The pipeline for the ExoMars DREAMS scientific data archiving [IMA]

DREAMS (Dust Characterisation, Risk Assessment, and Environment Analyser on the Martian Surface) is a payload accommodated on the Schiaparelli Entry and Descent Module (EDM) of ExoMars 2016, the ESA and Roscosmos mission to Mars (Esposito (2015), Bettanini et al. (2014)). It is a meteorological station with the additional capability to perform measure- ments of the atmospheric electric fields close to the surface of Mars. The instrument package will make the first measurements of electric fields on Mars, providing data that will be of value in planning the second ExoMars mission in 2020, as well as possible future human missions to the red planet. This paper describes the pipeline to convert the raw telemetries to the final data products for the archive, with associated metadata.

Read this paper on arXiv…

P. Schipani, L. Marty, M. Mannetta, et. al.
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 4 pages, to appear in the Proceedings of ADASS 2016, Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) Conference Series


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.

Read this paper on arXiv…

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

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.

Read this paper on arXiv…

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

Comments: 19 pages, 15 figures, 3 tables

Clustering of Gamma-Ray bursts through kernel principal component analysis [CL]

We consider the problem related to clustering of gamma-ray bursts (from “BATSE” catalogue) through kernel principal component analysis in which our proposed kernel outperforms results of other competent kernels in terms of clustering accuracy and we obtain three physically interpretable groups of gamma-ray bursts. The effectivity of the suggested kernel in combination with kernel principal component analysis in revealing natural clusters in noisy and nonlinear data while reducing the dimension of the data is also explored in two simulated data sets.

Read this paper on arXiv…

S. Modak, A. Chattopadhyay and T. Chattopadhyay
Fri, 17 Mar 17

Comments: 30 pages, 10 figures

Astrophysics and Big Data: Challenges, Methods, and Tools [IMA]

Nowadays there is no field research which is not flooded with data. Among the sciences, Astrophysics has always been driven by the analysis of massive amounts of data. The development of new and more sophisticated observation facilities, both ground-based and spaceborne, has led data more and more complex (Variety), an exponential growth of both data Volume (i.e., in the order of petabytes), and Velocity in terms of production and transmission. Therefore, new and advanced processing solutions will be needed to process this huge amount of data. We investigate some of these solutions, based on machine learning models as well as tools and architectures for Big Data analysis that can be exploited in the astrophysical context.

Read this paper on arXiv…

M. Garofalo, A. Botta and G. Ventre
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: 4 pages, 1 figures, proceedings of the IAU-325 symposium on Astroinformatics, Cambridge University press

Aqua MODIS Band 24 Crosstalk Striping [IMA]

Aqua MODIS, unlike its predecessor on board the Terra spacecraft, had always been thought to have been spared from significant deleterious impacts of electronic crosstalk on its imagery. However, recent efforts brought to our attention the presence of striping artifacts in Aqua MODIS images from band 24 (4.47$\mu$m), which upon further inspection proved to have a noticeable impact on the quality of the L1B product and to have been present since the beginning of the mission, in 2002. Using images of the Moon from scheduled lunar observations, we linked the artifacts with electronic crosstalk contamination of the response of detector 1 of band 24 by signal sent from the detector 10 of band 26 (1.375$\mu$m), a neighboring band in the same focal plane assembly. In this paper, we report on these findings, the artifact mitigation strategy adopted by us, and on our success in restoring band 24 detector 1 behavior and image quality.

Read this paper on arXiv…

G. Keller, Z. Wang, A. Wu, et. al.
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: N/A

Protecting the Dark Skies of Chile: Initiatives, Education and Coordination [IMA]

During the next decade, Chile will consolidate its place as the ‘World Capital of Astronomy’. By 2025, more than 70% of the world’s infrastructure for conducting professional astronomical observations will be installed in the Atacama Desert in the north of the country. The amazing scientific discoveries these telescopes produce have a direct impact on our understanding of the cosmos, and protecting this ‘window to the universe’ is fundamental in order to ensure humanity’s right to contemplate the night sky and decipher our origins. As a country, Chile faces the challenge of fighting light pollution and protecting its dark skies in a context of sprawling urban growth and an ever-expanding mining industry that shares the same territory with astronomical observatories.
The Chilean Astronomical Society (Sociedad Chilena de Astronomia, SOCHIAS) plays an active role in protecting dark skies through a series of initiatives involving educational programmes, aiding in the development and enforcement of public policy and regulation, and seeking the declaration of Chile’s best astronomical sites as protected heritage areas, both at the national and international levels. Whilst describing our experiences, I highlight the importance of approaching the problem of light pollution from all sides, involving all the relevant actors (communities, national and local governments, lighting industry, environmentalists, astronomers and others). I also discuss how communication and timely coordination with potential problematic actors (like industries, cities and some government agencies) can be an effective tool to transform potential enemies into allies in the fight for the protection of the night sky.

Read this paper on arXiv…

G. Blanc
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: 9 pages, 3 figures. Published as par of the proceedings of the “The Right to Dark Skies” conference, organized by UNESCO, Mexico City, January 2016

The Novel ABALONE Photosensor Technology [CL]

The patented and proven ABALONE Photosensor Technology (Daniel Ferenc, U.S. Patent 9,064,678, 2010) has the capability of opening new horizons in the fields of fundamental physics, functional medical imaging, and nuclear security. This article discusses our new technology and overviews the unprecedented performance of ABALONE Photosensors, produced in the custom designed production line at UC Davis and continuously tested since 2013. In conclusion, the modern ABALONE Technology is far superior to prior art in performance, robustness and the capacity for integration into large area detector shells. It is about two orders of magnitude more cost effective while being mass-producible with a relatively low investment.

Read this paper on arXiv…

D. Ferenc, A. Chang and M. Ferenc
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: 16 pages, 7 figures, Submitted for publication to Nuclear Instruments And Methods In Physics Research A on March 12, 2017 (Ms. Ref. No.: NIMA-D-17-00243)

Characterizing a CCD detector for astronomical purposes: OAUNI Project [IMA]

This work verifies the instrumental characteristics of the CCD detector which is part of the UNI astronomical observatory. We measured the linearity of the CCD detector of the SBIG STXL6303E camera, along with the associated gain and readout noise. The linear response to the incident light of the detector is extremely linear (R2 =99.99%), its effective gain is 1.65 +/- 0.01 e-/ADU and its readout noise is 12.2 e-. These values are in agreement with the manufacturer. We confirm that this detector is extremely precise to make measurements for astronomical purposes.

Read this paper on arXiv…

A. Pereyra, M. Zevallos, J. Ricra, et. al.
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: 6 pages, 8 figures, Published by TECNIA (UNI)

Enabling New ALMA Science with Improved Support for Time-Domain Observations [IMA]

While the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is a uniquely powerful telescope, its impact in certain fields of astrophysics has been limited by observatory policies rather than the telescope’s innate technical capabilities. In particular, several observatory policies present challenges for observations of variable, mobile, and/or transient sources — collectively referred to here as “time-domain” observations. In this whitepaper we identify some of these policies, describe the scientific applications they impair, and suggest changes that would increase ALMA’s science impact in Cycle 6 and beyond.
Parties interested in time-domain science with ALMA are encouraged to join the ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group (ATSIG) by signing up for the ATSIG mailing list at .

Read this paper on arXiv…

K. Alexander, E. Berger, G. Bower, et. al.
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: 9 pages; whitepaper submitted to the ALMA Science Advisory Council; corresponding author P. K. G. Williams (

Exponential Distance Relation and Near Resonances in the Trappist-1 Planetary System [IMA]

We report in this paper a new exponential relation distance of planets in the newly discovered exoplanetary system of the Trappist-1 star, and we comment on near orbital mean motion resonances among the seven planets. We predict that possible smaller planets could be found inside the orbit of the innermost discovered Planet b.

Read this paper on arXiv…

V. Pletser and L. Basano
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: 6 pages, 2 figures, 5 Tables

LSDCat: Detection and cataloguing of emission line sources in integral-field spectroscopy datacubes [IMA]

We present a robust, efficient, and user-friendly algorithm for detecting faint emission line sources in large integral-field spectroscopic datacubes. together with the public release of the software package LSDCat (Line Source Detection and Cataloguing). LSDCat uses a 3-dimensional matched filter approach, combined with thresholding in signal-to-noise, to build a catalogue of individual line detections. In a second pass, the detected lines are grouped into distinct objects, and positions, spatial extents, and fluxes of the detected lines are determined. LSDCat requires only a small number of input parameters, and we provide guidelines for choosing appropriate values. The software is coded in Python and capable to process very large datacubes in a short time. We verify the implementation with a source insertion and recovery experiment utilising a real datacube taken with the MUSE instrument at the ESO Very Large Telescope.

Read this paper on arXiv…

E. Herenz and L. Wisotzki
Thu, 16 Mar 17

Comments: 14 pages. Accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics. The LSDCat software is available at this https URL

Digital receivers for low-frequency radio telescopes UTR-2, URAN, GURT [IMA]

This paper describes digital radio astronomical receivers used for decameter and meter wavelength observations. This paper describes digital radio astronomical receivers used for decameter and meter wavelength observations. Since 1998, digital receivers performing on-the-fly dynamic spectrum calculations or waveform data recording without data loss have been used at the UTR-2 radio telescope, the URAN VLBI system, and the GURT new generation radio telescope. Here we detail these receivers developed for operation in the strong interference environment that prevails in the decameter wavelength range. Data collected with these receivers allowed us to discover numerous radio astronomical objects and phenomena at low frequencies, a summary of which is also presented.

Read this paper on arXiv…

V. Zakharenko, A. Konovalenko, P. Zarka, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: 24 pages, 15 figures

Gain factor and parameter settings optimization of the new gamma-ray burst polarimeter POLAR [IMA]

As a space-borne detector POLAR is designed to conduct hard X-ray polarization measurements of gamma-ray bursts on the statistically significant sample of events and with an unprecedented accuracy. During its development phase a number of tests, calibrations runs and verification measurements were carried out in order to validate instrument functionality and optimize operational parameters. In this article we present results on gain optimization togeter with verification data obtained in the course of broad laboratory and environmental tests. In particular we focus on exposures to the $^{137}$Cs radioactive source and determination of the gain dependence on the high voltage for all 1600 detection channels of the polarimeter. Performance of the instrument is described in detail with respect to the dynamic range, energy resolution and temperature dependence. Gain optimization algorithms and response non-uniformity studies are also broadly discussed. Results presented below constitute important parts for development of the POLAR calibration and operation database.

Read this paper on arXiv…

X. Zhang, W. Hajdas, H. Xiao, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: 22 pages, 14 figures

A terrestrial-sized exoplanet at the snow line of TRAPPIST-1 [EPA]

The TRAPPIST-1 system is the first transiting planet system found orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star. At least seven planets similar to Earth in radius and in mass were previously found to transit this host star. Subsequently, TRAPPIST-1 was observed as part of the K2 mission and, with these new data, we report the measurement of an 18.764 d orbital period for the outermost planet, TRAPPIST-1h, which was unconstrained until now. This value matches our theoretical expectations based on Laplace relations and places TRAPPIST-1h as the seventh member of a complex chain, with three-body resonances linking every member. We find that TRAPPIST-1h has a radius of 0.715 Earth radii and an equilibrium temperature of 169 K, placing it at the snow line. We have also measured the rotational period of the star at 3.3 d and detected a number of flares consistent with an active, middle-aged, late M dwarf.

Read this paper on arXiv…

R. Luger, M. Sestovic, E. Kruse, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: 36 pages, 8 figure, 2 tables. Submitted to Nat. Astron. on 3/10/2017

Design and experimental test of an optical vortex coronagraph [IMA]

The optical vortex coronagraph (OVC) is one of the promising ways for direct imaging exoplanets because of its small inner working angle and high throughput. This paper presents the design and laboratory demonstration performance at 633nm and 1520nm of the OVC based on liquid crystal polymers (LCP). Two LCPs has been manufactured in partnership with a commercial vendor. The OVC can deliver a good performance in laboratory test and achieve the contrast of the order 10^-6 at angular distance 3{\lambda}/D, which is able to image the giant exoplanets at a young stage in combination with extreme adaptive optics.

Read this paper on arXiv…

C. Liu, D. Ren, Y. Zhu, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: 8 pages and 6 figures

Canvas and Cosmos: Visual Art Techniques Applied to Astronomy Data [IMA]

Bold colour images from telescopes act as extraordinary ambassadors for research astronomers because they pique the public’s curiosity. But are they snapshots documenting physical reality? Or are we looking at artistic spacescapes created by digitally manipulating astronomy images? This paper provides a tour of how original black and white data, from all regimes of the electromagnetic spectrum, are converted into the colour images gracing popular magazines, numerous websites, and even clothing. The history and method of the technical construction of these images is outlined. However, the paper focuses on introducing the scientific reader to visual literacy (e.g.human perception) and techniques from art (e.g. composition, colour theory) since these techniques can produce not only striking but politically powerful public outreach images. When created by research astronomers, the cultures of science and visual art can be balanced and the image can illuminate scientific results sufficiently strongly that the images are also used in research publications. Included are reflections on how they could feedback into astronomy research endeavours and future forms of visualization as well as on the relevance of outreach images to visual art.

Read this paper on arXiv…

J. English
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: This is the submitted version (and lacks a couple of references, has lower quality figures, etc). 51 pages, 26 images. The paper has been published in IJMPD. For images by the author see this https URL

Spatial Linear Dark Field Control: Stabilizing Deep Contrast for Exoplanet Imaging Using Bright Speckles [IMA]

Direct imaging of exoplanets requires the ability to build and maintain a high contrast dark hole (DH) within the science image to a high degree of precision. Current techniques, such as electric field conjugation (EFC), have been demonstrated in the lab and have shown that they are capable of generating a DH with high contrast. To do so, such techniques require continuous wavefront estimate updates that are acquired by interrupting the DH, thereby competing with the science measurement. In this paper, we introduce and demonstrate spatial linear dark field control (LDFC) as a new technique by which the DH contrast can be controlled and maintained without any disruption to the science image. Instead of rebuilding the DH using EFC after it degrades over time, spatial LDFC locks the high contrast dark field (DF) after EFC using the bright field (BF) that responds linearly to wavefront variations that modify both the BF and the DH.

Read this paper on arXiv…

K. Miller, O. Guyon and J. Males
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: 9 pages, 11 images

The EBEX Balloon Borne Experiment – Optics, Receiver, and Polarimetry [IMA]

The E and B Experiment (EBEX) was a long-duration balloon-borne cosmic microwave background polarimeter that flew over Antarctica in 2013. We describe the experiment’s optical system, receiver, and polarimetric approach, and report on their in-flight performance. EBEX had three frequency bands centered on 150, 250, and 410~GHz. To make efficient use of limited mass and space we designed a 115~cm$^{2}$sr high throughput optical system that had two ambient temperature mirrors and four anti-reflection coated polyethylene lenses per focal plane. All frequency bands shared the same optical train. Polarimetry was achieved with a continuously rotating achromatic half-wave plate (AHWP) that was levitated with a superconducting magnetic bearing (SMB). Rotation stability was 0.45~\% over a period of 10~hours, and angular position accuracy was 0.01~degrees. This is the first use of a SMB in astrophysics. The measured modulation efficiency was above 90~\% for all bands. To our knowledge the 109~\% fractional bandwidth of the AHWP was the broadest implemented to date. The receiver that contained one lens and the AHWP at a temperature of 4~K, the polarizing grid and other lenses at 1~K, and the two focal planes at 0.25~K performed according to specifications giving focal plane temperature stability with fluctuation power spectrum that had $1/f$ knee at 2~mHz. EBEX was the first balloon-borne instrument to implement technologies characteristic of modern CMB polarimeters including high throughput optical systems, and large arrays of transition edge sensor bolometric detectors with mutiplexed readouts.

Read this paper on arXiv…

EBEX. Collaboration, A. Aboobaker, P. Ade, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: 49 pages, 32 figures, to be submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Supplement

AGILIS: Agile Guided Interferometer for Longbaseline Imaging Synthesis – Demonstration and concepts of reconfigurable optical imaging interferometers [IMA]

In comparison to the radio and sub-millimetric domains, imaging with optical interferometry is still in its infancy. Due to the limited number of telescopes in existing arrays, image generation is a demanding process that relies on time-consuming reconfiguration of the interferometer array and super-synthesis. Using single mode optical fibres for the coherent transport of light from the collecting telescopes to the focal plane, a new generation of interferometers optimized for imaging can be designed. To support this claim, we report on the successful completion of the `OHANA Iki project: an end-to-end, on-sky demonstration of a two-telescope interferometer, built around near-infrared single mode fibres, carried out as part of the `OHANA project. Having demonstrated that coherent transport by single-mode fibres is feasible, we explore the concepts, performances, and limitations of a new imaging facility with single mode fibres at its heart: Agile Guided Interferometer for Longbaseline Imaging Synthesis (AGILIS). AGILIS has the potential of becoming a next generation facility or a precursor to a much larger project like the Planet Formation Imager (PFI).

Read this paper on arXiv…

J. Woillez, O. Lai, G. Perrin, et. al.
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: 16 pages, 10 figures, 2 tables, accepted in A&A

An improved algorithm for narrow-band searches of continuous gravitational waves [CL]

Continuous gravitational waves signals, emitted by asymmetric spinning neutron stars, are among the main targets of current detectors like Advanced LIGO and Virgo. In the case of sources, like pulsars, which rotational parameters are measured through electromagnetic observations, typical searches assume that the gravitational wave frequency is at a given known fixed ratio with respect to the star rotational frequency. For instance, for a neutron star rotating around one of its principal axis of inertia the gravitational signal frequency would be exactly two times the rotational frequency of the star. It is possible, however, that this assumption is wrong. This is why search algorithms able to take into account a possible small mismatch between the gravitational waves frequency and the frequency inferred from electromagnetic observations have been developed. In this paper we present an improved pipeline to perform such narrow-band searches for continuous gravitational waves from neutron stars, about three orders of magnitude faster than previous implementations. The algorithm that we have developed is based on the {\it 5-vectors} framework and is able to perform a fully coherent search over a frequency band of width $\mathcal{O}$(Hertz) and for hundreds of spin-down values running a few hours on a standard workstation. This new algorithm opens the possibility of long coherence time searches for objects which rotational parameters are highly uncertain.

Read this paper on arXiv…

S. Mastrogiovanni, P. Astone, S. DAntonio, et. al.
Mon, 13 Mar 17

Comments: 19 pages, 8 figures, 6 tables, submitted to CQG

The Effect of Unresolved Contaminant Stars on the Cross-Matching of Photometric Catalogues [SSA]

A fundamental process in astrophysics is the matching of two photometric catalogues. It is crucial that the correct objects be paired, and that their photometry does not suffer from any spurious additional flux. We compare the positions of sources in WISE, IPHAS, 2MASS, and APASS with Gaia DR1 astrometric positions. We find that the separations are described by a combination of a Gaussian distribution, wider than naively assumed based on their quoted uncertainties, and a large wing, which some authors ascribe to proper motions. We show that this is caused by flux contamination from blended stars not treated separately. We provide linear fits between the quoted Gaussian uncertainty and the core fit to the separation distributions.
We show that at least one in three of the stars in the faint half of a given catalogue will suffer from flux contamination above the 1% level when the density of catalogue objects per PSF area is above approximately 0.005. This has important implications for the creation of composite catalogues. It is important for any closest neighbour matches as there will be a given fraction of matches that are flux contaminated, while some matches will be missed due to significant astrometric perturbation by faint contaminants. In the case of probability-based matching, this contamination affects the probability density function of matches as a function of distance. This effect results in up to 50% fewer counterparts being returned as matches, assuming Gaussian astrometric uncertainties for WISE-Gaia matching in crowded Galactic plane regions, compared with a closest neighbour match.

Read this paper on arXiv…

T. Wilson and T. Naylor
Mon, 13 Mar 17

Comments: 10 pages, 6 figures; accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Fast evaluation of quadrupole and hexadecapole approximations in microlensing with a single point-source [EPA]

The exoplanet detection rate from gravitational microlensing has grown significantly in recent years thanks to a great enhancement of resources and improved observational strategy. Current observatories include ground-based wide-field and/or robotic world-wide networks of telescopes, as well as space-based observatories such satellites Spitzer or Kepler/K2. This results in a large quantity of data to be processed and analyzed, which is a challenge for modeling codes because of the complexity of the parameter space to be explored, and the intensive computations required to evaluate the models. In this work, I present a method that allows to compute the quadrupole and hexadecapole approximation of the finite-source magnification with more efficiency that previously available codes, with routines about x6 and x4 faster respectively. The quadrupole takes just about twice the time of a point-source evaluation, which advocates for generalizing its use to large portion of the light curves. The corresponding routines are available as open-source python codes.

Read this paper on arXiv…

A. Cassan
Mon, 13 Mar 17

Comments: 7 pages, 2 figures, submitted to MNRAS

First results of the Lomonosov TUS and GRB experiments [HEAP]

On April 28, 2016, the Lomonosov satellite, equipped with a number of scientific instruments, was launched into orbit. Here we present briefly some of the results obtained with the first orbital telescope of extreme energy cosmic rays TUS and by a group of detectors aimed at multi-messenger observations of gamma-ray bursts.

Read this paper on arXiv…

S. Biktemerova, A. Bogomolov, V. Bogomolov, et. al.
Mon, 13 Mar 17

Comments: XXV ECRS 2016 Proceedings – eConf C16-09-04.3

Polynomial Apodizers for Centrally Obscured Vortex Coronagraphs [IMA]

Several coronagraph designs have been proposed over the last two decades to directly image exoplanets. Among these designs, the vector vortex coronagraphs provide theoretically perfect starlight cancellation along with small inner working angles when deployed on telescopes with unobstructed pupils. However, current and planned space missions and ground-based extremely large telescopes present complex pupil geometries, including secondary mirror central obscurations, that prevent vortex coronagraphs from rejecting on-axis sources entirely. Recent solutions combining the vortex phase mask with a ring-apodized pupil have been proposed to circumvent this issue, but provide a limited throughput for vortex charges $>2$. We present a family of pupil plane apodizations that compensate for pupil geometries with circularly symmetric central obstructions caused by on-axis secondary mirrors for charge 2, 4, and 6 vector vortex coronagraphs. These apodizations are derived analytically and allow the vortex coronagraph to retain theoretically perfect nulling in the presence of central obscurations. For a charge 4 vortex, we design polynomial apodization functions assuming a greyscale apodizing filter that represent a substantial gain in throughput over the ring-apodized vortex coronagraph design, while for a charge 6 vortex, we design polynomial apodized vortex coronagraphs that have $\gtrsim 70\%$ total energy throughput for the entire range of central obscuration sizes studied. We propose methods for optimizing apodizations produced with either greyscale apodizing filters or shaped mirrors. We conclude by demonstrating how this design may be combined with apodizations numerically optimized for struts and segment gaps in telescope pupils to design terrestrial exoplanet imagers for complex pupils.

Read this paper on arXiv…

K. Fogarty, L. Pueyo, J. Mazoyer, et. al.
Fri, 10 Mar 17

Comments: 18 pages, 12 figures, submitted to ApJ

The third data release of the Kilo-Degree Survey and associated data products [GA]

The Kilo-Degree Survey (KiDS) is an ongoing optical wide-field imaging survey with the OmegaCAM camera at the VLT Survey Telescope. It aims to image 1500 square degrees in four filters (ugri). The core science driver is mapping the large-scale matter distribution in the Universe, using weak lensing shear and photometric redshift measurements. Further science cases include galaxy evolution, Milky Way structure, detection of high-redshift clusters, and finding rare sources such as strong lenses and quasars. Here we present the third public data release (DR3) and several associated data products, adding further area, homogenized photometric calibration, photometric redshifts and weak lensing shear measurements to the first two releases. A dedicated pipeline embedded in the Astro-WISE information system is used for the production of the main release. Modifications with respect to earlier releases are described in detail. Photometric redshifts have been derived using both Bayesian template fitting, and machine-learning techniques. For the weak lensing measurements, optimized procedures based on the THELI data reduction and lensfit shear measurement packages are used. In DR3 stacked ugri images, weight maps, masks, and source lists for 292 new survey tiles (~300 sq.deg) are made available. The multi-band catalogue, including homogenized photometry and photometric redshifts, covers the combined DR1, DR2 and DR3 footprint of 440 survey tiles (447 sq.deg). Limiting magnitudes are typically 24.3, 25.1, 24.9, 23.8 (5 sigma in a 2 arcsec aperture) in ugri, respectively, and the typical r-band PSF size is less than 0.7 arcsec. The photometric homogenization scheme ensures accurate colors and an absolute calibration stable to ~2% for gri and ~3% in u. Separately released are a weak lensing shear catalogue and photometric redshifts based on two different machine-learning techniques.

Read this paper on arXiv…

J. Jong, G. Kleijn, T. Erben, et. al.
Fri, 10 Mar 17

Comments: 27 pages, 12 figures, submitted to Astronomy & Astrophysics

The origin of dust polarization in molecular outflows [SSA]

Aims: In this paper we present a case study to investigate conditions necessary to detect a characteristic magnetic field substructure embedded in a large-scale field. A helical magnetic field with a surrounding hourglass shaped field is expected from theoretical predictions and self-consistent magnetohydrodynamical (MHD) simulations to be present in the specific case of protostellar outflows. Hence, such an outflow environment is the perfect for our study. Methodes: We present synthetic polarisation maps in the infrared and millimeter regime of protostellar outflows performed with the newly developed RT and polarisation code POLARIS. The code, as the first, includes a self-consistent description of various alignement mechanism like the imperfect Davis-Greenstein (IDG) and the radiative torque (RAT) alignment. We investigate for which effects the grain size distribution, and applied alignement mechanism have. Results: We find that the IDG mechanism cannot produce any measurable polarization degree (< 1 %) whereas RAT alignment produced polarization degrees of a few 1 %. Furthermore, we developed a method to identify the origin of the polarization. We show that the helical magnetic field in the outflow can only be observed close to the outflow axis and at its tip, whereas in the surrounding regions the hourglass field in the foreground dominates the polarization. Furthermore, the polarization degree in the outflow lobe is lower than in the surroundings in agreement with observations. We also find that the orientation of the polarization vector flips around a few 100 micron due to the transition from dichroic extinction to thermal re-emission. Hence, in order to avoid ambiguities when interpreting polarization data, we suggest to observed in the far-infrared and mm regime. Finally, we show that with ALMA it is possible to observe the polarization emerging from protostellar outflows.

Read this paper on arXiv…

S. Reissl, D. Seifried, S. Wolf, et. al.
Thu, 9 Mar 17

Comments: 15 pages, 9 figures

Black Holes and Vacuum Cleaners: Using Metaphor, Relevance, and Inquiry in Labels for Space Images [IMA]

This study extended research on the development of explanatory labels for astronomical images for the non-expert lay public. The research questions addressed how labels with leading questions/metaphors and relevance to everyday life affect comprehension of the intended message for deep space images, the desire to learn more, and the aesthetic appreciation of images. Participants were a convenience sample of 1,921 respondents solicited from a variety of websites and through social media who completed an online survey that used four high-resolution images as stimuli: Sagittarius A*, Solar Flare, Cassiopeia A, and the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101). Participants were randomly assigned initially to 1 of 3 label conditions: the standard label originally written for the image, a label with a leading question containing a metaphor related to the information for the image, or a label that contained a fact about the image relevant to everyday life. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 image and compared all labels for that image. Open-ended items at various points asked participants to pose questions to a hypothetical astronomer. Main findings were that the relevance condition was significantly more likely to increase wanting to learn more; the original label was most likely to increase overall appreciation; and, smart phone users were more likely to want to learn more and report increased levels of appreciation. Results are discussed in terms of the need to examine individual viewer characteristics and goals in creating different labels for different audiences.

Read this paper on arXiv…

L. Smith, K. Arcand, B. Smith, et. al.
Thu, 9 Mar 17

Comments: 50 pages, 7 tables, 2 figures, accepted by the journal “Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts”

Multi-GPU maximum entropy image synthesis for radio astronomy [IMA]

The maximum entropy method (MEM) is a well known deconvolution technique in radio-interferometry. This method solves a non-linear optimization problem with an entropy regularization term. Other heuristics such as CLEAN are faster but highly user dependent. Nevertheless, MEM has the following advantages: it is unsupervised, it has an statistical basis, it has a better resolution and better image quality under certain conditions. This work presents a high performance GPU version of non-gridded MEM, which is tested using interferometric and simulated data. We propose a single-GPU and a multi-GPU implementation for single and multi-spectral data, respectively. We also make use of the Peer-to-Peer and Unified Virtual Addressing features of newer GPUs which allows to exploit transparently and efficiently multiple GPUs. Several ALMA data sets are used to demonstrate the effectiveness in imaging and to evaluate GPU performance. The results show that a speedup from 1000 to 5000 times faster than a sequential version can be achieved, depending on data and image size. This has allowed us to reconstruct the HD142527 CO(6-5) short baseline data set in 2.1 minutes, instead of the 2.5 days that takes on CPU.

Read this paper on arXiv…

M. Carcamo, P. Roman, S. Casassus, et. al.
Thu, 9 Mar 17

Comments: 11 pages, 13 figures

CMU DeepLens: Deep Learning For Automatic Image-based Galaxy-Galaxy Strong Lens Finding [IMA]

Galaxy-scale strong gravitational lensing is not only a valuable probe of the dark matter distribution of massive galaxies, but can also provide valuable cosmological constraints, either by studying the population of strong lenses or by measuring time delays in lensed quasars. Due to the rarity of galaxy-scale strongly lensed systems, fast and reliable automated lens finding methods will be essential in the era of large surveys such as LSST, Euclid, and WFIRST. To tackle this challenge, we introduce CMU DeepLens, a new fully automated galaxy-galaxy lens finding method based on Deep Learning. This supervised machine learning approach does not require any tuning after the training step which only requires realistic image simulations of strongly lensed systems. We train and validate our model on a set of 20,000 LSST-like mock observations including a range of lensed systems of various sizes and signal-to-noise ratios (S/N). We find on our simulated data set that for a rejection rate of non-lenses of 99%, a completeness of 90% can be achieved for lenses with Einstein radii larger than 1.4″ and S/N larger than 20 on individual $g$-band LSST exposures. Finally, we emphasize the importance of realistically complex simulations for training such machine learning methods by demonstrating that the performance of models of significantly different complexities cannot be distinguished on simpler simulations. We make our code publicly available at .

Read this paper on arXiv…

F. Lanusse, Q. Ma, N. Li, et. al.
Thu, 9 Mar 17

Comments: 12 pages, 9 figures, submitted to MNRAS

$C^{3}$ : A Command-line Catalogue Cross-matching tool for modern astrophysical survey data [IMA]

In the current data-driven science era, it is needed that data analysis techniques has to quickly evolve to face with data whose dimensions has increased up to the Petabyte scale. In particular, being modern astrophysics based on multi-wavelength data organized into large catalogues, it is crucial that the astronomical catalog cross-matching methods, strongly dependant from the catalogues size, must ensure efficiency, reliability and scalability. Furthermore, multi-band data are archived and reduced in different ways, so that the resulting catalogues may differ each other in formats, resolution, data structure, etc, thus requiring the highest generality of cross-matching features. We present $C^{3}$ (Command-line Catalogue Cross-match), a multi-platform application designed to efficiently cross-match massive catalogues from modern surveys. Conceived as a stand-alone command-line process or a module within generic data reduction/analysis pipeline, it provides the maximum flexibility, in terms of portability, configuration, coordinates and cross-matching types, ensuring high performance capabilities by using a multi-core parallel processing paradigm and a sky partitioning algorithm.

Read this paper on arXiv…

G. Riccio, M. Brescia, S. Cavuoti, et. al.
Wed, 8 Mar 17

Comments: 6 pages, 4 figures, proceedings of the IAU-325 symposium on Astroinformatics, Cambridge University press

METAPHOR: Probability density estimation for machine learning based photometric redshifts [IMA]

We present METAPHOR (Machine-learning Estimation Tool for Accurate PHOtometric Redshifts), a method able to provide a reliable PDF for photometric galaxy redshifts estimated through empirical techniques. METAPHOR is a modular workflow, mainly based on the MLPQNA neural network as internal engine to derive photometric galaxy redshifts, but giving the possibility to easily replace MLPQNA with any other method to predict photo-z’s and their PDF. We present here the results about a validation test of the workflow on the galaxies from SDSS-DR9, showing also the universality of the method by replacing MLPQNA with KNN and Random Forest models. The validation test include also a comparison with the PDF’s derived from a traditional SED template fitting method (Le Phare).

Read this paper on arXiv…

V. Amaro, S. Cavuoti, M. Brescia, et. al.
Wed, 8 Mar 17

Comments: proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, IAU-325 symposium, Cambridge University press

The First Data Release from SweetSpot: 74 Supernovae in 36 Nights on WIYN+WHIRC [HEAP]

SweetSpot is a three-year National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) Survey program to observe Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) in the smooth Hubble flow with the WIYN High-resolution Infrared Camera (WHIRC) on the WIYN 3.5-m telescope. We here present data from the first half of this survey, covering the 2011B-2013B NOAO semesters, and consisting of 493 calibrated images of 74 SNe Ia observed in the rest-frame near-infrared (NIR) from $0.02 < z < 0.09$. Because many observed supernovae require host galaxy subtraction from templates taken in later semesters, this release contains only the 168 NIR ($JHK_s$) data points for the 33 SNe Ia that do not require host-galaxy subtraction. The sample includes 3 objects with coverage beginning before the epoch of B-band maximum and 26 beginning within 20 days of B-band maximum. We also provide photometric calibration between the WIYN+WHIRC and Two-Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) systems along with light curves for 786 2MASS stars observed alongside the SNe Ia. This work is the first in a planned series of three SweetSpot Data Releases. Future releases will include the full set of images from all 3 years of the survey, including host-galaxy reference images and updated data processing and host-galaxy reference subtraction. SweetSpot will provide a well-calibrated sample that will help improve our ability to standardize distance measurements to SNe Ia, examine the intrinsic optical-NIR colors of SNe Ia at different epochs, explore nature of dust in other galaxies, and act as a stepping stone for more distant, potentially space-based surveys.

Read this paper on arXiv…

A. Weyant, W. Wood-Vasey, R. Joyce, et. al.
Wed, 8 Mar 17

Comments: Submitted to ApJS. 10 tables. 11 figures. Lightcurve plots included as a figureset and available in source tarball. Data online at this http URL

Sensitivity Characterization of a Parametric Transducer for Gravitational Wave Detection Through Optomechanical Spring Effect [IMA]

We present the characterization of the most recent parametric transducers designed to enhance the Mario Schenberg Gravitational Wave Detector sensitivity. The transducer is composed of a microwave re-entrant cavity that attaches to the gravitational wave antenna via a rigid spring. It functions as a three-mode mass-spring system; motion of the spherical antenna couples to a 50 $\mu$m thick membrane, which converts its mechanical motion into a frequency shift of the cavity resonance. Through the optomechanical spring effect, the microwave transducer frequency-displacement sensitivity was measured to be 726 MHz/$\mu$m at 4 K. The spherical antenna detection sensitivity is determined analytically using the transducer amplification gain and equivalent displacement noise in the test setup to be $5.5 \times 10^{-19}\sqrt{Hz}^{-1}$.

Read this paper on arXiv…

N. Carvalho, J. Bourhill, O. Aguiar, et. al.
Wed, 8 Mar 17

Comments: N/A

The Hubble Catalog of Variables [SSA]

We aim to construct an exceptionally deep (V ~< 27) catalog of variable objects in selected Galactic and extragalactic fields visited multiple times by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). While HST observations of some of these fields were searched for specific types of variables before (most notably, the extragalactic Cepheids), we attempt a systematic study of the population of variable objects of all types at the magnitude range not easily accessible with ground-based telescopes. The variability timescales that can be probed range from hours to years depending on how often a particular field has been visited. For source extraction and cross-matching of sources between visits we rely on the Hubble Source Catalog which includes 10^7 objects detected with WFPC2, ACS, and WFC3 HST instruments. The lightcurves extracted from the HSC are corrected for systematic effects by applying local zero-point corrections and are screened for bad measurements. For each lightcurve we compute variability indices sensitive to a broad range of variability types. The indices characterize the overall lightcurve scatter and smoothness. Candidate variables are selected as having variability index values significantly higher than expected for objects of similar brightness in the given set of observations. The Hubble Catalog of Variables will be released in 2018.

Read this paper on arXiv…

K. Sokolovsky, A. Bonanos, P. Gavras, et. al.
Wed, 8 Mar 17

Comments: 5 pages, 3 figures, 1 table, proceedings of the 22nd Los Alamos Stellar Pulsation Conference “Wide-field variability surveys: a 21st-century perspective” held in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, Nov. 28-Dec. 2, 2016

Space variant deconvolution of galaxy survey images [IMA]

Removing the aberrations introduced by the Point Spread Function (PSF) is a fundamental aspect of astronomical image processing. The presence of noise in observed images makes deconvolution a nontrivial task that necessitates the use of regularisation. This task is particularly difficult when the PSF varies spatially as is the case for the Euclid telescope. New surveys will provide images containing thousand of galaxies and the deconvolution regularisation problem can be considered from a completely new perspective. In fact, one can assume that galaxies belong to a low-rank dimensional space. This work introduces the use of the low-rank matrix approximation as a regularisation prior for galaxy image deconvolution and compares its performance with a standard sparse regularisation technique. This new approach leads to a natural way to handle a space variant PSF. Deconvolution is performed using a Python code that implements a primal-dual splitting algorithm. The data set considered is a sample of 10 000 space-based galaxy images convolved with a known spatially varying Euclid-like PSF and including various levels of Gaussian additive noise. Performance is assessed by examining the deconvolved galaxy image pixels and shapes. The results demonstrate that for small samples of galaxies sparsity performs better in terms of pixel and shape recovery, while for larger samples of galaxies it is possible to obtain more accurate estimates of the galaxy shapes using the low-rank approximation.

Read this paper on arXiv…

S. Farrens, J. Starck and F. Mboula
Wed, 8 Mar 17

Comments: 12 pages and 8 figures. To be published in A&A

Robust Estimation of Scattering in Pulsar Timing Analysis [IMA]

We present a robust approach to incorporating models for the time-variable broadening of the pulse profile due to scattering in the ionized interstellar medium into profile-domain pulsar timing analysis. We use this approach to simultaneously estimate temporal variations in both the dispersion measure (DM) and scattering, together with a model for the pulse profile that includes smooth evolution as a function of frequency, and the pulsar’s timing model. We show that fixing the scattering timescales when forming time-of-arrival estimates, as has been suggested in the context of traditional pulsar timing analysis, can significantly underestimate the uncertainties in both DM, and the arrival time of the pulse, leading to bias in the timing parameters. We apply our method using a new, publicly available, GPU accelerated code, both to simulations, and observations of the millisecond pulsar PSR J1643$-$1224. This pulsar is known to exhibit significant scattering variability compared to typical millisecond pulsars, and we find including low-frequency ($< 1$ GHz) data without a model for these scattering variations leads to significant periodic structure in the DM, and also biases the astrometric parameters at the $4\sigma$ level, for example, changing proper motion in right ascension by $0.50 \pm 0.12$. If low frequency observations are to be included when significant scattering variations are present, we conclude it is necessary to not just model those variations, but also to sample the parameters that describe the variations simultaneously with all other parameters in the model, a task for which profile domain pulsar timing is ideally suited.

Read this paper on arXiv…

L. Lentati, M. Kerr, S. Dai, et. al.
Wed, 8 Mar 17

Comments: 12 pages, 6 figures, Accepted to MNRAS

Science cases for a visible interferometer [SSA]

High spatial resolution is the key for the understanding various astrophysical phenomena. But even with the future E-ELT, single dish instruments are limited to a spatial resolution of about 4 mas in the visible. For the closest objects within our Galaxy most of the stellar photosphere remains smaller than 1 mas. With the success of long baseline interferometry these limitations were soom overcome. Today low and high resolution interferometric instruments on the VLTI and CHARA offer an immense range of astrophysical studies. Combining more telescopes and moving to visible wavelengths broadens the science cases even more. With the idea of developing strong science cases for a future visible interferometer, we organized a science group around the following topics: pre-main sequence and main sequence stars, fundamental parameters, asteroseismology and classical pulsating stars, evolved stars, massive stars, active galactic nuclei (AGNs) and imaging techniques. A meeting was organized in January 15 \& 16, 2015 in Nice with the support of the Action Specific in Haute R\’esolution Angulaire (ASHRA), the Programme National en Physique Stellaire (PNPS), the Lagrange Laboratory and the Observatoire de la C\^ote d’Azur, in order to present these cases and to discuss them further for future visible interferometers. This White Paper presents the outcome of the exchanges.
This book is dedicated to the memory of our colleague Olivier Chesneau who passed away at the age of 41.

Read this paper on arXiv…

P. Stee, F. Allard, M. Benisty, et. al.
Wed, 8 Mar 17

Comments: White Paper prospective. This book is dedicated to the memory of our colleague Olivier Chesneau who passed away at the age of 41

Correlation of AOT with Relative Frequency of Air Showers with energy 10^{15} – 10^{16} eV by Yakutsk Data [IMA]

Long-term series of measurement of spectral transparency of the atmosphere (\lambda = 430 nm) and atmospheric optical thickness (AOT) measured by multimode photometer CE 318 in the region of Yakutsk array are analyzed. Correlation of AOT with intensity of air showers with small energies 10^{15} – 10^{16} eV is found. The variability of aerosol composition of the atmosphere during the registration period of the Cherenkov light should be taken into account since it may affect the quality of determining characteristics of air showers.

Read this paper on arXiv…

S. Knurenko and I. Petrov
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: XXV ECRS 2016 Proceedings – eConf C16-09-04.3

Astrometric calibration and performance of the Dark Energy Camera [IMA]

We characterize the ability of the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) to perform relative astrometry across its 500~Mpix, 3 deg^2 science field of view, and across 4 years of operation. This is done using internal comparisons of ~4×10^7 measurements of high-S/N stellar images obtained in repeat visits to fields of moderate stellar density, with the telescope dithered to move the sources around the array. An empirical astrometric model includes terms for: optical distortions; stray electric fields in the CCD detectors; chromatic terms in the instrumental and atmospheric optics; shifts in CCD relative positions of up to ~10 um when the DECam temperature cycles; and low-order distortions to each exposure from changes in atmospheric refraction and telescope alignment. Errors in this astrometric model are dominated by stochastic variations with typical amplitudes of 10-30 mas (in a 30 s exposure) and 5-10 arcmin coherence length, plausibly attributed to Kolmogorov-spectrum atmospheric turbulence. The size of these atmospheric distortions is not closely related to the seeing. Given an astrometric reference catalog at density ~0.7 arcmin^{-2}, e.g. from Gaia, the typical atmospheric distortions can be interpolated to 7 mas RMS accuracy (for 30 s exposures) with 1 arcmin coherence length for residual errors. Remaining detectable error contributors are 2-4 mas RMS from unmodelled stray electric fields in the devices, and another 2-4 mas RMS from focal plane shifts between camera thermal cycles. Thus the astrometric solution for a single DECam exposure is accurate to 3-6 mas (0.02 pixels, or 300 nm) on the focal plane, plus the stochastic atmospheric distortion.

Read this paper on arXiv…

G. Bernstein, R. Armstrong, A. Plazas, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: Submitted to PASP

A Physical Model-based Correction for Charge Traps in the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 Near-IR Detector and Applications to Transiting Exoplanets and Brown Dwarfs [IMA]

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) near-IR channel is extensively used in time-resolved observations, especially for transiting exoplanet spectroscopy and brown dwarf and directly imaged exoplanet rotational phase mapping. The ramp effect is the dominant source of systematics in the WFC3 for time-resolved observations, which limits its photometric precision. Current mitigation strategies are based on empirical fits and require additional orbits “to help the telescope reach a thermal equilibrium”. We show that the ramp effect profiles can be explained and corrected with high fidelity using charge trapping theories. We also present a model for this process that can be used to predict and to correct charge trap systematics. Our model is based on a very small number of parameters that are intrinsic to the detector. We find that these parameters are very stable between the different datasets, and we provide best-fit values. Our model is tested with more than 120 orbits ($\sim40$ visits) of WFC3 observations and is proved to be able to provide near photon noise limited corrections for observations made with both staring and scanning modes of transiting exoplanets as well as for starting-mode observations of brown dwarfs. After our model correction, the light curve of the first orbit in each visit has the same photometric precision as subsequent orbits, so data from the first orbit need no longer be discarded. Near IR arrays with the same physical characteristics (e.g., JWST/NIRCam) may also benefit from the extension of this model, if similar systematic profiles are observed.

Read this paper on arXiv…

Y. Zhou, D. Apai, B. Lew, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: 16 pages, 13 figures, accepted to Astronomical Journal

Improved Point Source Detection in Crowded Fields using Probabilistic Cataloging [IMA]

Cataloging is challenging in crowded fields because sources are extremely covariant with their neighbors and blending makes even the number of sources ambiguous. We present the first optical probabilistic catalog, cataloging a crowded (~0.1 sources per pixel brighter than 22nd magnitude in F606W) Sloan Digital Sky Survey r band image from M2. Probabilistic cataloging returns an ensemble of catalogs inferred from the image and thus can capture source-source covariance and deblending ambiguities. By comparing to a traditional catalog of the same image and a Hubble Space Telescope catalog of the same region, we show that our catalog ensemble better recovers sources from the image. It goes more than a magnitude deeper than the traditional catalog while having a lower false discovery rate brighter than 20th magnitude. We also present an algorithm for reducing this catalog ensemble to a condensed catalog that is similar to a traditional catalog, except it explicitly marginalizes over source-source covariances and nuisance parameters. We show that this condensed catalog has a similar completeness and false discovery rate to the catalog ensemble. Future telescopes will be more sensitive, and thus more of their images will be crowded. Probabilistic cataloging performs better than existing software in crowded fields and so should be considered when creating photometric pipelines in the Large Synoptic Space Telescope era.

Read this paper on arXiv…

S. Portillo, B. Lee, T. Daylan, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: 18 pages, 17 figures, submitted to the Astrophysical Journal

Uncertain Photometric Redshifts with Deep Learning Methods [IMA]

The need for accurate photometric redshifts estimation is a topic that has fundamental importance in Astronomy, due to the necessity of efficiently obtaining redshift information without the need of spectroscopic analysis. We propose a method for determining accurate multimodal photo-z probability density functions (PDFs) using Mixture Density Networks (MDN) and Deep Convolutional Networks (DCN). A comparison with a Random Forest (RF) is performed.

Read this paper on arXiv…

A. DIsanto
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: 4 pages, 1 figure, Astroinformatics 2016 conference proceeding

Pulsar Timing at the Deep Space Network [IMA]

The 70-m DSN’s Deep Space Station antenna 14 (DSS-14) at Goldstone has recently been outfitted with instrumentation to enable pulsar searching and timing operation. Systems capable of similar operations are undergoing installation at DSS-63, and are planned for DSS-43. The Goldstone system is the first of these to become operational, with a 640 MHz bandwidth stretching from 1325-1965 MHz. Initial results from the pulsar timing pipeline show short-term residuals of < 100 ns for pulsar B1937+21. Commissioning obsefvations at DSS-14 to obtain a baseline set of TOA measurements on several millisecond pulsars are currently underway.

Read this paper on arXiv…

J. Kocz, W. Majid, L. White, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: 7 pages, 7 figures

Gamma-ray Observations Under Bright Moonlight with VERITAS [IMA]

Imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes (IACTs) are equipped with sensitive photomultiplier tube (PMT) cameras. Exposure to high levels of background illumination degrades the efficiency of and potentially destroys these photo-detectors over time, so IACTs cannot be operated in the same configuration in the presence of bright moonlight as under dark skies. Since September 2012, observations have been carried out with the VERITAS IACTs under bright moonlight (defined as about three times the night-sky-background (NSB) of a dark extragalactic field, typically occurring when Moon illumination > 35%) in two observing modes, firstly by reducing the voltage applied to the PMTs and, secondly, with the addition of ultra-violet (UV) bandpass filters to the cameras. This has allowed observations at up to about 30 times previous NSB levels (around 80% Moon illumination), resulting in 30% more observing time between the two modes over the course of a year. These additional observations have already allowed for the detection of a flare from the 1ES 1727+502 and for an observing program targeting a measurement of the cosmic-ray positron fraction. We provide details of these new observing modes and their performance relative to the standard VERITAS observations.

Read this paper on arXiv…

S. Archambault, A. Archer, W. Benbow, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: N/A

Search for axions in streaming dark matter [CL]

A new search strategy for the detection of the elusive dark matter (DM) axion is proposed. The idea is based on streaming DM axions, whose flux might get temporally enormously enhanced due to gravitational lensing. This can happen if the Sun or some planet (including the Moon) is found along the direction of a DM stream propagating towards the Earth location. The experimental requirements to the axion haloscope are a wide-band performance combined with a fast axion rest mass scanning mode, which are feasible. Once both conditions have been implemented in a haloscope, the axion search can continue parasitically almost as before. Interestingly, some new DM axion detectors are operating wide-band by default. In order not to miss the actually unpredictable timing of a potential short duration signal, a network of co-ordinated axion antennae is required, preferentially distributed world-wide. The reasoning presented here for the axions applies to some degree also to any other DM candidates like the WIMPs.

Read this paper on arXiv…

K. Zioutas, V. Anastassopoulos, S. Bertolucci, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: 5 pages

Understanding NaI(Tl) crystal background for dark matter searches [IMA]

We have developed ultra-low-background NaI(Tl) crystals to reproduce the DAMA results with the ultimate goal of achieving purity levels that are comparable to or better than those of the DAMA/LIBRA crystals. Even though the achieved background level does not approach that of DAMA/LIBRA, it is crucial to have a quantitative understanding of the backgrounds. We describe the contributions of background sources quantitatively by performing Geant4 Monte Carlo simulations that are fitted to the measured data to quantify the unknown fractions of the background compositions. The overall simulated background spectrum well describes the measured data with a 9.16-kg NaI(Tl) crystal and shows that the background sources are dominated by surface $^{210}$Pb and internal $^{40}$K in the 2 to 6-keV energy interval, which produce 2.31 counts/day/keV/kg (dru) and 0.48 dru, respectively.

Read this paper on arXiv…

G. Adhikari, P. Adhikari, C. Ha, et. al.
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: N/A

X-ray Spectro-polarimetry with Photoelectric Polarimeters [IMA]

We derive a generalization of forward fitting for X-ray spectroscopy to include linear polarization of X-ray sources, appropriate for the anticipated next generation of space-based photoelectric polarimeters. We show that the inclusion of polarization sensitivity requires joint fitting to three observed spectra, one for each of the Stoke’s parameters, I(E), U(E), and Q(E). The equations for Stoke’s I(E) (the total intensity spectrum) are identical to the familiar case with no polarization sensitivity, and for which the model-predicted spectrum is obtained by a convolution of the source spectrum, F(E’), with the familiar energy response function, e(E’)*R(E’, E), where e(E’) and R(E’, E) are the effective area and energy redistribution matrix, respectively. In addition to the energy spectrum, the two new relations for U(E) and Q(E) include the source polarization fraction and position angle versus energy, a(E’), and psi’_0(E’), respectively, and the model-predicted spectra for these relations are obtained by a convolution with the “modulated” energy response function, m(E’)*e(E’)R(E, E’), where m(E’) is the energy-dependent modulation fraction that quantifies a polarimeter’s angular response to 100% polarized radiation. We present results of simulations with response parameters appropriate for the proposed PRAXyS Small Explorer observatory to illustrate the procedures and methods, and we discuss some aspects of photoelectric polarimeters with relevance to understanding their calibration and operation.

Read this paper on arXiv…

T. Strohmayer
Mon, 6 Mar 17

Comments: 27 pages, 8 figures, accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal

Seismic inference of 57 stars using full-length Kepler data sets [SSA]

We present stellar properties (mass, age, radius, distances) of 57 stars from a seismic inference using full-length data sets from Kepler. These stars comprise active stars, planet-hosts, solar-analogs, and binary systems. We validate the distances derived from the astrometric Gaia-Tycho solution. Ensemble analysis of the stellar properties reveals a trend of mixing-length parameter with the surface gravity and effective temperature. We derive a linear relationship with the seismic quantity $\langle r_{02} \rangle$ to estimate the stellar age. Finally, we define the stellar regimes where the Kjeldsen et al (2008) empirical surface correction for 1D model frequencies is valid.

Read this paper on arXiv…

O. Creevey, T. Metcalfe, D. Salabert, et. al.
Mon, 6 Mar 17

Comments: 4-page proceedings from Seismology of the Sun and the Distant Stars 2016, TASC/KASC, Azores, Portugal

Higher Order Accurate Space-Time Schemes for Computational Astrophysics — Part I — Finite Volume Methods [IMA]

As computational astrophysics comes under pressure to become a precision science, there is an increasing need to move to high accuracy schemes for computational astrophysics. Hence the need for a specialized review on higher order schemes for computational astrophysics.
The focus here is on weighted essentially non-oscillatory (WENO) schemes, discontinuous Galerkin (DG) schemes and PNPM schemes. WENO schemes are higher order extensions of traditional second order finite volume schemes which are already familiar to most computational astrophysicists. DG schemes, on the other hand, evolve all the moments of the solution, with the result that they are more accurate than WENO schemes. PNPM schemes occupy a compromise position between WENO and PNPM schemes. They evolve an Nth order spatial polynomial, while reconstructing higher order terms up to Mth order. As a result, the timestep can be larger.
Time-dependent astrophysical codes need to be accurate in space and time. This is realized with the help of SSP-RK (strong stability preserving Runge-Kutta) schemes and ADER (Arbitrary DERivative in space and time) schemes. The most popular approaches to SSP-RK and ADER schemes are also described.
The style of this review is to assume that readers have a basic understanding of hyperbolic systems and one-dimensional Riemann solvers. Such an understanding can be acquired from a sequence of prepackaged lectures available from this http URL We then build on this understanding to give the reader a practical introduction to the schemes described here. The emphasis is on computer-implementable ideas, not necessarily on the underlying theory, because it was felt that this would be most interesting to most computational astrophysicists.

Read this paper on arXiv…

D. Balsara
Mon, 6 Mar 17

Comments: N/A