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The Ospedale Maggiore, known as Ca’ Granda, was founded in 1456 by will of Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, and was considered for almost five centuries a model for Milanese, Italian and even European healthcare. Attracting patients from all over Europe, the Ca’ Granda distinguished itself for the introduction of new treatments and innovative health reforms. In the burial ground of the hospital still lie the bodies of the deceased patients, who came from the poorest strata of the population. The study of their remains aims to give back a general identity and a story to each of these persons as well as reconstruct a fraction of the sixteenth century population of Milano as concerns lifestyle and disease and examine practises and therapy of this exceptional hospital. It is estimated that about two million commingled bones and articulated skeletons rest in the crypt, together with other types of findings (e.g., ceramic, coins, clothing). These remains are the object of a large project involving various disciplines ranging from humanities to hard sciences. The aim of this paper is to bring this historical gem to the attention of scholars and provide a glimpse of what its contents have already revealed.
Λ cold-dark-matter hierarchical models of galaxy formation suggest that the halo of the Milky Way (MW) has been assembled, at least in part, through accretion of protogalactic fragments partially resembling the present-day dwarf spheroidal (dSph) satellites of the MW. Investigation of the stellar populations of the MW's globular clusters (GCs) and dSph companions can thus provide excellent tests to infer the dominant Galaxy-formation scenario, whether merger/accretion or cloud collapse. Pulsating variable stars offer a very powerful tool in this context, since variables of different types allow tracing the different stellar generations in a galaxy and to reconstruct the galaxy's star-formation history and assembly back to the first epochs of galaxy formation. In particular, the RR Lyrae stars, belonging to the old population (t > 10 Gyr), witnessed the epoch of halo formation, and thus hold a crucial role to identify the MW satellites that may have contributed to build up the Galactic halo. In the MW, most GCs with an RR Lyrae population sharply divide into two distinct groups (Oosterhoff types I and II) based on the mean periods and relative proportion of fundamental-mode (RRab) and first-overtone (RRc) RR Lyrae stars. On the other hand, the Galactic-halo field RR Lyrae stars show a dominance of Oosterhoff I properties. Here, we investigate the Oosterhoff properties of a number of different stellar systems, starting from relatively undisturbed dwarf galaxies (the Fornax dSph and its globular clusters), through distorted and tidally disrupting ones (the Bootes and Canes Venatici II dSphs), to possible final relics of the disruption process (the Galactic globular cluster NGC 2419). We are addressing the crucial question of whether the RR Lyrae pulsation properties in these systems conform to the Oosterhoff dichotomy characterizing the MW variables. If they do not, the Galaxy's halo cannot have been assembled by dSph-like protogalactic fragments resembling the present-day dSph companions of the MW. We have reduced and combined long time series from different telescopes, both ground- and space-based. Variable stars have been detected with image-subtraction techniques using the package isis2.1. Periods, amplitudes and Oosterhoff type for all variable stars, as well as color–magnitude diagrams of the stellar populations are discussed for each stellar cluster analyzed.
V, I time-series photometry of the new Milky Way satellite recently discovered in the Bootes constellation (Belokurov et al. 2006) was collected at the TNG, WIRO and Loiano telescopes and used to search for variable stars. We have identified a non-negligible population of RR Lyrae variables, which confirms the presence of an old population in this newly discovered structure. The distribution of periods coupled with information on the evolutionary status of the system derived fromthe color-magnitude diagram provide important hints on the nature and history of this intriguing new companion of the Milky Way.
We have combined B, V, I time-series photometry from three different telescopes (SUBARU, TNG and HST) to study the variable star population of the remote Galactic globular cluster NGC 2419 and derive hints on a possible extragalactic origin for this cluster. We have discovered 40 new variables (34 RR Lyrae stars, 3 SX Phoenicis stars, Scuti 1 eclipsing binary system and 2 red irregular variables) doubling the number of known variable stars in NGC 2419.
We present an overview of our study of the short period variable stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, and in the dwarf galaxies Fornax, Leo I, and NGC 6822. Light curves are presented for RR Lyrae stars, Anomalous Cepheids and, for the first time, for Dwarf Cepheids in the field and in the globular cluster #3 of the Fornax galaxy.
We present new results on a sample of RR Lyrae variables in the bar of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), and report on the first detection of RR Lyrae in the dwarf spheroidal galaxy Leo I. Emphasis is given to the discussion of the distances to these galaxies as derived from their RR Lyrae populations, and of the impact on the “short” and “long” distance scale dichotomy.
The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is widely considered a corner-stone of the astronomical distance scale. However, a difference of 0.2−0.3 mag exists in its distance as predicted by the short and long distance scales. Distances to the LMC from Population II objects are founded on the RR Lyrae variables. We have undertaken an observational campaign devoted to the definition of the average apparent luminosity, and to the study of the mass–metallicity relation for RR Lyrae stars in the bar of the LMC. These are compared with analogous quantities for cluster RR Lyrae stars. The purpose is to see whether an intrinsic difference in luminosity, possibly due to a difference in mass, might exist between field and cluster RR Lyrae stars, which could be responsible for the well-known dichotomy between short and long distance scales. Preliminary results are presented on the V and B − V light curves, the average apparent visual magnitude, and the pulsational properties of 102 RR Lyrae stars in the bar of the LMC, observed at ESO in January 1999. The photometric data are accurately tied to the Johnson photometric system. Comparison is presented with the photometry of RR Lyrae stars in the bar of the LMC obtained by the MACHO collaboration (Alcock et al. 1996). Our sample includes 9 double-mode RR Lyrae stars selected from Alcock et al. (1997) for which an estimate of the metal abundance from the ΔS method is presented.
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