Cyclotron lines: from magnetic field strength estimators to geometry tracers in neutron stars [HEAP]

With exactly forty years since the discovery of the first cyclotron line in Her X-1, there have been remarkable advancements in the field related to study of the physics of accreting neutron stars — cyclotron lines have been a major torchbearer in this regard, from being the only direct estimator of the magnetic field strength, a tracer of accretion geometry and an indicator of the emission beam in these systems. The main flurry of activities have centred around studying the harmonic separations, luminosity dependence, pulse phase dependence and more recently the shapes of the line and the trend for long term evolution in the line energy. This article visits the important results related to cyclotron lines since its discovery and reviews their significance. An emphasis is laid on pulse phase resolved spectroscopy and the important clues a joint timing and spectral study in this context can provide, to build a complete picture for the physics of accretion and hence X-ray emission in accreting neutron stars.

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C. Maitra
Fri, 22 Sep 17

Comments: Has appeared in Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy special issue on ‘Physics of Neutron Stars and related objects’, celebrating the 75th birth-year of G. Srinivasan

Young and Intermediate-age Distance Indicators [SSA]

Distance measurements beyond geometrical and semi-geometrical methods, rely mainly on standard candles. As the name suggests, these objects have known luminosities by virtue of their intrinsic proprieties and play a major role in our understanding of modern cosmology. The main caveats associated with standard candles are their absolute calibration, contamination of the sample from other sources and systematic uncertainties. The absolute calibration mainly depends on their chemical composition and age. To understand the impact of these effects on the distance scale, it is essential to develop methods based on different sample of standard candles. Here we review the fundamental properties of young and intermediate-age distance indicators such as Cepheids, Mira variables and Red Clump stars and the recent developments in their application as distance indicators.

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S. Subramanian, M. Marengo, A. Bhardwaj, et. al.
Fri, 22 Sep 17

Comments: Review article, 63 pages (28 figures), Accepted for publication in Space Science Reviews (Chapter 3 of a special collection resulting from the May 2016 ISSI-BJ workshop on Astronomical Distance Determination in the Space Age)

Automated Adaptive Optics [IMA]

Large area surveys will dominate the forthcoming decades of astronomy and their success requires characterizing thousands of discoveries through additional observations at higher spatial or spectral resolution, and at complementary cadences or periods. Only the full automation of adaptive optics systems will enable high-acuity, high-sensitivity follow-up observations of several tens of thousands of these objects per year, maximizing on-sky time. Automation will also enable rapid response to target-of-opportunity events within minutes, minimizing the time between discovery and characterization.
In June 2012, we demonstrated the first fully automated operation of an astronomical adaptive optics system by observing 125 objects in succession with the Robo-AO system. Efficiency has increased ever since, with a typical night comprising 200-250 automated observations at the visible diffraction limit. By observing tens of thousands of targets in the largest-ever adaptive-optics surveys, Robo-AO has demonstrated the ability to address the follow-up needs of current and future large astronomical surveys.

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C. Baranec, R. Riddle and N. Law
Fri, 22 Sep 17

Comments: Preprint of an article submitted for consideration in The WSPC Handbook of Astronomical Instrumentation this http URL

The radio structure of the peculiar narrow-line Seyfert 1 galaxy candidate J1100+4421 [GA]

Narrow-line Seyfert 1 galaxies (NLS1) are an intriguing subclass of active galactic nuclei. Their observed properties indicate low central black hole mass and high accretion rate. The extremely radio-loud NLS1 sources often show relativistic beaming and are usually regarded as younger counterparts of blazars. Recently, the object SDSS J110006.07+442144.3 was reported as a candidate NLS1 source. The characteristics of its dramatic optical flare indicated its jet-related origin. The spectral energy distribution of the object was similar to that of the gamma-ray detected radio-loud NLS1, PMN J0948+0022. Our high-resolution European Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network observations at 1.7 and 5 GHz revealed a compact core feature with a brightness temperature of >~ 10^(10) K. Using the lowest brightness temperature value and assuming a moderate Lorentz factor of ~9 the jet viewing angle is <~ 26 deg. Archival Very Large Array data show a large-scale radio structure with a projected linear size of ~150 kpc reminiscent of double-sided morphology.

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K. Gabanyi, S. Frey, Z. Paragi, et. al.
Fri, 22 Sep 17

Comments: 8 pages, 5 figures. Accepted for publication in MNRAS

Dark Matter Annihilation into Four-Body Final States and Implications for the AMS Antiproton Excess [HEAP]

We consider dark matter annihilation into a general set of final states of Standard Model particles, including two-body and four-body final states that result from the decay of intermediate states. For dark matter masses ~10-10^5 GeV, we use updated data from Planck and from high gamma-ray experiments such as Fermi-LAT, MAGIC, and VERITAS to constrain the annihilation cross section for each final state. The Planck constraints are the most stringent over the entire mass range for annihilation into light leptons, and the Fermi-LAT constraints are the most stringent for four-body final states up to masses ~10^4 GeV. We consider these constraints in light of the recent AMS antiproton results, and show that for light mediators it is possible to explain the AMS data with dark matter, and remain consistent with Fermi-LAT Inner Galaxy measurements, for m_\chi ~ 60-100 GeV mass dark matter and mediator masses m_\phi / m_\chi ~< 1.

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S. Clark, B. Dutta and L. Strigari
Fri, 22 Sep 17

Comments: 12 pages, 6 figures

On the formation mechanisms of compact elliptical galaxies [GA]

In order to investigate the formation mechanisms of the rare compact elliptical galaxies (cE) we have compiled a sample of 25 cEs with good SDSS spectra, covering a range of stellar masses, sizes and environments. They have been visually classified according to the interaction with their host, representing different evolutionary stages. We have included clearly disrupted galaxies, galaxies that despite not showing signs of interaction are located close to a massive neighbor (thus are good candidates for a stripping process), and cEs with no host nearby. For the latter, tidal stripping is less likely to have happened and instead they could simply represent the very low-mass, faint end of the ellipticals. We study a set of properties (structural parameters, stellar populations, star formation histories and mass ratios) that can be used to discriminate between an intrinsic or stripped origin. We find that one diagnostic tool alone is inconclusive for the majority of objects. However, if we combine all the tools a clear picture emerges. The most plausible origin, as well as the evolutionary stage and progenitor type, can be then determined. Our results favor the stripping mechanism for those galaxies in groups and clusters that have a plausible host nearby, but favors an intrinsic origin for those rare cEs without a plausible host and that are located in looser environments.

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A. Ferre-Mateu, D. Forbes, A. Romanowsky, et. al.
Fri, 22 Sep 17

Comments: Accepeted for publication in MNRAS. 24 pages, 21 figures, 5 tables

Revisiting field burial by accretion onto neutron stars [HEAP]

The surface magnetic field strength of millisecond pulsars (MSPs) is found to be about 4 orders of magnitude lower than that of garden variety radio pulsars (with a spin of $\sim 0.5-5$ s and $B\sim 10^{12}$G). The exact mechanism of the apparent reduction of field strength in MSPs is still a subject of debate. One of the proposed mechanisms is burial of the surface magnetic field under matter accreted from a companion. In this article we review the recent work on magnetic confinement of accreted matter on neutron stars poles. We present the solutions of the magneto-static equations with a more accurate equation of state of the magnetically confined plasma and discuss its implications for the field burial mechanism.

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D. Mukherjee
Fri, 22 Sep 17

Comments: Has appeared in Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy special issue on ‘Physics of Neutron Stars and Related Objects’, celebrating the 75th birth-year of G. Srinivasan