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The discovery of new clear windows in the Galactic plane using the VVV near-IR extinction maps allows the study of the structure of the Milky Way (MW) disk. The ultimate goal of this work is to map the spiral arms in the far side of the MW, which is a relatively unexplored region of our Galaxy, using red clump (RC) giants as distance indicators. We search for near-IR clear windows located at low Galactic latitudes (
deg) in the MW disk using the VVV near-IR extinction maps. We have identified two new windows named VVV WIN 1607–5258 and VVV WIN 1475–5877, respectively, that complement the previously known window VVV WIN 1713–3939. We analyse the distribution of RC stars in these three clear near-IR windows and measure their number density along the line of sight. This allows us to find overdensities in the distribution and measure their distances along the line of sight. We then use the VVV proper motions in order to measure the kinematics of the RC stars at different distances. We find enhancements in the distance distribution of RC giants in all the studied windows, interpreting them as the presence of spiral arms in the MW disk. These structures are absent in the current models of synthetic population for the same MW lines of sight. We were able to trace the end of the Galactic bar, the Norma arm, as well as the Scutum–Centaurus arm in the far disk. Using the VVV proper motions, we measure the kinematics for these Galactic features, confirming that they share the bulk rotation of the Galactic disk.
We present the first results obtained from an extensive study of eclipsing binary (EB) system candidates recently detected in the VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea (VVV) near-infrared (NIR) Survey. We analyse the VVV tile d040 in the southern part of the Galactic disc wherein the interstellar reddening is comparatively low, which makes it possible to detect hundreds of new EB candidates. We present here the light curves and the determination of the geometric and physical parameters of the best candidates found in this ‘NIR window’, including 37 contact, 50 detached, and 13 semi-detached EB systems. We infer that the studied systems have an average of the
mag and a median period of 1.22 days where, in general, contact binaries have shorter periods. Using the ‘Physics Of Eclipsing Binaries’ (PHOEBE) interactive interface, which is based on the Wilson and Devinney code, we find that the studied systems have low eccentricities. The studied EBs present mean values of about 5 700 and 4 900 K for the
components, respectively. The mean mass ratio (q) for the contact EB stars is
0.44. This new galactic disk sample is a first look at the massive study of NIR EB systems.
We communicate the discovery of a new globular cluster in the Galaxy that was first detected on WISE/2MASS images and is now confirmed with VVVX photometry. It is a Palomar-like cluster projected at ℓ = 359.15°, b = 5.73°, and may be related to the bulge. We derive an absolute magnitude of MV ≈ −3.3, thus being an underluminous globular cluster. Our analyses provide a reddening of E(B − V) = 1.08 ± 0.18 and a distance to the Sun d⊙ = 6.3 ± 1 kpc, which implies a current position in the bulge volume. The estimated metallicity is [Fe/H] = −1.5 ± 0.25. It adds to the recently discovered faint globular cluster (Minniti 22) and candidates found with VVV, building up expectations of ≈50 globular clusters yet to be discovered in the bulge. We also communicate the discovery of an old open cluster in the same VVVX tile as the globular cluster. The VVVX photometry provided E(B − V) = 0.62 ± 0.1, d⊙ = 7.6 ± 1 kpc, and an age of 1.5 ± 0.3 Gyr. With a height from the plane of ≈0.8 kpc, it adds to nine Gyr-class clusters recently discovered within 0.8 ⩽ Z ⩽ 2.2 kpc, as recently probed in the single VVV tile b201. We suggest that these findings may be disclosing the thick disk at the bulge, which so far has no open cluster counterpart, and hardly any individual star. Thus, the VVV and VVVX surveys are opening new windows for follow-up studies, to employ present and future generations of large aperture telescopes.
Gaia will see little of the Galactic mid-plane and nuclear bulge due to high extinction at optical wavelengths. To study the structure and kinematics of the inner Galaxy we must look to longer wavelengths. The Vista Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV, Minniti et al. 2010) survey currently provides just over 4 years of observations covering approximately 560 square degrees of the Galactic bulge and plane. Typically each source is observed 50–150 times in the Ks band over this period. Using these data we provide relative proper motions for approximately 200 million unique sources down to Ks∼16 with uncertainties approaching 1 mas yr−1. In addition, we fit a solution of the parallactic motion of all sources with significant proper motion and discover a number of new nearby brown dwarfs. These results will allow us to identify faint common proper motion companions to stars with Gaia parallaxes, increasing the number of brown dwarf benchmark objects. Our absolute astrometric calibration precision is currently ∼ 2 mas yr−1, based on PPMXL. The Gaia absolute astrometric reference grid will allow us to precisely anchor our results and measure the streaming motions of stars in the bulge. Finally, we anticipate that the catalogue could provide kinematic distances to the numerous optically invisible high amplitude variable stars that VVV is discovering.
The Vista Variables in the Vía Láctea (VVV) ESO Public Survey is an ongoing time-series, near-infrared (IR) survey of the Galactic bulge and an adjacent portion of the inner disk, covering 562 square degrees of the sky, using ESO's VISTA telescope. The survey has provided superb multi-color photometry in 5 broadband filters (Z, Y, J, H, and Ks), leading to the best map of the inner Milky Way ever obtained, particularly in the near-IR. The main part of the survey, which is focused on the variability in the Ks-band, is currently underway, with bulge fields observed between 34 and 73 times, and disk fields between 34 and 36 times. When the survey is complete, bulge (disk) fields will have been observed up to a total of 100 (60) times, providing unprecedented depth and time coverage in the near-IR. Here we provide a first overview of stellar variability in the VVV data.
The meeting was attended by the President and Vice-President of the Commission, along with approximately 15 other members. The President reported on the election of new officers that took place at the end of March 2012, for four new members of the Organizing Committee as well as a new Vice-President, and thanked the outgoing members. Tomaz Zwitter (Slovenia) was elected as the new VP (2012–2015), and the new OC members for the period 2012–2018 are Alceste Bonanos (Greece), Alain Jorissen (Belgium), David Katz (France), and Matthias Steinmetz (Germany). The current VP, Dimitri Pourbaix, became the President through 2015.
The past three-year period has seen steady efforts to collect large numbers of radial-velocity (RV) measurements, as well as important applications of radial velocities to astrophysics. Improvements in precision continue to be driven largely by exoplanet research. A workshop entitled “Astronomy of Exoplanets with Precise Radial Velocities” took place in August of 2010 at Penn State University (USA), and was attended by some 100 researchers from around the world. The meeting included thorough discussions of the current capabilities and future potential of the radial velocity technique, as well as data analysis algorithms to improve precision at visible and near-infrared wavelengths.
We have searched for planetary transits in Carina where the Optical
Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) found many transits.
The data that we analyzed were taken with
the ESO VLT/VIMOS instrument
for 4 continuous nights in 2005. We have detected several new transiting
events. We recommend some of them for spectroscopic
For seven OGLE transits we present light curves. Our search also
led us to discover hundreds of new variable stars.
Currently the only technique sensitive to Earth mass planets around nearby stars (that are too close for microlensing) is the monitoring of the transit time variations of the transiting extrasolar planets. We search for additional planets in the systems of the hot-Neptune GJ-436 b, and the hot-Jupiter XO-1 b, using high cadence observations in the J and KS bands, with the SofI and ISAAC instruments from La Silla Paranal Observatory. New high-precision transit timing measurements were used to derive new ephemeris. No statistically significant timing deviations were detected. We demonstrate that the high cadence ground based near-infrared observations are successful in constraining the mean transit time to 30 sec, and are a viable alternative to space missions.
Very few abundance analyses of individual stars in metal-poor globular clusters in the galactic bulge are available. The main purpose of this study is to derive abundances in individual stars of such clusters, in order to establish their abundance pattern, trying to characterize the oldest bulge stellar populations.
Over the next 5 years the VVV collaboration (Vista Variable in the Via Lactea) will conduct an extensive survey of the galactic bulge and disk in the near-IR, using the new VISTA telescope. This public survey covers a field of 520 sqr. deg, including not only regions of high star formation, but also 33 known globular clusters and ~350 open clusters. The final product will be a deep IR atlas in 5 passbands for ~109 point sources among which we expect 106 variable stars. These will be produce a 3-D map of the surveyed region using well-understood primary distance indicators such as RR Lyrae stars. The observations will be combined with data from MACHO, OGLE, EROS, VST, Spitzer, HST, Chandra, Integral, and ALMA for a complete understanding of the variable sources in the inner Milky Way. Several important implications for the history of the Milky Way, for globular cluster evolution, for the population census of the bulge and center, and for the pulsation theory will follow from this survey.
Two consecutive transits of planetary companion OGLE-TR-111b were observed in the I band. Combining these observations with data from the literature, we find that the timing of the transits cannot be explained by a constant period, and that the observed variations cannot be originated by the presence of a satellite. However, a perturbing planet with the mass of the Earth in an exterior orbit could explain the observations if the orbit of OGLE-TR-111b is eccentric. We also show that the eccentricity needed to explain the observations is not ruled out by the radial velocity data found in the literature.
The Business Meeting of Commission 45 was held on 16 August 2006. It was attended by the president and vice-president of the Commission as well as by twenty other members of the Commission. Attendance was limited, as usual, by the unavoidable occurrence of parallel sessions.
We present an analysis of the radial velocities and velocity dispersions for 27 bright globular clusters in the nearby elliptical galaxy NGC 5128 (Centaurus A). For 22 clusters we combine our new velocity dispersion measurements with the information on the structural parameters, either from the literature when available or from our own data, in order to derive the cluster masses and mass-to-light (M/L) ratios. The masses range from 1.2 × 105M⊙, typical of Galactic globular clusters, to 1.4 × 107M⊙, similar to more massive dwarf globular transition objects (DGTOs) or ultra compact dwarfs (UCDs) and to nuclei of nucleated dE galaxies. The average M/LV is 3±1, larger than the average M/LV of globular clusters in the Local Group galaxies. The correlations of structural parameters, velocity dispersion, masses and M/LV for the bright globular clusters extend the properties established for the most massive Local Group clusters towards those characteristic of dwarf elliptical galaxy nuclei and DGTOs/UCDs. The detection of the mass-radius and the mass-M/LV relations for the globular clusters with masses greater than ~ 2 × 106M⊙ provides the link between “normal” old globular clusters, young massive clusters, and evolved massive objects.
We spectroscopically characterize the Galactic Bulge to infer its star formation timescale, compared to the other Galactic components, through the chemical signature on its individual stars. O, Na, Mg, Al were obtained for 50 K giants in four fields towards the Galactic bulge from UVES spectra (R=45,000), while Fe was measured in more than 400 stars with a slightly low resolution (R=20,000) and the GIRAFFE spectrograph at VLT. Oxygen and Magnesium show a well defined trend with [Fe/H], with abundances larger than those measured in both thin and thick disk stars, supporting a scenario in which the bulge formed before and more rapidly than the disk. On the other hand the iron distribution peaks at solar metallicity and it is slightly narrower than that measured in previous works. Part of the present results have been published by Zoccali et al. (2006) and Lecureur et al. (2006), and part will be discussed in forthcoming papers.
Spectra in the range 4000-7000 Å were obtained for a sample of bulge stars using the GMOS-Gemini low resolution spectrograph. The sample stars were selected from a VLT-FLAMES project for the observation of 1000 bulge stars, for which abundance ratios have been derived. Our aim is to study old stellar populations in external galaxies.
A detailed abundance analysis of four giants in the metal-rich bulge globular cluster NGC 6553 is carried out, based on optical high resolution échelle spectra obtained with UVES at the ESO VLT-UT2 Kueyen telescope. A mean radial heliocentric velocity of −1.86 km s−1 is found. Stellar parameters are derived from spectroscopic data based on Fe I and Fe II lines. Enhanced abundance ratios for the α-elements Mg and Si with respect to Ca and Ti are obtained. The odd-Z elements are typically solar. A solar value for the r-process element Eu ([Eu/Fe] = +0.05 ±0.06) was also found.
We present the first results from our next-generation microlensing survey, the SuperMACHO project. We are using the CTIO 4m Blanco telescope and the MOSAIC imager to carry out a search for microlensing toward the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). We plan to ascertain the nature of the population responsible for the excess microlensing rate seen by the MACHO project. Our observing strategy is optimized to measure the differential microlensing rate across the face of the LMC. We find this derivative to be relatively insensitive to the details of the LMC's internal structure but a strong discriminant between Galactic halo and LMC self lensing. In December 2003 we completed our third year of survey operations. 2003 also marked the first year of real-time microlensing alerts and photometric and spectroscopic followup. We have extracted several dozen microlensing candidates, and we present some preliminary light curves and related information. Similar to the MACHO project, we find SNe behind the LMC to be a significant contaminant - this background has not been completely removed from our current single-color candidate sample. Our follow-up strategy is optimized to discriminate between SNe and true microlensing.To search for other articles by the author(s) go to: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abstract_service.html
We present the preliminary results of a frequency analysis of 1457 fundamental mode RR Lyrae (RR0) stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) from MACHO Project photometry. We find the same classes of pulsational behavior as were found in our earlier survey of first overtone RR Lyrae (RR1) stars. Variables whose prewhitened power spectra contain one or two peaks close to the main frequency component in the original power spectra are commonly known as Blazhko-type variables. The present analysis shows the overall frequency of Blazhko-type stars in the total RR0 population analysed to date to be ≈ 10%. This is lower than the often cited Galactic field/globular rate of 20-30% (Szeidl, 1988).
The incidence rate of Blazhko-type variability in the LMC appears to be about three times higher in RR0 stars than in RR1 stars. This puts important constraints on possible models of the Blazhko effect.
We performed spectroscopy of globular clusters associated with NGC 1399 and measured radial velocities of about 450 clusters, the largest sample ever obtained for dynamical studies. In this progress report, we present the sample and the first preliminary results. Red and blue clusters have slightly different velocity dispersions in accordance with their different density profiles in the case of a spherical and isotropic model. We then measure a constant circular velocity of 422 ± 20 km/s, which agrees well with that of the inner luminous component.