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Epstein Barr virus (EBV) infects 95% of the global population and is associated with up to 2% of cancers globally. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody levels to EBV have been shown to be heritable and associated with developing malignancies. We, therefore, performed a pilot genome-wide association analysis of anti-EBV IgG traits in an African population, using a combined approach including array genotyping, whole-genome sequencing and imputation to a panel with African sequence data. In 1562 Ugandans, we identify a variant in human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DQA1, rs9272371 (p = 2.6 × 10−17) associated with anti-EBV nuclear antigen-1 responses. Trans-ancestry meta-analysis and fine-mapping with European-ancestry individuals suggest the presence of distinct HLA class II variants driving associations in Uganda. In addition, we identify four putative, novel, very rare African-specific loci with preliminary evidence for association with anti-viral capsid antigen IgG responses which will require replication for validation. These findings reinforce the need for the expansion of such studies in African populations with relevant datasets to capture genetic diversity.
Due to their extremely small luminosity compared to the stars they orbit, planets outside our own Solar System are extraordinarily difficult to detect directly in optical light. Careful photometric monitoring of distant stars, however, can reveal the presence of exoplanets via the microlensing or eclipsing effects they induce. The international PLANET collaboration is performing such monitoring using a cadre of semi-dedicated telescopes around the world. Their results constrain the number of gas giants orbiting 1–7 AU from the most typical stars in the Galaxy. Upgrades in the program are opening regions of “exoplanet discovery space” – toward smaller masses and larger orbital radii – that are inaccessible to the Doppler velocity technique.
Ten ice-sheet models are used to study sensitivity of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to prescribed changes of surface mass balance, sub-ice-shelf melting and basal sliding. Results exhibit a large range in projected contributions to sea-level change. In most cases, the ice volume above flotation lost is linearly dependent on the strength of the forcing. Combinations of forcings can be closely approximated by linearly summing the contributions from single forcing experiments, suggesting that nonlinear feedbacks are modest. Our models indicate that Greenland is more sensitive than Antarctica to likely atmospheric changes in temperature and precipitation, while Antarctica is more sensitive to increased ice-shelf basal melting. An experiment approximating the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s RCP8.5 scenario produces additional first-century contributions to sea level of 22.3 and 8.1 cm from Greenland and Antarctica, respectively, with a range among models of 62 and 14 cm, respectively. By 200 years, projections increase to 53.2 and 26.7 cm, respectively, with ranges of 79 and 43 cm. Linear interpolation of the sensitivity results closely approximates these projections, revealing the relative contributions of the individual forcings on the combined volume change and suggesting that total ice-sheet response to complicated forcings over 200 years can be linearized.
The Shang (c. 1500–1045 BC) and Zhou dynasties (c. 1045–771 BC) of China are famous for their sophisticated ritual bronze vessels. Sourcing the leaded tin-bronze has, however, proved to be a challenge. A new systematic approach to metal chemistry uses trace elements and isotopes to characterise the underlying circulation pattern. It reveals the complexity of the copper sources on which the late Shang capital at Anyang depended for its bronzes, suggesting the transport of copper from distant regions in the south, on the Yangtze, and from north-east China. The new interpretational system furthers our understanding of the network on which successive Chinese dynasties depended for copper, lead and tin, and attempts to give equal weight to the archaeological and chemical data.
Eta Carinae is one of the most massive observable binaries. Yet determination of its orbital and physical parameters is hampered by obscuring winds. However the effects of the strong, colliding winds changes with phase due to the high orbital eccentricity. We wanted to improve measures of the orbital parameters and to determine the mechanisms that produce the relatively brief, phase-locked minimum as detected throughout the electromagnetic spectrum. We conducted intense monitoring of the He ii λ4686 line in η Carinae for 10 months in the year 2014, gathering ~300 high S/N spectra with ground- and space-based telescopes. We also used published spectra at the FOS4 SE polar region of the Homunculus, which views the minimum from a different direction. We used a model in which the He ii λ4686 emission is produced by two mechanisms: a) one linked to the intensity of the wind-wind collision which occurs along the whole orbit and is proportional to the inverse square of the separation between the companion stars; and b) the other produced by the ‘bore hole’ effect which occurs at phases across the periastron passage. The opacity (computed from 3D SPH simulations) as convolved with the emission reproduces the behavior of equivalent widths both for direct and reflected light. Our main results are: a) a demonstration that the He ii λ4686 light curve is exquisitely repeatable from cycle to cycle, contrary to previous claims for large changes; b) an accurate determination of the longitude of periastron, indicating that the secondary star is ‘behind’ the primary at periastron, a dispute extended over the past decade; c) a determination of the time of periastron passage, at ~4 days after the onset of the deep light curve minimum; and d) show that the minimum is simultaneous for observers at different lines of sight, indicating that it is not caused by an eclipse of the secondary star, but rather by the immersion of the wind-wind collision interior to the inner wind of the primary.
Over the last several years we have obtained photometric observations of the four suspected (W Men, HV 5637, HV 12671, HV 12842) R Coronae Borealis (RCB) stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Fourier analyses of the light curves has revealed some periodicity in HV 12842, where there appear to be at least two closely spaced periods of 55 and 60 d. High resolution spectra of HV 12842, obtained with the Ango-Australian Telescope (AAT), indicate that it has similar atmospheric properties to a number of warmer galactic RCB and hydrogen-deficient Carbon (HdC) stars, e.g. R CrB, RY Sgr and XX Cam.
A review of the main results from the MACHO project for RV Tauri stars and Type II Cepheids in the LMC is presented. In light and colour curve behaviour, the RV Tauri stars appear to be a direct extension of the Type II Cepheids to longer periods. A single period–luminosity–colour relationship is seen to describe both the Type II Cepheids and RV Tauri stars in the LMC.
Follow-up low resolution spectroscopy of the LMC RV Tauri stars has been undertaken. The spectra of the longest period RV Tauri star in the MACHO sample show that this star has strong C2 bands with a pronounced phase dependence, their strength being greater at minimum light. This and other spectral features are similar to those observed in proto-planetary nebulae. This LMC star therefore appears to combine the main spectral anomaly of the proto-planetary nebulae with RV Tauri-like photometric variability. This is an intriguing result which indicates a possible link between RV Tauri stars and proto-planetary nebulae, and strengthens the post-AGB interpretation of the RV Tauri stars.
A review of the properties of Type II Cepheids and RV Tauri stars in the Magellanic Clouds is presented. In the behaviour of their light and colour curves, the RV Tauri stars appear to be a direct extension of the Type II Cepheids to longer periods. A single P – L – C relationship describes both the Type II Cepheids and RV Tauri stars in the LMC. The derived high intrinsic magnitudes for the RV Tauri variables supports the proposition that these objects are luminous stars evolving off the AGB. Preliminary analysis of the long time-series MACHO photometry indicates one star (MACHO*05:37:45.0–69:54:16) has an obvious ‘period-quadrupled’ periodicity, which is supporting evidence for a period-doubling bifurcation transition to chaotic pulsations.
The RV Tauri stars are semiregular pulsating variables located in the brightest part of the Cepheid II instability strip. They have a characteristic light curve of alternating deep and shallow minima. A subset of the RV Tauri stars (the RVb subclass) exhibit long-term (500 to 2600 day) light and radial velocity variations. Although it is well established that the short-term variations are due to pulsations, the long-term behaviour is not well understood.
BVRI photometry and high-resolution spectra of U Mon (the brightest member of the RVb subclass) were obtained at the Mt John University Observatory (MJUO) between 1990 Aug and 1994 May. The light and colour curves obtained clearly show the long-term variation in U Mon (Fig. 1(a) and (b)). The reddest colours occur slightly later than the long-term minimum in the light curve. The short-term light and colour variations are ‘damped’ at the long-term minimum.
Low-resolution (0.6 nm) spectra of 24 RV Tauri stars in the LMC shows that most are of intermediate Preston type, hence intermediate metal deficiency. Two belong to Preston’s class B, with enhanced CH and CN. Higher resolution spectra of the carbon star MACHO 47.2496.8 show that the 12C/13C ratio is high and that the Ball lines at 455.4 and 493.4 nm are enhanced. This suggests that the star has undergone the third dredge-up of helium-burning products on the thermally-pulsing AGB and is now in a post-AGB stage of evolution. JHK photometry from the 2MASS catalogue confirms and extends earlier findings that only moderate infrared excesses occur among this sample of RV Tauri stars.
We review the current status and future prospects of the PLANET collaboration, an international team of astronomers performing high-precision photometric monitoring of microlensing events. Our photometric precision and sampling is characterised and the suitability of the database for variable star studies is discussed. Preliminary results on K-giant stability are presented.
Four δ Scuti stars were observed with the HERCULES fibrefed échelle spectrograph at Mount John University Observatory, New Zealand. These observations were analysed by looking at the radial velocity variations as given by a cross-correlation technique as well as spectral line moment variations. These results were compared to published photometric studies of these stars to see if the modes identified in the photometry were also present in the spectroscopic data obtained.
The gravity modes present in γ Doradus stars probe the deep stellar interiors and are thus of particular interest in asteroseismology. The MUSICIAN programme at the University of Canterbury has been successfully identifying frequencies and pulsation modes in many γ Doradus stars using hundreds of precise, high resolution spectroscopic observations obtained with the 1.0 m telescope and HERCULES spectrograph at the Mt John Observatory in New Zealand. In this paper we present a summary of our spectroscopic frequency and mode identifications. Of particular interest from our spectroscopic analyses are: the prevalence of (ℓ, m) = 1, 1 modes in many γ Dor stars; the importance of stellar rotation in the interpretation of the frequency and mode identification; and finally, possible evidence of wave leakage in one of these stars.
We present improvement and confirmation of identified frequencies and pulsation modes for the γ Doradus star HD 189631. This work improves upon previous studies by incorporating a significant number of additional spectra and precise determination of frequencies. Four frequencies were identified for this star: 1.6774 ± 0.0002 d−1, 1.4174 ± 0.0002 d−1, 0.0714 ± 0.0002 d−1, and 1.8228 ± 0.0002 d−1 which were identified with the modes (l,m) = (1, +1), (1, +1), (2, −2), and (1, +1) respectively. These findings are in agreement with the most recent literature. The prevalence of (l,m) = (1, +1) modes in γ Doradus stars is starting to become apparent and we discuss this result.
Increased recognition of the business case for managing corporate impacts on the environment has helped drive increasingly detailed and quantified corporate environmental goals. Foremost among these are goals of no net loss (NNL) and net positive impact (NPI). We assess the scale and growth of such corporate goals. Since the first public, company-wide NNL/NPI goal in 2001, 32 companies have set similar goals, of which 18 specifically include biodiversity. Mining companies have set the most NNL/NPI goals, and the majority of those that include biodiversity, despite the generally lower total global impact of the mining industry on biodiversity compared to the agriculture or forestry industries. This could be linked to the mining industry's greater participation in best practice bodies, high-profile impacts, and higher profit margins per area of impact. The detail and quality of present goals vary widely. We examined specific NNL/NPI goals and assessed the extent to which their key components were likely to increase the effectiveness of these goals in benefiting biodiversity and managing business risk. Nonetheless, outcomes are more important than goals, and we urge conservationists to work with companies to both support and monitor their efforts to achieve increasingly ambitious environmental goals.
Excavations at the Easton Down long barrow were part of a wider programme of research into the Neolithic sequence and context of the Avebury area in north Wiltshire. The short barrow, on high chalk downland to the south-west of Avebury and the upper Kennet valley, and containing only a few inhumations according to Thurnam's 19th-century investigation, dates to the later 4th millennium BC. Test pits around the barrow produced very little struck flint, and virtually no colluvium in the adjacent dry valley to the west. The mound covered a thin calcareous turfline above a rubbly soil, probably formerly cultivated. The pre-barrow molluscan fauna, soil micromorphology and other environmental data indicate a clearance adjacent to woodland. In the secondary fill of the flanking ditches there is a succession from renewed woodland to open conditions in the Late Neolithic.
The Easton Down monument falls relatively late in the regional sequence of long barrow construction. Its setting was probably one of scattered, non-permanent clearances in woodland. Woodland was still widespread on the higher downland of the region in the middle of the Neolithic. Renewed and bigger-scale clearance towards the end of the Neolithic may be connected with the construction of very large monuments elsewhere in the region. The later prehistoric landscape became both more open and less diverse.