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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.
The majority of paediatric Clostridioides difficile infections (CDI) are community-associated (CA), but few data exist regarding associated risk factors. We conducted a case–control study to evaluate CA-CDI risk factors in young children. Participants were enrolled from eight US sites during October 2014–February 2016. Case-patients were defined as children aged 1–5 years with a positive C. difficile specimen collected as an outpatient or ⩽3 days of hospital admission, who had no healthcare facility admission in the prior 12 weeks and no history of CDI. Each case-patient was matched to one control. Caregivers were interviewed regarding relevant exposures. Multivariable conditional logistic regression was performed. Of 68 pairs, 44.1% were female. More case-patients than controls had a comorbidity (33.3% vs. 12.1%; P = 0.01); recent higher-risk outpatient exposures (34.9% vs. 17.7%; P = 0.03); recent antibiotic use (54.4% vs. 19.4%; P < 0.0001); or recent exposure to a household member with diarrhoea (41.3% vs. 21.5%; P = 0.04). In multivariable analysis, antibiotic exposure in the preceding 12 weeks was significantly associated with CA-CDI (adjusted matched odds ratio, 6.25; 95% CI 2.18–17.96). Improved antibiotic prescribing might reduce CA-CDI in this population. Further evaluation of the potential role of outpatient healthcare and household exposures in C. difficile transmission is needed.
Flystrike costs the Australian industry $173 to 280 M per annum and 70% to 80% of Merino lambs are currently mulesed to reduce the risk of flystrike. To alleviate welfare concerns there has been widespread adoption of analgesics to mitigate the pain associated with mulesing. The objective of this experiment was to determine the effectiveness of Tri-Solfen® and meloxicam (Metacam® 20) at reducing pain-related behavioural responses to mulesing in Merino lambs. One hundred and forty Merino lambs were allocated to one of seven treatment groups: (1) non-mulesed (Control); (2) mulesed with no pain relief; (3) subcutaneous (s.c.) meloxicam administered 15 min before mulesing; (4) Tri-Solfen® administered at time of mulesing; (5) Tri-Solfen® and saline injection (s.c.) 15 min before mulesing; (6) Tri-Solfen® and meloxicam (s.c.) 15 min before mulesing; and (7) meloxicam (s.c.) at time the of mulesing. Behavioural responses such as standing, walking and lying were measured every 15 min for 6 h on the day of marking and for up to 2 h for 4 days thereafter. Standing (hunched v. normal) and walking (stiff v. normal) behaviours were then categorised into pain- and normal-related behaviours while lying remained in its own category. Mulesed lambs with no pain relief displayed significantly more pain-related behaviours than Control lambs during the 6 h post-mulesing (1.22 v. 0.22 out of a total score of 3; RSD=1.15). Lambs that received a combination of pain relief displayed significantly less pain-related behaviour than mulesed lambs with no pain relief on the day of mulesing (0.85 v. 1.22 out of a total score of 3; RSD=1.15). Administration of meloxicam or Tri-Solfen® on their own had minimal if any significant effect on pain-related behaviours on the day of mulesing. The results of this experiment support the use of pain-related behaviours to measure the efficacy of analgesics and the use of multimodal analgesia during mulesing of lambs.
The low-frequency polarisation properties of radio sources are poorly studied, particularly in statistical samples. However, the new generation of low-frequency telescopes, such as the Murchison Widefield Array (the precursor for the low-frequency component of the Square Kilometre Array) offers an opportunity to probe the physics of radio sources at very low radio frequencies. In this paper, we present a catalogue of linearly polarised sources detected at 216 MHz, using data from the Galactic and Extragalactic All-sky Murchison Widefield Array survey. Our catalogue covers the Declination range –17° to –37° and 24 h in Right Ascension, at a resolution of around 3 arcminutes. We detect 81 sources (including both a known pulsar and a new pulsar candidate) with linearly polarised flux densities in excess of 18 mJy across a survey area of approximately 6 400 deg2, corresponding to a surface density of 1 source per 79 deg2. The level of Faraday rotation measured for our sources is broadly consistent with those recovered at higher frequencies, with typically more than an order of magnitude improvement in the uncertainty compared to higher-frequency measurements. However, our catalogue is likely incomplete at low Faraday rotation measures, due to our practice of excluding sources in the region where instrumental leakage appears. The majority of sources exhibit significant depolarisation compared to higher frequencies; however, a small sub-sample repolarise at 216 MHz. We also discuss the polarisation properties of four nearby, large-angular-scale radio galaxies, with a particular focus on the giant radio galaxy ESO 422–G028, in order to explain the striking differences in polarised morphology between 216 MHz and 1.4 GHz.
Limited research has suggested that higher lambing densities increase interference from foreign ewes at lambing which disrupts the ewe-lamb bond and compromises lamb survival. This may be particularly evident in mobs of twin-bearing ewes compared to single-bearing ewes because a greater number of lambs are born per day. Therefore, we hypothesised that; (i) decreasing the mob size of ewes at lambing has a greater impact on the survival of twin-born lambs than single-born lambs; (ii) the relationship between mob size and lamb survival can be explained by differences in the rate of interaction with foreign ewes and lambs at lambing; and (iii) ewes will utilise a limited area of the paddock at lambing and thus lambing density will be defined by the distribution of ewes in the paddock rather than the paddock area. Merino ewes were allocated into a 2×2 factorial combination of ewe pregnancy status (single- or twin-bearing) and mob size (high (n=130 ewes) or low (n=50 ewes)) on day 140 from the start of joining. Each treatment had two replicates excepting the low mob size for twins which had a third replicate. Ewes lambed at a stocking rate of 11 ewes/ha. Feed-on-offer during lambing exceeded 2400 kg dry matter (DM)/ha. Ewe-lamb behaviour was observed and dead lambs were autopsied over 11 days during the peak of lambing. The distribution of ewes in each paddock was recorded every 2 h during daylight hours by counting the number of ewes occupying 2500 m2 grids. The proportion of ewes and their newborn progeny which interacted with foreign ewes at lambing did not differ between the high and low mob sizes for single- (24.9% v. 20.8%) or twin-bearing ewes (14.3% v. 19.6%; P=0.74). Similarly, interaction with foreign lambs did not differ between the high and low mob sizes for single- (14.5% v. 25.2%) and twin-bearing ewes (34.5% v. 26.4%; P=0.44). The distribution of ewes within the paddock did not differ between treatments (P=0.95). On average, single-bearing ewes which lambed at the high and low mob sizes occupied 34% and 36% of the paddock during daylight hours, and the corresponding values for twin-bearing ewes were 40% and 43%. Survival of twin-born lambs was lower than single-born lambs (75.3% v. 87.9%; P<0.01), however, lamb survival was not influenced by mob size regardless of birth type. These results suggest that higher mob sizes may not compromise lamb survival when feed-on-offer during lambing exceeds 2400 kg DM/ha.
The role that vitamin D plays in pulmonary function remains uncertain. Epidemiological studies reported mixed findings for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D)–pulmonary function association. We conducted the largest cross-sectional meta-analysis of the 25(OH)D–pulmonary function association to date, based on nine European ancestry (EA) cohorts (n 22 838) and five African ancestry (AA) cohorts (n 4290) in the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology Consortium. Data were analysed using linear models by cohort and ancestry. Effect modification by smoking status (current/former/never) was tested. Results were combined using fixed-effects meta-analysis. Mean serum 25(OH)D was 68 (sd 29) nmol/l for EA and 49 (sd 21) nmol/l for AA. For each 1 nmol/l higher 25(OH)D, forced expiratory volume in the 1st second (FEV1) was higher by 1·1 ml in EA (95 % CI 0·9, 1·3; P<0·0001) and 1·8 ml (95 % CI 1·1, 2·5; P<0·0001) in AA (Prace difference=0·06), and forced vital capacity (FVC) was higher by 1·3 ml in EA (95 % CI 1·0, 1·6; P<0·0001) and 1·5 ml (95 % CI 0·8, 2·3; P=0·0001) in AA (Prace difference=0·56). Among EA, the 25(OH)D–FVC association was stronger in smokers: per 1 nmol/l higher 25(OH)D, FVC was higher by 1·7 ml (95 % CI 1·1, 2·3) for current smokers and 1·7 ml (95 % CI 1·2, 2·1) for former smokers, compared with 0·8 ml (95 % CI 0·4, 1·2) for never smokers. In summary, the 25(OH)D associations with FEV1 and FVC were positive in both ancestries. In EA, a stronger association was observed for smokers compared with never smokers, which supports the importance of vitamin D in vulnerable populations.
Children with single-ventricle disease experience high mortality and complex care. In other life-limiting childhood illnesses, paediatric palliative care may mitigate maternal stress. We hypothesised that early palliative care in the single-ventricle population may have the same benefit for mothers. In this pilot randomised trial of early palliative care, mothers of infants with prenatal single-ventricle diagnoses completed surveys measuring depression, anxiety, coping, and quality of life at a prenatal visit and neonatal discharge. Infants were randomised to receive early palliative care – structured evaluation, psychosocial/spiritual, and communication support before surgery – or standard care. Among 56 eligible mothers, 40 enrolled and completed baseline surveys; 38 neonates were randomised, 18 early palliative care and 20 standard care; and 34 postnatal surveys were completed. Baseline Beck Depression Inventory-II and State-Trait Anxiety Index scores exceeded normal pregnant sample scores (mean 13.76±8.46 versus 7.0±5.0 and 46.34±12.59 versus 29.8±6.35, respectively; p=0.0001); there were no significant differences between study groups. The early palliative care group had a decrease in prenatal to postnatal State-Trait Anxiety Index scores (−7.6 versus 0.3 in standard care, p=0.02), higher postnatal Brief Cope Inventory positive reframing scores (p=0.03), and a positive change in PedsQL Family Impact Module communication and family relationships scores (effect size 0.46 and 0.41, respectively). In conclusion, these data show that mothers of infants with single-ventricle disease experience significant depression and anxiety prenatally. Early palliative care resulted in decreased maternal anxiety, improved maternal positive reframing, and improved communication and family relationships.
The discovery of the first electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave signal has generated follow-up observations by over 50 facilities world-wide, ushering in the new era of multi-messenger astronomy. In this paper, we present follow-up observations of the gravitational wave event GW170817 and its electromagnetic counterpart SSS17a/DLT17ck (IAU label AT2017gfo) by 14 Australian telescopes and partner observatories as part of Australian-based and Australian-led research programs. We report early- to late-time multi-wavelength observations, including optical imaging and spectroscopy, mid-infrared imaging, radio imaging, and searches for fast radio bursts. Our optical spectra reveal that the transient source emission cooled from approximately 6 400 K to 2 100 K over a 7-d period and produced no significant optical emission lines. The spectral profiles, cooling rate, and photometric light curves are consistent with the expected outburst and subsequent processes of a binary neutron star merger. Star formation in the host galaxy probably ceased at least a Gyr ago, although there is evidence for a galaxy merger. Binary pulsars with short (100 Myr) decay times are therefore unlikely progenitors, but pulsars like PSR B1534+12 with its 2.7 Gyr coalescence time could produce such a merger. The displacement (~2.2 kpc) of the binary star system from the centre of the main galaxy is not unusual for stars in the host galaxy or stars originating in the merging galaxy, and therefore any constraints on the kick velocity imparted to the progenitor are poor.
The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), located in Western Australia, is one of the low-frequency precursors of the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project. In addition to pursuing its own ambitious science programme, it is also a testbed for wide range of future SKA activities ranging from hardware, software to data analysis. The key science programmes for the MWA and SKA require very high dynamic ranges, which challenges calibration and imaging systems. Correct calibration of the instrument and accurate measurements of source flux densities and polarisations require precise characterisation of the telescope’s primary beam. Recent results from the MWA GaLactic Extragalactic All-sky Murchison Widefield Array (GLEAM) survey show that the previously implemented Average Embedded Element (AEE) model still leaves residual polarisations errors of up to 10–20% in Stokes Q. We present a new simulation-based Full Embedded Element (FEE) model which is the most rigorous realisation yet of the MWA’s primary beam model. It enables efficient calculation of the MWA beam response in arbitrary directions without necessity of spatial interpolation. In the new model, every dipole in the MWA tile (4 × 4 bow-tie dipoles) is simulated separately, taking into account all mutual coupling, ground screen, and soil effects, and therefore accounts for the different properties of the individual dipoles within a tile. We have applied the FEE beam model to GLEAM observations at 200–231 MHz and used false Stokes parameter leakage as a metric to compare the models. We have determined that the FEE model reduced the magnitude and declination-dependent behaviour of false polarisation in Stokes Q and V while retaining low levels of false polarisation in Stokes U.
Vitamin E and selenium have been reported to improve immune function across a range of species. Ewes lambing on poor-quality dry pasture in autumn in Western Australia are at risk of being deficient in vitamin E and selenium at lambing thus predisposing their lambs to deficiencies and increasing the risk of infection and disease. This study tested the hypotheses that (i) supplementation of autumn-lambing ewes with vitamin E plus selenium in late gestation will increase the concentrations of vitamin E and selenium in plasma in the ewe and lamb and (ii) that the increased concentrations of vitamin E and selenium in plasma in the lambs will improve their innate and adaptive immune responses and thus survival. Pregnant Merino ewes were divided into a control group (n=58) which received no supplementation or a group supplemented with vitamin E plus selenium (n=55). On days 111, 125 and 140 of pregnancy ewes in the vitamin E plus selenium group were given 4 g all-rac-α-tocopherol acetate orally. On day 111 the ewes were also given 60 mg of selenium as barium selenate by subcutaneous injection. The concentrations of α-tocopherol and selenium were measured in ewes and/or lambs from day 111 of pregnancy to 14 weeks of age±10 days (weaning). Immune function of the lamb was assessed by analysing the numbers and phagocytic capacities of monocytes and polymorphonuclear leucocytes and plasma IgG and anti-tetanus toxoid antibody concentrations between birth and 14 weeks of age±10 days. Maternal supplementation with vitamin E plus selenium increased the concentration of α-tocopherol in plasma (1.13 v. 0.67 mg/l; P<0.001) and selenium in whole blood (0.12 v. 0.07 mg/l; P<0.01) of the ewes at lambing compared with controls. Supplementation also increased the concentration of α-tocopherol (0.14 v. 0.08 mg/l; P<0.001) and selenium (0.08 v. 0.05 mg/l; P<0.01) in lambs at birth compared with controls. There was no significant effect of supplementation on immune function or survival in the lambs.
The current generation of experiments aiming to detect the neutral hydrogen signal from the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR) is likely to be limited by systematic effects associated with removing foreground sources from target fields. In this paper, we develop a model for the compact foreground sources in one of the target fields of the MWA’s EoR key science experiment: the ‘EoR1’ field. The model is based on both the MWA’s GLEAM survey and GMRT 150 MHz data from the TGSS survey, the latter providing higher angular resolution and better astrometric accuracy for compact sources than is available from the MWA alone. The model contains 5 049 sources, some of which have complicated morphology in MWA data, Fornax A being the most complex. The higher resolution data show that 13% of sources that appear point-like to the MWA have complicated morphology such as double and quad structure, with a typical separation of 33 arcsec. We derive an analytic expression for the error introduced into the EoR two-dimensional power spectrum due to peeling close double sources as single point sources and show that for the measured source properties, the error in the power spectrum is confined to high k⊥ modes that do not affect the overall result for the large-scale cosmological signal of interest. The brightest 10 mis-modelled sources in the field contribute 90% of the power bias in the data, suggesting that it is most critical to improve the models of the brightest sources. With this hybrid model, we reprocess data from the EoR1 field and show a maximum of 8% improved calibration accuracy and a factor of two reduction in residual power in k-space from peeling these sources. Implications for future EoR experiments including the SKA are discussed in relation to the improvements obtained.
We present low-frequency spectral energy distributions of 60 known radio pulsars observed with the Murchison Widefield Array telescope. We searched the GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky Murchison Widefield Array survey images for 200-MHz continuum radio emission at the position of all pulsars in the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) pulsar catalogue. For the 60 confirmed detections, we have measured flux densities in 20 × 8 MHz bands between 72 and 231 MHz. We compare our results to existing measurements and show that the Murchison Widefield Array flux densities are in good agreement.
The S-band Polarisation All-Sky Survey has observed the entire southern sky using the 64-m Parkes radio telescope at 2.3 GHz with an effective bandwidth of 184 MHz. The surveyed sky area covers all declinations δ ⩽ 0°. To analyse compact sources, the survey data have been re-processed to produce a set of 107 Stokes I maps with 10.75 arcmin resolution and the large scale emission contribution filtered out. In this paper, we use these Stokes I images to create a total intensity southern-sky extragalactic source catalogue at 2.3 GHz. The source catalogue contains 23 389 sources and covers a sky area of 16 600 deg2, excluding the Galactic plane for latitudes |b| < 10°. Approximately, 8% of catalogued sources are resolved. S-band Polarisation All-Sky Survey source positions are typically accurate to within 35 arcsec. At a flux density of 225 mJy, the S-band Polarisation All-Sky Survey source catalogue is more than 95% complete, and ~ 94% of S-band Polarisation All-Sky Survey sources brighter than 500 mJy beam−1 have a counterpart at lower frequencies.
We estimate spatial gradients in the ionosphere using the Global Positioning System and GLONASS (Russian global navigation system) observations, utilising data from multiple Global Positioning System stations in the vicinity of Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory. In previous work, the ionosphere was characterised using a single-station to model the ionosphere as a single layer of fixed height and this was compared with ionospheric data derived from radio astronomy observations obtained from the Murchison Widefield Array. Having made improvements to our data quality (via cycle slip detection and repair) and incorporating data from the GLONASS system, we now present a multi-station approach. These two developments significantly improve our modelling of the ionosphere. We also explore the effects of a variable-height model. We conclude that modelling the small-scale features in the ionosphere that have been observed with the MWA will require a much denser network of Global Navigation Satellite System stations than is currently available at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory.
Temperature fluctuations in the CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background) are a key prediction of cosmological models of structure formation in the early Universe. Observations at the Teide Observatory, Tenerife using radiometers operating at 10, 15 and 33 GHz have revealed individual hot and cold features in the microwave sky at high Galactic latitudes. These well-defined features are not atmospheric or Galactic in origin; they represent the first detection of individual primordial fluctuations in the CMB. Their intensity is defined by an intrinsic rms amplitude of 54−10+14 μK for a model with a coherence angle of 4°. The expected quadrupole term for a Harrison-Zel'dovich spectrum is QRMS–PS = 26 ± 6 μK. When our data at Dec=+40° are compared with the COBE DMR two-year data, the presence of individual features is confirmed. New experiments to detect structure on smaller scales are described.
Beamswitching has been used at 10, 15 and 33 GHz to map the microwave background over the Declination range 30° to 45°, covering more than one steradian of the sky. The beamwidth is 5° and the beam-throw is ±8° at each frequency. The three data sets are used to separate Galactic emission from intrinsic CMB emission. For the scan at Dec = 40° the intrinsic fluctuation level is ΔTrms = 48+21−15 μK on a coherence scale of 4°; the equivalent analysis for a Harrison-Zeldovich model gives a power spectrum normalisation of Qrms = 22+10−6 μK. The value of the fluctuation amplitude calculated from the likelihood analysis of the two-dimensional data set is ΔTrms = 54 ± 13 μK at 10 GHz and 39+8−7 μK at 15 GHz.