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Masers are becoming increasingly important probes of high-mass star formation, revealing details about the kinematics and physical conditions at the elusive, early stages of formation. Over the last decade significant investment has been made in a number of large-scale, sensitive maser surveys targeting transitions found in the vicinity of young, high-mass stars. Individually, these searches have led to valuable insights into maser populations, their associated star formation regions, and often revealed further details such as Galactic structure. In combination, they become even more powerful, especially when considered together with complementary multi-wavelength data. Another consequence of large maser surveys has been the identification of a number of especially interesting sources that have been the subject of subsequent detailed studies. I summarize the recent plethora of maser surveys, their results, and how they are contributing to our understanding of star formation. Ongoing searches will ensure a bright future of maser surveys in the decade to come.
We present multi–epoch VLBI observations of the methanol and water masers in the high–mass star formation region G 339.884−1.259, made using the Australian Long Baseline Array (LBA). Our sub–milliarcsecond precision measurements trace the proper motions of individual maser features in the plane of the sky. When combined with the direct line–of–sight radial velocity (vlsr), these measure the 3 D gas kinematics of the associated high–mass star formation region, allowing us to probe the dynamical processes to within 1000 AU of the core.
We have detected maser emission from the 36.2 GHz (4−1 → 30E) methanol transition towards NGC 4945. This emission has been observed in two separate epochs and is approximately five orders of magnitude more luminous than typical emission from this transition within our Galaxy. NGC 4945 is only the fourth extragalactic source observed hosting class I methanol maser emission. Extragalactic class I methanol masers do not appear to be simply highly-luminous variants of their galactic counterparts and instead appear to trace large-scale regions where low-velocity shocks are present in molecular gas.
We present the initial results from a class I 44-GHz methanol maser follow-up survey, observed with the MOPRA telescope, towards 272 sources from the Methanol Multi-beam survey (MMB). Over half (∼60%) of the 6.7 GHz class II MMB maser sources are associated with a class I 44-GHz methanol maser at a greater than 5σ detection level. We find that class II MMB masers sources with an associated class I methanol maser have stronger peak fluxes compared to regions without an associated class I maser. Furthermore, as part of the MOPRA follow-up observations we simultaneously observed SiO emission which is a known tracer of shocks and outflows in massive star forming regions. The presence of SiO emission, and potentially outflows, is found to be strongly associated with the detection of class I maser emission in these regions.
The Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) participated in a number of survey programs to search for and image common class I methanol masers (at 36 and 44 GHz) with high angular resolution. In this paper, we discuss spatial and velocity distributions revealed by these surveys. In particular, the number of maser regions is found to fall off exponentially with the linear distance from the associated young stellar object traced by the 6.7-GHz maser, and the scale of this distribution is 263±15 milliparsec. Although this relationship still needs to be understood in the context of the broader field, it can be utilised to estimate the distance using methanol masers only. This new technique has been analysed to understand its limitations and future potential. It turned out, it can be very successful to resolve the ambiguity in kinematic distances, but, in the current form, is much less accurate (than the kinematic method) if used on its own.
As part of the ongoing development of small unmanned air systems by the University of Southampton, an all laser sintered aircraft has been test flown from the Royal Navy's ice patrol ship HMS Protector to assist with navigating through the Antarctic. These flights were carried out with pre-planned autopilot control with oversight from Andrew Lock, acting as the pilot embarked on HMS Protector. This is the first time the Royal Navy has used unmanned aerial vehicles in this part of the world. In this paper, we set out the trial reports and lessons learnt from this series of test flights.
Correlative microscopy approaches offer synergistic solutions to many research problems. One such combination, that has been studied in limited detail, is the use of atom probe tomography (APT) and transmission Kikuchi diffraction (TKD) on the same tip specimen. By combining these two powerful microscopy techniques, the microstructure of important engineering alloys can be studied in greater detail. For the first time, the accuracy of crystallographic measurements made using APT will be independently verified using TKD. Experimental data from two atom probe tips, one a nanocrystalline Al–0.5Ag alloy specimen collected on a straight flight-path atom probe and the other a high purity Mo specimen collected on a reflectron-fitted instrument, will be compared. We find that the average minimum misorientation angle, calculated from calibrated atom probe reconstructions with two different pole combinations, deviate 0.7° and 1.4°, respectively, from the TKD results. The type of atom probe and experimental conditions appear to have some impact on this accuracy and the reconstruction and measurement procedures are likely to contribute further to degradation in angular resolution. The challenges and implications of this correlative approach will also be discussed.
We analyze phosphorus (P)- and boron (B)-doped silicon nanocrystals (Si NCs) with various compositions of silicon-rich oxide using atom probe tomography. By creating Si iso-concentration surfaces, it is confirmed that there are two types of Si NC networks depending on the amount of excess Si. A proximity histogram shows that P prefers to locate inside the Si NCs, whereas B is more likely to reside outside the Si NCs. We discuss the difference in a preferential location between P and B by a segregation coefficient.
We applied three statistical classification techniques—linear discriminant analysis (LDA), logistic regression, and random forests—to three astronomical datasets associated with searches for interstellar masers. We compared the performance of these methods in identifying whether specific mid-infrared or millimetre continuum sources are likely to have associated interstellar masers. We also discuss the interpretability of the results of each classification technique. Non-parametric methods have the potential to make accurate predictions when there are complex relationships between critical parameters. We found that for the small datasets the parametric methods logistic regression and LDA performed best, for the largest dataset the non-parametric method of random forests performed with comparable accuracy to parametric techniques, rather than any significant improvement. This suggests that at least for the specific examples investigated here accuracy of the predictions obtained is not being limited by the use of parametric models. We also found that for LDA, transformation of the data to match a normal distribution led to a significant improvement in accuracy. The different classification techniques had significant overlap in their predictions; further astronomical observations will enable the accuracy of these predictions to be tested.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common and disabling condition with well-established heritability and environmental risk factors. Gene–environment interaction studies in MDD have typically investigated candidate genes, though the disorder is known to be highly polygenic. This study aims to test for interaction between polygenic risk and stressful life events (SLEs) or childhood trauma (CT) in the aetiology of MDD.
The RADIANT UK sample consists of 1605 MDD cases and 1064 controls with SLE data, and a subset of 240 cases and 272 controls with CT data. Polygenic risk scores (PRS) were constructed using results from a mega-analysis on MDD by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. PRS and environmental factors were tested for association with case/control status and for interaction between them.
PRS significantly predicted depression, explaining 1.1% of variance in phenotype (p = 1.9 × 10−6). SLEs and CT were also associated with MDD status (p = 2.19 × 10−4 and p = 5.12 × 10−20, respectively). No interactions were found between PRS and SLEs. Significant PRSxCT interactions were found (p = 0.002), but showed an inverse association with MDD status, as cases who experienced more severe CT tended to have a lower PRS than other cases or controls. This relationship between PRS and CT was not observed in independent replication samples.
CT is a strong risk factor for MDD but may have greater effect in individuals with lower genetic liability for the disorder. Including environmental risk along with genetics is important in studying the aetiology of MDD and PRS provide a useful approach to investigating gene–environment interactions in complex traits.
Strategies to dissect phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity of major depressive disorder (MDD) have mainly relied on subphenotypes, such as age at onset (AAO) and recurrence/episodicity. Yet, evidence on whether these subphenotypes are familial or heritable is scarce. The aims of this study are to investigate the familiality of AAO and episode frequency in MDD and to assess the proportion of their variance explained by common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP heritability).
For investigating familiality, we used 691 families with 2–5 full siblings with recurrent MDD from the DeNt study. We fitted (square root) AAO and episode count in a linear and a negative binomial mixed model, respectively, with family as random effect and adjusting for sex, age and center. The strength of familiality was assessed with intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC). For estimating SNP heritabilities, we used 3468 unrelated MDD cases from the RADIANT and GSK Munich studies. After similarly adjusting for covariates, derived residuals were used with the GREML method in GCTA (genome-wide complex trait analysis) software.
Significant familial clustering was found for both AAO (ICC = 0.28) and episodicity (ICC = 0.07). We calculated from respective ICC estimates the maximal additive heritability of AAO (0.56) and episodicity (0.15). SNP heritability of AAO was 0.17 (p = 0.04); analysis was underpowered for calculating SNP heritability of episodicity.
AAO and episodicity aggregate in families to a moderate and small degree, respectively. AAO is under stronger additive genetic control than episodicity. Larger samples are needed to calculate the SNP heritability of episodicity. The described statistical framework could be useful in future analyses.
Atom probe is a powerful technique for studying the composition of nano-precipitates, but their morphology within the reconstructed data is distorted due to the so-called local magnification effect. A new technique has been developed to mitigate this limitation by characterizing the distribution of the surrounding matrix atoms, rather than those contained within the nano-precipitates themselves. A comprehensive chemical analysis enables further information on size and chemistry to be obtained. The method enables new insight into the morphology and chemistry of niobium carbonitride nano-precipitates within ferrite for a series of Nb-microalloyed ultra-thin cast strip steels. The results are supported by complementary high-resolution transmission electron microscopy.
Obesity has been shown to be associated with depression and it has been suggested that higher body mass index (BMI) increases the risk of depression and other common mental disorders. However, the causal relationship remains unclear and Mendelian randomisation, a form of instrumental variable analysis, has recently been employed to attempt to resolve this issue.
To investigate whether higher BMI increases the risk of major depression.
Two instrumental variable analyses were conducted to test the causal relationship between obesity and major depression in RADIANT, a large case–control study of major depression. We used a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in FTO and a genetic risk score (GRS) based on 32 SNPs with well-established associations with BMI.
Linear regression analysis, as expected, showed that individuals carrying more risk alleles of FTO or having higher score of GRS had a higher BMI. Probit regression suggested that higher BMI is associated with increased risk of major depression. However, our two instrumental variable analyses did not support a causal relationship between higher BMI and major depression (FTO genotype: coefficient −0.03, 95% CI −0.18 to 0.13, P = 0.73; GRS: coefficient −0.02, 95% CI −0.11 to 0.07, P = 0.62).
Our instrumental variable analyses did not support a causal relationship between higher BMI and major depression. The positive associations of higher BMI with major depression in probit regression analyses might be explained by reverse causality and/or residual confounding.
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.
We characterise the Millimetre Astronomy Legacy Team 90 GHz Survey (MALT90) and the Mopra telescope at 90 GHz. We combine repeated position-switched observations of the source G300.968+01.145 with a map of the same source in order to estimate the pointing reliability of the position-switched observations and, by extension, the MALT90 survey; we estimate our pointing uncertainty to be 8 arcsec. We model the two strongest sources of systematic gain variability as functions of elevation and time-of-day and quantify the remaining absolute flux uncertainty. Corrections based on these two variables reduce the scatter in repeated observations from 12%–25% down to 10%–17%. We find no evidence for intrinsic source variability in G300.968+01.145. For certain applications, the corrections described herein will be integral for improving the absolute flux calibration of MALT90 maps and other observations using the Mopra telescope at 90 GHz.
To examine the use of vitamin D supplements during infancy among the participants in an international infant feeding trial.
Information about vitamin D supplementation was collected through a validated FFQ at the age of 2 weeks and monthly between the ages of 1 month and 6 months.
Infants (n 2159) with a biological family member affected by type 1 diabetes and with increased human leucocyte antigen-conferred susceptibility to type 1 diabetes from twelve European countries, the USA, Canada and Australia.
Daily use of vitamin D supplements was common during the first 6 months of life in Northern and Central Europe (>80 % of the infants), with somewhat lower rates observed in Southern Europe (>60 %). In Canada, vitamin D supplementation was more common among exclusively breast-fed than other infants (e.g. 71 % v. 44 % at 6 months of age). Less than 2 % of infants in the USA and Australia received any vitamin D supplementation. Higher gestational age, older maternal age and longer maternal education were study-wide associated with greater use of vitamin D supplements.
Most of the infants received vitamin D supplements during the first 6 months of life in the European countries, whereas in Canada only half and in the USA and Australia very few were given supplementation.
Since the recent upgrades to the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) Mopra telescope back-end and receiver system, it has risen from an under-subscribed facility to a sought-after instrument with heavy international competition to gain time. Furthermore, the introduction of the on-the-fly mapping capability in 2004 has made this technique one of Mopra's most popular observing modes. In addition, the recent upgrade of the NANTEN millimetre-wavelength telescope to the sub-millimetre NANTEN2 instrument, has provided a complementary, higher-frequency facility to Mopra. A two-day workshop was held at Swinburne University in June 2008 to disseminate the current state of ongoing large-scale mapping projects and associated spin-offs that the telescopes' upgrades have facilitated, and to decide upon future research directions. Here, we provide a summary of the result-oriented talks as a record of the state of Australian-access single-dish millimetre science in 2008.
Although usually thought of as external environmental stressors, a significant heritable component has been reported for measures of stressful life events (SLEs) in twin studies.
We examined the variance in SLEs captured by common genetic variants from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 2578 individuals. Genome-wide complex trait analysis (GCTA) was used to estimate the phenotypic variance tagged by single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We also performed a GWAS on the number of SLEs, and looked at correlations between siblings.
A significant proportion of variance in SLEs was captured by SNPs (30%, p = 0.04). When events were divided into those considered to be dependent or independent, an equal amount of variance was explained for both. This ‘heritability’ was in part confounded by personality measures of neuroticism and psychoticism. A GWAS for the total number of SLEs revealed one SNP that reached genome-wide significance (p = 4 × 10−8), although this association was not replicated in separate samples. Using available sibling data for 744 individuals, we also found a significant positive correlation of R2 = 0.08 in SLEs (p = 0.03).
These results provide independent validation from molecular data for the heritability of reporting environmental measures, and show that this heritability is in part due to both common variants and the confounding effect of personality.