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The search for life in the Universe is a fundamental problem of astrobiology and modern science. The current progress in the detection of terrestrial-type exoplanets has opened a new avenue in the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres and in the search for biosignatures of life with the upcoming ground-based and space missions. To specify the conditions favourable for the origin, development and sustainment of life as we know it in other worlds, we need to understand the nature of global (astrospheric), and local (atmospheric and surface) environments of exoplanets in the habitable zones (HZs) around G-K-M dwarf stars including our young Sun. Global environment is formed by propagated disturbances from the planet-hosting stars in the form of stellar flares, coronal mass ejections, energetic particles and winds collectively known as astrospheric space weather. Its characterization will help in understanding how an exoplanetary ecosystem interacts with its host star, as well as in the specification of the physical, chemical and biochemical conditions that can create favourable and/or detrimental conditions for planetary climate and habitability along with evolution of planetary internal dynamics over geological timescales. A key linkage of (astro)physical, chemical and geological processes can only be understood in the framework of interdisciplinary studies with the incorporation of progress in heliophysics, astrophysics, planetary and Earth sciences. The assessment of the impacts of host stars on the climate and habitability of terrestrial (exo)planets will significantly expand the current definition of the HZ to the biogenic zone and provide new observational strategies for searching for signatures of life. The major goal of this paper is to describe and discuss the current status and recent progress in this interdisciplinary field in light of presentations and discussions during the NASA Nexus for Exoplanetary System Science funded workshop ‘Exoplanetary Space Weather, Climate and Habitability’ and to provide a new roadmap for the future development of the emerging field of exoplanetary science and astrobiology.
Spherical coordinate systems, which are ubiquitous in astronomy, cannot be shown without distortion on flat, two-dimensional surfaces. This poses challenges for the two complementary phases of visual exploration—making discoveries in data by looking for relationships, patterns, or anomalies—and publication—where the results of an exploration are made available for scientific scrutiny or communication. This is a long-standing problem, and many practical solutions have been developed. Our allskyVR approach provides a workflow for experimentation with commodity virtual reality head-mounted displays. Using the free, open source s2plot programming library, and the A-FrameWebVR browser-based framework, we provide a straightforward way to visualise all-sky catalogues on a user-centred, virtual celestial sphere. The allskyVR distribution contains both a quickstart option, complete with a gaze-based menu system, and a fully customisable mode for those who need more control of the immersive experience. The software is available for download from https://github.com/cfluke/allskyVR.
The large-amplitude δ Scuti star CY Aqr was observed from sites in the U.S.A., South Africa and Australia during August 1988. Coates et al. (1991) published 48 new times of maximum light derived from these observations and assembled, from the literature, previous times of maximum light. It is clear that the period of the star is changing with the balance of evidence favouring discrete changes in 1951 and 1966, rather than a continuous change.
It has been suggested by Fitch (1973) and Else (1972), from an analysis of the observations of Zissell (1968), that there is a secondary frequency present in CY Aqr. Coates et al. (1992) have analysed both the 1988 observations and those of Zissell. After subtracting the primary frequency and its harmonics, they find no stable secondary frequency above the noise level of two millimagnitudes.
We compare the results of using a Random Forest Classifier with the results of using Nonparametric Discriminant Analysis to classify whether a filament channel (in the case of a filament eruption) or an active region (in the case of a flare) is about to produce an event. A large number of descriptors are considered in each case, but it is found that only a small number are needed in order to get most of the improvement in performance over always predicting the majority class. There is little difference in performance between the two classifiers, and neither results in substantial improvements over simply predicting the majority class.
We present results from our Parkes Multibeam H I survey of 3 loose groups of galaxies that are analogous to the Local Group. This is a survey of groups containing only spiral galaxies with mean separations of a few hundred kpc, and total areas of approximately 1 Mpc2; groups similar to our own Local Group. We present a census of the H I-rich objects in these groups down to a 1σ MHI sensitivity ~7×105M⊙, as well as the detailed properties of these detections from follow-up Compact Array observations. We found 7 new H I-rich members in the 3 groups, all of which have stellar counterparts and are, therefore, typical dwarf galaxies. The ratio of low-mass to high-mass gas-rich galaxies in these groups is less than in the Local Group meaning that the “missing satellite” problem is not unique. No high-velocity cloud analogs were found in any of the groups. If HVCs in these groups are the same as in the Local Group, this implies that HVCs must be located within ~300-400 kpc of the Milky Way.
We have determined quasi-geometric distances to the Magellanic Clouds, M31 and M33. Our analysis uses a Bayesian statistical method to provide mathematically rigorous and objective solutions for individual Cepheids. We combine the individual distances with a hierarchical Bayesian model to determine the galactic distances. We obtain distance moduli 18.87 ± 0.07 mag (LMC, 12 stars), 19.14 ± 0.10 (SMC, 8 stars), 23.83 ± 0.35 mag (M33, 1 star) and 25.2 ± 0.6 mag (M31, 1 star) – all uncorrected for metallicity. The M31 and M33 distances are very preliminary. If the PL relations of the LMC, SMC and Galaxy are identical, our results exclude the metallicity effect in the V, (V – R) surface brightness method predicted by Hindsley & Bell (1989) at the 5σ level. Alternately, if Hindsley & Bell’s prediction is adopted as true, we find a metallicity effect intrinsic to the Cepheid PL relation requiring a correction Δ(V – Mv) = (0.36 ± 0.07)Δ[A/H] mag. The latter has the opposite sign to other observational estimates of the Cepheid metallicity effect.
We have developed an algorithm to search the COSMOS/UKST Southern Sky Object Catalogue for compact groups of galaxies, with the aim of finding regions of high mass-to-light ratio. With this catalogue, and quantitative criteria, we select groups objectively and therefore hope to improve upon earlier visual searches. We use a density enhancement measure to define a compact group.
We have made a preliminary search of 15 Schmidt fields (total area ∼ 390 deg2), finding 58 compact groups, ie. a mean density of 0.15 compact groups deg−2. In this paper we present finding charts and images of some of the compact groups found.
Cepheid variable stars are fundamental to the calibration of the extragalactic distance scale. We present radial velocities, preliminary metallicities, and preliminary surface brightness distances of Cepheids in Local Group galaxies M31 and M33 using data obtained with the High Resolution Spectrograph on the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory. These data are the first step toward surface brightness distance measurements and metallicity calibrations of these extragalactic Cepheids.
The Murchison Widefield Array is a Square Kilometre Array Precursor. The telescope is located at the Murchison Radio–astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. The MWA consists of 4 096 dipoles arranged into 128 dual polarisation aperture arrays forming a connected element interferometer that cross-correlates signals from all 256 inputs. A hybrid approach to the correlation task is employed, with some processing stages being performed by bespoke hardware, based on Field Programmable Gate Arrays, and others by Graphics Processing Units housed in general purpose rack mounted servers. The correlation capability required is approximately 8 tera floating point operations per second. The MWA has commenced operations and the correlator is generating 8.3 TB day−1 of correlation products, that are subsequently transferred 700 km from the MRO to Perth (WA) in real-time for storage and offline processing. In this paper, we outline the correlator design, signal path, and processing elements and present the data format for the internal and external interfaces.
The Millimetre Astronomy Legacy Team 90 GHz (MALT90) survey aims to characterise the physical and chemical evolution of high-mass star-forming clumps. Exploiting the unique broad frequency range and on-the-fly mapping capabilities of the Australia Telescope National Facility Mopra 22 m single-dish telescope1, MALT90 has obtained 3′ × 3′ maps towards ~2 000 dense molecular clumps identified in the ATLASGAL 870 μm Galactic plane survey. The clumps were selected to host the early stages of high-mass star formation and to span the complete range in their evolutionary states (from prestellar, to protostellar, and on to
regions and photodissociation regions). Because MALT90 mapped 16 lines simultaneously with excellent spatial (38 arcsec) and spectral (0.11 km s−1) resolution, the data reveal a wealth of information about the clumps’ morphologies, chemistry, and kinematics. In this paper we outline the survey strategy, observing mode, data reduction procedure, and highlight some early science results. All MALT90 raw and processed data products are available to the community. With its unprecedented large sample of clumps, MALT90 is the largest survey of its type ever conducted and an excellent resource for identifying interesting candidates for high-resolution studies with ALMA.
Significant new opportunities for astrophysics and cosmology have been identified at low radio frequencies. The Murchison Widefield Array is the first telescope in the southern hemisphere designed specifically to explore the low-frequency astronomical sky between 80 and 300 MHz with arcminute angular resolution and high survey efficiency. The telescope will enable new advances along four key science themes, including searching for redshifted 21-cm emission from the EoR in the early Universe; Galactic and extragalactic all-sky southern hemisphere surveys; time-domain astrophysics; and solar, heliospheric, and ionospheric science and space weather. The Murchison Widefield Array is located in Western Australia at the site of the planned Square Kilometre Array (SKA) low-band telescope and is the only low-frequency SKA precursor facility. In this paper, we review the performance properties of the Murchison Widefield Array and describe its primary scientific objectives.
We present a new, three-dimensional (3D) plotting library with advanced features, and support for standard and enhanced display devices. The library — s2plot — is written in c and can be used by c, c++, and fortran programs on GNU/Linux and Apple/OSX systems. s2plot draws objects in a 3D (x,y,z) Cartesian space and the user interactively controls how this space is rendered at run time. With a pgplot-inspired interface, s2plot provides astronomers with elegant techniques for displaying and exploring 3D data sets directly from their program code, and the potential to use stereoscopic and dome display devices. The s2plot architecture supports dynamic geometry and can be used to plot time-evolving data sets, such as might be produced by simulation codes. In this paper, we introduce s2plot to the astronomical community, describe its potential applications, and present some example uses of the library.
We demonstrate how interactive, three-dimensional (3D) scientific visualizations can be efficiently interchanged between a variety of mediums. Through the use of an appropriate interchange format, and a unified interaction interface, we minimize the effort to produce visualizations appropriate for undertaking knowledge discovery at the astronomer's desktop, as part of conference presentations, in digital publications or as Web content. We use examples from cosmological visualization to address some of the issues of interchange and to describe our approach to adapting s2plot desktop visualizations to the Web2.
We describe the first distributed data implementation of the perspective shear-warp volume rendering algorithm and explore its applications to large astronomical data cubes and simulation realisations. Our system distributes sub-volumes of 3-dimensional images to leaf nodes of a Beowulf-class cluster, where the rendering takes place. Junction nodes composite the sub-volume renderings together and pass the combined images upwards for further compositing or display. We demonstrate that our system out-performs other software solutions and can render a 'worst-case' 512 × 512 × 512 data volume in less than four seconds using 16 rendering and 15 compositing nodes. Our system also performs very well compared with much more expensive hardware systems. With appropriate commodity hardware, such as Swinburne's Virtual Reality Theatre or a 3Dlabs Wildcat graphics card, stereoscopic display is possible.
The HI content of Hickson Compact Groups in the southern hemisphere is measured using data from the HI Parkes All-Sky Survey (HIPASS), and dedicated observations using the narrow band filter on the Multibeam instrument on the Parkes telescope. The expected HI mass of these groups was estimated using the luminosity, diameter, and morphological types of the member galaxies, calibrated from published data. Taking careful account of non-detection limits, the results show that the compact group population that has been detected by these observations has an HI content similar to that of galaxies in the reference field sample. The upper limits for the undetected groups lie within the normal range; improvement of these limits will require a large increase in sensitivity.
The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is one of three Square Kilometre Array Precursor telescopes and is located at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in the Murchison Shire of the mid-west of Western Australia, a location chosen for its extremely low levels of radio frequency interference. The MWA operates at low radio frequencies, 80–300 MHz, with a processed bandwidth of 30.72 MHz for both linear polarisations, and consists of 128 aperture arrays (known as tiles) distributed over a ~3-km diameter area. Novel hybrid hardware/software correlation and a real-time imaging and calibration systems comprise the MWA signal processing backend. In this paper, the as-built MWA is described both at a system and sub-system level, the expected performance of the array is presented, and the science goals of the instrument are summarised.
We present a framework to volume-render three-dimensional data cubes interactively using distributed ray-casting and volume-bricking over a cluster of workstations powered by one or more graphics processing units (GPUs) and a multi-core central processing unit (CPU). The main design target for this framework is to provide an in-core visualization solution able to provide three-dimensional interactive views of terabyte-sized data cubes. We tested the presented framework using a computing cluster comprising 64 nodes with a total of 128 GPUs. The framework proved to be scalable to render a 204 GB data cube with an average of 30 frames per second. Our performance analyses also compare the use of NVIDIA Tesla 1060 and 2050 GPU architectures and the effect of increasing the visualization output resolution on the rendering performance. Although our initial focus, as shown in the examples presented in this work, is volume rendering of spectral data cubes from radio astronomy, we contend that our approach has applicability to other disciplines where close to real-time volume rendering of terabyte-order three-dimensional data sets is a requirement.