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The search for life in the Universe is a fundamental problem of astrobiology and modern science. The current progress in the detection of terrestrial-type exoplanets has opened a new avenue in the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres and in the search for biosignatures of life with the upcoming ground-based and space missions. To specify the conditions favourable for the origin, development and sustainment of life as we know it in other worlds, we need to understand the nature of global (astrospheric), and local (atmospheric and surface) environments of exoplanets in the habitable zones (HZs) around G-K-M dwarf stars including our young Sun. Global environment is formed by propagated disturbances from the planet-hosting stars in the form of stellar flares, coronal mass ejections, energetic particles and winds collectively known as astrospheric space weather. Its characterization will help in understanding how an exoplanetary ecosystem interacts with its host star, as well as in the specification of the physical, chemical and biochemical conditions that can create favourable and/or detrimental conditions for planetary climate and habitability along with evolution of planetary internal dynamics over geological timescales. A key linkage of (astro)physical, chemical and geological processes can only be understood in the framework of interdisciplinary studies with the incorporation of progress in heliophysics, astrophysics, planetary and Earth sciences. The assessment of the impacts of host stars on the climate and habitability of terrestrial (exo)planets will significantly expand the current definition of the HZ to the biogenic zone and provide new observational strategies for searching for signatures of life. The major goal of this paper is to describe and discuss the current status and recent progress in this interdisciplinary field in light of presentations and discussions during the NASA Nexus for Exoplanetary System Science funded workshop ‘Exoplanetary Space Weather, Climate and Habitability’ and to provide a new roadmap for the future development of the emerging field of exoplanetary science and astrobiology.
To assess the diagnostic role of mean platelet volume in tonsillitis with and without peritonsillar abscess.
Mean platelet volume and other laboratory data were retrospectively investigated.
Mean platelet volume was significantly lower in the tonsillitis group (7.8 per cent ± 0.7 per cent) than in the control group (8.7 per cent ± 0.6 per cent; p < 0.0001), and it was significantly lower in the abscess group (7.5 per cent ± 0.6 per cent) than in the no abscess group (8.0 per cent ± 0.7 per cent; p = 0.0277). White blood cell counts and C-reactive protein levels were not significantly different between patients with an abscess and those without. The mean platelet volume cut-off values for the diagnosis of tonsillitis and peritonsillar abscess were 7.95 fl and 7.75 fl, respectively.
Our results suggest that a decreased mean platelet volume is associated with the development and severity of tonsillitis. This finding provides useful diagnostic information for physicians treating patients with tonsillitis.
NUMO and JAEA have been conducting a joint research since FY2011, which is aimed
to enhance the methodology of repository design and performance assessment in
preliminary investigation stage for the deep geological disposal of high-level
radioactive waste. As a part of this joint research, we have been developing
glass dissolution models which include various processes derived from
glass-overpack-bentonite buffer interaction, considering the precipitation of
Fe-silicates associated with steel overpack corrosion, and Si transport through
altered layer of glass. The objective of this modeling work is to show
comprehensively the lifetime of the vitrified waste due to glass matrix
dissolution timescales through sensitivity analysis, and to identify the
feature/process that most strongly influences the lifetime, and to identify
future R&D issues that would help to improve the nuclide transport
analysis with confidential value and the safety case in future. The sensitivity
analysis suggested that the duration of the glass dissolution might be predicted
in the ranges from 3.8×103 to 1.9×105
years. Also, the results indicated that the precipitation of
Fe–silicate has the strongest influence on the long-team behavior of
To investigate the pathogenesis of cholesteatoma, we planned to conduct a cohort study. As a first step, we conducted an epidemiological study in Fukuoka City, Japan to determine the incidence of cholesteatoma treated both with and without surgery. We also conducted a case–control study to investigate the pathogenesis of cholesteatoma.
The annual incidence of cholesteatoma, including cases treated without surgery, was 6.8–10.0 in a population of 100 000. The results of the case–control study suggested that a past history of otitis media and habitual sniffing caused by a patulous eustachian tube play a role in the pathogenesis of cholesteatoma.
The annual incidence of cholesteatoma, including cases treated without surgery, was considered to not be high enough to perform a cohort study. The results of the case–control study suggest that otitis media and habitual sniffing due to a patulous eustachian tube, contribute to the onset of cholesteatoma.
The President of IAU Commission 49 (C49; Interplanetary Plasma and the Heliosphere), Nat Gopalswamy, chaired the business meeting of C10, which took place on August 23, 2012 in the venue of the IAU General Assembly in Beijing (2:00 - 3:30 PM, Room 405).
A seroprevalence survey on measles, mumps, rubella and varicella was conducted on healthcare workers (HCWs) at Shimane University Hospital, Japan utilizing an enzyme immunoassay. Of 1811 HCWs tested, 91·8% were seropositive to measles, 92·1% to mumps, 89·5% to rubella and 96·3% to varicella. Sex-related differences in seroprevalence were found in rubella (males vs. females: 84·7 vs. 92·2%, P < 0·001). Moreover, males aged 30–39 years were most susceptible to rubella (22·4%), which may be attributed to the design of childhood immunization programmes in Japan. Individuals aged ⩽29 years were more susceptible to measles (14·3%) and mumps (10·9%), compared to other age groups. There were no significant sex- and age-related differences in varicella seroprevalence. The physician occupational group was more susceptible to rubella, but no significant occupational-related difference was observed in the other diseases. Susceptible subjects, with negative or equivocal serological results were given a vaccine which induced seroconversion in most vaccinees. Seroconversion occurred more frequently in the equivocal group than in the negative group. These findings provide a new insight for the seroprevalence survey of vaccine-preventable diseases in Japanese HCWs with special reference to vaccine efficacy.
Vitamin D and folate are associated with decreased colorectal cancer risk and their association with colorectal cancer prognosis is under investigation. We assessed the levels of plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25(OH)D3), folate and vitamin B12 in an international pilot study in order to determine variability of these biomarkers based on geographical location. Plasma 25(OH)D3, folate and vitamin B12 concentrations were measured in 149 invasive, newly diagnosed colorectal cancer cases from Heidelberg (Germany), Seattle (WA, USA), and Tampa (FL, USA) and in ninety-one age- and sex-matched controls. Their associations with potential predictors were assessed using multivariate linear regression analyses. Plasma 25(OH)D3, folate and vitamin B12 concentrations differed by location. Other predictors were season for 25(OH)D3 and tumour stage (vitamin B12). Season-corrected average 25(OH)D3 concentrations were higher in Heidelberg (31·7 ng/ml; range 11·0–83·0 ng/ml) than in Seattle (23·3 ng/ml; range 4·0–80·0 ng/ml) and Tampa (21·1 ng/ml; range 4·6–51·6 ng/ml). In Heidelberg, a strong seasonal variation was observed. Folate (11·1 ng/ml) and vitamin B12 (395 pg/ml) concentrations in Heidelberg were lower than those in Seattle (25·3 ng/ml and 740 pg/ml, respectively) and Tampa (23·8 ng/ml and 522 pg/ml, respectively). Differences in plasma 25(OH)D3 and folate concentrations between Heidelberg and the US sites were observed, probably reflecting variation in outdoor activities and sun-avoidance behaviour during summer as well as in folic acid fortification and supplement use. Intra-site differences at each study location were greater than between-location variability, suggesting that individual health behaviours play a significant role. Nevertheless, the intra-site differences we observed may be due to chance because of the limited sample size. Our pilot study illustrates the value of an international cohort in studying colorectal cancer prognosis to discern geographical differences in a broad range of exposures.
Commission 49 (Interplanetary Plasma and Heliosphere) is part of IAU Division II (Sun and Heliosphere). The research topics include large-scale solar disturbances such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), shocks, and corotating interaction regions (CIRs) propagating into the heliosphere. The disturbances propagate through the solar wind, which essentially defines the heliosphere. The solar disturbances provide large-scale laboratory to study plasma processes over various time and spatial scales, the highest spatial scale being the size of the heliosphere itself (~100 AU). These solar disturbances are related to solar activity in the form of active regions and coronal holes. Solar eruptions are accompanied by particle acceleration and the particles can be hazardous to life on earth in various ways from modifying the ionosphere to damaging space technology and increasing lifetime radiation dosage to astronauts and airplane crew. Particle acceleration in solar eruptions poses fundamental physics questions because the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. One of important processes is the particle acceleration by shocks, which occurs throughout the heliosphere. The heliosphere has both neutral and ionized material, with interesting interaction between the two components.
The effects of sucrose supplementation on nitrogen kinetics and energy metabolism were examined in sheep fed lucerne hay cubes using a 15N isotope dilution method and balance and respiration trials in Tsukuba, Japan in 1988. Sheep were fed lucerne hay cubes (1183 g DM/day), with or without 204 g/day sucrose, at 2 h intervals from continuous feeders. Supplementation with sucrose decreased urinary N excretion (P < 0·01), resulting in an increase in N retention from – 1·1 to + 2·0 g N/day (P < 0·01). Supplementation with sucrose resulted in no change in faeces and methane energy, a decrease in urinary energy (P < 0·01) and an increase in heat production and energy balance (P < 0·01). Sucrose supplementation also resulted in lower rumen ammonia (P < 0·05) and plasma urea concentrations (P < 0·05) and reduced urinary urea excretion (P < 0·01). The fermentation of sucrose in the rumen resulted in a decrease in rumen pH (P < 0·01) and in the acetate: propionate ratio (P < 0·05). Sucrose supplementation increased the proportion of urea transferred to the rumen (P < 0·05), non-ammonia N (NAN) concentration in the rumen (P < 0·001) and NAN flow from the rumen to the lower digestive tract (P < 0·001). Urinary allantoin excretion rate increased with sucrose supplementation (P < 0·05). The plasma glucose concentration was unchanged but plasma insulin concentration was increased with sucrose supplementation (P < 0·05). The influence of energy-rich supplements, such as sucrose, on N kinetics and the mechanism of the increase in N retention with sucrose supplementation are discussed.
We present an overview of recent astrometric results with VERA. Since 2004, we have been conducting astrometry of tens of Galactic maser sources with VERA, and recently obtained trigonometric parallaxes for several sources, with distances ranging from 180 pc to 5.3 kpc. In this paper, we briefly summarize the results for Galactic star-forming regions, including S269, Orion-KL, NGC 1333, ρ-oph, NGC 281 and others.
VERA aims at astrometric observations using phase referencing VLBI techniques, whose goal is a 10 micro arc-second accuracy for annual parallax measurements. VERA has four 20-m diameter VLBI radio telescopes in Japanese archipelago with the maximum baseline length of 2,300 km. They have the two-beam observing system, which makes simultaneous observations of two objects possible. This leads to very accurate phase referencing VLBI observations. An important science goal is to make a 3-dimensional map of the Galaxy and reveal its dynamics. In order to achieve this, VERA has the 22GHz and 43GHz bands for H2O and SiO maser objects, respectively. Maser objects are compact and suitable for astrometry observations. VERA's construction was started in 2000 and the array became operational in 2004. We have already measured annual parallaxes and proper motions of some galactic objects. In the future, VERA will collaborate with Korean and Chinese VLBI stations.
Parallax measurements of the Galactic Mira variables with VERA have started since 2004 to establish their Period-Luminosity (PL) relationship in the Galaxy. Multi-epoch VLBI observations of a semiregular variable S Crt yielded an accurate parallax of 2.27±0.14 mas corresponding to the distance of 441+29−24 pc. In addition to the distance, we obtained physical properties of S Crt. Temperature of the photosphere was found to be ~3000 K by fitting the infrared spectrum with a blackbody radiation. The stellar radius was obtained based on the distance, apparent magnitude, and the temperature. Internal proper motions of circularly-arranged maser spots in S Crt were detected for the first time. Observations of the other Mira variables, such as R UMa, SY Scl, AP Lyn, and WX Psc are in progress.
We present the results of a mm wavelength methanol maser survey towards massive star forming regions. We have carried out Class II methanol maser observations at 86.6 GHz, 86.9 GHz and 107.0 GHz, simultaneously, using the Nobeyama 45 m telescope. We selected 108 6.7 GHz methanol maser sources with declinations above −25 degrees and fluxes above 20 Jy. The detection limit of maser observations was ~3 Jy. Of the 93 sources surveyed so far, we detected methanol emission in 25 sources (27%) and “maser” emission in nine sources (10%), of which thre “maser” sources are new detections. The detection rate for maser emission is about half that of a survey of the southern sky (Caswell et al. 2000). There is a correlation between the maser flux of 107 GHz and 6.7 GHz/12 GHz emission, but no correlation with the “thermal” (non maser) emission. From results of other molecular line observations, we found that the sources with methanol emission show higher gas temperatures and twice the detection rate of SiO emission. This may suggest that dust evaporation and destruction by shock are responsible for the high abundance of methanol molecules, one of the required physical conditions for maser emission.
We have started a VLBI monitoring program for Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) stars at 22 and 43 GHz as part of a project of the VLBI Exploration of Radio Astrometry (VERA) for precisely obtaining the period-luminosity (PL) relation of Galactic Mira variables. Using accurate distances measured with VERA, we reveal PL relation in the Galaxy based on the absolute magnitudes of the sources. We selected the sources for VLBI monitoring so that they have a good coverage of various pulsation periods. Photometry in the infrared J, H, and K bands for over 600 AGB stars has also started since 2003 with the 1m telescope of Kagoshima University to obtain the pulsation periods and magnitudes. Current analysis of the phase referencing VLBI observations of S Crt shows that the parallax of 2.3±0.2 milliarcsec (mas) corresponds to a distance of 435+41−35 pc. From the infrared monitoring data, pulsation periods and magnitudes in K band for 248 sources were obtained.