Posts Tagged spectro

Recent Postings from spectro

Short dynamic fibrils in sunspot chromospheres

Sunspot chromospheres display vigorous oscillatory signature when observed in chromospheric diagnostics like the strong Ca II lines and H-alpha. New high-resolution sunspot observations from the Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope show the ubiquitous presence of small-scale periodic jet-like features that move up and down. This phenomenon has not been described before. Their typical width is about 0.3 arcsec and they display clear parabolic trajectories in space-time diagrams. The maximum extension of the top of the jets is lowest in the umbra, a few 100 km, and progressively longer further away from the umbra in the penumbra, with the longest more than 1000 km. These jets resemble dynamic fibrils found in plage regions but at smaller extensions. LTE inversion of spectro-polarimetric Ca II 8542 observations enabled for a comparison of the magnetic field inclination and the properties of these short jets. We find that the most extended of these jets also have longer periods and tend to be located in regions with more horizontal magnetic fields. This is a direct observational confirmation of the mechanism of long-period waves propagating along inclined magnetic fields into the solar chromosphere. This mechanism was identified earlier as the driver of dynamic fibrils in plage, part of the mottles in quiet Sun, and type I spicules at the limb. The sunspot dynamic fibrils that we report here represent a new class of manifestation of this mechanism. They are not the same as the transient penumbral and umbral micro-jets reported earlier.

A multi-epoch spectroscopic study of the BAL quasar APM 08279+5255: I. C IV absorption variability

Broad Absorption Lines indicate gas outflows with velocities from thousands km/s to about 0.2 the speed of light, which may be present in all quasars and may play a major role in the evolution of the host galaxy. The variability of absorption patterns can provide informations on changes of the density and velocity distributions of the absorbing gas and its ionization status. We collected 23 photometrical and spectro-photometrical observations at the 1.82m Telescope of the Asiago Observatory since 2003, plus other 5 spectra from the literature. We analysed the evolution in time of the equivalent width of the broad absorption feature and two narrow absorption systems, the correlation among them and with the R band magnitude. We performed a structure function analysis of the equivalent width variations. We present an unprecedented monitoring of a broad absorption line quasar based on 28 epochs in 14 years. The shape of broad absorption feature shows a relative stability, while its equivalent width slowly declines until it sharply increases during 2011. In the same time the R magnitude stays almost constant until it sharply increases during 2011. The equivalent width of the narrow absorption redwards of the systemic redshift only shows a decline. The broad absorption behaviour suggests changes of the ionisation status as the main cause of variability. We show for the first time a correlation of this variability with the R band flux. The different behaviour of the narrow absorption system might be due to recombination time delay. The structure function of the absorption variability has a slope comparable with typical optical variability of quasars. This is consistent with variations of the 200 A ionising flux originating in the inner part of the accretion disk.

DIGIT: Herschel and Spitzer spectro-imaging of SMM3 and SMM4 in Serpens

We report on spectro-imaging observations employing Spitzer IRS and Herschel PACS, aiming to constrain the physical conditions around SMM3 and SMM4 in Serpens. The combined power of both instruments provides an almost complete wavelength coverage between 5 and 200 micron at an angular resolution of 10". We detect line emission from all major molecular (H2, CO, H2O and OH) and many atomic ([OI], [CII], [FeII], [SiII] and [SI]) coolants. Line emission tends to peak at distances of 10 – 20" from the protostellar sources, at positions of known outflow shocks. The only exception is [CII] which likely traces a PDR excited from the neighboring source SMM6. Excitation analysis indicates that H2 and CO originate from gas at two distinct rotational temperatures of 300 K and 1000 K, while H2O and OH emission corresponds to rotational temperatures of 100 – 200 K. The morphological and physical association between CO and H2 suggests a common excitation mechanism which allows direct comparisons between the two molecules. The CO/H2 abundance ratio varies from 10^-5 in the warm gas up to 10^-4 in the hotter regions. The occurrence of J-shocks is suggested by the strong atomic/ionic (except for [CII]) emission as well as a number of line ratio diagnostics. Both C- and J-shocks can account for the observed molecular emission, however J-shocks are strongly advocated by the atomic emission and provide simpler and more homogeneous solutions for CO and H2. C-shocks describe better the emission from H2O and OH. The variations in the CO/H2 abundance ratio for gas at different temperatures can be interpreted by their reformation rates in dissociative J-type shocks, or the simultaneous influence of both C and J shocks.

VLT/X-Shooter Near-Infrared Spectroscopy and HST Imaging of Gravitationally-Lensed z~2 Compact Quiescent Galaxies

Quiescent massive galaxies at z~2 are thought to be the progenitors of present-day massive ellipticals. Observations revealed them to be extraordinarily compact. The determination of stellar ages, star formation rates and dust properties via spectroscopic measurements has up to now only been feasible for the most luminous and massive specimens (~3x M*). Here we present a spectroscopic study of two near-infrared selected galaxies which are close to the characteristic stellar mass M* (~0.9x M* and ~1.3x M*) and whose observed brightness has been boosted by the gravitational lensing effect. We measure the redshifts of the two galaxies to be z=1.71\pm0.02 and z=2.15\pm0.01. By fitting stellar population synthesis models to their spectro-photometric SEDs we determine their ages to be 2.4^{+0.8}_{-0.6} Gyr and 1.7\pm0.3 Gyr, respectively, which implies that the two galaxies have higher mass-to-light ratios than most quiescent z~2 galaxies in other studies. We find no direct evidence for active star-formation or AGN activity in either of the two galaxies, based on the non-detection of emission lines. Based on the derived redshifts and stellar ages we estimate the formation redshifts to be z=4.3^{+3.4}_{-1.2} and z=4.3^{+1.0}_{-0.6}, respectively. We use the increased spatial resolution due to the gravitational lensing to derive constraints on the morphology. Fitting Sersic profiles to the de-lensed images of the two galaxies confirms their compactness, with one of them being spheroid-like, and the other providing the first confirmation of a passive lenticular galaxy at a spectroscopically derived redshift z~2.

VLT/X-Shooter Near-Infrared Spectroscopy and HST Imaging of Gravitationally-Lensed z~2 Compact Quiescent Galaxies [Replacement]

Quiescent massive galaxies at z~2 are thought to be the progenitors of present-day massive ellipticals. Observations revealed them to be extraordinarily compact. The determination of stellar ages, star formation rates and dust properties via spectroscopic measurements has up to now only been feasible for the most luminous and massive specimens (~3x M*). Here we present a spectroscopic study of two near-infrared selected galaxies which are close to the characteristic stellar mass M* (~0.9x M* and ~1.3x M*) and whose observed brightness has been boosted by the gravitational lensing effect. We measure the redshifts of the two galaxies to be z=1.71\pm0.02 and z=2.15\pm0.01. By fitting stellar population synthesis models to their spectro-photometric SEDs we determine their ages to be 2.4^{+0.8}_{-0.6} Gyr and 1.7\pm0.3 Gyr, respectively, which implies that the two galaxies have higher mass-to-light ratios than most quiescent z~2 galaxies in other studies. We find no direct evidence for active star-formation or AGN activity in either of the two galaxies, based on the non-detection of emission lines. Based on the derived redshifts and stellar ages we estimate the formation redshifts to be z=4.3^{+3.4}_{-1.2} and z=4.3^{+1.0}_{-0.6}, respectively. We use the increased spatial resolution due to the gravitational lensing to derive constraints on the morphology. Fitting Sersic profiles to the de-lensed images of the two galaxies confirms their compactness, with one of them being spheroid-like, and the other providing the first confirmation of a passive lenticular galaxy at a spectroscopically derived redshift z~2.

Magnetic field strength distribution of magnetic bright points inferred from filtergrams and spectro-polarimetric data

Small scale magnetic fields can be observed on the Sun in G-band filtergrams as MBPs (magnetic bright points) or identified in spectro-polarimetric measurements due to enhanced signals of Stokes profiles. These magnetic fields and their dynamics play a crucial role in understanding the coronal heating problem and also in surface dynamo models. MBPs can theoretically be described to evolve out of a patch of a solar photospheric magnetic field with values below the equipartition field strength by the so-called convective collapse model. After the collapse, the magnetic field of MBPs reaches a higher stable magnetic field level. The magnetic field strength distribution of small scale magnetic fields as seen by MBPs is inferred. Furthermore, we want to test the model of convective collapse and the theoretically predicted stable value of about 1300 G. We used four different data sets of high-resolution Hinode/SOT observations that were recorded simultaneously with the broadband filter device (G-band, Ca II-H) and the spectro-polarimeter. To derive the magnetic field strength distribution of these small scale features, the spectropolarimeter (SP) data sets were treated by the Merlin inversion code. The four data sets comprise different solar surface types: active regions (a sunspot group and a region with pores), as well as quiet Sun. In all four cases the obtained magnetic field strength distribution of MBPs is similar and shows peaks around 1300 G. This agrees well with the theoretical prediction of the convective collapse model. The resulting magnetic field strength distribution can be fitted in each case by a model consisting of log-normal components. The important parameters, such as geometrical mean value and multiplicative standard deviation, are similar in all data sets, only the relative weighting of the components is different.

Using head-tail galaxies to constrain the intracluster magnetic field: an in-depth study of PKS J0334-3900

We present a multi-wavelength study of the radio galaxy PKS J0334-3900 at the centre of Abell 3135. The spectro-polarimetric radio observations are combined with spectroscopic optical and X-ray data to illustrate the use of Head-Tail radio galaxies to reveal properties of the intracluster medium. ATCA observations at 1.4, 2.5, 4.6 & 8.6 GHz are presented with a detailed analysis of the morphology and spectral indices giving physical parameters to constrain the dynamical history of the galaxy. Using these constraints we produce a simulation of PKS J0334-3900. We find that this Head-Tail morphology can be induced via a combination of orbital motion due to a binary companion and relative motion through the ICM. New Chandra images of A3135 are presented from which we obtain a cluster electron density of n_(e,0) = (1.06 +/- 0.11 x 10^(-3) cm^(-3), a global temperature of 2.4 ^(+0.51)_(-0.38) keV and a lower limit to the radio jet power of PKS J0334-3900 of 1.6 x 10^(44) erg/s. A new redshift analysis of the cluster from available spectroscopic data shows A3135 to be comprised of galaxies with 0.058 < z < 0.066 and gives a new mean cluster redshift of 0.06228 +/- 0.00015. We also uncovered a background subgroup between 0.066 < z < 0.070. Stokes Q and U data of Abell 3135 were used to obtain rotation measure values along the line of sight to PKS J0334-3900. Using our simulation we are able to infer the distance between the jets to be 154 +/- 16 kpc, which when combined with the difference in vector-averaged rotation measure between the jets provides a novel new way to estimate the average magnetic field within a cluster. A lower limit to the cluster B-field was calculated to be 0.28 +/- 0.03 micro Gauss. We show observations of Head-Tail galaxies can be used to infer information on the cluster environment, showing them to be an important class of objects in next generation all sky surveys.

Using head-tail galaxies to constrain the intracluster magnetic field: an in-depth study of PKS J0334-3900 [Replacement]

We present a multi-wavelength study of the radio galaxy PKS J0334-3900 at the centre of Abell 3135. The spectro-polarimetric radio observations are combined with spectroscopic optical and X-ray data to illustrate the use of Head-Tail radio galaxies to reveal properties of the intracluster medium. ATCA observations at 1.4, 2.5, 4.6 & 8.6 GHz are presented with a detailed analysis of the morphology and spectral indices giving physical parameters to constrain the dynamical history of the galaxy. Using these constraints we produce a simulation of PKS J0334-3900. We find that this Head-Tail morphology can be induced via a combination of orbital motion due to a binary companion and relative motion through the ICM. New Chandra images of A3135 are presented from which we obtain a cluster electron density of n_(e,0) = (1.06 +/- 0.11 x 10^(-3) cm^(-3), a global temperature of 2.4 ^(+0.51)_(-0.38) keV and a lower limit to the radio jet power of PKS J0334-3900 of 1.6 x 10^(44) erg/s. A new redshift analysis of the cluster from available spectroscopic data shows A3135 to be comprised of galaxies with 0.058 < z < 0.066 and gives a new mean cluster redshift of 0.06228 +/- 0.00015. We also uncovered a background subgroup between 0.066 < z < 0.070. Stokes Q and U data of Abell 3135 were used to obtain rotation measure values along the line of sight to PKS J0334-3900. Using our simulation we are able to infer the distance between the jets to be 154 +/- 16 kpc, which when combined with the difference in rotation measure between the jets provides a novel new way to estimate the average magnetic field within a cluster. A lower limit to the cluster B-field was calculated to be 0.09 +/- 0.03 micro Gauss. We show observations of Head-Tail galaxies can be used to infer information on the cluster environment, showing them to be an important class of objects in next generation all sky surveys.

Kappa Fornaci, a triple radio-star

Bright and nearby (22pc) solar-type dwarf Kappa Fornaci (HIP 11072) is a triple system. The close pair of M-type dwarfs Ba,Bb with a tentative period of 3.7 days moves around the main component A on a 26-year orbit. The mass of the "dark companion" Ba+Bb is comparable to the mass of A, causing large motion of the photo-center. The combined spectro-interferometric orbit of AB is derived and the relative photometry of the components A and B is given. A weak signature of Ba and Bb is detected in the high-resolution spectra by cross-correlation and by variable emission in the Bahlmer hydrogen lines. The activity of the M-dwarfs, manifested by a previously detected radio-flare, is likely maintained by synchronization with their tight orbit. We discuss the frequency of similar hidden triple systems, methods of their detection, and the implications for multiple-star statistics.

A Comparison Between Nonlinear Force-Free Field and Potential Field Models Using Full-Disk SDO/HMI Magnetogram

Measurements of magnetic fields and electric currents in the pre-eruptive corona are crucial to study solar eruptive phenomena, like flare and coronal mass ejections(CMEs). However, spectro-polarimetric measurements of certain photospheric lines permit a determination of the vector magnetic field at the photosphere. Thus, substantial collection of magnetograms relate to the photospheric surface field only. Numerical modeling is carried out by applying state-of-the-art nonlinear force-free field (NLFFF) reconstruction. Cartesian nonlinear force-free field (NLFFF) codes are not well suited for larger domains, since the spherical nature of the solar surface cannot be neglected when the field of view is large. One of the most significant results of Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) mission to date has been repeated observations of large, almost global scale events in which large scale connection between active regions may play fundamental role. Therefore, it appears prudent to implement a NLFFF procedure in spherical geometry for use when large scale boundary data are available, such as from the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) on board SDO. In this work, we model the coronal magnetic field above multiple active regions with the help of a potential field and a NLFFF extrapolation codes in a full-disk using HMI data as a boundary conditions. We compare projections of the resulting magnetic field lines solutions with full-disk coronal images from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (SDO/AIA) for both models. This study has found that the NLFFF model reconstructs the magnetic configuration better than the potential field model. We have concluded that much of trans-equatorial loops connecting the two solar hemispheres are current-free.

A Comparison Between Nonlinear Force-Free Field and Potential Field Models Using Full-Disk SDO/HMI Magnetogram [Replacement]

Measurements of magnetic fields and electric currents in the pre-eruptive corona are crucial to study solar eruptive phenomena, like flare and coronal mass ejections(CMEs). However, spectro-polarimetric measurements of certain photospheric lines permit a determination of the vector magnetic field at the photosphere. Thus, substantial collection of magnetograms relate to the photospheric surface field only. Numerical modeling is carried out by applying state-of-the-art nonlinear force-free field (NLFFF) reconstruction. Cartesian nonlinear force-free field (NLFFF) codes are not well suited for larger domains, since the spherical nature of the solar surface cannot be neglected when the field of view is large. One of the most significant results of Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) mission to date has been repeated observations of large, almost global scale events in which large scale connection between active regions may play fundamental role. Therefore, it appears prudent to implement a NLFFF procedure in spherical geometry for use when large scale boundary data are available, such as from the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) on board SDO. In this work, we model the coronal magnetic field above multiple active regions with the help of a potential field and a NLFFF extrapolation codes in a full-disk using HMI data as a boundary conditions. We compare projections of the resulting magnetic field lines solutions with full-disk coronal images from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (SDO/AIA) for both models. This study has found that the NLFFF model reconstructs the magnetic configuration better than the potential field model. We have concluded that much of trans-equatorial loops connecting the two solar hemispheres are current-free.

Constraining mass ratio and extinction in the FU Orionis binary system with infrared integral field spectroscopy

We report low resolution near infrared spectroscopic observations of the eruptive star FU Orionis using the Integral Field Spectrograph Project 1640 installed at the Palomar Hale telescope. This work focuses on elucidating the nature of the faint source, located 0.5" south of FU Ori, and identified in 2003 as FU Ori S. We first use our observations in conjunction with published data to demonstrate that the two stars are indeed physically associated and form a true binary pair. We then proceed to extract J and H band spectro-photometry using the damped LOCI algorithm, a reduction method tailored for high contrast science with IFS. This is the first communication reporting the high accuracy of this technique, pioneered by the Project 1640 team, on a faint astronomical source. We use our low resolution near infrared spectrum in conjunction with 10.2 micron interferometric data to constrain the infrared excess of FU Ori S. We then focus on estimating the bulk physical properties of FU Ori S. Our models lead to estimates of an object heavily reddened, A_V =8-12, with an effective temperature of ~ 4000-6500 K . Finally we put these results in the context of the FU Ori N-S system and argue that our analysis provides evidence that FU Ori S might be the more massive component of this binary system

The spectroscopic evolution of the recurrent nova T Pyxidis during its 2011 outburst. II.The optically thin phase and the structure of the ejecta in recurrent novae

We continue our study of the physical properties of the recurrent nova T Pyx, focussing on the structure of the ejecta in the nebular stage of expansion during the 2011 outburst. The nova was observed contemporaneously with the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT), at high resolution spectroscopic resolution (R ~ 65000) on 2011 Oct. 11 and 2012 Apr. 8 (without absolute flux calibration), and with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) aboard the Hubble Space Telescope, at high resolution (R ~ 30000) on 2011 Oct. 10 and 2012 Mar. 28 (absolute fluxes). We use standard plasma diagnostics (e.g. [O III] and [N II] line ratios and the H$\beta$ line fluxes) to constrain electron densities and temperatures. Using Monte Carlo modeling of the ejecta, we derive the structure and filling factor from comparisons to the optical and ultraviolet line profiles. The ejecta can be modeled using an axisymmetric conical — bipolar — geometry with a low inclination of the axis to the line of sight, i=15+/-5 degrees, compatible with published results from high angular resolution optical spectro-interferometry. The structure is similar to that observed in the other short orbital period recurrent novae during their nebular stages. We show that the electron density scales as $t^{-3}$ as expected from a ballistically ejected constant mass shell; there is no need to invoke a continuing mass outflow following the eruption. The derived mass for the ejecta with filling factor f ~ 3%, M_ej ~ 2E-6$M_sun is similar to that obtained for other recurrent nova ejecta but inconsistent with the previously reported extended optically thick epoch of the explosion. We suggest that the system underwent a common envelope phase following the explosion that produced the recombination event. Implications for the dynamics of the recurrent novae are discussed. (truncated)

Signal detection for spectroscopy and polarimetry

The analysis of high spectral resolution spectroscopic and spectropolarimetric observations constitute a very powerful way of inferring the dynamical, thermodynamical, and magnetic properties of distant objects. However, these techniques are photon-starving, making it difficult to use them for all purposes. One of the problems commonly found is just detecting the presence of a signal that is buried on the noise at the wavelength of some interesting spectral feature. This is specially relevant for spectropolarimetric observations because typically, only a small fraction of the received light is polarized. We present in this note a Bayesian technique for the detection of spectropolarimetric signals. The technique is based on the application of the non-parametric relevance vector machine to the observations, which allows us to compute the evidence for the presence of the signal and compute the more probable signal. The method would be suited for analyzing data from experimental instruments onboard space missions and rockets aiming at detecting spectropolarimetric signals in unexplored regions of the spectrum such as the Chromospheric Lyman-Alpha Spectro-Polarimeter (CLASP) sounding rocket experiment.

The evolution of Brightest Cluster Galaxies in a hierarchical universe

We investigate the evolution of Brightest Cluster Galaxies (BCGs) from redshift z~1.6 to z~0. We use the semi-analytic model of Croton et al. (2006) with a new spectro-photometric model based on the Maraston (2005) stellar populations and a new recipe for the dust extinction. We compare the model predictions of the K-band luminosity evolution and the J-K, V-I and I-K colour evolution with a series of datasets, including Collins et al. (Nature, 2009) who argued that semi-analytic models based on the Millennium simulation cannot reproduce the red colours and high luminosity of BCGs at z>1. We show instead that the model is well in range of the observed luminosity and correctly reproduces the colour evolution of BCGs in the whole redshift range up to z~1.6. We argue that the success of the semi-analytic model is in large part due to the implementation of a more sophisticated spectro-photometric model. An analysis of the model BCGs shows an increase in mass by a factor ~2 since z~1, and star formation activity down to low redshifts. While the consensus regarding BCGs is that they are passively evolving, we argue that this conclusion is affected by the degeneracy between star formation history and stellar population models used in SED-fitting, and by the inefficacy of toy-models of passive evolution to capture the complexity of real galaxies, expecially those with rich merger histories like BCGs. Following this argument, we also show that in the semi-analytic model the BCGs show a realistic mix of stellar populations, and that these stellar populations are mostly old. In addition, the age-redshift relation of the model BCGs follows that of the universe, meaning that given their merger history and star formation history, the ageing of BCGs is always dominated by the ageing of their stellar populations. In a LambdaCDM universe, we define such evolution as "passive in the hierarchical sense".

The evolution of Brightest Cluster Galaxies in a hierarchical universe [Replacement]

We investigate the evolution of Brightest Cluster Galaxies (BCGs) from redshift z~1.6 to z~0. We use the semi-analytic model of Croton et al. (2006) with a new spectro-photometric model based on the Maraston (2005) stellar populations and a new recipe for the dust extinction. We compare the model predictions of the K-band luminosity evolution and the J-K, V-I and I-K colour evolution with a series of datasets, including Collins et al. (Nature, 2009) who argued that semi-analytic models based on the Millennium simulation cannot reproduce the red colours and high luminosity of BCGs at z>1. We show instead that the model is well in range of the observed luminosity and correctly reproduces the colour evolution of BCGs in the whole redshift range up to z~1.6. We argue that the success of the semi-analytic model is in large part due to the implementation of a more sophisticated spectro-photometric model. An analysis of the model BCGs shows an increase in mass by a factor ~2 since z~1, and star formation activity down to low redshifts. While the consensus regarding BCGs is that they are passively evolving, we argue that this conclusion is affected by the degeneracy between star formation history and stellar population models used in SED-fitting, and by the inefficacy of toy-models of passive evolution to capture the complexity of real galaxies, expecially those with rich merger histories like BCGs. Following this argument, we also show that in the semi-analytic model the BCGs show a realistic mix of stellar populations, and that these stellar populations are mostly old. In addition, the age-redshift relation of the model BCGs follows that of the universe, meaning that given their merger history and star formation history, the ageing of BCGs is always dominated by the ageing of their stellar populations. In a LambdaCDM universe, we define such evolution as "passive in the hierarchical sense".

SHARDS: an optical spectro-photometric survey of distant galaxies

(Abridged) We present the Survey for High-z Absorption Red and Dead Sources (SHARDS), an ESO/GTC Large Program carried out with GTC/OSIRIS. SHARDS is an ultra-deep optical spectro-photometric survey of the GOODS-N field (130 arcmin^2) at wavelengths 500 to 950 nm and using 24 contiguous medium-band filters (spectral resolution R 50). The data reach 26.5 mag (>3-sigma level) with sub-arcsec seeing in all bands. SHARDS main goal is obtaining accurate physical properties of interm- and high-z galaxies using well-sampled optical SEDs with sufficient spectral resolution to measure absorption and emission features. Among the different populations of high-z galaxies, SHARDS principal targets are massive quiescent galaxies at z>1. In this paper, we outline the observational strategy and include a detailed discussion of the special reduction and calibration procedures applied to the GTC/OSIRIS data. We present science demonstration results about the detection and study of emission-line galaxies (star-forming and AGN) at z=0-5. We also analyze the SEDs for a sample of 27 quiescent massive galaxies at 1.0<z<1.4. We discuss on the improvements introduced by the SHARDS dataset in the analysis of their SFH and stellar properties. We discuss the systematics arising from the use of different stellar population libraries. We find that the UV-to-MIR SEDs of the massive quiescent galaxies at z=1.0-1.5 are well described by an exponential decaying SFH with scale tau=100-200 Myr, age 1.5-2.0 Gyr, solar or slightly sub-solar metallicity, and moderate extinction, A(V)~0.5 mag. We also find that galaxies with masses above M* are typically older than lighter galaxies, as expected in a downsizing scenario of galaxy formation. This trend is, however, model dependent, i.e., it is significantly more evident in the results obtained with some stellar population synthesis libraries and almost absent in others.

The GRAVITY Coud\'e Infrared Adaptive Optics (CIAO) system for the VLT Interferometer

GRAVITY is a second generation instrument for the VLT Interferometer, designed to enhance the near-infrared astrometric and spectro-imaging capabilities of VLTI. Combining beams from four telescopes, GRAVITY will provide an astrometric precision of order 10 micro-arcseconds, imaging resolution of 4 milli-arcseconds, and low and medium resolution spectro-interferometry, pushing its performance far beyond current infrared interfero- metric capabilities. To maximise the performance of GRAVITY, adaptive optics correction will be implemented at each of the VLT Unit Telescopes to correct for the effects of atmospheric turbulence. To achieve this, the GRAVITY project includes a development programme for four new wavefront sensors (WFS) and NIR-optimized real time control system. These devices will enable closed-loop adaptive correction at the four Unit Telescopes in the range 1.4-2.4 {\mu}m. This is crucially important for an efficient adaptive optics implementation in regions where optically bright references sources are scarce, such as the Galactic Centre. We present here the design of the GRAVITY wavefront sensors and give an overview of the expected adaptive optics performance under typical observing conditions. Benefiting from newly developed SELEX/ESO SAPHIRA electron avalanche photodiode (eAPD) detectors providing fast readout with low noise in the near-infrared, the AO systems are expected to achieve residual wavefront errors of \leq400 nm at an operating frequency of 500 Hz.

A spectroscopic analysis of the chemically peculiar star HD207561

In this paper we present a high-resolution spectroscopic analysis of the chemically peculiar star HD207561. During a survey programme to search for new roAp stars in the Northern hemisphere, Joshi et al. (2006) observed significant photometric variability on two consecutive nights in the year 2000. The amplitude spectra of the light curves obtained on these two nights showed oscillations with a frequency of 2.79 mHz [P~6-min]. However, subsequent follow-up observations could not confirm any rapid variability. In order to determine the spectroscopic nature of HD207561, high-resolution spectroscopic and spectro-polarimetric observations were carried out. A reasonable fit of the calculated Hbeta line profile to the observed one yields the effective temperature (Teff) and surface gravity (log g) as 7300 K and 3.7 dex, respectively. The derived projected rotational velocity (vsin i) for HD207561 is 74 km/sec indicative of a relatively fast rotator. The position of HD207561 in the H-R diagram implies that this is slightly evolved from the main-sequence and located well within the delta-Scuti instability strip. The abundance analysis indicates the star has slight under-abundances of Ca and Sc and mild over-abundances of iron-peak elements. The spectro-polarimetric study of HD207561 shows that the effective magnetic field is within the observational error of 100 gauss (G). The spectroscopic analysis revealed that the star has most of the characteristics similar to an Am star, rather than an Ap star, and that it lies in the delta-Scuti instability strip; hence roAp pulsations are not expected in HD207561, but low-overtone modes might be excited.

Near Infrared spectroscopy of post-starburst galaxies: a limited impact of TP-AGB stars on galaxy SED

We present VLT-ISAAC NIR spectro-photometric observations of 16 post-starburst (PSB) galaxies aimed at constraining the debated influence of TP-AGB stars on the SED of galaxies with stellar ages between 0.5 and 2 Gyr, hence critical for high-redshift studies. PSB galaxies have negligible current star formation and a SED dominated by the stellar population formed in a recent (<2 Gyr) burst. By spectroscopically selecting PSB galaxies with mean luminosity-weighted ages between 0.5 and 1.5 Gyr and a broad range of metallicities, we explore the parameter space over which the relative energy output of TP-AGB stars peaks. A key feature of the present study is that we target galaxies at z~0.2, so that two main spectral features of TP-AGB stars (C-molecule band-head drops at 1.41 and 1.77mum, blended with strong telluric absorption features, hence hardly observable from the ground at z~0) move inside the H and K atmospheric windows and can be constrained for the first time to high accuracy. Our observations provide key constraints to stellar population synthesis models. Our main results are: i) the NIR regions around 1.41 and 1.77mum (rest-frame) are featureless for all galaxies in our sample at variance with the Maraston (2005) "TP-AGB heavy" models, which exhibit marked drops there; ii) no flux boosting is observed in the NIR: the optical-NIR SEDs of our PSB galaxies are generally consistent with Bruzual & Charlot (2003) simple stellar populations (SSP) of corresponding light-weighted ages and metallicities, but cannot be reproduced using Maraston (2005) SSPs. Possible systematic effects, including biases due to finite and different spectroscopic apertures, dust attenuation and, more importantly, the mixing of the pure post-burst stellar population with an old underlying component, are analysed and shown not to be able to reconcile observations and "TP-AGB heavy" models.

Rapid Disappearance of Penumbra-Like Features Near a Flaring Polarity Inversion Line: The Hinode Observations

We present the observations of penumbra like features (PLFs) near a polarity inversion line (PIL) of flaring region. The PIL is located at the moat boundary of active region (NOAA 10960). The PLFs appear similar to sunspot penumbrae in morphology but occupy small area, about 6$\times10^{7}$ km$^{2}$, and are not associated with sunspot or pore. We observed a rapid disappearance of the PLFs after a C1.7 class flare, which occurred close to the PIL. The local correlation tracking (LCT) of these features shows presence of horizontal flows directed away from the end-points of the PLFs, similar to the radial outward flow found around regular sunspots, which is also known as the moat flow. Hard X-ray emission, coincident with the location of the PLFs, is found in RHESSI observations, suggesting a spatial correlation between the occurrence of the flare and decay of the PLFs. Vector magnetic field derived from the observations obtained by Hinode spectro-polarimeter SOT/SP instrument, before and after the flare, shows a significant change in the horizontal as well as the vertical component of the field, after the flare. The weakening of both the components of the magnetic field in the flare interval suggests that rapid cancellation and/or submergence of the magnetic field in PLFs occurred during the flare interval.

Radio and IR interferometry of SiO maser stars

Radio and infrared interferometry of SiO maser stars provide complementary information on the atmosphere and circumstellar environment at comparable spatial resolution. Here, we present the latest results on the atmospheric structure and the dust condensation region of AGB stars based on our recent infrared spectro-interferometric observations, which represent the environment of SiO masers. We discuss, as an example, new results from simultaneous VLTI and VLBA observations of the Mira variable AGB star R Cnc, including VLTI near- and mid-infrared interferometry, as well as VLBA observations of the SiO maser emission toward this source. We present preliminary results from a monitoring campaign of high-frequency SiO maser emission toward evolved stars obtained with the APEX telescope, which also serves as a precursor of ALMA images of the SiO emitting region. We speculate that large-scale long-period chaotic motion in the extended molecular atmosphere may be the physical reason for observed deviations from point symmetry of atmospheric molecular layers, and for the observed erratic variability of high-frequency SiO maser emission

On the nature of the Herbig B[e] star binary system V921 Scorpii: Geometry and kinematics of the circumprimary disk on sub-AU scales [Replacement]

V921 Scorpii is a close binary system (separation 0.025″) showing the B[e]-phenomenon. The system is surrounded by an enigmatic bipolar nebula, which might have been shaped by episodic mass-loss events, possibly triggered by dynamical interactions between the companion and the circumprimary disk (Kraus et al. 2012a). In this paper, we investigate the spatial structure and kinematics of the circumprimary disk, with the aim to obtain new insights into the still strongly debated evolutionary stage. For this purpose, we combine, for the first time, infrared spectro-interferometry (VLTI/AMBER, R=12,000) and spectro-astrometry (VLT/CRIRES, R=100,000), which allows us to study the AU-scale distribution of circumstellar gas and dust with an unprecedented velocity resolution of 3 km*s^-1. Using a model-independent photocenter analysis technique, we find that the Br-gamma-line emission rotates in the same plane as the dust disk. We can reproduce the wavelength-differential visibilities and phases and the double-peaked line profile using a Keplerian-rotating disk model. The derived mass of the central star is 5.4+/-0.4 M_sun*(d/1150 pc), which is considerably lower than expected from the spectral classification, suggesting that V921 Sco might be more distant (d approx 2kpc) than commonly assumed. Using the geometric information provided by our Br-gamma spectro-interferometric data and Paschen, Brackett, and Pfund line decrement measurements in 61 hydrogen recombination line transitions, we derive the density of the line-emitting gas (N_e=2…6*10^19 m^-3). Given that our measurements can be reproduced with a Keplerian velocity field without outflowing velocity component and the non-detection of age-indicating spectroscopic diagnostics, our study provides new evidence for the pre-main-sequence nature of V921 Sco.

Fundamental properties and atmospheric structure of the red supergiant VY CMa based on VLTI/AMBER spectro-interferometry

We investigate the atmospheric structure and fundamental properties of the red supergiant VY CMa. We obtained near-infrared spectro-interferometric observations of VY CMa with spectral resolutions of 35 and 1500 using the AMBER instrument at the VLTI. The visibility data indicate the presence of molecular layers of water vapor and CO in the extended atmosphere with an asymmetric morphology. The uniform disk diameter in the water band around 2.0 mu is increased by \sim20% compared to the near-continuum bandpass at 2.20-2.25 mu and in the CO band at 2.3-2.5 mu it is increased by up to \sim50%. The closure phases indicate relatively small deviations from point symmetry close to the photospheric layer, and stronger deviations in the extended H2O and CO layers. Making use of the high spatial and spectral resolution, a near-continuum bandpass can be isolated from contamination by molecular and dusty layers, and the Rosseland-mean photospheric angular diameter is estimated to 11.3 +/- 0.3 mas based on a PHOENIX atmosphere model. Together with recent high-precision estimates of the distance and spectro-photometry, this estimate corresponds to a radius of 1420 +/- 120 Rsun and an effective temperature of 3490 +/- 90 K. VY CMa exhibits asymmetric, possibly clumpy, atmospheric layers of H2O and CO, which are not co-spatial, within a larger elongated dusty envelope. Our revised fundamental parameters put VY CMa close to the Hayashi limit of recent evolutionary tracks of initial mass 25 Msun with rotation or 32 Msun without rotation, shortly before evolving blueward in the HR-diagram.

Direct Constraints on the Impact of TP-AGB Stars on the SED of Galaxies from Near-Infrared Spectroscopy

We present new spectro-photometric NIR observations of 16 post-starburst galaxies especially designed to test for the presence of strong carbon features of thermally pulsing AGB (TP-AGB) stars, as predicted by recent models of stellar population synthesis. Selection based on clear spectroscopic optical features indicating the strong predominance of stellar populations with ages between 0.5 and 1.5 Gyr and redshift around 0.2 allows us to probe the spectral region that is most affected by the carbon features of TP-AGB stars (unaccessible from the ground for z~0 galaxies) in the evolutionary phase when their impact on the IR luminosity is maximum. Nevertheless, none of the observed galaxies display such features. Moreover the NIR fluxes relative to optical are consistent with those predicted by the original Bruzual & Charlot (2003) models, where the impact of TP-AGB stars is much lower than has been recently advocated.

First Science with SHARDS: emission line galaxies

SHARDS (Survey for High-z Absorption Red & Dead Sources) is an unbiased ultra-deep spectro-photometric survey with GTC@OSIRIS aimed at selecting and studying massive passively evolving galaxies at z=1.0-2.3 using a set of 24 medium-band filters (FWHM\sim17 nm) at 500-950 nm in GOODS-N. Our observing strategy is optimized to detect at z>1 the prominent Mg absorption feature at rest-frame ~280 nm, a distinctive, necessary, and sufficient feature of evolved stellar populations. Nonetheless, the data quality allow a plethora of studies on galaxy populations, including Emission Lines Galaxies (ELGs) about which we have started our first science verification project presented in this contribution.

SHARDS: Survey for High-z Absorption Red & Dead Sources

SHARDS, an ESO/GTC Large Program, is an ultra-deep (26.5 mag) spectro-photometric survey with GTC/OSIRIS designed to select and study massive passively evolving galaxies at z=1.0-2.3 in the GOODS-N field using a set of 24 medium-band filters (FWHM~17 nm) covering the 500-950 nm spectral range. Our observing strategy has been planned to detect, for z>1 sources, the prominent Mg absorption feature (at rest-frame ~280 nm), a distinctive, necessary, and sufficient feature of evolved stellar populations (older than 0.5 Gyr). These observations are being used to: (1) derive for the first time an unbiased sample of high-z quiescent galaxies, which extends to fainter magnitudes the samples selected with color techniques and spectroscopic surveys; (2) derive accurate ages and stellar masses based on robust measurements of spectral features such as the Mg(UV) or D(4000) indices; (3) measure their redshift with an accuracy Delta(z)/(1+z)<0.02; and (4) study emission-line galaxies (starbursts and AGN) up to very high redshifts. The well-sampled optical SEDs provided by SHARDS for all sources in the GOODS-N field are a valuable complement for current and future surveys carried out with other telescopes (e.g., Spitzer, HST, and Herschel).

Cosmic star formation rate: a theoretical approach

The cosmic star formation rate (CSFR), is an important clue to investigate the history of the assembly and evolution of galaxies. Here, we develop a method to study the CSFR from a purely theoretical point of view. Starting from detailed models of chemical evolution, we obtain the histories of star formation of galaxies of different morphological types. These histories are then used to determine the luminosity functions of the same galaxies by means of a spectro-photometric code. We obtain the CSFR under different hypothesis. First, we study the hypothesis of a pure luminosity evolution scenario, in which all galaxies are supposed to form at the same redshift and then evolve only in luminosity. Then we consider scenarios in which the number density or the slope of the LFs are assumed to vary with redshift. After comparison with available data we conclude that a pure luminosity evolution does not provide a good fit to the data, especially at very high redshift, although many uncertainties are still present in the data. On the other hand, a variation in the number density of ellipticals and spirals as a function of redshift can provide a better fit to the observed CSFR. We also explore cases of variable slope of the LFs with redshift and variations of number density and slope at the same time. We cannot find any of those cases which can improve the fit to the data respect to the solely number density variation. Finally, we compute the evolution of the average cosmic metallicity in galaxies with redshift.

Application of a damped Locally Optimized Combination of Images method to the spectral characterization of faint companions using an Integral Field Spectrograph

High-contrast imaging instruments are now being equipped with integral field spectrographs (IFS) to facilitate the detection and characterization of faint substellar companions. Algorithms currently envisioned to handle IFS data, such as the Locally Optimized Combination of Images (LOCI) algorithm, rely upon aggressive point-spread-function (PSF) subtraction, which is ideal for initially identifying companions but results in significantly biased photometry and spectroscopy due to unwanted mixing with residual starlight. This spectro-photometric issue is further complicated by the fact that algorithmic color response is a function of the companion’s spectrum, making it difficult to calibrate the effects of the reduction without using iterations involving a series of injected synthetic companions. In this paper, we introduce a new PSF calibration method, which we call “damped LOCI”, that seeks to alleviate these concerns. By modifying the cost function that determines the weighting coefficients used to construct PSF reference images, and also forcing those coefficients to be positive, it is possible to extract companion spectra with a precision that is set by calibration of the instrument response and transmission of the atmosphere, and not by post-processing. We demonstrate the utility of this approach using on-sky data obtained with the Project 1640 IFS at Palomar. Damped-LOCI does not require any iterations on the underlying spectral type of the companion, nor does it rely upon priors involving the chromatic and statistical properties of speckles. It is a general technique that can readily be applied to other current and planned instruments that employ IFS’s.

Digital Spectro-Correlator System for the Atacama Compact Array of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

We have developed an FX-architecture digital spectro-correlator for the Atacama Compact Array (ACA) of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. The correlator is able to simultaneously process four pairs of dual polarization signals with the bandwidth of 2 GHz, which are received by up to sixteen antennas. It can calculate auto- and cross-correlation spectra including cross-polarization in all combinations of all the antennas, and output correlation spectra with flexible spectral configuration such as multiple frequency ranges and multiple frequency resolutions. Its spectral dynamic range is estimated to be higher than 10^4 relative to Tsys from processing results of thermal noise for eight hours with a typical correlator configuration. The sensitivity loss is also confirmed to be 0.9 % with the same configuration. In this paper, we report the detailed design of the correlator and the verification results of the developed hardware.

The diameter of the CoRoT target HD 49933. Combining the 3D limb darkening, asteroseismology, and interferometry

Context. The interpretation of stellar pulsations in terms of internal structure depends on the knowledge of the fundamental stellar parameters. Long-base interferometers permit us to determine very accurate stellar radii, which are independent constraints for stellar models that help us to locate the star in the HR diagram. Aims: Using a direct interferometric determination of the angular diameter and advanced three-dimensional (3D) modeling, we derive the radius of the CoRoT target HD 49933 and reduce the global stellar parameter space compatible with seismic data. Methods: The VEGA/CHARA spectro-interferometer is used to measure the angular diameter of the star. A 3D radiative hydrodynamical simulation of the surface is performed to compute the limb darkening and derive a reliable diameter from visibility curves. The other fundamental stellar parameters (mass, age, and Teff) are found by fitting the large and small p-mode frequency separations using a stellar evolution model that includes microscopic diffusion. Results: We obtain a limb-darkened angular diameter of {\theta}LD = 0.445 \pm 0.012 mas. With the Hipparcos parallax, we obtain a radius of R = 1.42 \pm 0.04 Rsun. The corresponding stellar evolution model that fits both large and small frequency separations has a mass of 1.20 \pm 0.08 Msun and an age of 2.7 Gy. The atmospheric parameters are Teff = 6640 \pm 100 K, log g = 4.21 \pm 0.14, and [Fe/H] = -0.38.

The G305 star-forming complex: the central star clusters Danks 1 and Danks 2

The G305 HII complex (G305.4+0.1) is one of the most massive star forming structures yet identified within the Galaxy. It is host to many massive stars at all stages of formation and evolution, from embedded molecular cores to post main-sequence stars. Here, we present a detailed near-infrared analysis of the two central star clusters Danks 1 and Danks 2, using HST+NICMOS imaging and VLT+ISAAC spectroscopy. We find that the spectro-photometric distance to the clusters is consistent with the kinematic distance to the G305 complex, an average of all measurements giving a distance of 3.8\pm0.6kpc. From analysis of the stellar populations and the pre-main-sequence stars we find that Danks 2 is the elder of the two clusters, with an age of 3^{+3}_{-1}Myr. Danks 1 is clearly younger with an age of 1.5^{+1.5}_{-0.5}Myr, and is dominated by three very luminous H-rich Wolf-Rayet stars which may have masses \geq100\msun. The two clusters have mass functions consistent with the Salpeter slope, and total cluster masses of 8000\pm1500\msun\ and 3000\pm800\msun\ for Danks 1 and Danks 2 respectively. Danks 1 is significantly the more compact cluster of the two, and is one of the densest clusters in the Galaxy with $\log (\rho/M_{\odot}{\rm pc}^{-3}) = 5.5^{+0.5}_{-0.4}$. In addition to the clusters, there is a population of apparently isolated Wolf-Rayet stars within the molecular cloud’s cavity. Our results suggest that the star-forming history of G305 began with the formation of Danks 2, and subsequently Danks 1, with the origin of the diffuse evolved population currently uncertain. Together, the massive stars at the centre of the G305 region appear to be clearing away what is left of the natal cloud, triggering a further generation of star formation at the cloud’s periphery.

Atmospheres of RR Lyrae Stars: Hypersonic Shock waves, Helium line detection and Magnetic fields. A few spectra for George Preston on the occasion of his birthday

During intensive/comparative studies with Preston’s spectroscopic works (1961, 1962, 1964 & 1965) on RR Lyrae atmospheric phenomena, I unexpectedly found the existence of hypersonic shock waves (Chadid 1996 & 2008), that are strongly connected with the turbulence amplification mechanism (Chadid 1996b) and the Blazhko modulation (1997). Here I will show how the hypersonic shocks are at the origin of helium line formation and connected with the helium emission and line doubling detected by Preston (2009, 2011). I will present new neutral and single ionized helium line data in the hypersonic Blazhko star S Arae. The He II appears as a weak emission and its origin is strongly connected with the hypersonic shock in S Arae. The shock is extremely strong and can reach a Mach number >30. The HeI lines first appear in emission, over ~2% of the pulsation period, followed by the HeI absorption doubling phenomenon occurring simultaneously with the neutral metallic absorption line phenomenon over ~8% of the pulsation period. Despite several claimed detections of magnetic fields in RR Lyrae, Preston (1967) found none after two years of observations. This is consistent with my recent spectro-polarimetric measurements (2004), over four years, concluding that RR Lyr is a bona fide nonmagnetic star, leading to the falsification of all the models of the Blazhko effect requiring strong photospheric magnetic fields. I report on a new series of high precision circular polarization spectroscopic observations of Blazhko star RV UMa. The longitudinal field measurements of RV UMa show a mean longitudinal magnetic field of B_l = -13+/-35 G, and no significant detection over the entire pulsation cycle. These spectroscopic results reveal a serious challenge for explaining the complex behavior in the pulsation of hypersonic atmospheres of RR Lyrae stars.

The cosmic star formation rate: a theoretical approach

The cosmic star formation rate (CSFR), namely the star formation rate in a unitary comoving volume of the Universe, is a fundamental clue to investigate the history of the assembling and evolution of structures in the Universe. Here we develop a method to study the CSFR from a purely theoretical point of view. Starting from detailed models of chemical evolution, which best fit the properties of local galaxies, we obtain the histories of star formation of galaxies of different morphological types (ellipticals, spirals, irregulars). These histories are then used to determine the photometric evolution of galaxies by means of a spectro-photometric code. The next step in computing the CSFR is the calculation of the luminosity density for which we need to know how galaxies are distributed in the Universe at any redshift. This is possible thanks to the luminosity function (LF) of galaxies. At this point we calculate the CSFR under different evolutionary scenarios. First, we study the hypothesis of a pure luminosity evolution scenario, in which galaxies are supposed to form all at the same redshift and then evolve only in luminosity without any merging or interaction. In other words, we assume no number density evolution. Then we define scenarios in which the number density and the slope of the LF are assumed to vary with redshift. All our results have been compared with data available in literature. We conclude that a pure number density evolution does not provide a good fit to the data. On the other hand, a variation in the number density for ellipticals and spirals as a function of redshift can provide a better fit to the observed CSFR, although the data at very high redshift are still quite uncertain and this solution predicts that most of the metals in the Universe have been produced by spirals, a prediction which still needs to be tested.

Spectroscopic evidence for helicity in explosive events

We report spectroscopic observations in support of a novel view of transition region explosive events, observations that lend empirical evidence that at least in some cases explosive events may be nothing else than spinning narrow spicule-like structures. Our spectra of textbook explosive events with simultaneous Doppler flow of a red and of a blue component are extreme cases of high spectro-scopic velocities that lack apparent motion, to be expected if interpreted as a pair of collimated, linearly moving jets. The awareness of this conflict led us to the alternate interpretation of redshift and blueshift as spinning motion of a small plasma volume. In contrast to the bidirectional jet scenario, a small volume of spinning plasma would be fully compatible with the observation of flows without detectable apparent motion. We suspect that these small volumes could be spicule-like structures and try to find evidence. We show observations of helical motion in macrospicules and argue that these features – if scaled down to a radius comparable to the slit size of a spectrometer – should have a spectroscopic signature similar to that observed in explosive events, while not easily detectable by imagers. Despite of this difficulty, evidence of helicity in spicules has been reported in the literature. This inspired us to the new insight that the same narrow spinning structures may be the drivers in both cases, structures that imagers observe as spicules and that in spectrometers cross the slit and are seen as explosive events. We arrive at a concept that supports the idea that explosive events and spicules are different manifestations of the same helicity driven scenario. Consequently, in such a case, a photospheric or subphotosperic trigger has to be assumed.

Atacama Compact Array Correlator for Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

We have developed a FX-architecture digital spectro-correlator, Atacama Compact Array Correlator for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. The ACA Correlator processes four pairs of dual polarization signals, whose bandwidth is 2 GHz, from up to sixteen antennas, and calculates auto- and cross-correlation spectra including cross-polarization in all combinations of sixteen antennas. We report the detailed design of the correlator and the verification results of the correlator hardware.

Detection of Jovian seismic waves: a new probe of its interior structure

Knowledge of Jupiter’s deep interior would provide unique constraints on the formation of the Solar System. Measurement of its core mass and global composition would shed light on whether the planet formed by accretion or by direct gravitational collapse. At present, the inner structure of Jupiter is poorly constrained and seismology, which consists of identifying acoustic eigenmodes, offers a way to directly measure its deep sound speed profile, and thus its physical properties. Seismology of Jupiter has been considered since the mid 1970s, but hitherto the various attempts to detect global modes led, at best, to ambiguous results. We report the detection of global modes of Jupiter, based on radial velocity measurements performed with the SYMPA Fourier spectro-imager. The global seismic parameters that we measure include the frequency of maximum amplitude 1213+/-50 \mu Hz, the mean large frequency spacing between radial harmonics 155.3+/-2.2 \mu Hz and the mode maximum amplitude 49 (-10/+8) cm/s, all values that are consistent with current models of Jupiter. This result opens the way to the investigation of the inner structure of the Solar System’s giant planets based on seismology techniques.

Near-infrared spectroscopy of EX Lupi in outburst

EX Lup is the prototype of the EXor class of young eruptive stars: objects showing repetitive brightenings due to increased accretion from the circumstellar disk to the star. In this paper, we report on medium-resolution near-infrared spectroscopy of EX\,Lup taken during its extreme outburst in 2008, as well as numerical modeling with the aim of determining the physical conditions around the star. We detect emission lines from atomic hydrogen, helium, and metals, as well as first overtone bandhead emission from carbon monoxide. Our results indicate that the emission lines are originating from gas located in a dust-free region within ~ 0.2 AU of the star. The profile of the CO bandhead indicates that the CO gas has a temperature of 2500 K, and is located in the inner edge of the disk or in the outer parts of funnel flows. The atomic metals are probably co-located with the CO. Some metallic lines are fluorescently excited, suggesting direct exposure to ultraviolet photons. The Brackett series indicates emission from hot (10000 K) and optically thin gas. The hydrogen lines display a strong spectro-astrometric signal, suggesting that the hydrogen emission is probably not coming from an equatorial boundary layer; a funnel flow or disk wind origin is more likely. This picture is broadly consistent with the standard magnetospheric accretion model usually assumed for normally accreting T Tauri stars. Our results also set constraints on the eruption mechanism, supporting a model where material piles up around the corotation radius and episodically falls onto the star.

Spatial and temporal distributions of transient horizontal magnetic fields with deep exposure

We obtained a long exposure vector magnetogram of the quiet Sun photosphere at the disk center with wide FOV of $51″ \times 82″$. The observation was performed at Fe I 525.0 nm with the shutter-less mode of the Narrow Band Filter Imager of the Solar Optical Telescope (SOT) on board Hinode satellite. We summed the linear polarization ($LP$) maps taken with time cadence of 60 seconds for 2 hours to obtain a map with as long an exposure as possible. The polarization sensitivity would be more than 4.6 (21.2 in exposure time) times the standard observation with the SOT spectro-polarimeter. The $LP$ map shows a cellular structure with a typical scale of $5″ – 10″$. We find that the enhanced $LP$ signals essentially consist of the isolated sporadic transient horizontal magnetic fields (THMFs) with life time of 1-10 min, and are not contributed by long-duration weak horizontal magnetic fields. The cellular structure coincides in position with the negative divergence of the horizontal flow field, i.e., mesogranular boundaries with downflows. Azimuth distribution appears to be random for the scale size of the mesogranules. Some pixels have two separate appearances of THMFs, and the measured time intervals are consistent with the random appearance. THMFs tend to appear at the mesogranular boundaries, but appear randomly in time. We discuss the origin of THMFs based on these observations.

Characterisation of the CAFOS linear spectro-polarimeter

Aims. This research note presents a full analysis of the CAFOS polarimeter mounted at the Calar Alto 2.2m telescope. It also provides future users of this mode with all necessary information to properly correct for instrumental effects in polarization data obtained with this instrument. Methods. The standard stars BD+59d389 (polarized) and HD14069 (unpolarized) were observed with CAFOS in November, 2010, using 16 half-wave plate angles. The linear spectropolarimetric properties of CAFOS were studied using a Fourier Analysis of the resulting data. Results. CAFOS shows a roughly constant instrumental polarization at the level of ~0.3% between 4000 and 8600 A. Below 4000 A the spurious polarization grows to reach ~0.7% at 3600 A. This instrumental effect is most likely produced by the telescope optics, and appears to be additive. The Wollaston prism presents a clear deviation from the ideal behavior. The problem is largely removed by the usage of at least 4 retarder plate angles. The chromatism of the half-wave plate causes a peak-to-peak oscillation of ~11 degrees in the polarization angle. This can be effectively corrected using the tabulated values presented in this paper. The Fourier analysis shows that the k!=0,4 harmonics are practically negligible between 3800 and 7400 A. Conclusions. After correcting for instrumental polarization and retarder plate chromatism, with 4 half-wave plate angles CAFOS can reach an rms linear polarization accuracy of about 0.1%.

Bayesian inference of solar and stellar magnetic fields in the weak-field approximation

The weak-field approximation is one of the simplest models that allows us to relate the observed polarization induced by the Zeeman effect with the magnetic field vector present on the plasma of interest. It is usually applied for diagnosing magnetic fields in the solar and stellar atmospheres. A fully Bayesian approach to the inference of magnetic properties in unresolved structures is presented. The analytical expression for the marginal posterior distribution is obtained, from which we can obtain statistically relevant information about the model parameters. The role of a-priori information is discussed and a hierarchical procedure is presented that gives robust results that are almost insensitive to the precise election of the prior. The strength of the formalism is demonstrated through an application to IMaX data. Bayesian methods can optimally exploit data from filter-polarimeters given the scarcity of spectral information as compared with spectro-polarimeters. The effect of noise and how it degrades our ability to extract information from the Stokes profiles is analyzed in detail.

A spectroscopic survey of faint, high-galactic latitude red clump stars. II. The medium resolution sample

Aims. The goal of our survey is to provide accurate and multi-epoch radial velocities, atmospheric parameters (Teff, log g and [M/H]), distances and space velocities of faint Red Clump stars. Methods. We recorded high signal-to-noise (S/N >= 200) spectra of Red Clump stars, over the 4750-5950 Ang range, at a resolving power 5500. The target stars are distributed over the great circle of the celestial equator. Radial velocities were obtained via cross-correlation against IAU radial velocity standards. Atmospheric parameters were derived via chi^2 fit to a synthetic spectral library. A large number of RC stars from other surveys were re-observed to check the consistency of our results. Results. A total of 245 Red Clump stars were observed (60 of them with a second epoch observation separated in time by about three months), and the results are presented in an output catalog. None of them is already present in other surveys of Red Clump stars. In addition to astrometric and photometric support data from external sources, the catalog provides radial velocities (accuracy sigma(RV)=1.3 km/s), atmospheric parameters (sigma(Teff)=88 K, sigma(log g)=0.38 dex and sigma([M/H])=0.17 dex), spectro-photometric distances, (X,Y,Z) galacto-centric positions and (U,V,W) space velocities.

HMI: First results

The Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) has just started producing data that will help determine what the sources and mechanisms of variability in the Sun’s interior are. The instrument measures the Doppler shift and the polarization of the Fe I 6173 A line, on the entire solar disk at a relatively-high cadence, in order to study the oscillations and the evolution of the full vector magnetic field of the solar Photosphere. After the data are properly calibrated, they are given to a Milne-Eddington inversion code (VFISV, Borrero et al. 2010) whose purpose is to infer certain aspects of the physical conditions in the Sun’s Photosphere, such as the full 3-D topology of the magnetic field and the line-of-sight velocity at the solar surface. We will briefly describe the characteristics of the inversion code, its advantages and limitations –both in the context of the model atmosphere and the actual nature of the data–, and other aspects of its performance on such a remarkable data load. Also, a cross-comparison with near-simultaneous maps from the Spectro-Polarimeter (SP) onboard Hinode will be made.

The fundamental parameters of the roAp star $\gamma$ Equulei

Physical processes working in the stellar interiors as well as the evolution of stars depend on some fundamental stellar properties, such as mass, radius, luminosity, and chemical abundances. A classical way to test stellar interior models is to compare the predicted and observed location of a star on theoretical evolutionary tracks in a H-R diagram. This requires the best possible determinations of stellar mass, radius, luminosity and abundances. To derive its fundamental parameters, we observed the well-known rapidly oscillating Ap star, $\gamma$ Equ, using the visible spectro-interferometer VEGA installed on the optical CHARA array. We computed the calibrated squared visibility and derived the limb-darkened diameter. We used the whole energy flux distribution, the parallax and this angular diameter to determine the luminosity and the effective temperature of the star. We obtained a limb-darkened angular diameter of 0.564~$\pm$~0.017~mas and deduced a radius of $R$~=~2.20~$\pm$~0.12~${\rm R_{\odot}}$. Without considering the multiple nature of the system, we derived a bolometric flux of $(3.12\pm 0.21)\times 10^{-7}$ erg~cm$^{-2}$~s$^{-1}$ and an effective temperature of 7364~$\pm$~235~K, which is below the effective temperature that has been previously determined. Under the same conditions we found a luminosity of $L$~=~12.8~$\pm$~1.4~${\rm L_{\odot}}$. When the contribution of the closest companion to the bolometric flux is considered, we found that the effective temperature and luminosity of the primary star can be, respectively, up to $\sim$~100~K and up to $\sim$~0.8~L$_\odot$ smaller than the values mentioned above.These new values of the radius and effective temperature should bring further constraints on the asteroseismic modelling of the star.

Study of Interplanetary Magnetic Field with Atomic Alignment

We demonstrate a new way of studying interplanetary magnetic field — atomic alignment. Instead of sending thousands of space probes, atomic alignment allows magnetic mapping with any ground telescope facilities equipped with spectro-polarimeter. The polarization of spectral lines that are pumped by the anisotropic radiation from the sun is influenced by the magnetic alignment, which happens for weak magnetic field (<1G). As a result, the line polarization becomes an excellent tracer of the embedded magnetic field. The method is illustrated by the specific cases of Io and comet Halley that we consider. Magnetometer data from the Galileo mission Io flyby (2002) were used in order to construct the topology of the magnetic field around Jupiter. So as to the data from the vega mission comet Halley flyby(1986). A uniform density distribution of Na was considered and polarization at each point was then constructed. Both spatial and temporal variations of turbulent magnetic field can be traced with this technique as well. For remote regions like the the boundary with interstellar medium, atomic alignment provides a unique diagnostics of magnetic field, which is crucial for understanding the physical processes like the IBEX ribbons discovered recently.

Study of Interplanetary Magnetic Field with Atomic Alignment [Replacement]

We demonstrate a new way of studying interplanetary magnetic field — atomic alignment. Instead of sending thousands of space probes, atomic alignment allows magnetic mapping with any ground telescope facilities equipped with spectro-polarimeter. The polarization of spectral lines that are pumped by the anisotropic radiation from the sun is influenced by the magnetic alignment, which happens for weak magnetic field (<1G). As a result, the line polarization becomes an excellent tracer of the embedded magnetic field. The method is illustrated by the specific cases of Io and comet Halley that we consider. Magnetometer data from the Galileo mission Io flyby (2002) were used in order to construct the topology of the magnetic field around Jupiter. So as to the data from the vega mission comet Halley flyby(1986). A uniform density distribution of Na was considered and polarization at each point was then constructed. Both spatial and temporal variations of turbulent magnetic field can be traced with this technique as well. For remote regions like the the boundary with interstellar medium, atomic alignment provides a unique diagnostics of magnetic field, which is crucial for understanding the physical processes like the IBEX ribbons discovered recently.

Gaia: unraveling the chemical and dinamical history of our Galaxy

The Gaia astrometric mission – the Hipparcos successor – is described in some detail, with its three instruments: the two (spectro)photometers (BP and RP) covering the range 330-1050 nm, the white light (G-band) imager dedicated to astrometry, and the radial velocity spectrometer (RVS) covering the range 847-874 nm at a resolution R \simeq 11500. The whole sky will be scanned repeatedly providing data for ~10^9 point-like objects, down to a magnitude of V \simeq 20, aiming to the full 6D reconstruction of the Milky Way kinematical and dinamical structure with unprecendented precision. The horizon of scientific questions that can find an answer with such a set of data is vast, including besides the Galaxy: Solar system studies, stellar astrophysics, exoplanets, supernovae, Local group physics, unresolved galaxies, Quasars, and fundamental physics. The Italian involvement in the mission preparation is briefly outlined.

An insight into the flux calibration of Gaia G-band images and BP/RP spectrophotometry

The Gaia mission is described, focussing on those technical aspects that are necessary to understand the details of its external (absolute) flux calibration. On board of Gaia there will be two (spectro)photometers, the blue one (BP) and the red one (RP) covering the range 330-1050 nm, and the white light (G-band) imager dedicated to astrometry. Given the fact that the focal plane of Gaia will be constituted by 105 CCDs and the sources will cross the the focal plane at constant speed, at different positions in each of the foreseen passages (on average 70–80, but up to 350) in the mission lifetime, the “simple" problem of calibrating the integrated BP/RP and G-band magnitudes and the low resolution BP/RP spectra flux turns into a very delicate and complicated issue, including CTI effects, LSF variations across the focal plane and with time, CCD gating to avoid saturation and the like. The calibration model requires a carefully selected set of $\simeq$200 SpectroPhotometric Standard Stars (SPSS) with a nominal precision of a few \%, with respect to Vega.

Probing local density inhomogeneities in the circumstellar disk of a Be star using the new spectro-astrometry mode at the Keck interferometer

We report on the successful science verification phase of a new observing mode at the Keck interferometer, which provides a line-spread function width and sampling of 150km/s at K’-band, at a current limiting magnitude of K’~7mag with spatial resolution of lam/2B ~2.7mas and a measured differential phase stability of unprecedented precision (3mrad at K=5mag, which represents 3uas on sky or a centroiding precision of 10^-3). The scientific potential of this mode is demonstrated by the presented observations of the circumstellar disk of the evolved Be-star 48Lib. In addition to indirect methods such as multi-wavelength spectroscopy and polaritmetry, the here described spectro-interferometric astrometry provides a new tool to directly constrain the radial density structure in the disk. We resolve for the first time several Pfund emission lines, in addition to BrGam, in a single interferometric spectrum, and with adequate spatial and spectral resolution and precision to analyze the radial disk structure in 48Lib. The data suggest that the continuum and Pf-emission originates in significantly more compact regions, inside of the BrGam emission zone. Thus, spectro-interferometric astrometry opens the opportunity to directly connect the different observed line profiles of BrGam and Pfund in the total and correlated flux to different disk radii. The gravitational potential of a rotationally flattened Be star is expected to induce a one-armed density perturbation in the circumstellar disk. Such a slowly rotating disk oscillation has been used to explain the well known periodic V/R spectral profile variability in these stars, as well as the observed V/R cycle phase shifts between different disk emission lines. The differential line properties and linear constraints set by our data lend support to the existence of a radius-dependent disk density perturbation.

The 2008-2009 outburst of the young binary system Z CMa unraveled by interferometry with high spectral resolution

Z CMa is a young binary system consisting of an Herbig primary and a FU Ori companion. Both components seem to be surrounded by active accretion disks and a jet was associated to the Herbig B0. In Nov. 2008, K. Grankin discovered that Z CMa was exhibiting an outburst with an amplitude larger than any photometric variations recorded in the last 25 years. To study the innermost regions in which the outburst occurs and understand its origin, we have observed both binary components with AMBER/VLTI across the Br{\gamma} emission line in Dec. 2009 in medium and high spectral resolution modes. Our observations show that the Herbig Be, responsible for the increase of luminosity, also produces a strong Br{\gamma} emission, and they allow us to disentangle from various origins by locating the emission at each velocities through the line. Considering a model of a Keplerian disk alone fails at reproducing the asymmetric spectro-astrometric measurements, suggesting a major contribution from an outflow.

 

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