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In the efforts to map the Milky Way structure, the central regions have remained very difficult to probe. The VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea Survey (VVV) is a near-IR variability Survey that scans 560 sq.deg. across the Milky Way bulge and an adjacent section of the southern mid-plane. The main goal of the VVV Survey is to build a 3D map of the structure of the inner Galaxy and characterize its stellar populations. This survey has discovered different kinds of objects, such as globular clusters, Microlensing events, RR Lyrae stars, Cepheids, WITs, among others. The extension of the Survey (VVVX) is observing until 2020, tripling the areal coverage, and complementing the variability studies done by the VVV Survey.
In order to study the most reddened areas of the Milky Way we used near-IR data from the VVV Survey. For the first time, the VISTA telescope allows us to observe the mid-plane through the Galactic bulge and study the disk in the other side of the Milky Way. Motivated by the detection of hundreds of microlensing events in the inner regions of the Galaxy, we propose three new configurations of microlensing events, placing the sources in the far-disk and the lenses in the far-disk/bulge/near-disk. These new configurations will change the usual way to interpret the timescale distributions due to the different populations along the line of sight, that exhibit varied transverse velocities and relative distances.
The VISCACHA (VIsible Soar photometry of star Clusters in tApii and Coxi HuguA†) Survey is an ongoing project based on deep and spatially resolved photometric observations of Magellanic Cloud star clusters, collected using the SOuthern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope together with the SOAR Adaptive Module Imager. So far we have used >300h of telescope time to observe ∼150 star clusters, mostly with low mass (M < 104M⊙) on the outskirts of the LMC and SMC. With this high-quality data set, we homogeneously determine physical properties using deep colour-magnitude diagrams (ages, metallicities, reddening, distances, mass, luminosity and mass functions) and structural parameters (radial density profiles, sizes) for these clusters which are used as a proxy to investigate the interplay between the Magellanic Clouds and their evolution. We present the VISCACHA survey and its initial results, based on our first two papers. The project’s long term goals and expected legacy to the community are also addressed.
Two new Galactic Surveys started activities in 2016: the ESO Public VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea eXtended Survey (VVVX) and the Southern Photometric Local Universe Survey Galactic Survey (S-PLUS GS). VVVX is the extension of the ESO VVV Survey ((Minniti et al. 2010) and will triple the observed area from 562 deg2 to 1700 deg2. The S-PLUS GS makes use of the T80-South robotic telescope in Cerro Tololo (Chile) to observe 1420 deg2 of the Galactic disk and bulge in the optical. The S-PLUS GS will cover 800 deg2 contemporaneously and overlapping with VVVX. Here we explore the synergy between these ongoing surveys and present illustrative examples combining the optical and infrared data.
Our position in the Milky Way (MW) is both a blessing and a curse. We are nearby to many star clusters, but the dust that is a product of their very existence obscures them. Also, many massive young clusters are expected to be located near, or across the Galactic Center, where the dust extinction is extreme (AV > 15 mag) and can be better penetrated by infrared photons. This paper reviews the discoveries and the study of new MW massive stars and massive clusters made possible by near infrared observations that are part of the VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea (VVV) survey. It discusses what the studies of their fundamental parameters have taught us.
Research on the structure and dynamics of the Galactic System covers a large field of research, from formation scenarios to long-term evolution and secular processes. Today we speak of near-field cosmology where the oldest parts of the Galaxy are used to probe back to early times, e.g. studying the chemical signatures of the oldest star clusters and dwarf galaxies to learn about the byproducts of the first stars. Some of the most detailed work relates to the structure of the dark matter and baryons in order to compare with expectation from N-body models. Secular processes have been identified (e.g. stellar migration) where material within the Galaxy is being reorganized by dynamical resonances and feedback processes.
The IAU Working Group on Extrasolar Planets (WGESP) was created by the Executive Council as a Working Group of Division III. This decision took place in June 1999, that is only 7 years after the discovery of planets around the pulsar PSR B1257+12 and 4 years after the discovery of 51 Peg b. This working group was renewed for 3 years at the General Assembly in 2003 in Sydney, Australia. It was chaired by Alan Boss from Carnegie Institution of Washington. The WGESP members were Paul Butler, William Hubbard, Philip Ianna, Martin Kürster, Jack Lissauer, Michel Mayor, Karen Meech, Francois Mignard, Alan Penny, Andreas Quirrenbach, Jill Tarter, and Alfred Vidal-Madjar.
It is widely accepted that stars do not form in isolation but result from the fragmentation of molecular clouds, which in turn leads to star cluster formation. Over time, clusters dissolve or are destroyed by interactions with molecular clouds or tidal stripping, and their members become part of the general field population. Star clusters are thus among the basic building blocks of galaxies. In turn, star cluster populations, from young associations and open clusters to old globulars, are powerful tracers of the formation, assembly, and evolutionary history of their parent galaxies. Although their importance (e.g., in mapping out the Milky Way) had been recognised for decades, major progress in this area has only become possible in recent years, both for Galactic and extragalactic cluster populations. Star clusters are the observational foundation for stellar astrophysics and evolution, provide essential tracers of galactic structure, and are unique stellar dynamical environments. Star formation, stellar structure, stellar evolution, and stellar nucleosynthesis continue to benefit and improve tremendously from the study of these systems. Additionally, fundamental quantities such as the initial mass function can be successfully derived from modelling either the Hertzsprung-Russell diagrams or the integrated velocity structures of, respectively, resolved and unresolved clusters and cluster populations. Star cluster studies thus span the fields of Galactic and extragalactic astrophysics, while heavily affecting our detailed understanding of the process of star formation in dense environments. This report highlights science results of the last decade in the major fields covered by IAU Commission 37: Star clusters and associations. Instead of focusing on the business meeting - the out-going president presentation can be found here: http://www.sc.eso.org/gcarraro/splinter2015.pdf - this legacy report contains highlights of the most important scientific achievements in the Commission science area, compiled by 5 well expert members.
The business session for Commission 37 was held on 24 August 2012 at the IAU General Assembly in Beijing. The meeting was attended by about a dozen members of our Comission, including President Carraro, VP de Grijs and several committee members. We introduced ourselves and then went through a powerpoint presentation first prepared by outgoing President Elmegreen and revised by incoming President Carraro. The contents of the powerpoint presentation are given in this summary.
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.
For centuries and even millennia, mankind has been wondering whether there exist other worlds similar to ours populating the universe. Until about 1600 AD, these questions have remained outside the field of scientific investigation due to a lack of observational means able to address the issue. The situation began to evolve with the invention of optical instruments. It all started with Galileo Galilei, who made the first discoveries of new worlds using the first very modest telescopes. He discovered the four largest satellites of Jupiter, as tiny points of light that circle the giant planet. We are now able to measure the masses and radii of these satellites, compute their mean densities, and conclude that water ice is a major constituent of Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
Galileo also found that the Milky Way is made of millions of stars. We now know that our Galaxy contains a few hundred billion stars, but critical questions remain: How many of them have planets? Just a few, or most of them? What if every star has planets like our Sun does? Would these planets be similar to the ones we know around the Sun? We are lucky enough to live in an era of large telescopes and powerful instruments, giving us for the first time the opportunity to try to answer these important questions. This chapter deals with the search and study of these extrasolar planets, worlds orbiting other stars beyond our Solar System.
Research on the structure and dynamics of the Galactic System covers a large dynamic range of spatial scales and timescales and investigates the evolution of gas, stars and dark matter. Much recent activity, not just in Europe, has focused on preparing for the data from the upcoming ESA astrometric mission Gaia, scheduled for launch in 2013. Several ongoing (plus planned) wide-area ground-based surveys, both spectroscopic and photometric, are providing the necessary very large datasets for robust determination of the joint position-chemical-kinematic distribution functions of Galactic stellar populations. The time domain adds another dimension, the goal of ongoing and future massive photometric surveys (e.g. LSST). The dynamical evolution of disks has been the focus of much recent theoretical research, stimulated by the possibility of radial migration of stars and gas under transient dynamical perturbations.
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.
Research on star clusters and associations includes the observation and theory of stellar groupings as they form and evolve, cluster disruption, stellar interactions inside clusters, and star formation in dense environments. In what follows, we list past, present and future meetings (http://www2.cadc-ccda.hia-iha.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/meetings/), publications statistics and important surveys, reviews, and databases about clusters.
Commission 53 was created at the 2006 Prague General Assembly (GA) of the IAU, in recognition of the outburst of astronomical progress in the field of extrasolar planet discovery, characterization, and theoretical work that has occurred since the discovery of the first planet in orbit around a solar-type star in 1995. Commission 53 is the logical successor to the IAU Working Group on Extrasolar Planets (WGESP), which ended its six years of existence in August 2006. The founding President of Commission 53 was Michael Mayor, in honor of his seminal contributions to this new field of astronomy. The current President is Alan Boss, the former chair of the WGESP. The current members of the Commission 53 (C53) Organizing Committee (OC) began their service in August 2009 at the conclusion of the Rio de Janeiro IAU GA.
Commission 53 met in August 12, 2009. Outgoing President Michel Mayor chaired the meeting, and there were several dozen members present, including incoming President Alan Boss, incoming Vice President Alain Lecavelier des Etangs. Commission 53 (C53) was founded at the 2006 Prague General Assembly of the IAU. After a period of 6 years, C53 will come up for renewal at the 2012 IAU General Assembly in Beijing, China. For the moment, more than 150 IAU members have asked to be members of C53 and few dozen non-IAU members having asked to be informed of the commission activity.
The business session for Commission 37 was held on 11 August 2009 at the IAU General Assembly in Rio de Janeiro. The meeting was attended by about a dozen members of our Comission, including President Elmegreen, VP Carraro and several committee members. We introduced ourselves and then went through a powerpoint presentation first prepared by outgoing President Hatzidimitriou and revised by incoming President Elmegreen. The contents of the powerpoint presentation are given in this summary.
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.
This report gives an update of developments (since the last General Assembly at Prague) in the areas that are of relevance to the commission. In addition to numerous papers, a new monograph entitled Stellar Spectral Classification with Richard Gray and Chris Corbally as leading authors will be published by Princeton University Press as part of their Princeton Series in Astrophysics in April 2009. This book is an up-to-date and encyclopedic review of stellar spectral classification across the H-R diagram, including the traditional MK system in the blue-violet, recent extensions into the ultraviolet and infrared, the newly defined L-type and T-type spectral classes, as well as spectral classification of carbon stars, S-type stars, white dwarfs, novae, supernovae and Wolf-Rayet stars.
The metallicity distribution and abundance ratios of the Galactic bulge are reviewed. Issues raised by different groups in recent work, in particular the high metallicity end, a comparison between the oxygen abundances derived from different indicators, the [OI] 630nm and IR OH lines, and the issue of measuring giants vs. dwarfs, are discussed. Finally, abundances in bulge globular clusters are briefly described.