Friday, April 16, 2010

Interesting Astrophysics: Apr 05 to Apr 16

The last two weeks have produced quite a number of interesting papers and preprints. Given the diversity I'll let them speak for themselves. Note to self: two papers on cloud statistics.


Galaxies and Starbursts

An Empirical Characterization of Extended Cool Gas Around Galaxies Using MgII Absorption Features
Hsiao-Wen Chen, Jennifer E. Helsby, Jean-Rene Gauthier, Stephen A. Shectman, Ian B. Thompson, Jeremy L. Tinker, arXiv:1004.0705 [pdf, ps, other]
Comments: 20 pages, 13 figures; to appear in the Astrophysical Journal 2010 May 10 issue; a version with higher resolution figures can be found at this http URL

From their abstract: "... The lack of correlation between Wr(2796) and galaxy colors suggests a lack of physical connection between the origin of extended MgII halos and recent star formation history of the galaxies ..."

Seeing Through the Trough: Outflows and the Detectability of Lyman Alpha Emission from the First Galaxies
Mark Dijkstra, Stuart Wyithe, arXiv:1004.2490 [pdf, ps, other]
Comments: 11 pages, 7 figures, submitted to MNRAS

From their abstract: "In this paper we demonstrate that the radiative transfer effects in the interstellar medium (ISM), which cause Lya flux to emerge from galaxies at frequencies where the Gunn-Peterson optical depth is reduced, can substantially enhance the prospects for detection of the Lya line at high redshift. In particular, scattering off outflows of interstellar HI gas can modify the Lya spectral line shape such that >5% of the emitted Lya radiation is transmitted directly to the observer, even through a fully neutral IGM. It may therefore be possible to directly observe `strong' Lya emission lines (EW > 50 Angstrom rest frame) from the highest redshift galaxies that reside in the smallest HII `bubbles' early in the reionization era with JWST. In addition, we show that outflows can boost the fraction of Lya radiation that is transmitted through the IGM during the latter stages of reionization, and even post-reionization."

The Great Observatories All-Sky LIRG Survey: Comparison of Ultraviolet and Far-Infrared Properties
Justin H. Howell, et al, arXiv:1004.0985 [pdf, ps, other]
Comments: 37 pages, 10 figures, accepted for publication in ApJ

From their abstract: "The Great Observatories All-sky LIRG Survey (GOALS) consists of a complete sample of 202 Luminous Infrared Galaxies (LIRGs) selected from the IRAS Revised Bright Galaxy Sample (RBGS). The galaxies span the full range of interaction stages, from isolated galaxies to interacting pairs to late stage mergers. We present a comparison of the UV and infrared properties of 135 galaxies in GOALS observed by GALEX and Spitzer. For interacting galaxies with separations greater than the resolution of GALEX and Spitzer (2-6"), we assess the UV and IR properties of each galaxy individually. The contribution of the FUV to the measured SFR ranges from 0.2% to 17.9%, with a median of 2.8% and a mean of 4.0 +/- 0.4%. The specific star formation rate of the GOALS sample is extremely high, with a median value (3.9*10^{-10} yr^{-1}) that is comparable to the highest specific star formation rates seen in the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey sample."

Dwarf-Galaxy Cosmology
Regina Schulte-Ladbeck, Ulrich Hopp, Elias Brinks, Andrey Kravtsov, arXiv:1004.1139 [pdf, other]
Comments: This is the editorial paper which introduces the Special Issue on Dwarf-Galaxy Cosmology published in Advances in Astronomy. The issue contains fourteen review papers, and one original research article. All papers were peer-reviewed by a minimum of two referees. To read the Special Issue, please follow this link: this http URL .

Their abstract: "Dwarf galaxies provide opportunities for drawing inferences about the processes in the early universe by observing our "cosmological backyard"-the Local Group and its vicinity. This special issue of the open-access journal Advances in Astronomy is a snapshot of the current state of the art of dwarf-galaxy cosmology."

Sadly no articles focussing on outflows or supernova feedback.


Comparing Ultraviolet and Infrared-Selected Starburst Galaxies in Dust Obscuration and Luminosity
Lusine A. Sargsyan, Daniel W. Weedman, James R. Houck, arXiv:1004.1551 [pdf, ps, other]
Comments: accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal

Concludes that the "obscuration corrections by factors of two to three determined from reddening of the ultraviolet continuum for Lyman Break Galaxies with z > 2 are insufficient, and should be at least a factor of 10 for M(UV) about -17, with decreasing correction for more luminous sources."

A Multi-wavelength analysis of M81: insight on the nature of Arp's loop
A. Sollima, A. Gil de Paz, D. Martinez-Delgado, R.J. Gabany, J. Gallego, T. Hallas, arXiv:1004.1610 [pdf, ps, other]
Comments: 7 pages, 7 figures, accepted for publication by A&A

Their abstract: "The optical ring like structure detected by Arp (1965) around M81 (commonly referenced as "Arp's loop") represents one of the most spectacular feature observed in nearby galaxies. Arp's loop is commonly interpreted as a tail resulting from the tidal interaction between M81 and M82. However, since its discovery the nature of this feature has remained controversial. Aims: Our primary purpose was to identify the sources of optical and infrared emission observed in Arp's loop. Methods: The morphology of the Arp's loop has been investigated with deep wide-field optical images. We also measured its colors using IRAS and Spitzer-MIPS infrared images and compared them with those of the disk of M81 and Galactic dust cirrus that fills the area where M81 is located. Results: Optical images reveal that this peculiar object has a filamentary structure characterized by many dust features overlapping M81's field. The ratios of far-infrared fluxes and the estimated dust-to-gas ratios indicate the infrared emission of Arp's loop is dominated by the contribution of cold dust that is most likely from Galactic cirrus. Conclusions: The above results suggest that the light observed at optical wavelengths is a combination of emission from i) a few recent star forming regions located close to M81, where both bright UV complexes and peaks in the HI distribution are found, ii) the extended disk of M81 and iii) scattered light from the same Galactic cirrus that is responsible for the bulk of the far infrared emission."

I've mentioned the Galactic cirrus emission along the line of sight to the M81/M82 group previously in this blog, as the cirrus is visible even in scattered optical/UV light. Amateur astronomers have termed this cirrus-associated nebulosity Integrated Flux Nebulae.


Black Holes and AGN

Momentum-driven winds and positive AGN feedback
Joe Silk, Adi Nusser, arXiv:1004.0857 [pdf, ps, other]
Subjects: Cosmology and Extragalactic Astrophysics (astro-ph.CO)

Their abstract: "Force balance considerations put a limit on the rate of AGN radiation momentum output, $L/c$, capable of driving galactic superwinds. We show that this condition is insufficient: black holes obeying the observed $\mbh -\sigma $ relation cannot supply enough energy in radiation which can drive the gas out by pressure alone. The shortfall is by up to an order of magnitude in most, but not all, cases. We propose that outflow-triggering of star formation by enhancing the intercloud medium turbulent pressure and squeezing clouds can supply the necessary boost, and suggest possible tests of this hypothesis. We further point out that the time-scales for Bondi accretion and for orbital decay of merging clumps by dynamical friction in the nuclear disk around a central black hole both follow a similar scaling with mass, favoring the most massive black holes, but the latter process is up to two orders of magnitude more rapid at $z\gtsim 10.$ The combination of accretion and coalescence results in earlier formation of more massive black holes, and, in particular, can account for the masses of the black holes inferred to power AGN at $z\sim 6.$"


Molecular clouds: X-ray mirrors of the Galactic nuclear activity
Gabriele Ponti, Regis Terrier, Andrea Goldwurm, Guillaume Belanger, Guillaume Trap, arXiv:1004.1412 [pdf, ps, other]
Comments: 4 pages, "The Galactic Center: A Window on the Nuclear Environment of Disk Galaxies" ASP Conference Series, 2010 eds: M. Morris, D. Q. Wang and F. Yuan

Did the supermassive black hole that currently lurks quietly at the center of our Galaxy flare up about 100 years ago?



Interstellar Medium

The Mass-Size Relation from Clouds to Cores. II. Solar Neighborhood Clouds
Jens Kauffmann, Thushara Pillai, Rahul Shetty, Philip C. Myers, Alyssa A. Goodman, arXiv:1004.1170 [pdf, ps, other]
Comments: accepted to the Astrophysical Journal

I must read this more carefully.

Abstract in full: "We measure the mass and size of cloud fragments in several molecular clouds continuously over a wide range of spatial scales (0.05 < r / pc < 3). Based on the recently developed "dendrogram-technique", this characterizes dense cores as well as the enveloping clouds. "Larson's 3rd Law" of constant column density, m(r) = C*r^2, is not well suited to describe the derived mass-size data. Solar neighborhood clouds not forming massive stars (< 10 M_sun; Pipe Nebula, Taurus, Perseus, and Ophiuchus) obey m(r) < 870 M_sun (r / pc)^1.33 . In contrast to this, clouds forming massive stars (Orion A, G10.15$-$0.34, G11.11$-$0.12) do exceed the aforementioned relation. Thus, this limiting mass-size relation may approximate a threshold for the formation of massive stars. Across all clouds, cluster-forming cloud fragments are found to be---at given radius---more massive than fragments devoid of clusters. The cluster-bearing fragments are found to roughly obey a mass-size law m = C*r^1.27 (where the exponent is highly uncertain in any given cloud, but is certainly smaller than 1.5).

Physical Properties of Giant Molecular Clouds in the Large Magellanic Cloud
A. Hughes, et al, arXiv:1004.2094 [pdf, ps, other]
Comments: 28 pages, 10 figures, accepted by MNRAS

Searching for Diffuse Nonthermal X-Rays from the Superbubbles N11 and N51D in the Large Magellanic Cloud
H. Yamaguchi, M. Sawada, A. Bamba, arXiv:1004.0753 [pdf, ps, other]
Comments: 9 pages, accepted for publication in ApJ.

Their abstract (emphasis mine): "We report on observations of the superbubbles (SBs) N11 and N51D in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) with Suzaku and XMM-Newton. The interior of both SBs exhibits diffuse X-ray emission, which is well represented by thin thermal plasma models with a temperature of 0.2-0.3keV. The presence of nonthermal emission, claimed in previous works, is much less evident in our careful investigation. The 3-sigma upper limits of 2-10keV flux are 3.6*10^{-14}ergs/cm^2/s and 4.7*10^{-14}ergs/cm^2/s for N11 and N51D, respectively. The previous claims of the detection of nonthermal emission are probably due to the inaccurate estimation of the non X-ray background. We conclude that no credible nonthermal emission has been detected from the SBs in the LMC, with the exception of 30 Dor C. "


Hydrodynamics and Numerical Astrophysics

A comparison between grid and particle methods on the statistics of driven, supersonic, isothermal turbulence
Daniel J. Price, Christoph Federrath, arXiv:1004.1446 [pdf, ps, other]
Comments: 16 pages, 15 figures, accepted to MNRAS. Associated movies, images and full res version at: this http URL

The Athena Astrophysical MHD Code in Cylindrical Geometry
Aaron Skinner, Eve Ostriker, arXiv:1004.2487 [pdf, ps, other]

Their abstract: "A method for implementing cylindrical coordinates in the Athena magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) code is described. The extension follows the approach of Athena's original developers and has been designed to alter the existing Cartesian-coordinates code as minimally and transparently as possible. The numerical equations in cylindrical coordinates are formulated to maintain consistency with constrained transport, a central feature of the Athena algorithm, while making use of previously implemented code modules such as the Riemann solvers. Angular-momentum transport, which is critical in astrophysical disk systems dominated by rotation, is treated carefully. We describe modifications for cylindrical coordinates of the higher-order spatial reconstruction and characteristic evolution steps as well as the finite-volume and constrained transport updates. Finally, we present a test suite of standard and novel problems in one-, two-, and three-dimensions designed to validate our algorithms and implementation and to be of use to other code developers. The code is suitable for use in a wide variety of astrophysical applications and is freely available for download on the web."


Instrumentation

The New Hard X-ray Mission
G. Tagliaferri, et al, arXiv:1004.2691 [pdf]
Comments: 9 pages, 5 figures. Accepted for publication on PoS, proceedings of "The Extreme sky: Sampling the Universe above 10 keV", held in Otranto (Italy), 13-17 October 2009

Their abstract: "The Italian New Hard X-ray Mission (NHXM) has been designed to provide a real breakthrough on a number of hot astrophysical issues that includes: black holes census, the physics of accretion, the particle acceleration mechanisms, the effects of radiative transfer in highly magnetized plasmas and strong gravitational fields. NHXM is an evolution of the HEXIT-Sat concept and it combines fine imaging capability up to 80 keV, today available only at E<10 keV, with sensitive photoelectric imaging polarimetry. It consists of four identical mirrors, with a 10 m focal length, achieved after launch by means of a deployable structure. Three of the four telescopes will have at their focus identical spectral-imaging cameras, while X-ray imaging polarimetric cameras will be placed at the focus of the fourth. In order to ensure a low and stable background, NHXM will be placed in a low Earth equatorial orbit. In this paper we provide an overall description of this mission that is currently in phase B."


Stars, Supernovae and Planets

One-sided Outflows/Jets from Rotating Stars with Complex Magnetic Fields

R.V.E. Lovelace, M.M. Romanova, G.V. Ustyugova, A.V. Koldoba, arXiv:1004.0385 [pdf, other]
Comments: 10 pages, 11 figures

Dusty Disks around White Dwarfs I: Origin of Debris Disks
Ruobing Dong, Yan Wang, D. N.C. Lin, X.-W. Liu, arXiv:1004.0696 [pdf, ps, other]
Comments: 38 pages, 7 figures, single column, accepted by ApJ

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