A Hubble Space Telescope Survey for Novae in M87. III. Novae as Effective Standard Candles [SSA]


Ten weeks’ daily imaging of the giant elliptical galaxy M87 with the Hubble Space Telescope has yielded 41 nova light curves of unprecedented quality for extragalactic cataclysmic variables. We have recently used these light curves to demonstrate that the observational scatter in the so-called Maximum-Magnitude Rate of Decline (MMRD) relation for classical novae is so large as to render the nova-MMRD useless as a standard candle. Here we demonstrate that the Buscombe – de Vaucouleurs hypothesis, that all novae converge to nearly the same absolute magnitude about two weeks after maximum light, is strongly supported by our M87 nova data. For 24 novae in V-band (F606W filter) and I-band (F814W filter) light with daily-sampled light curves and well determined maxima, we find that the times of minimum scatter of nova absolute magnitude are, respectively, 17 and 20 days after maximum light. At those epochs novae display M_{V,17} = -6.06 +/- 0.23 and M_{I,20} = -6.11 +/- 0.34 . The distances of single novae in the Milky Way, sparse or elliptical galaxies, or free-floating in intergalactic space can be reasonably well-determined with the above calibrations.

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M. Shara, T. Doyle, A. Pagnotta, et. al.
Fri, 24 Feb 17

Comments: 11 pages, 4 figures, submitted to the Astrophysical Journal

Periodic optical variability of AGN [GA]


Here we present the evidence for periodicity of an optical emission detected in several AGN. Significant periodicity is found in light curves and radial velocity curves. We discuss possible mechanisms that could produce such periodic variability and their implications. The results are consistent with possible detection of the orbital motion in proximity of the AGN central supermassive black holes.

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E. Bon, P. Marziani and N. Bon
Fri, 24 Feb 17

Comments: 5 pages, 2 figures, in press

Unraveling the escape dynamics and the nature of the normally hyperbolic invariant manifolds in tidally limited star clusters [GA]


The escape mechanism of orbits in a star cluster rotating around its parent galaxy in a circular orbit is investigated. A three degrees of freedom model is used for describing the dynamical properties of the Hamiltonian system. The gravitational field of the star cluster is represented by a smooth and spherically symmetric Plummer potential. We distinguish between ordered and chaotic orbits as well as between trapped and escaping orbits, considering only unbounded motion for several energy levels. The Smaller Alignment Index (SALI) method is used for determining the regular or chaotic nature of the orbits. The basins of escape are located and they are also correlated with the corresponding escape time of the orbits. Areas of bounded regular or chaotic motion and basins of escape were found to coexist in the $(x,z)$ plane. The properties of the normally hyperbolic invariant manifolds (NHIMs), located in the vicinity of the index-1 Lagrange points $L_1$ and $L_2$, are also explored. These manifolds are of paramount importance as they control the flow of stars over the saddle points, while they also trigger the formation of tidal tails observed in star clusters. Bifurcation diagrams of the Lyapunov periodic orbits as well as restrictions of the Poincar\’e map to the NHIMs are deployed for elucidating the dynamics in the neighbourhood of the saddle points. The extended tidal tails, or tidal arms, formed by stars with low velocity which escape through the Lagrange points are monitored. The numerical results of this work are also compared with previous related work.

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E. Zotos and C. Jung
Fri, 24 Feb 17

Comments: Published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS) journal

A chemical signature from fast-rotating low-metallicity massive stars: ROA 276 in omega Centauri [SSA]


We present a chemical abundance analysis of a metal-poor star, ROA 276, in the stellar system omega Centauri. We confirm that this star has an unusually high [Sr/Ba] abundance ratio. Additionally, ROA 276 exhibits remarkably high abundance ratios, [X/Fe], for all elements from Cu to Mo along with normal abundance ratios for the elements from Ba to Pb. The chemical abundance pattern of ROA 276, relative to a primordial omega Cen star ROA 46, is best fit by a fast-rotating low-metallicity massive stellar model of 20 Msun, [Fe/H] = -1.8, and an initial rotation 0.4 times the critical value; no other nucleosynthetic source can match the neutron-capture element distribution. ROA 276 arguably offers the most definitive proof to date that fast-rotating massive stars contributed to the production of heavy elements in the early Universe.

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D. Yong, J. Norris, G. Costa, et. al.
Fri, 24 Feb 17

Comments: ApJ in press

Ultra-high-energy cosmic rays from tidally-ignited stars [HEAP]


Ultra-high-energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) can be accelerated by tidal disruption events of stars by black holes. Encounters between white dwarfs with intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) provide a natural environment for acceleration, as tidal forces can ignite nuclear burn and lead to a supernova explosion. The numbers of IMBHs may be substantially augmented once account is taken of their likely presence in dwarf galaxies. In this Letter we show that this kind of tidal disruption event naturally provides an intermediate/heavy composition for the inferred UHECR composition. We further argue that this mechanism is virtually model-independent, as it does not rely on any specific acceleration model. Finally, we point out a possible link between ultra-luminous x-ray and UHECR sources.

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R. Batista and J. Silk
Fri, 24 Feb 17

Comments: 5 pages, 1 figure

What can distant galaxies teach us about massive stars? [GA]


Observations of star-forming galaxies in the distant Universe (z > 2) are starting to confirm the importance of massive stars in shaping galaxy emission and evolution. Inevitably, these distant stellar populations are unresolved, and the limited data available must be interpreted in the context of stellar population synthesis models. With the imminent launch of JWST and the prospect of spectral observations of galaxies within a gigayear of the Big Bang, the uncertainties in modelling of massive stars are becoming increasingly important to our interpretation of the high redshift Universe. In turn, these observations of distant stellar populations will provide ever stronger tests against which to gauge the success of, and flaws in, current massive star models.

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E. Stanway
Fri, 24 Feb 17

Comments: 8 pages. To appear in the Proceedings of IAU Symposium 329: “The Lives and Death Throws of Massive Stars”

UVUDF: UV Luminosity Functions at the cosmic high-noon [GA]


We present the rest-1500\AA\ UV luminosity functions (LF) for star-forming galaxies during the cosmic \textit{high noon} — the peak of cosmic star formation rate at $1.5<z<3$. We use deep NUV imaging data obtained as part of the \textit{Hubble} Ultra-Violet Ultra Deep Field (UVUDF) program, along with existing deep optical and NIR coverage on the HUDF. We select F225W, F275W and F336W dropout samples using the Lyman break technique, along with samples in the corresponding redshift ranges selected using photometric redshifts and measure the rest-frame UV LF at $z\sim1.7,2.2,3.0$ respectively, using the modified maximum likelihood estimator. We perform simulations to quantify the survey and sample incompleteness for the UVUDF samples to correct the effective volume calculations for the LF. We select galaxies down to $M_{UV}=-15.9,-16.3,-16.8$ and fit a faint-end slope of $\alpha=-1.20^{+0.10}_{-0.13}, -1.32^{+0.10}_{-0.14}, -1.39^{+0.08}_{-0.12}$ at $1.4<z<1.9$, $1.8<z<2.6$, and $2.4<z<3.6$, respectively. We compare the star formation properties of $z\sim2$ galaxies from these UV observations with results from H\alpha\ and UV$+$IR observations. We find a lack of high SFR sources in the UV LF compared to the H\alpha\ and UV$+$IR, likely due to dusty SFGs not being properly accounted for by the generic $IRX-\beta$ relation used to correct for dust. We compute a volume-averaged UV-to-H\alpha\ ratio by \textit{abundance matching} the rest-frame UV LF and H\alpha\ LF. We find an increasing UV-to-H\alpha\ ratio towards low mass galaxies ($M_\star \lesssim 5\times10^9$ M$_\odot$). We conclude that this could be due to a larger contribution from starbursting galaxies compared to the high-mass end.

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V. Mehta, C. Scarlata, M. Rafelski, et. al.
Fri, 24 Feb 17

Comments: 19 pages, 10 figures, accepted to ApJ