LAGO: the Latin American Giant Observatory [IMA]

The Latin American Giant Observatory (LAGO) is an extended cosmic ray observatory composed of a network of water-Cherenkov detectors (WCD) spanning over different sites located at significantly different altitudes (from sea level up to more than $5000$\,m a.s.l.) and latitudes across Latin America, covering a wide range of geomagnetic rigidity cut-offs and atmospheric absorption/reaction levels. The LAGO WCD is simple and robust, and incorporates several integrated devices to allow time synchronization, autonomous operation, on board data analysis, as well as remote control and automated data transfer.
This detection network is designed to make detailed measurements of the temporal evolution of the radiation flux coming from outer space at ground level. LAGO is mainly oriented to perform basic research in three areas: high energy phenomena, space weather and atmospheric radiation at ground level. It is an observatory designed, built and operated by the LAGO Collaboration, a non-centralized collaborative union of more than 30 institutions from ten countries.
In this paper we describe the scientific and academic goals of the LAGO project – illustrating its present status with some recent results – and outline its future perspectives.

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I. Sidelnik, H. Asorey and LAGO. Collaboration
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 4 pages, 2 figures, Proceedings of the 9th International Workshop on Ring Imaging Cherenkov Detectors (RICH 2016), Lake Bled, Slovenia

Quasars as standard candles I: The physical relation between disc and coronal emission [HEAP]

A tight non-linear relation exists between the X-ray and UV emission in quasars (i.e. $L_{\rm X}\propto L_{\rm UV}^{\gamma}$), with a dispersion of $\sim$0.2~dex over \rev{$\sim$3~orders of magnitude in luminosity}. Such observational evidence has two relevant consequences: (1) an ubiquitous physical mechanism must regulate the energy transfer from the accretion disc to the X-ray emitting {\it corona}, and (2) the non-linearity of the relation provides a new, powerful way to estimate the absolute luminosity, turning quasars into a new class of {\it standard candles}.
Here we propose a modified version of this relation which involves the emission line full-width half maximum, $L_{\rm X}\propto L_{\rm UV}^{\hat\gamma}\upsilon_{\rm fwhm}^{\hat\beta}$. We interpret this new relation through a simple, {\it ad-hoc} model of accretion disc corona, derived from the works of Svensson \& Zdziarski (1994) and Merloni \& Fabian (2002), where it is assumed that reconnection and magnetic loops above the accretion disc can account for the production of the primary X-ray radiation.
We find that the monochromatic optical-UV (2500 \AA) and X–ray (2 keV) luminosities depend on the black hole mass and accretion rate as $L_{\rm UV}\propto M_{\rm BH}^{4/3} (\dot{M}/\dot{M}_{\rm Edd})^{2/3}$ and $L_{\rm X}\propto M_{\rm BH}^{19/21} (\dot{M}/\dot{M}_{\rm Edd})^{5/21}$, respectively. Assuming a broad line region size function of the disc luminosity $R_{\rm blr}\propto L_{\rm disc}^{0.5}$ we finally have that $L_{\rm X}\propto L_{\rm UV}^{4/7} \upsilon_{\rm fwhm}^{4/7}$. Such relation is remarkably consistent with the slopes and the normalization obtained from a fit of a sample of 545 optically selected quasars from SDSS DR7 cross matched with the latest XMM–{\it Newton} catalogue 3XMM-DR6.
The homogeneous sample used here has a dispersion of 0.21 dex, which is much lower than previous works in the literature and suggests a tight physical relation between the accretion disc and the X-ray emitting corona. We also obtained a possible physical interpretation of the $L_{\rm X}-L_{\rm UV}$ relation (considering also the effect of $\upsilon_{\rm fwhm}$), which puts the determination of distances based on this relation on a sounder physical grounds. The proposed new relation does not evolve with time, and thus it can be employed as a cosmological indicator to robustly estimate cosmological parameters.

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E. Lusso and G. Risaliti
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 15 pages, 9 figures, accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Charged massive scalar field configurations supported by a spherically symmetric charged reflecting shell [CL]

The physical properties of bound-state charged massive scalar field configurations linearly coupled to a spherically symmetric charged reflecting shell are studied {\it analytically}. To that end, we solve the Klein-Gordon wave equation for a static scalar field of proper mass $\mu$, charge coupling constant $q$, and spherical harmonic index $l$ in the background of a charged shell of radius $R$ and electric charge $Q$. It is proved that the dimensionless inequality $\mu R<\sqrt{(qQ)^2-(l+1/2)^2}$ provides an upper bound on the regime of existence of the composed charged-spherical-shell-charged-massive-scalar-field configurations. Interestingly, we explicitly show that the {\it discrete} spectrum of shell radii $\{R_n(\mu,qQ,l)\}_{n=0}^{n=\infty}$ which can support the static bound-state charged massive scalar field configurations can be determined analytically. We confirm our analytical results by numerical computations.

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S. Hod
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 8 pages

Narrow phase-dependent features in X-ray Dim Isolated Neutron Stars: a new detection and upper limits [HEAP]

We report on the results of a detailed phase-resolved spectroscopy of archival XMM–Newton observations of X-ray Dim Isolated Neutron Stars (XDINSs). Our analysis revealed a narrow and phase-variable absorption feature in the X-ray spectrum of RX J1308.6+2127. The feature has an energy of $\sim$740 eV and an equivalent width of $\sim$15 eV. It is detected only in $\sim$ 1/5 of the phase cycle, and appears to be present for the entire timespan covered by the observations (2001 December – 2007 June). The strong dependence on the pulsar rotation and the narrow width suggest that the feature is likely due to resonant cyclotron absorption/scattering in a confined high-B structure close to the stellar surface. Assuming a proton cyclotron line, the magnetic field strength in the loop is B$_{loop} \sim 1.7 \times 10^{14}$ G, about a factor of $\sim$5 higher than the surface dipolar magnetic field (B$_{surf} \sim 3.4 \times 10^{13}$ G). This feature is similar to that recently detected in another XDINS, RX J0720.4-3125, showing (as expected by theoretical simulations) that small scale magnetic loops close to the surface might be common to many highly magnetic neutron stars (although difficult to detect with current X-ray instruments). Furthermore, we investigated the available XMM–Newton, data of all XDINSs in search for similar narrow phase-dependent features, but could derive only upper limits for all the other sources.

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A. Borghese, N. Rea, F. Zelati, et. al.
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 10 pages, 5 figures, 4 tables. Accepted for publication in MNRAS

New constraints on binary evolution enhance the supernova type Ia rate [HEAP]

Even though Type Ia supernovae (SNIa) play an important role in many fields in astronomy, the nature of the progenitors of SNIa remain a mystery. One of the classical evolutionary pathways towards a SNIa explosion is the single degenerate (SD) channel, in which a carbon-oxygen white dwarf accretes matter from its non-degenerate companion until it reaches the Chandrasekhar mass. Constraints on the contribution from the SD channel to the overall SNIa rate come from a variety of methods, e.g. from abundances, from signatures of the companion star in the light curve or near the SNIa remnant, and from synthetic SNIa rates. In this proceedings, I show that when incorporating our newest understandings of binary evolution, the SNIa rate from the single degenerate channel is enhanced. I also discuss the applicability of these constraints on the evolution of SNIa progenitors.

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S. Toonen
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 3 figures, 6 pages, Proceedings of the workshop: “The Golden Age of Cataclysmic Variables and Related Objects III”, Palermo, Italy, Sep 7-12, 2015

Lectures on the Infrared Structure of Gravity and Gauge Theory [CL]

This is a redacted transcript of a course given by the author at Harvard in spring semester 2016. It contains a pedagogical overview of recent developments connecting the subjects of soft theorems, the memory effect and asymptotic symmetries in four-dimensional QED, nonabelian gauge theory and gravity with applications to black holes. The lectures may be viewed online at Please send typos or corrections to

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A. Strominger
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 154 pages, 21 figures

An investigation of pulsar searching techniques with the Fast Folding Algorithm [IMA]

Here we present an in-depth study of the behaviour of the Fast Folding Algorithm, an alternative pulsar searching technique to the Fast Fourier Transform. Weaknesses in the Fast Fourier Transform, including a susceptibility to red noise, leave it insensitive to pulsars with long rotational periods (P > 1 s). This sensitivity gap has the potential to bias our understanding of the period distribution of the pulsar population. The Fast Folding Algorithm, a time-domain based pulsar searching technique, has the potential to overcome some of these biases. Modern distributed-computing frameworks now allow for the application of this algorithm to all-sky blind pulsar surveys for the first time. However, many aspects of the behaviour of this search technique remain poorly understood, including its responsiveness to variations in pulse shape and the presence of red noise. Using a custom CPU-based implementation of the Fast Folding Algorithm, ffancy, we have conducted an in-depth study into the behaviour of the Fast Folding Algorithm in both an ideal, white noise regime as well as a trial on observational data from the HTRU-S Low Latitude pulsar survey, including a comparison to the behaviour of the Fast Fourier Transform. We are able to both confirm and expand upon earlier studies that demonstrate the ability of the Fast Folding Algorithm to outperform the Fast Fourier Transform under ideal white noise conditions, and demonstrate a significant improvement in sensitivity to long-period pulsars in real observational data through the use of the Fast Folding Algorithm.

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A. Cameron, E. Barr, D. Champion, et. al.
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 19 pages, 15 figures, 3 tables