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The Murchison Widefield Array is a low-frequency Square Kilometre Array precursor located at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. Primarily designed as an imaging telescope, but with a flexible signal path, the capabilities of this telescope have recently been extended to include off-line incoherent and tied-array beam formation using recorded antenna voltages. This has provided the capability for high-time and frequency resolution observations, including a pulsar science program. This paper describes the algorithms and pipeline that we have developed to form the tied-array beam products from the summation of calibrated signals of the antenna elements, and presents example polarimetric profiles for PSRs J0437-4715 and J1900-2600 at 185 MHz.
Polarimetric studies of pulsars at low radio frequencies provide important observational insights into the pulsar emission mechanism and beam models, and probe the properties of the magneto-ionic interstellar medium (ISM). Aperture arrays are the main form of next-generation low-frequency telescopes, including the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). These require a distinctly different approach to data processing (e.g. calibration and beamforming) compared to traditional dish antennas. As the second paper of this series, we present a verification of the MWA’s pulsar polarimetry capability, using two bright southern pulsars, PSRs J0742–2822 and J1752–2806. Our observations simultaneously cover multiple frequencies (76–313 MHz) and were taken at multiple zenith angles (ZA) during a single night for each pulsar. We show that the MWA can be reliably calibrated for ZA ≲45° and frequencies ≲270 MHz. We present the polarimetric profiles for PSRs J0742–2822 and J1752–2806 at frequencies lower than 300 MHz for the first time, along with an analysis of the linear polarisation degree and pulse profile evolution with frequency. For PSR J0742–2822, the measured degree of linear polarisation shows a rapid decrease at low frequencies, in contrast with the generally expected trend, which can be attributed to depolarisation effects from small-scale, turbulent, magneto-ionic ISM components. This effect has not been widely explored for pulsars in general and will be further investigated in future work.
Providing forage to feed-restricted pregnant sows may improve their welfare by reducing their high feeding motivation. The aim of this study was to determine sows’ preferences for four forage mixtures cultivated in Canada. Forage mixtures were compared when offered either fresh or dry. The four forage mixtures were composed of different proportions and species of legumes (alfalfa (Alf) or red clover (Clo)) and grasses (tall fescue (F) and/or timothy (T)): (1) Alf-F, (2) Alf-F-T, (3) Clo-T and (4) Clo-F-T. Voluntary intake was measured, and preference tests were carried out for two experiments: one in spring for fresh forages ( n = 8) and the other in autumn for hays ( n = 8) with different sows housed in individual pens and fed a concentrated diet meeting their nutritional requirements for maintenance and foetal growth. Voluntary intake was measured by offering each forage mixture separately (one forage mixture/day) during 90 min according to a 4 × 4 Latin square design replicated four times. During preference tests, all six combinations of two forage mixtures were offered once (one combination/day) for 45 min to each sow. Individual forage intake was measured, and feeding behaviour was observed. Forages were analysed for botanical and chemical composition. Difference in voluntary intake among the four forage mixtures was determined using a variance analysis followed by Tukey tests for post hoc comparisons. In preference tests, differences between the two forage mixtures offered were determined using a paired Student’s t test, and the most ingested forage mixture was considered the preferred one. Results from both experiments revealed clear preferences for some forage mixtures when offered either fresh or dry. Forage mixtures with a greater proportion of legumes (AlfT and CloT) were preferred over forage mixtures with a higher proportion of grasses (AlfFT and CloFT). The AlfFT and CloFT forage mixtures contained at least 30% of fescue; therefore, the greater preference for the AlfT and CloT forage mixtures could also be due to the absence of fescue. Sows preferred forages with low DM and NDF concentrations and high CP and non-structural carbohydrates concentrations. Based on results from previous studies, the preferences seen in the present study are most likely due to the greater proportion of legumes, although an effect of tall fescue in preference cannot be excluded. Therefore, offering forages with a high proportion of legumes would be a good strategy to maximise both fresh and dry forage intake in pregnant sows.
Elevated levels of organochlorines (OC) have been reported in Inuit populations in the Arctic. We hypothesized that prenatal exposure to a Canadian Arctic OC mixture adversely affects male reproductive function and health with age. Sprague–Dawley female rats (F0) were gavaged with an environmentally relevant concentration of an Arctic OC mixture or corn oil (Control) during mating with untreated males until parturition (F1 litters). After postnatal day (PND) 90, the weights of the OC F1 males differed dramatically relative to Controls (P<0.05; n=10) and they exhibited respiratory distress. Except for possible thinning of the alveolar barrier, histological observation of the lungs revealed no apparent pathology to explain the respiratory distress. At PND 365, OC F1 males had reduced relative reproductive organ weights and lower sperm quality than Controls (P<0.05). At PND 90, OC F1 males were subfertile (P<0.05), but were infertile at PND 365. In conclusion, environmentally relevant prenatal OC exposure reduced reproductive function and health in aging male rats, providing new insight into the effects of early-life exposures to these contaminants.
For this study, we adapted the Montgomery Borgatta Caregiver Burden Scale, used widely in the United States, to the Saudi Arabian context. To produce an Arabic, culturally sensitive version of the scale, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 20 Saudi family caregivers. The Arabic version of the scale was tested, and participants were asked to comment on the appropriateness of items for the construct of “caregiver burden” using the repertory grid technique and laddering procedure – two constructivist methods derived from personal construct theory. From interview findings, we examined the content of the items and the caregiver burden construct itself. Our findings suggest that the use of constructivist methods to refine constructs and quantitative instruments is highly informative. This strategy is feasible even when little is known about the investigated constructs in the target culture and further elucidates our understanding of cross-cultural variations or invariance of different versions of the scale.
The Murchison Widefield Array, and its recently developed Voltage Capture System, facilitates extending the low-frequency range of pulsar observations at high-time and -frequency resolution in the Southern Hemisphere, providing further information about pulsars and the ISM. We present the results of an initial time-resolved census of known pulsars using the Murchison Widefield Array. To significantly reduce the processing load, we incoherently sum the detected powers from the 128 Murchison Widefield Array tiles, which yields ~10% of the attainable sensitivity of the coherent sum. This preserves the large field-of-view (~450 deg2 at 185 MHz), allowing multiple pulsars to be observed simultaneously. We developed a WIde-field Pulsar Pipeline that processes the data from each observation and automatically folds every known pulsar located within the beam. We have detected 50 pulsars to date, 6 of which are millisecond pulsars. This is consistent with our expectation, given the telescope sensitivity and the sky coverage of the processed data (~17 000 deg2). For 10 pulsars, we present the lowest frequency detections published. For a subset of the pulsars, we present multi-frequency pulse profiles by combining our data with published profiles from other telescopes. Since the Murchison Widefield Array is a low-frequency precursor to the Square Kilometre Array, we use our census results to forecast that a survey using the low-frequency component of the Square Kilometre Array Phase 1 can potentially detect around 9 400 pulsars.
Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae is a Gram-negative bacterium that belongs to the family Pasteurellaceae. It is the causative agent of porcine pleuropneumonia, a highly contagious respiratory disease that is responsible for major economic losses in the global pork industry. The disease may present itself as a chronic or an acute infection characterized by severe pathology, including hemorrhage, fibrinous and necrotic lung lesions, and, in the worst cases, rapid death. A. pleuropneumoniae is transmitted via aerosol route, direct contact with infected pigs, and by the farm environment. Many virulence factors associated with this bacterium are well characterized. However, much less is known about the role of biofilm, a sessile mode of growth that may have a critical impact on A. pleuropneumoniae pathogenicity. Here we review the current knowledge on A. pleuropneumoniae biofilm, factors associated with biofilm formation and dispersion, and the impact of biofilm on the pathogenesis A. pleuropneumoniae. We also provide an overview of current vaccination strategies against A. pleuropneumoniae and consider the possible role of biofilms vaccines for controlling the disease.
We present techniques developed to calibrate and correct Murchison Widefield Array low-frequency (72–300 MHz) radio observations for polarimetry. The extremely wide field-of-view, excellent instantaneous (u, v)-coverage and sensitivity to degree-scale structure that the Murchison Widefield Array provides enable instrumental calibration, removal of instrumental artefacts, and correction for ionospheric Faraday rotation through imaging techniques. With the demonstrated polarimetric capabilities of the Murchison Widefield Array, we discuss future directions for polarimetric science at low frequencies to answer outstanding questions relating to polarised source counts, source depolarisation, pulsar science, low-mass stars, exoplanets, the nature of the interstellar and intergalactic media, and the solar environment.
We observed single pulses from PSR J0034-0721 (B0031-07) simultaneously at the MWA (185 MHz) and the GMRT (610 MHz). Correlation analyses reveal that the phase difference of the average profiles at the two frequencies differs from the phase difference observed between individual subpulses, indicating that the individual emission columns above the pulsar’s rotating carousel of sparks do not evolve in frequency in the same way that the global magnetosphere does. This hints at a possible departure from the dipolar field geometry in this pulsar’s emission region. Moreover, the discrepancy depends on the drift mode, suggestive of a way to constrain the emission heights associated with each drift mode.
Low-frequency pulsar observations are well suited for studying propagation effects caused by the interstellar medium (ISM). This is particularly important for millisecond pulsars (MSPs) that are part of high-precision timing applications such as pulsar timing arrays (PTA), which aim to detect nanoHertz gravitational waves. MSPs in the southern hemisphere will also be the prime targets for PTAs with the South African MeerKAT, and eventually with the SKA. The development of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) and the Engineering Development Array (EDA) brings excellent opportunities for low-frequency studies of MSPs in the southern hemisphere. They enable observations at frequencies from 50 MHz to 300 MHz, and can be exploited for a wide range of studies relating to pulsar emission physics and probing the ISM.
Studying the polarised properties of pulsars has a rich history giving unique geometric information about pulsars as well as testing the theories of pulsar emission physics. Performing such studies with the MWA has the attraction that the percentage of linear polarisation of many pulsars increases as the observing frequency decreases. Here we discuss the strategies being employed to verify the polarimetric response of the MWA’s high time resolution data.
The frequency dependence of normal pulsar radio emission is typically observed to be a power law, with some indications of a flattening or turnover at low frequencies (≲ 100 MHz). The spectrum of the Crab pulsar’s giant pulse emission has not been examined as closely. We conducted simultaneous wideband observations of the Crab pulsar, with the Parkes radio telescope and the Murchison Widefield Array, to study the spectral behaviour of its giant pulses. Our analysis shows that the mean spectral index of Crab giant pulses flattens at low frequencies, from −2.6 ± 0.5 between the Parkes bands, to −0.7 ± 1.4 between the lowest MWA subbands.
Field vegetables require large amounts of N and precision N management (PNM) may help increase their productivity, quality and profitability while reducing N leaching in the biosphere. Few studies investigated PNM for field vegetables. This may be explained by the great diversity in crops and cultivars which complicate the broad implementation of PNM discoveries. Field vegetables are often grown in histosols, which have unique properties such as quantity of N mineralized and the spatial pattern of organic soil depth. Finally, research gaps exist in the development of decision support systems adapted to field vegetable crops grown in histosols.
This paper presents a framework for the implementation of a decision support system that considers spatial, temporal and managerial factors in assessing the potential impact of crop amendments on the cost of a given production scenario. The proposed system includes a database and a numeric simulation model. The database is linked to previously recorded crop responses for a given agricultural input under different conditions while the numeric simulation model determines the probability of different levels of profit for each decision option. This system then determines the optimal uniform rate of application of an amendment to maximize profits, or to define the range of such rates for a case of variable rate application. Uncertainty-based treatment of each model input allows for a balance between the potential results of under-application or over-application.
The vast majority of stars will become white dwarfs at the end of the stellar life cycle. These remnants are precise cosmic clocks owing to their well constrained cooling rates. Gaia Data Release 2 is expected to discover hundreds of thousands of white dwarfs, which can then be observed spectroscopically with WEAVE and 4MOST. By employing spectroscopically derived atmospheric parameters combined with Gaia parallaxes, white dwarfs can constrain the stellar formation history in the early developing phases of the Milky Way, the initial mass function in the 1.5 to 8 M⊙ range, and the stellar mass loss as well as the state of planetary systems during the post main-sequence evolution.
Maize in Canada is grown mainly in the south-eastern part of the country. No comprehensive studies on Canadian maize yield levels have been done so far to analyse the barriers of obtaining optimal yields associated with cultivar, environmental stress and agronomic management practices. The objective of the current study was to use a modelling approach to analyse the gaps between actual and potential (determined by cultivar, solar radiation and temperature without any other stresses) maize yields in Eastern Canada. The CSM–CERES–Maize model in DSSAT v4·6 was calibrated and evaluated with measured data of seven cultivars under different nitrogen (N) rates across four sites. The model was then used to simulate grain yield levels defined as: yield potential (YP), water-limited (YW, rainfed), and water- and N-limited yields with N rates 80 kg/ha (YW, N-80N) and 160 kg/ha (YW, N-160N). The options were assessed to further increase grain yield by analysing the yield gaps related to water and N deficiencies. The CSM–CERES–Maize model simulated the grain yields in the experiments well with normalized root-mean-squared errors <0·20. The model was able to capture yield variations associated with varying N rates, cultivar, soil type and inter-annual climate variability. The seven calibrated cultivars used in the experiments were divided into three grades according to their simulated YP: low, medium and high. The simulation results for the 30-year period from 1981 to 2010 showed that the average YP was 15 000 kg/ha for cultivars with high yield potential. The YP is generally about 6000 kg/ha greater than the actual yield (YA) at each experimental site in Eastern Canada. Two-thirds of this gap between YP and YA is probably associated with water stress, as a gap of approximately 4000 kg/ha between the YW and the YP was simulated. This gap may be reduced through crop management, such as introducing irrigation to improve the distribution of available water during the growing season. The simulated yields indicated a gap of about 3000 and 1000 kg/ha between YW and YW,N-80N for cultivars with high YP and low YP, respectively. The gap between YW and YW,N-160N decreased to <2000 kg/ha for high Yp cultivars with little difference for the low Yp cultivars. The different yield gaps among cultivars suggest that cultivars with high YP require high N rates but cultivars with low YP may need only low N rates.
Theoretical models of high-mass star formation lie between two extreme scenarios. At one extreme, all the mass comes from an initially gravitationally bound core. At the other extreme, the majority of the mass comes from cluster scale gas, which lies far outside the initial core boundary. One way to unambiguously show high-mass stars can assemble their gas through the former route would be to find a high-mass star forming in isolation. Making use of recently available CORNISH and ATLASGAL Galactic plane survey data, we develop sample selection criteria to try and find such an object. From an initial list of approximately 200 sources, we identify the high-mass star-forming region G13.384 + 0.064 as the most promising candidate. The region contains a strong radio continuum source, that is powered by an early B-type star. The bolometric luminosity, derived from infrared measurements, is consistent with this. However, sub-millimetre continuum emission, measured in ATLASGAL, as well as dense gas tracers, such as HCO+(3–2) and N2H+(3–2) indicate that there is less than ~ 100 M⊙ of material surrounding this star. We conclude that this region is indeed a promising candidate for a high-mass star forming in isolation.
The deterioration of the cholinergic system in aging is hypothesized to contribute to age-related declines in attention. We investigated potential age differences in performance on the Attention Network Test (ANT) and intra-individual variability in speed (RT-IIV) on go/no-go and choice reaction time tasks in young and healthy older adults. We also asked whether short-latency afferent inhibition (SAI), a neurophysiological marker of central cholinergic activity obtained via transcranial magnetic stimulation, might be correlated with performance. Older adults were slower on the ANT and exhibited greater RT-IIV than young adults on the multiple choice RT task, but there were no age differences on the ANT network scores (alerting, orienting, and executive control). SAI was diminished in older adults, but it was not significantly correlated with performance. It may only be in cases of severe cholinergic dysfunction that relations with attention emerge. Other brain mechanisms may also be stronger predictors of functions relating to attention.
Large datasets are often not amenable to analysis using traditional single-step approaches. Here, our general objective was to apply imputation techniques, principal component analysis (PCA), elastic net and generalized linear models to a large dataset in a systematic approach to extract the most meaningful predictors for a health outcome. We extracted predictors for Plasmodium falciparum infection, from a large covariate dataset while facing limited numbers of observations, using data from the People, Animals, and their Zoonoses (PAZ) project to demonstrate these techniques: data collected from 415 homesteads in western Kenya, contained over 1500 variables that describe the health, environment, and social factors of the humans, livestock, and the homesteads in which they reside. The wide, sparse dataset was simplified to 42 predictors of P. falciparum malaria infection and wealth rankings were produced for all homesteads. The 42 predictors make biological sense and are supported by previous studies. This systematic data-mining approach we used would make many large datasets more manageable and informative for decision-making processes and health policy prioritization.
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.