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The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an open access telescope dedicated to studying the low-frequency (80–300 MHz) southern sky. Since beginning operations in mid-2013, the MWA has opened a new observational window in the southern hemisphere enabling many science areas. The driving science objectives of the original design were to observe 21 cm radiation from the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR), explore the radio time domain, perform Galactic and extragalactic surveys, and monitor solar, heliospheric, and ionospheric phenomena. All together
programs recorded 20 000 h producing 146 papers to date. In 2016, the telescope underwent a major upgrade resulting in alternating compact and extended configurations. Other upgrades, including digital back-ends and a rapid-response triggering system, have been developed since the original array was commissioned. In this paper, we review the major results from the prior operation of the MWA and then discuss the new science paths enabled by the improved capabilities. We group these science opportunities by the four original science themes but also include ideas for directions outside these categories.
A new era in radio astronomy will begin with the upcoming large-scale surveys planned at the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP). ASKAP started its Early Science programme in October 2017 and several target fields were observed during the array commissioning phase. The Scorpio field was the first observed in the Galactic Plane in Band 1 (792–1 032 MHz) using 15 commissioned antennas. The achieved sensitivity and large field of view already allow to discover new sources and survey thousands of existing ones with improved precision with respect to previous surveys. Data analysis is currently ongoing to deliver the first source catalogue. Given the increased scale of the data, source extraction and characterisation, even in this Early Science phase, have to be carried out in a mostly automated way. This process presents significant challenges due to the presence of extended objects and diffuse emission close to the Galactic Plane.
In this context, we have extended and optimised a novel source finding tool, named Caesar, to allow extraction of both compact and extended sources from radio maps. A number of developments have been done driven by the analysis of the Scorpio map and in view of the future ASKAP Galactic Plane survey. The main goals are the improvement of algorithm performances and scalability as well as of software maintainability and usability within the radio community. In this paper, we present the current status of Caesar and report a first systematic characterisation of its performance for both compact and extended sources using simulated maps. Future prospects are discussed in the light of the obtained results.
We have observed the G23 field of the Galaxy AndMass Assembly (GAMA) survey using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) in its commissioning phase to validate the performance of the telescope and to characterise the detected galaxy populations. This observation covers ~48 deg2 with synthesised beam of 32.7 arcsec by 17.8 arcsec at 936MHz, and ~39 deg2 with synthesised beam of 15.8 arcsec by 12.0 arcsec at 1320MHz. At both frequencies, the root-mean-square (r.m.s.) noise is ~0.1 mJy/beam. We combine these radio observations with the GAMA galaxy data, which includes spectroscopy of galaxies that are i-band selected with a magnitude limit of 19.2. Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) infrared (IR) photometry is used to determine which galaxies host an active galactic nucleus (AGN). In properties including source counts, mass distributions, and IR versus radio luminosity relation, the ASKAP-detected radio sources behave as expected. Radio galaxies have higher stellar mass and luminosity in IR, optical, and UV than other galaxies. We apply optical and IR AGN diagnostics and find that they disagree for ~30% of the galaxies in our sample. We suggest possible causes for the disagreement. Some cases can be explained by optical extinction of the AGN, but for more than half of the cases we do not find a clear explanation. Radio sources aremore likely (~6%) to have an AGN than radio quiet galaxies (~1%), but the majority of AGN are not detected in radio at this sensitivity.
The potential 14C (carbon-14, radiocarbon) flux from disposal of 14C containing waste into air is compared with the natural 14C emanation rate from soil in order to put the 14C hazard potential from disposal of this waste in perspective with the 14C exposure from cosmogenic origin. Chemical corrosion of neutron irradiated metals, steel and Zircaloy, is bounded by diffusion of water through a thermodynamically stable metal-oxide layer and dissolution of this metal-oxide in a nuclear plant. Many countries process radioactive waste for disposal using cementitious materials, an acknowledged end-point management technique for this waste. The metal-oxides are also stable when these waste forms are embedded in cementitious materials. The 14C release rate from this Zircaloy at these alkaline and reducing conditions is comparable to the natural 14C emanation rate from soil into air. Neutron irradiated graphite and spent ion exchange resins are chemically inert and therefore other release mechanisms need to be assumed. Radiolytic corrosion is used to determine the 14C release rate from this graphite. Moreover, ion exchange—with ingressing anionic species that have a higher affinity than contained anionic 14C—is proposed as a release mechanism for these resins.
Radiocarbon (14C) is one of the key radionuclides for the performance and safety assessment of a radioactive waste disposal, due to its high activity concentration in waste materials from the nuclear cycle and to its mobility. The measurement of the 14C content in spent ion exchange resins from nuclear reactors is important for the safety assessment of the disposal concept and for the choice of the appropriate treatment/disposal method. Ion exchange resins are commonly used in nuclear reactors as filters for the purification of process liquids or wastes streams and they retain molecules containing radioactive isotopes, among which is 14C. Their efficiency, both as filters and as waste containers, is strictly connected with the morphology. The preservation of spherical shape upon aging is one of the key parameters for their quality assessment and for the evaluation of the potential release of 14C during storage conditions. In this study, the change in IERs morphology during storage periods has been investigated in order to verify correlation with 14C release. Both brand new and aged specimens have been studied in order to assess the quality of the resins after 10 yr of storage and to contribute to the understanding of 14C release mechanisms.
Carbon-14 (radiocarbon, 14C) is a long-lived radionuclide (5730 yr) of interest regarding the safety for the management of intermediate level wastes (ILW). The present study gives an overview of the release of 14C from irradiated Zircaloy cladding in alkaline media. 14C is found either in the alloy part of Zircaloy cladding due to the neutron activation of 14N impurities by 14N(n,p)14C reaction, or in the oxide layer (ZrO2) formed at the metal surface by the neutron activation of 17O from UO2 or (U-Pu)O2 fuel and water from the primary circuit in the reactor by 17O(n,α)14C reaction. Various irradiated and unirradiated Zircaloys have been studied. The total 14C inventory has been determined both experimentally and by calculations. The results seem to be in good agreement. Leaching experiments were conducted in alkaline media for several time durations. 14C was mainly released as carboxylic acids. Further, corrosion measurements were performed by using both hydrogen measurements and electrochemical measurements. The corrosion rate (CR) ranges from a few nm/yr to 100 nm/yr depending on the surface conditions and the method used for measurement. From a safety assessment point of view, the instant release fraction (IRF) was determined on irradiated Zircaloy-2. The results showed that the 14C inventory in the oxide was significantly below the 20% commonly used in safety case assessments.
The total 14C content and its partition between inorganic and organic species were measured on irradiated Zy-4 samples from a CANDU spent fuel rod transferred from Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). Long-term leaching tests and accelerated corrosion tests were carried out to measure the 14C release and corrosion rate, respectively, in chemical conditions relevant to cementitious environment. Experimentally measured 14C inventory was compared to the theoretically one predicted based on the irradiation history and impurity content of Zy-4 by means of ORIGEN computations. CANDU SF claddings have a 14C content of around 2 × 104 Bq/g of Zy-4, mainly as organic compounds (more than 99%). The total 14C content measured by acid dissolution/wet oxidation method is in good agreement with the value estimated by ORIGEN simulations for an average burn-up of 7 MWd/kgU. The total 14C released as dissolved species after 18 days and 18 months of Zy-4 immersing in alkaline solution are similar, indicating that a small amount of 14C was available as instant release fraction (0.05% from the initial 14C content) followed by a very low release rate that could not be measured by liquid scintillation counting. In alkaline conditions, 14C is released predominantly (∼70%) as soluble species, but also inorganic 14C was measured as gaseous species. From the soluble 14C released during leaching test, more than 60% was found to be as organic species. Generally, corrosion rates values ranging between 46 and 130 nm/yr were measured by the linear polarization resistance method. In addition, defects and cracks were observed on the oxide layer by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) investigation.
Leaching tests were carried out in aerobic and anaerobic conditions to assess the 14C released from TRIGA irradiated graphite. Both total 14C and inorganic and organic fractions in the leachant solutions were measured. The experimental results obtained from the leaching tests confirm the low 14C release rate in alkaline environment. Less than 2% of the total 14C inventory in the specimens subject to the leaching tests was released as dissolved species. Both inorganic and organic 14C species are released in alkaline conditions, with more inorganic 14C release under aerobic conditions (around 68% of the total 14C released was released as inorganic dissolved species), and more organic 14C species in anaerobic conditions (around 65% of the total 14C released was released as organic dissolved species). Both for anaerobic and aerobic conditions, the leaching rates are high in the first days of immersion and decrease after that, indicating a two stage process: an initial quick release (less than 9 × 10–02 % of inventory/day for the first 48 days) followed by a slower release rate (around 4 × 10–03 % of inventory/day).
The total 14C content and its speciation (inorganic/organic) were measured in spent ion exchange resins (SIERs) received from Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). Also, 14C release from SIERs was investigated by desorption tests carried out in alkaline solution relevant for cementitious environment disposal. The method used for total 14C measurement consists of combustion in oxygen-rich atmosphere, while for speciation measurements, both in SIERs and in desorption solutions, an analytical method based on acid stripping and wet oxidation was applied. Around 97% from the total 14C inventory measured on the Cernavoda SIERs (33.7 kBq/g) was found to be in inorganic form and only 7% as organic 14C. Under alkaline conditions, 14C could be released both as gaseous and as soluble species: from the total 14C present in the SIERs samples around 7% was released as inorganic 14C in the gas phase and 79% as dissolved species (mainly as inorganic 14C). These percentages were obtained for unconditioned SIERs in NaOH solution. The SIERs will be immobilized in a suitable matrix for disposal, and the presence of Ca ions dissolved in cement pore water favor precipitation of 14C and consequently the amount of 14C released from disposal area should be lower.
A prompt radio burst has been observed from the supernova 1987a in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Observations were made at 0.843, 1.415, 2.29, and 8.41 GHz. At frequencies around 1 GHz, the peak flux density reached about 150 mJy and occurred within four days of the supernova. This event may be a weak precursor to a major radio outburst of the type previously observed in other extragalactic supernovae. Radio monitoring of the supernova is continuing at each of the above frequencies, and coordination is underway of a southern hemisphere VLBI array to map the radio outburst region as it expands. Differential astrometry carried out on prime-focus plates taken with the Anglo-Australian telescope indicates that the component, star 1, of Sanduleak's star SK-69202 is within 0.05 ± 0.13 arcsec of the supernova.
The Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR) program was launched in 1997. Its goal is to build infrastructure to improve the well-being of older racial/ethnic minorities by identifying mechanisms to reduce health disparities.
Its primary objectives are to mentor faculty in research addressing the health of minority elders and to enhance the diversity of the workforce that conducts elder health research by prioritizing the mentorship of underrepresented diverse scholars.
Through 2015, 12 centers received RCMAR awards and provided pilot research funding and mentorship to 361 scholars, 70% of whom were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. A large majority (85%) of RCMAR scholars from longstanding centers continue in academic research. Another 5% address aging and other health disparities through nonacademic research and leadership roles in public health agencies.
Longitudinal, team-based mentoring, cross-center scholar engagement, and community involvement in scholar development are important contributors to RCMAR’s success.
Africa is experiencing a rapid increase in adult obesity and associated cardiometabolic diseases (CMDs). The H3Africa AWI-Gen Collaborative Centre was established to examine genomic and environmental factors that influence body composition, body fat distribution and CMD risk, with the aim to provide insights towards effective treatment and intervention strategies. It provides a research platform of over 10 500 participants, 40–60 years old, from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. Following a process that involved community engagement, training of project staff and participant informed consent, participants were administered detailed questionnaires, anthropometric measurements were taken and biospecimens collected. This generated a wealth of demographic, health history, environmental, behavioural and biomarker data. The H3Africa SNP array will be used for genome-wide association studies. AWI-Gen is building capacity to perform large epidemiological, genomic and epigenomic studies across several African counties and strives to become a valuable resource for research collaborations in Africa.
We describe the performance of the Boolardy Engineering Test Array, the prototype for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope. Boolardy Engineering Test Array is the first aperture synthesis radio telescope to use phased array feed technology, giving it the ability to electronically form up to nine dual-polarisation beams. We report the methods developed for forming and measuring the beams, and the adaptations that have been made to the traditional calibration and imaging procedures in order to allow BETA to function as a multi-beam aperture synthesis telescope. We describe the commissioning of the instrument and present details of Boolardy Engineering Test Array’s performance: sensitivity, beam characteristics, polarimetric properties, and image quality. We summarise the astronomical science that it has produced and draw lessons from operating Boolardy Engineering Test Array that will be relevant to the commissioning and operation of the final Australian Square Kilometre Array Path telescope.
The theory of influence and sharp threshold is a key tool in probability and probabilistic combinatorics, with numerous applications. One significant aspect of the theory is directed at identifying the level of generality of the product probability space that accommodates the event under study. We derive the influence inequality for a completely general product space, by establishing a relationship to the Lebesgue cube studied by Bourgain, Kahn, Kalai, Katznelson and Linial (BKKKL) in 1992. This resolves one of the assertions of BKKKL. Our conclusion is valid also in the setting of the generalized influences of Keller.
Although only three antennas of the Australia Telescope Compact Array are currently operational, we have made use of the technique of bandwidth synthesis to make an image of the radio galaxy 2152 – 69. The three baselines were used to observe the source at three different frequencies, effectively resulting in nine baselines, which have been used to produce an image with a surprisingly high dynamic range, and with a slightly higher resolution than any existing image.
The production of such a worthwhile result, despite being made with a small subset of the capabilities of the Australia Telescope, bodes well for the future operation of the instrument.