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In recent years, the discovery of massive quasars at
has provided a striking challenge to our understanding of the origin and growth of supermassive black holes in the early Universe. Mounting observational and theoretical evidence indicates the viability of massive seeds, formed by the collapse of supermassive stars, as a progenitor model for such early, massive accreting black holes. Although considerable progress has been made in our theoretical understanding, many questions remain regarding how (and how often) such objects may form, how they live and die, and how next generation observatories may yield new insight into the origin of these primordial titans. This review focusses on our present understanding of this remarkable formation scenario, based on the discussions held at the Monash Prato Centre from November 20 to 24, 2017, during the workshop ‘Titans of the Early Universe: The Origin of the First Supermassive Black Holes’.
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.
The COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins) project is a large international collaborative effort to analyze individual-level phenotype data from twins in multiple cohorts from different environments. The main objective is to study factors that modify genetic and environmental variation of height, body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and size at birth, and additionally to address other research questions such as long-term consequences of birth size. The project started in 2013 and is open to all twin projects in the world having height and weight measures on twins with information on zygosity. Thus far, 54 twin projects from 24 countries have provided individual-level data. The CODATwins database includes 489,981 twin individuals (228,635 complete twin pairs). Since many twin cohorts have collected longitudinal data, there is a total of 1,049,785 height and weight observations. For many cohorts, we also have information on birth weight and length, own smoking behavior and own or parental education. We found that the heritability estimates of height and BMI systematically changed from infancy to old age. Remarkably, only minor differences in the heritability estimates were found across cultural–geographic regions, measurement time and birth cohort for height and BMI. In addition to genetic epidemiological studies, we looked at associations of height and BMI with education, birth weight and smoking status. Within-family analyses examined differences within same-sex and opposite-sex dizygotic twins in birth size and later development. The CODATwins project demonstrates the feasibility and value of international collaboration to address gene-by-exposure interactions that require large sample sizes and address the effects of different exposures across time, geographical regions and socioeconomic status.
We apply two methods to estimate the 21-cm bispectrum from data taken within the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR) project of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). Using data acquired with the Phase II compact array allows a direct bispectrum estimate to be undertaken on the multiple redundantly spaced triangles of antenna tiles, as well as an estimate based on data gridded to the uv-plane. The direct and gridded bispectrum estimators are applied to 21 h of high-band (167–197 MHz; z = 6.2–7.5) data from the 2016 and 2017 observing seasons. Analytic predictions for the bispectrum bias and variance for point-source foregrounds are derived. We compare the output of these approaches, the foreground contribution to the signal, and future prospects for measuring the bispectra with redundant and non-redundant arrays. We find that some triangle configurations yield bispectrum estimates that are consistent with the expected noise level after 10 h, while equilateral configurations are strongly foreground-dominated. Careful choice of triangle configurations may be made to reduce foreground bias that hinders power spectrum estimators, and the 21-cm bispectrum may be accessible in less time than the 21-cm power spectrum for some wave modes, with detections in hundreds of hours.
Antenna-pattern measurements obtained from a double-metal supra-terahertz-frequency (supra-THz) quantum cascade laser (QCL) are presented. The QCL is mounted within a mechanically micro-machined waveguide cavity containing dual diagonal feedhorns. Operating in continuous-wave mode at 3.5 THz, and at an ambient temperature of ~60 K, QCL emission has been directed via the feedhorns to a supra-THz detector mounted on a multi-axis linear scanner. Comparison of simulated and measured far-field antenna patterns shows an excellent degree of correlation between beamwidth (full-width-half-maximum) and sidelobe content and a very substantial improvement when compared with unmounted devices. Additionally, a single output has been used to successfully illuminate and demonstrate an optical breadboard arrangement associated with a future supra-THz Earth observation space-borne payload. Our novel device has therefore provided a valuable demonstration of the effectiveness of supra-THz diagonal feedhorns and QCL devices for future space-borne ultra-high-frequency Earth-observing heterodyne radiometers.
The Centro de Laseres Pulsados in Salamanca, Spain has recently started operation phase and the first user access period on the 6 J 30 fs 200 TW system (VEGA 2) already started at the beginning of 2018. In this paper we report on two commissioning experiments recently performed on the VEGA 2 system in preparation for the user campaign. VEGA 2 system has been tested in different configurations depending on the focusing optics and targets used. One configuration (long focal length
cm) is for underdense laser–matter interaction where VEGA 2 is focused onto a low density gas-jet generating electron beams (via laser wake field acceleration mechanism) with maximum energy up to 500 MeV and an X-ray betatron source with a 10 keV critical energy. A second configuration (short focal length
cm) is for overdense laser–matter interaction where VEGA 2 is focused onto a
thick Al target generating a proton beam with a maximum energy of 10 MeV and temperature of 2.5 MeV. In this paper we present preliminary experimental results.
When a drop impacts on a liquid surface its bottom is deformed by lubrication pressure and it entraps a thin disc of air, thereby making contact along a ring at a finite distance from the centreline. The outer edge of this contact moves radially at high speed, governed by the impact velocity and bottom radius of the drop. Then at a certain radial location an ejecta sheet emerges from the neck connecting the two liquid masses. Herein, we show the formation of an azimuthal instability at the base of this ejecta, in the sharp corners at the two sides of the ejecta. They promote regular radial vorticity, thereby breaking the axisymmetry of the motions on the finest scales. The azimuthal wavenumber grows with the impact Weber number, based on the bottom curvature of the drop, reaching over 400 streamwise streaks around the periphery. This instability occurs first at Reynolds numbers (
, but for larger
is overtaken by the subsequent axisymmetric vortex shedding and their interactions can form intricate tangles, loops or chains.
Coinfection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and viral hepatitis is associated with high morbidity and mortality in the absence of clinical management, making identification of these cases crucial. We examined characteristics of HIV and viral hepatitis coinfections by using surveillance data from 15 US states and two cities. Each jurisdiction used an automated deterministic matching method to link surveillance data for persons with reported acute and chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, to persons reported with HIV infection. Of the 504 398 persons living with diagnosed HIV infection at the end of 2014, 2.0% were coinfected with HBV and 6.7% were coinfected with HCV. Of the 269 884 persons ever reported with HBV, 5.2% were reported with HIV. Of the 1 093 050 persons ever reported with HCV, 4.3% were reported with HIV. A greater proportion of persons coinfected with HIV and HBV were males and blacks/African Americans, compared with those with HIV monoinfection. Persons who inject drugs represented a greater proportion of those coinfected with HIV and HCV, compared with those with HIV monoinfection. Matching HIV and viral hepatitis surveillance data highlights epidemiological characteristics of persons coinfected and can be used to routinely monitor health status and guide state and national public health interventions.
An updated compilation of published and new data of major-ion (Ca, Cl, K, Mg, Na, NO3, SO4) and methylsulfonate (MS) concentrations in snow from 520 Antarctic sites is provided by the national ITASE (International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition) programmes of Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States and the national Antarctic programme of Finland. The comparison shows that snow chemistry concentrations vary by up to four orders of magnitude across Antarctica and exhibit distinct geographical patterns. The Antarctic-wide comparison of glaciochemical records provides a unique opportunity to improve our understanding of the fundamental factors that ultimately control the chemistry of snow or ice samples. This paper aims to initiate data compilation and administration in order to provide a framework for facilitation of Antarctic-wide snow chemistry discussions across all ITASE nations and other contributing groups. The data are made available through the ITASE web page (http://www2.umaine.edu/itase/content/syngroups/snowchem.html) and will be updated with new data as they are provided. In addition, recommendations for future research efforts are summarized.
The astrometric capability of the Hubble Space Telescope Planetary Camera (WF/PC1) is investigated, motivated by a study of the internal velocity distribution of globular clusters. The astrometric accuracy of the HST PC will be determined ultimately by 1) the accuracy to which the aberrated images can be ‘centered’, and 2) the accuracy to which the distortions across the PC field can be modeled. A series of overlapping exposures of two clusters, NGC 6752 and M15, are utilized to examine these issues.
We have made use of maximum-likelihood image reconstruction to address the first issue, with good success. Reconstruction improves both the detectability and precision of the image centers. A preliminary exploration of the second issue, that of modeling the distortion across the PC field, is also presented, using positions derived from the multiple overlapping exposures.
The primary goal of the CONFOR Program (CONnection of Frames in Optics and Radio) is to study the connection between VLBI and traditional optical reference frames as well as to study regional features of the FK5 (Gubanov, Kumkova & Tel'nyuk-Adamchuk, 1990). The main concept of this program is the usage of fixed systems of reference stars in field containing the extragalactic radio sources (ERS) and as a result the creation of a reliable base for astrometric reduction of photographic plates with ERS images. Fulfillment of the Program is embracing several stages.
1. Star lists have been prepared of 2575 both intermediate reference stars and radio stars for meridian observations and about 7 thousand stars of 12-14 mag. for astrographic observations in 238 fields with extragalactic compact radio sources.
2. Observations have been organized of these stars with meridian circles and astrographs in several Eastern observatories (Kyiv, Odesa, Bucharest, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv). The meridian observations are finished in Kyiv and Odesa. Positions of radio stars were determined from Kyiv meridian observations (two epochs: 1984 and 1990).
3. Databases of both the optical and radio interferometric observations have been compiled of radio stars, ERS as well as optical observations of intermediate stars in the fields centered in ERS.
4. Observations were carried out with several astrographs (Kyiv, Bucharest, Abastumany, Tautenburg, Kitab, Sanglok) and positions were determined of 57 ERS.
5. Determination was carried out of the angles of relative orientation between VLBI and FK5 reference frames as well as estimation of regional features of the FK5. For this purpose both collected and original radio source coordinates were used.
This work was supported by grant of Academy of Sciences of former Soviet Union and ISF grant U52000.
One view of major Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) events is that these (proton-dominated) fluxes are accelerated in heliospheric shock sources created by Interplanetary Coronal Mass Ejections (ICMEs), and then travel mainly along interplanetary magnetic field lines connecting the shock(s) to the observer(s). This places a particular emphasis on the role of the heliospheric conditions during the event, requiring a realistic description of the latter to interpret and/or model SEP events. The well-known ENLIL heliospheric simulation with cone model generated ICME shocks is used together with the SEPMOD particle event modeling scheme to demonstrate the value of applying these concepts at multiple inner heliosphere sites.
We studied neuroinflammation in individuals with late-life, depression, as a
risk factor for dementia, using [11C]PK11195 positron emission
tomography (PET). Five older participants with major depression and 13
controls underwent PET and multimodal 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI),
with blood taken to measure C-reactive protein (CRP). We found significantly
higher CRP levels in those with late-life depression and raised
[11C]PK11195 binding compared with controls in brain regions
associated with depression, including subgenual anterior cingulate cortex,
and significant hippocampal subfield atrophy in cornu ammonis 1 and
subiculum. Our findings suggest neuroinflammation requires further
investigation in late-life depression, both as a possible aetiological
factor and a potential therapeutic target.