matter near the Sun. This encodes valuable dynamical information about our Galaxy and is also of great importance for ‘direct detection’ dark matter experiments. I discuss theoretical expectations in our current cosmology; the theory behind mass modelling of the Galaxy; and I show how combining local and global measures probes the shape of the Milky Way dark matter halo and the possible presence of a ‘dark disc’. I stress the strengths and weaknesses of different methodologies and highlight the continuing need for detailed tests on mock data – particularly in the light of recently discovered evidence for disequilibria in the Milky Way disc. I highlight several recent measurements in order of increasing data complexity and prior, and, correspondingly, decreasing formal error bars. Comparing these measurements with spherical extrapolations from the Milky Way’s rotation curve, I show that the Milky Way is consistent with having a spherical dark matter halo at the Solar position R0. The very latest measures based on ~10,000 stars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey appear to favour little halo flattening at R0, suggesting that the Galaxy has a rather weak dark matter disc, with a correspondingly quiescent merger history [Abridged].

Halpha and [S II] emission from warm ionized gas in the Scutum-Centaurus Arm

We present Wisconsin H-Alpha Mapper [S II] {\lambda}6716 and H{\alpha} spectroscopic maps of the warm ionized medium (WIM) in the Scutum-Centaurus Arm at Galactic longitudes 310{\deg} < l < 345{\deg}. Using extinction-corrected H{\alpha} intensities (IH{\alpha}c), we measure an exponential scale height of electron density-squared in the arm of H_ne^2 = 0.30 kpc (assuming a distance of 3.5 kpc), intermediate between that observed in the inner Galaxy and in the Perseus Arm. The [S II]/H{\alpha} line ratio is enhanced at large |z| and in sightlines with faint IH{\alpha}c. We find that the [S II]/H{\alpha} line ratio has a power law relationship with IH{\alpha}c from a value of ~=1.0 at IH{\alpha}c < 0.2 R (Rayleighs) to a value of ~=0.08 at IH{\alpha}c >= 100 R. The line ratio is better correlated with H{\alpha} intensity than with height above the plane, indicating that the physical conditions within the WIM vary systematically with electron density. We argue that the variation of the line ratio with height is a consequence of the decrease of electron density with height. Our results reinforce the well-established picture in which the diffuse H{\alpha} emission is due primarily to emission from in situ photoionized gas, with scattered light only a minor contributor.

Gemini Long-slit Observations of Luminous Obscured Quasars: Further Evidence for an Upper Limit on the Size of the Narrow-Line Region

We examine the spatial extent of the narrow-line regions (NLRs) of a sample of 30 luminous obscured quasars at $0.4 < z < 0.7$ observed with spatially resolved Gemini-N GMOS long-slit spectroscopy. Using the [OIII]$\lambda5007$ emission feature, we estimate the size of the NLR using a cosmology-independent measurement: the radius where the surface brightness falls to 10$^{-15}$ erg s$^{-1}$ cm$^{-2}$ arcsec$^{-2}$. We then explore the effects of atmospheric seeing on NLR size measurements and conclude that direct measurements of the NLR size from observed profiles are too large by 0.1 – 0.2 dex on average, as compared to measurements made to best-fit S\’{e}rsic or Voigt profiles convolved with the seeing. These data, which span a full order of magnitude in IR luminosity ($\log{(L_{8 \mu \mathrm{m}} / \mathrm{erg\, s}^{-1})} = 44.4 – 45.4$) also provide strong evidence that there is a flattening of the relationship between NLR size and AGN luminosity at a seeing-corrected size of $\sim 7$ kpc. The objects in this sample have high luminosities which place them in a previously under-explored portion of the size-luminosity relationship. These results support the existence of a maximal size of the narrow-line region around luminous quasars; beyond this size either there is not enough gas, or the gas is over-ionized and does not produce enough [OIII]$\lambda5007$ emission.

Dark Matter Halos in Galaxies and Globular Cluster Populations

We combine a new, comprehensive database for globular cluster populations in all types of galaxies with a new calibration of galaxy halo masses based entirely on weak lensing. Correlating these two sets of data, we find that the mass ratio $\eta \equiv M_{GCS}/M_{h}$ (total mass in globular clusters, divided by halo mass) is essentially constant at $\langle \eta \rangle \sim 4 \times 10^{-5}$, strongly confirming earlier suggestions in the literature. Globular clusters are the only known stellar population that formed in essentially direct proportion to host galaxy halo mass. The intrinsic scatter in $\eta$ appears to be at most 0.2 dex; we argue that some of this scatter is due to differing degrees of tidal stripping of the globular cluster systems between central and satellite galaxies. We suggest that this correlation can be understood if most globular clusters form at very early stages in galaxy evolution, largely avoiding the feedback processes that inhibited the bulk of field-star formation in their host galaxies. The actual mean value of $\eta$ also suggests that about $1/4$ of the \emph{initial} gas mass present in protogalaxies collected into GMCs large enough to form massive, dense star clusters. Finally, our calibration of $\langle \eta \rangle$ indicates that the halo masses of the Milky Way and M31 are $(1.2\pm0.5)\times 10^{12} M_{\odot}$ and $(3.9\pm1.8)\times 10^{12} M_{\odot}$ respectively.

The Origin of Ionized Filaments Within the Orion-Eridanus Superbubble

The Orion-Eridanus superbubble, formed by the nearby Orion high mass star-forming region, contains multiple bright H$\alpha$ filaments on the Eridanus side of the superbubble. We examine the implications of the H$\alpha$ brightnesses and sizes of these filaments, the Eridanus filaments. We find that either the filaments must be highly elongated along the line of sight or they cannot be equilibrium structures illuminated solely by the Orion star-forming region. The Eridanus filaments may, instead, have formed when the Orion-Eridanus superbubble encountered and compressed a pre-existing, ionized gas cloud, such that the filaments are now out of equilibrium and slowly recombining.

Chemical composition and constraints on mass loss for globular clusters in dwarf galaxies: WLM and IKN

We determine the metallicities for globular clusters (GCs) in the WLM and IKN dwarf galaxies, using VLT/UVES and Keck/ESI spectroscopy. For the WLM GC we also measure detailed abundance ratios for a number of light, alpha, Fe-peak and n-capture elements. We find low metallicities of [Fe/H]=-2.0 and -2.1 for the WLM GC and the GC IKN-5, respectively. We estimate that 17%-31% of the metal-poor stars in WLM belong to the GC, and IKN-5 may even contain a similar number of metal-poor stars as the whole of the IKN dwarf itself. These high ratios of metal-poor GCs to field stars are in tension with GC formation scenarios that require GCs to have lost a very large fraction of their initial mass. The GCs in the WLM and IKN dwarf galaxies resemble those in the Fornax dSph by being significantly more metal-poor than a typical halo GC in the Milky Way and other large galaxies. They are also substantially more metal-poor than the bulk of the field stars in their parent galaxies. The overall abundance patterns in the WLM GC are similar to those observed for GCs in the Fornax dSph: [Ca/Fe] and [Ti/Fe] are super-Solar at about +0.3 dex, while [Mg/Fe] is less elevated than [Ca/Fe] and [Ti/Fe]. The [Na/Fe] ratio is similar to the averaged [Na/Fe] ratios in Milky Way GCs, but higher than those of Milky Way halo stars. Fe-peak (Mn, Sc, Cr) and heavy elements (Ba, Y, La) generally follow the trends seen in the Milky Way halo. The relatively high Na abundance in the WLM GC suggests that the [Na/O] anti-correlation is present in this cluster.

A Framework for Empirical Galaxy Phenomenology: The Scatter in Galaxy Ages and Stellar Metallicities

We develop a theoretical framework that extracts a deeper understanding of galaxy formation from empirically-derived relations among galaxy properties by extending the main-sequence integration method for computing galaxy star formation histories. We properly account for scatter in the stellar mass-star formation rate relation and the evolving fraction of passive systems and find that the latter effect is almost solely responsible for the age distributions among $z\sim0$ galaxies with stellar masses above $\sim 10^{10}\,{\rm M_{\odot}}$. However, while we qualitatively agree with the observed median stellar metallicity as a function of stellar mass, we attribute our inability to reproduce the distribution in detail largely to a combination of imperfect gas-phase metallicity and $\alpha$/Fe ratio calibrations. Our formalism will benefit from new observational constraints and, in turn, improve interpretations of future data by providing self-consistent star formation histories for population synthesis modeling.

Fingerprints of Galactic Loop I on the Cosmic Microwave Background

We investigate possible imprints of galactic foreground structures such as the `radio loops’ in the derived maps of the cosmic microwave background. Surprisingly there is evidence for these not only at radio frequencies through their synchrotron radiation, but also at microwave frequencies where emission by dust dominates. This suggests the mechanism is magnetic dipole radiation from dust grains enriched by metallic iron, or ferrimagnetic molecules. This new foreground we have identified is present at high galactic latitudes, and potentially dominates over the expected B-mode polarisation signal due to primordial gravitational waves from inflation.

Degree of Polarization and Source Counts of Faint Radio Sources from Stacking Polarized Intensity

We present stacking polarized intensity as a means to study the polarization of sources that are too faint to be detected individually in surveys of polarized radio sources. Stacking offers not only high sensitivity to the median signal of a class of radio sources, but also avoids a detection threshold in polarized intensity, and therefore an arbitrary exclusion of source with a low percentage of polarization. Correction for polarization bias is done through a Monte Carlo analysis and tested on a simulated survey. We show that the non-linear relation between the real polarized signal and the detected signal requires knowledge of the shape of the distribution of fractional polarization, which we constrain using the ratio of the upper quartile to the lower quartile of the distribution of stacked polarized intensities. Stacking polarized intensity for NVSS sources down to the detection limit in Stokes I, we find a gradual increase in median fractional polarization that is consistent with a trend that was noticed before for bright NVSS sources, but is much more gradual than found by previous deep surveys of radio polarization. Consequently, the polarized radio source counts derived from our stacking experiment predict fewer polarized radio sources for future surveys with the Square Kilometre Array and its pathfinders.

 

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