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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 focus on 18 black holes with measured masses that are located in X-ray binary systems. These black holes are the most visible representatives of an estimated ∼300 million stellar-mass black holes that are believed to exist in the Galaxy (van den Heuvel 1992; Brown & Bethe 1994; Timmes et al. 1996; Agol et al. 2002). Thus the mass of this particular form of dark matter, assuming ∼10 M⊙ per black hole, is ∼4% of the total baryonic mass (i.e., stars plus gas) of the Galaxy (Bahcall 1986; Bronfman et al. 1988). Collectively this vast population of black holes outweighs the galactic-center black hole, SgrA*, by a factor of ∼1000. These stellar-mass black holes are important to astronomy in numerous ways. For example, they are one endpoint of stellar evolution for massive stars, and the collapse of their progenitor stars enriches the Universe with heavy elements (Woosley et al. 2002). Also, the measured mass distribution for even the small sample of 18 black holes featured here is used to constrain models of black hole formation and binary evolution (Brown et al. 2000a; Fryer & Kalogera 2001; Nelemans & van den Heuvel 2001). Lastly, some black hole binaries appear to be linked to the hypernovae believed to power gamma-ray bursts (Israelian et al. 1999; Brown et al. 2000b; Orosz et al. 2001).
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