Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics Publications (50)


Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics Publications

The data from all observations of RX J0720.4-3125 conducted by XMM-Newton EPIC-pn with the same instrumental setup in 2000-2012 were reprocessed to form a homogenous data set of solar barycenter corrected photon arrival times registered from RX J0720.4-3125. Read More

Einstein rings are rare gem of the strong lensing phenomena. Unlike doubly or quadruply lensed systems, the ring images can be used to probe the underlying lens gravitational potential at every position angle, putting much tighter constraints on the lens mass profile. In addition, the magnified background source also enable us to probe high-z galaxies with enhanced spatial resolution and higher S/N, which is otherwise not possible for un-lensed galaxy studies. Read More

The CMB Stage 4 (CMB-S4) experiment is a next-generation, ground-based experiment that will measure the cosmic microwave background (CMB) polarization to unprecedented accuracy, probing the signature of inflation, the nature of cosmic neutrinos, relativistic thermal relics in the early universe, and the evolution of the universe. To advance the progress towards designing the instrument for CMB-S4, we have established a framework to optimize the instrumental configuration to maximize its scientific output. In this paper, we report our first results from this framework, using simplified instrumental and cost models. Read More

In this paper we treat the pre-ionisation problem in shocks over the velocity range $10 < v_{\rm s} < 1500$\,km/s in a self-consistent manner. We identify four distinct classes of solution controlled by the value of the shock precursor parameter, $\Psi = {\cal Q}/v_s$, where ${\cal Q}$ is the ionization parameter of the UV photons escaping upstream. This parameter determines both the temperature and the degree of ionisation of the gas entering the shock. Read More

We propose a new imaging technique for radio and optical/infrared interferometry. The proposed technique reconstructs the image from the visibility amplitude and closure phase, which are standard data products of short-millimeter very long baseline interferometers such as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) and optical/infrared interferometers, by utilizing two regularization functions: the $\ell_1$-norm and total variation (TV) of the brightness distribution. In the proposed method, optimal regularization parameters, which represent the sparseness and effective spatial resolution of the image, are derived from data themselves using cross validation (CV). Read More


Polarization is an important tool to further the understanding of interstellar dust and the sources behind it. In this paper we describe our implementation of polarization that is due to scattering of light by spherical grains and electrons in the dust Monte Carlo radiative transfer code SKIRT. In contrast to the implementations of other Monte Carlo radiative transfer codes, ours uses co-moving reference frames that rely solely on the scattering processes. Read More

This is a written version of the closing talk at the 22nd Los Alamos Stellar pulsation conference on wide field variability surveys. It comments on some of the issues which arise from the meeting. These include the need for attention to photometric standardization (especially in the infrared) and the somewhat controversial problem of statistical bias in the use of parallaxes (and other methods of distance determination). Read More

A continuously rotating half-wave plate (CRHWP) is a promising tool to improve the sensitivity to large angular scales in cosmic microwave background (CMB) polarization measurements. With a CRHWP, single detectors can measure all three of the Stokes parameters, $I$, $Q$ and $U$, thereby avoiding the set of systematic errors that can be introduced by mismatches in the properties of orthogonal detector pairs. We focus on the implementation of CRHWPs in large aperture telescopes (i. Read More

The E and B Experiment (EBEX) was a long-duration balloon-borne instrument designed to measure the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. EBEX was the first balloon-borne instrument to implement a kilo-pixel array of transition edge sensor (TES) bolometric detectors and the first CMB experiment to use the digital version of the frequency domain multiplexing system for readout of the TES array. The scan strategy relied on 40 s peak-to-peak constant velocity azimuthal scans. Read More

The Bent Crystal Spectrometer (BCS) onboard the NASA Solar Maximum Mission was part of the X-ray Polychromator, which observed numerous flares and bright active regions from February to November 1980, when operation was suspended as a result of the failure of the spacecraft fine pointing system. Observations resumed following the Space Shuttle SMM Repair Mission in April 1984 and continued until November 1989. BCS spectra have been widely used in the past to obtain temperatures, emission measures, and turbulent and bulk flows during flares, as well as element abundances. Read More

Astrophysics and Space Science are becoming increasingly characterised by what is now known as "big data", the bottlenecks for progress partly shifting from data acquisition to "data mining". Truth is that the amount and rate of data accumulation in many fields already surpasses the local capabilities for its processing and exploitation, and the efficient conversion of scientific data into knowledge is everywhere a challenge. The result is that, to a large extent, isolated data archives risk being progressively likened to "data graveyards", where the information stored is not reused for scientific work. Read More

Next-generation radio interferometers, such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), will revolutionise our understanding of the universe through their unprecedented sensitivity and resolution. However, standard methods in radio interferometry produce reconstructed interferometric images that are limited in quality and they are not scalable for big data. In this work we apply and evaluate alternative interferometric reconstruction methods that make use of state-of-the-art sparse image reconstruction algorithms motivated by compressive sensing, which have been implemented in the PURIFY software package. Read More

The geodetic VLBI technique is capable of measuring the Sun's gravity light deflection from distant radio sources around the whole sky. This light deflection is equivalent to the conventional gravitational delay used for the reduction of geodetic VLBI data. While numerous tests based on a global set of VLBI data have shown that the parameter 'gamma' of the post-Newtonian approximation is equal to unity with a precision of about 0. Read More

Affiliations: 1Dept. de Física Quàntica i Astrofísica, Institut de Ciències del Cosmos, 2University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Physics and Astronomy, 3Dept. de Física Quàntica i Astrofísica, Institut de Ciències del Cosmos, 4University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Physics and Astronomy, 5University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Physics and Astronomy, 6University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Physics and Astronomy, 7University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Physics and Astronomy

There have been many efforts to correct systematic effects in astronomical light curves to improve the detection and characterization of planetary transits and astrophysical variability in general. Algorithms like the Trend Filtering Algorithm (TFA) use simultaneously-observed stars to measure and remove systematic effects, and binning is used to reduce high-frequency random noise. We present TFAW, a modified version of TFA which reduces noise in variable-star light curves without modifying their intrinsic characteristics. Read More

Accurate measurement of galaxy structures is a prerequisite for quantitative investigation of galaxy properties or evolution. Yet, the impact of galaxy inclination and dust on commonly used metrics of galaxy structure is poorly quantified. We use infrared data sets to select inclination-independent samples of disc and flattened elliptical galaxies. Read More

Large surveys producing tera- and petabyte-scale databases require machine-learning and knowledge discovery methods to deal with the overwhelming quantity of data and the difficulties of extracting concise, meaningful information with reliable assessment of its uncertainty. This study investigates the potential of a few machine-learning methods for the automated analysis of eclipsing binaries in the data of such surveys. We aim to aid the extraction of samples of eclipsing binaries from such databases and to provide basic information about the objects. Read More

Affiliations: 1Caltech, 2Davis, 3UCSD, 4Northwestern, 5Berkeley, 6Austin, 7CITA, 8Flatiron, 9Caltech, 10Caltech, 11Zurich, 12MIT, 13Caltech, 14Northwestern, 15Caltech, 16Caltech, 17Caltech, 18Caltech, 19Caltech, 20Caltech, 21Northwestern, 22Stanford, 23Austin, 24Irvine, 25Caltech, 26UCSD, 27Irvine, 28Florida

The Feedback In Realistic Environments (FIRE) project explores the role of feedback in cosmological simulations of galaxy formation. Previous FIRE simulations used an identical source code (FIRE-1) for consistency. Now, motivated by the development of more accurate numerics (hydrodynamic solvers, gravitational softening, supernova coupling) and the exploration of new physics (e. Read More

Optimal estimation of signal amplitude, background level, and photocentre location is crucial to the combined extraction of astrometric and photometric information from focal plane images, and in particular from the one-dimensional measurements performed by Gaia on intermediate to faint magnitude stars. Our goal is to define a convenient maximum likelihood framework, suited to efficient iterative implementation and to assessment of noise level, bias, and correlation among variables. The analytical model is investigated numerically and verified by simulation over a range of magnitude and background values. Read More

Results will be shown from the ASTRONEU array developed and operated in the outskirts of Patras, Greece. An array of 9 scintillator detectors and 3 antennas were deployed to study Extensive Air Showers (EAS) as a tool for calibrating an underwater neutrino telescope, possible other applications in muon tomography, education purposes, and last but not least, the detection of air showers via their electromagnetic signature. This is the first stage of a total of 24 scintillator counters and 6 RF antennas to complete the array. Read More

Measurements of radial velocity variations from the spectroscopic monitoring of stars and their companions are essential for a broad swath of astrophysics, providing access to the fundamental physical properties that dictate all phases of stellar evolution and facilitating the quantitative study of planetary systems. The conversion of those measurements into both constraints on the orbital architecture and individual component spectra can be a serious challenge, however, especially for extreme flux ratio systems and observations with relatively low sensitivity. Gaussian processes define sampling distributions of flexible, continuous functions that are well-motivated for modeling stellar spectra, enabling proficient search for companion lines in time-series spectra. Read More

New astrometric reductions of the US Naval Observatory CCD Astrograph Catalog (UCAC) all-sky observations were performed from first principles using the TGAS stars in the 8 to 11 magnitude range as reference star catalog. Significant improvements in the astrometric solutions were obtained and the UCAC5 catalog of mean positions at a mean epoch near 2001 was generated. By combining UCAC5 with Gaia DR1 data new proper motions on the Gaia coordinate system for over 107 million stars were obtained with typical accuracies of 1 to 2 mas/yr (R = 11 to 15 mag), and about 5 mas/yr at 16th mag. Read More

The SkyMapper 1.3 m telescope at Siding Spring Observatory has now begun regular operations. Alongside the Southern Sky Survey, a comprehensive digital survey of the entire southern sky, SkyMapper will carry out a search for supernovae and other transients. Read More

We present an update to the EVEREST K2 pipeline that addresses various limitations in the previous version and improves the photometric precision of the de-trended light curves. We develop a fast regularization scheme for third order pixel level decorrelation (PLD) and adapt the algorithm to include the PLD vectors of neighboring stars to enhance the predictive power of the model and minimize overfitting, particularly for faint stars. We also modify PLD to work for saturated stars and improve its performance on extremely variable stars. Read More

An important ingredient in numerical modelling of high temperature magnetised astrophysical plasmas is the anisotropic transport of heat along magnetic field lines from higher to lower temperatures.Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) typically involves solving the hyperbolic set of conservation equations along with the induction equation. Incorporating anisotropic thermal conduction requires to also treat parabolic terms arising from the diffusion operator. Read More

We describe in general terms the practical use in astronomy of a higher-order statistical quantity called Spectral Kurtosis (SK), and describe the first implementation of SK-enabled firmware in the F-engine (Fourier transform-engine) of a digital FX correlator for Expanded Owens Valley Solar Array (EOVSA). The development of the theory for SK is summarized, leading to an expression for generalized SK that is applicable to both SK spectrometers and those not specifically designed for SK. We also give the means for computing both the SK estimator and thresholds for its application as a discriminator of RFI contamination. Read More

We summarise the achievements of the AstroGrid-PL project, which aims to provide an infrastructure grid computing, distributed storage and Virtual Observatory services to the Polish astronomical community. It was developed from 2011-2015 as a domain grid component within the larger PLGrid Plus project for scientific computing in Poland. Read More

This paper is the first on a series of papers describing the impact of antenna instrumental artefacts on the 21-cm cosmology experiments to be carried out by the SKA1-LOW telescope, i.e., the Cosmic Dawn (CD) and the Epoch of Reionization (EoR). Read More

The field of exoplanet research is moving towards the detection and characterization of habitable planets. These exo-Earths can be easily found around low-mass stars by using either photometric transit or radial-velocity (RV) techniques. In the latter case the gain is twofold because the signal induced by the planet of a given mass is higher due to the more favourable planet-star mass ratio and because the habitable zone lies closer to the star. Read More

Modern radio telescopes, such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), will probe the radio sky over large fields-of-view, which results in large w-modulations of the sky image. This effect complicates the relationship between the measured visibilities and the image under scrutiny. In algorithmic terms, it gives rise to massive memory and computational time requirements. Read More

We use methods of differential astrometry to construct a small field inertial reference frame stable at the micro-arcsecond level. Such a high level of astrometric precision can be expected with the end-of-mission standard errors to be achieved with the Gaia space satellite using global astrometry. We harness Gaia measurements of field angles and look at the influence of the number of reference stars and the star's magnitude as well as astrometric systematics on the total error budget with the help of Gaia-like simulations around the Ecliptic Pole in a differential astrometric scenario. Read More

The power of robotic telescopes to transform science education has been voiced by multiple sources, since the 1980s. Since then, much technical progress has been made in robotic telescope provision to end users via a variety of different approaches. The educational transformation hoped for by the provision of this technology has, so far, yet to be achieved on a scale matching the technical advancements. Read More

In this data-rich era of astronomy, there is a growing reliance on automated techniques to discover new knowledge. The role of the astronomer may change from being a discoverer to being a confirmer. But what do astronomers actually look at when they distinguish between "sources" and "noise?" What are the differences between novice and expert astronomers when it comes to visual-based discovery? Can we identify elite talent or coach astronomers to maximize their potential for discovery? By looking to the field of sports performance analysis, we consider an established, domain-wide approach, where the expertise of the viewer (i. Read More

Electron emission from liquid into gaseous xenon is a cornerstone of dark matter search detectors such as ZEPLIN, XENON, LUX and LZ. The probability of emission is a function of the applied electric field E, and electrons which fail to pass from the liquid into the gas have been previously hypothesized to become thermalized and trapped. This article shows, for the first time, quantitative agreement between an electron emission model and existing data. Read More

In the last decades, stellar atmosphere models have become a key tool in understanding massive stars. Applied for spectroscopic analysis, these models provide quantitative information on stellar wind properties as well as fundamental stellar parameters. The intricate non-LTE conditions in stellar winds dictate the development of adequate sophisticated model atmosphere codes. Read More

We have developed FFT beamforming techniques for the CHIME radio telescope, to search for and localize the astrophysical signals from Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) over a large instantaneous field-of-view (FOV) while maintaining the full angular resolution of CHIME. We implement a hybrid beamforming pipeline in a GPU correlator, synthesizing 256 FFT-formed beams in the North-South direction by four formed beams along East-West via exact phasing, tiling a sky area of ~250 square degrees. A zero-padding approximation is employed to improve chromatic beam alignment across the wide bandwidth of 400 to 800 MHz. Read More

Authors: M. Walker, T. D. Abbott, S. M. Aston, G. González, D. M. Macleod, J. McIver, B. P. Abbott, R. Abbott, C. Adams, R. X. Adhikari, S. B. Anderson, A. Ananyeva, S. Appert, K. Arai, S. W. Ballmer, D. Barker, B. Barr, L. Barsotti, J. Bartlett, I. Bartos, J. C. Batch, A. S. Bell, J. Betzwieser, G. Billingsley, J. Birch, S. Biscans, C. Biwer, C. D. Blair, R. Bork, A. F. Brooks, G. Ciani, F. Clara, S. T. Countryman, M. J. Cowart, D. C. Coyne, A. Cumming, L. Cunningham, K. Danzmann, C. F. Da Silva Costa, E. J. Daw, D. DeBra, R. T. DeRosa, R. DeSalvo, K. L. Dooley, S. Doravari, J. C. Driggers, S. E. Dwyer, A. Effler, T. Etzel, M. Evans, T. M. Evans, M. Factourovich, H. Fair, A. Fernández Galiana, R. P. Fisher, P. Fritschel, V. V. Frolov, P. Fulda, M. Fyffe, J. A. Giaime, K. D. Giardina, E. Goetz, R. Goetz, S. Gras, C. Gray, H. Grote, K. E. Gushwa, E. K. Gustafson, R. Gustafson, E. D. Hall, G. Hammond, J. Hanks, J. Hanson, T. Hardwick, G. M. Harry, M. C. Heintze, A. W. Heptonstall, J. Hough, K. Izumi, R. Jones, S. Kandhasamy, S. Karki, M. Kasprzack, S. Kaufer, K. Kawabe, N. Kijbunchoo, E. J. King, P. J. King, J. S. Kissel, W. Z. Korth, G. Kuehn, M. Landry, B. Lantz, N. A. Lockerbie, M. Lormand, A. P. Lundgren, M. MacInnis, S. Márka, Z. Márka, A. S. Markosyan, E. Maros, I. W. Martin, D. V. Martynov, K. Mason, T. J. Massinger, F. Matichard, N. Mavalvala, R. McCarthy, D. E. McClelland, S. McCormick, G. McIntyre, G. Mendell, E. L. Merilh, P. M. Meyers, J. Miller, R. Mittleman, G. Moreno, G. Mueller, A. Mullavey, J. Munch, L. K. Nuttall, J. Oberling, M. Oliver, P. Oppermann, Richard J. Oram, B. O'Reilly, D. J. Ottaway, H. Overmier, J. R. Palamos, H. R. Paris, W. Parker, A. Pele, S. Penn, M. Phelps, V. Pierro, I. Pinto, M. Principe, L. G. Prokhorov, O. Puncken, V. Quetschke, E. A. Quintero, F. J. Raab, H. Radkins, P. Raffai, S. Reid, D. H. Reitze, N. A. Robertson, J. G. Rollins, V. J. Roma, J. H. Romie, S. Rowan, K. Ryan, T. Sadecki, E. J. Sanchez, V. Sandberg, R. L. Savage, R. M. S. Schofield, D. Sellers, D. A. Shaddock, T. J. Share, B. Shapiro, P. Shawhan, D. H. Shoemaker, D. Sigg, B. J. J. Slagmolen, B. Smith, J. R. Smith, B. Sorazu, A. Staley, K. A. Strain, D. B. Tanner, R. Taylor, M. Thomas, P. Thomas, K. A. Thorne, E. Thrane, C. I. Torrie, G. Traylor, D. Tuyenbayev, G. Vajente, G. Valdes, A. A. van Veggel, A. Vecchio, P. J. Veitch, K. Venkateswara, T. Vo, C. Vorvick, R. L. Ward, J. Warner, B. Weaver, R. Weiss, P. Weßels, B. Willke, C. C. Wipf, J. Worden, G. Wu, H. Yamamoto, C. C. Yancey, Hang Yu, Haocun Yu, L. Zhang, M. E. Zucker, J. Zweizig

This paper presents an analysis of the transient behavior of the Advanced LIGO suspensions used to seismically isolate the optics. We have characterized the transients in the longitudinal motion of the quadruple suspensions during Advanced LIGO's first observing run. Propagation of transients between stages is consistent with modelled transfer functions, such that transient motion originating at the top of the suspension chain is significantly reduced in amplitude at the test mass. Read More

We present the results of a study of different statistical methods currently used in the literature to analyse the (micro)variability of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) from ground-based optical observations. In particular, we focus on the comparison between the results obtained by applying the so-called C and F statistics, which are based on the ratio of standard deviations and variances, respectively. The motivation for this is that the implementation of these methods leads to different and contradictory results, making the variability classification of the light curves of a certain source dependent on the statistics implemented. Read More

We report on electrostatic measurements made on board the European Space Agency mission LISA Pathfinder. Detailed measurements of the charge-induced electrostatic forces exerted on free-falling test masses (TMs) inside the capacitive gravitational reference sensor are the first made in a relevant environment for a space-based gravitational wave detector. Employing a combination of charge control and electric-field compensation, we show that the level of charge-induced acceleration noise on a single TM can be maintained at a level close to 1. Read More

Throughout the processing and analysis of survey data, a ubiquitous issue nowadays is that we are spoilt for choice when we need to select a methodology for some of its steps. The alternative methods usually fail and excel in different data regions, and have various advantages and drawbacks, so a combination that unites the strengths of all while suppressing the weaknesses is desirable. We propose to use a two-level hierarchy of learners. Read More

New tools are needed to handle the growth of data in astrophysics delivered by recent and upcoming surveys. We aim to build open-source, light, flexible, and interactive software designed to visualize extensive three-dimensional (3D) tabular data. Entirely written in the Python language, we have developed interactive tools to browse and visualize the positions of galaxies in the universe and their positions with respect to its large-scale structures (LSS). Read More

We report on the performance of a vector apodizing phase plate coronagraph that operates over a wavelength range of $2-5 \mu$m and is installed in MagAO/Clio2 at the 6.5 m Magellan Clay telescope at Las Campanas Observatory, Chile. The coronagraph manipulates the phase in the pupil to produce three beams yielding two coronagraphic point-spread functions (PSFs) and one faint leakage PSF. Read More

Tens of millions of new variable objects are expected to be identified in over a billion time series from the Gaia mission. Crossmatching known variable sources with those from Gaia is crucial to incorporate current knowledge, understand how these objects appear in the Gaia data, train supervised classifiers to recognise known classes, and validate the results of the Variability Processing and Analysis Coordination Unit (CU7) within the Gaia Data Analysis and Processing Consortium (DPAC). The method employed by CU7 to crossmatch variables for the first Gaia data release includes a binary classifier to take into account positional uncertainties, proper motion, targeted variability signals, and artefacts present in the early calibration of the Gaia data. Read More

The Subarcsecond Telescope And BaLloon Experiment, STABLE, is the fine stage of a guidance system for a high-altitude ballooning platform designed to demonstrate subarcsecond pointing stability, over one minute using relatively dim guide stars in the visible spectrum. The STABLE system uses an attitude rate sensor and the motion of the guide star on a detector to control a Fast Steering Mirror in order to stabilize the image. The characteristics of the thermal-optical-mechanical elements in the system directly affect the quality of the point spread function of the guide star on the detector, and so, a series of thermal, structural, and optical models were built to simulate system performance and ultimately inform the final pointing stability predictions. Read More

We compare quasar positions of the auxiliary quasar solution with ICRF2 sources using different samples and evaluate the influence on the {\it Gaia} DR1 reference frame owing to the Galactic aberration effect over the J2000.0-J20015.0 period. Read More

We present Phantom, a fast, parallel, modular and low-memory smoothed particle hydrodynamics and magnetohydrodynamics code developed over the last decade for astrophysical applications in three dimensions. The code has been developed with a focus on stellar, galactic, planetary and high energy astrophysics and has already been used widely for studies of accretion discs and turbulence, from the birth of planets to how black holes accrete. Here we describe and test the core algorithms as well as modules for magnetohydrodynamics, self-gravity, sink particles, H_2 chemistry, dust-gas mixtures, physical viscosity, external forces including numerous galactic potentials as well as implementations of Lense-Thirring precession, Poynting-Robertson drag and stochastic turbulent driving. Read More

This paper describes the design, operations, and performance of the Multi-site All-Sky CAmeRA (MASCARA). Its primary goal is to find new exoplanets transiting bright stars, $4 < m_V < 8$, by monitoring the full sky. MASCARA consists of one northern station on La Palma, Canary Islands (fully operational since February 2015), one southern station at La Silla Observatory, Chile (operational from early 2017), and a data centre at Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands. Read More

Context. Distinguishing between a signal induced by either stellar activity or a planet is currently the main challenge in radial velocity searches for low-mass exoplanets. Even when the presence of a transiting planet and hence its period are known, stellar activity can be the main barrier to measuring the correct amplitude of the radial velocity signal. Read More

A fast full-wave simulation technique is presented for the analysis of large irregular planar arrays of identical 3-D metallic antennas. The solution method relies on the Macro Basis Functions (MBF) approach and an interpolatory technique to compute the interactions between MBFs. The Harmonic-polynomial (HARP) model is established for the near-field interactions in a modified system of coordinates. Read More

The performance of adaptive optics systems is partially dependant on the algorithms used within the real-time control system to compute wavefront slope measurements. We demonstrate use of a matched filter algorithm for the processing of elongated laser guide star (LGS) Shack-Hartmann images, using the CANARY adaptive optics instrument on the 4.2m William Herschel Telescope and the European Southern Observatory Wendelstein LGS Unit placed 40m away. Read More