Results 1 - 10 of 17
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[en] The MACHO collaboration has been carrying out difference image analysis (DIA) since 1996 with the aim of increasing the sensitivity to the detection of gravitational microlensing. This is a preliminary report on the application of DIA to galactic bulge images in one field. We show how the DIA technique significantly increases the number of detected lensing events, by removing the positional dependence of traditional photometry schemes and lowering the microlensing event detection threshold. This technique, unlike PSF photometry, gives the unblended colors and positions of the microlensing source stars. We present a set of criteria for selecting microlensing events from objects discovered with this technique. The 16 pixel and classical microlensing events discovered with the DIA technique are presented. (c) (c) 1999. The American Astronomical Society
[en] We present a 9 million star color-magnitude diagram (9M CMD) of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) bar. The 9M CMD reveals a complex superposition of different-age and -metallicity stellar populations, with important stellar evolutionary phases occurring over 3 orders of magnitude in number density. First, we count the nonvariable red and blue supergiants and the associated Cepheid variables and measure the stellar effective temperatures defining the Cepheid instability strip. Lifetime predictions of stellar evolution theory are tested, with implications for the origin of low-luminosity Cepheids. The highly evolved asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars in the 9M CMD have a bimodal distribution in brightness, which we interpret as discrete old populations ((greater-or-similar sign)1 Gyr). The faint AGB sequence may be metal-poor and very old. Comparing the mean properties of giant branch and horizontal-branch (HB) stars in the 9M CMD with those of clusters, we identify NGC 411 and M3 as templates for the admixture of old stellar populations in the bar. However, there are several indications that the old and metal-poor field population has a red HB morphology: the RR Lyrae variables lie preferentially on the red edge of the instability strip, the AGB bump is very red, and the ratio of AGB bump stars to RR Lyrae variables is quite large. If the HB second parameter is age, the old and metal-poor field population in the bar likely formed after the oldest LMC clusters. Lifetime predictions of stellar evolution theory lead us to associate a significant fraction of the ∼1 million red HB clump giants in the 9M CMD with the same old and metal-poor population producing the RR Lyrae stars and the AGB bump. In this case, compared with the age-dependent luminosity predictions of stellar evolution theory, the red HB clump is too bright relative to the RR Lyrae stars and AGB bump. Last, we show that the surface density profile of RR Lyrae variables is fitted by an exponential, favoring a disklike rather than a spheroidal distribution. We conclude that the age of the LMC disk is probably similar to the age of the Galactic disk. (c) 2000 The American Astronomical Society
[en] We have detected 90 objects with periods and light-curve structures similar to those of field δ Scuti stars using the Massive Compact Halo Object (MACHO) Project database of Galactic bulge photometry. If we assume similar extinction values for all candidates and absolute magnitudes similar to those of other field high-amplitude δ Scuti stars (HADS), the majority of these objects lie in or near the Galactic bulge. At least two of these objects are likely foreground δ Scuti stars, one of which may be an evolved nonradial pulsator, similar to other evolved, disk-population δ Scuti stars. We have analyzed the light curves of these objects and find that they are similar to the light curves of field δ Scuti stars and the δ Scuti stars found by the Optical Gravitational Lens Experiment (OGLE). However, the amplitude distribution of these sources lies between those of low- and high-amplitude δ Scuti stars, which suggests that they may be an intermediate population. We have found nine double-mode HADS with frequency ratios ranging from 0.75 to 0.79, four probable double- and multiple-mode objects, and another four objects with marginal detections of secondary modes. The low frequencies (5-14 cycles day-1) and the observed period ratios of ∼0.77 suggest that the majority of these objects are evolved stars pulsating in fundamental or first overtone radial modes. (c) 2000 The American Astronomical Society
[en] This is a preliminary report on the application of Difference Image Analysis (DIA) to Galactic bulge images. The aim of this analysis is to increase the sensitivity to the detection of gravitational microlensing. We discuss how the DIA technique simplifies the process of discovering microlensing events by detecting only objects that have variable flux. We illustrate how the DIA technique is not limited to detection of so-called ''pixel lensing'' events but can also be used to improve photometry for classical microlensing events by removing the effects of blending. We will present a method whereby DIA can be used to reveal the true unblended colors, positions, and light curves of microlensing events. We discuss the need for a technique to obtain the accurate microlensing timescales from blended sources and present a possible solution to this problem using the existing Hubble Space Telescope color-magnitude diagrams of the Galactic bulge and LMC. The use of such a solution with both classical and pixel microlensing searches is discussed. We show that one of the major causes of systematic noise in DIA is differential refraction. A technique for removing this systematic by effectively registering images to a common air mass is presented. Improvements to commonly used image differencing techniques are discussed. (c) 1999 The American Astronomical Society
[en] The MACHO Project is a microlensing survey that monitors the brightnesses of ∼60 million stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), Small Magellanic Cloud, and Galactic bulge. Our database presently contains about 80 billion photometric measurements, a significant fraction of all astronomical photometry. We describe the calibration of MACHO two-color photometry and transformation to the standard Kron-Cousins V and R system. Calibrated MACHO photometry may be properly compared with all other observations on the Kron-Cousins standard system, enhancing the astrophysical value of these data. For ∼9 million stars in the LMC bar, independent photometric measurements of ∼20,000 stars with V(less-or-similar sign)18 mag in field-overlap regions demonstrate an internal precision σV =0.021, σR =0.019, σV-R =0.028 mag. The accuracy of the zero point in this calibration is estimated to be ±0.035 mag for stars with colors in the range -0.1 mag< V-R<1.2 mag. A comparison of calibrated MACHO photometry with published photometric sequences and new Hubble Space Telescope observations shows agreement. The current calibration zero-point uncertainty for the remainder of the MACHO photometry database is estimated to be ±0.10 mag in V or R and ±0.04 mag in V-R. We describe the first application of calibrated MACHO data: the construction of a color-magnitude diagram used to calculate our experimental sensitivity for detecting microlensing in the LMC. (c) (c) 1999. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific
[en] We present the initial results from a program aimed at establishing a network of hot DA white dwarfs to serve as spectrophotometric standards for present and future wide-field surveys. These stars span the equatorial zone and are faint enough to be conveniently observed throughout the year with large-aperture telescopes. The spectra of these white dwarfs are analyzed in order to generate a non-local-thermodynamic-equilibrium model atmosphere normalized to Hubble Space Telescope colors, including adjustments for wavelength-dependent interstellar extinction. Once established, this standard star network will serve ground-based observatories in both hemispheres as well as space-based instrumentation from the UV to the near IR. We demonstrate the effectiveness of this concept and show how two different approaches to the problem using somewhat different assumptions produce equivalent results. We discuss the lessons learned and the resulting corrective actions applied to our program.
[en] The science goals for ground-based large-area surveys, such as the Dark Energy Survey, Pan-STARRS, and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, require calibration of broadband photometry that is stable in time and uniform over the sky to precisions of a percent or better. This performance will need to be achieved with data taken over the course of many years, and often in less than ideal conditions. This paper describes a strategy to achieve precise internal calibration of imaging survey data taken in less than 'photometric' conditions, and reports results of an observational study of the techniques needed to implement this strategy. We find that images of celestial fields used in this case study with stellar densities ∼1 arcmin–2 and taken through cloudless skies can be calibrated with relative precision ∼0.5% (reproducibility). We report measurements of spatial structure functions of cloud absorption observed over a range of atmospheric conditions, and find it possible to achieve photometric measurements that are reproducible to 1% in images that were taken through cloud layers that transmit as little as 25% of the incident optical flux (1.5 magnitudes of extinction). We find, however, that photometric precision below 1% is impeded by the thinnest detectable cloud layers. We comment on implications of these results for the observing strategies of future surveys.
[en] The science goals for future ground-based all-sky surveys, such as the Dark Energy Survey, PanSTARRS, and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, require calibration of broadband photometry that is stable in time and uniform over the sky to precisions of 1% or better, and absolute calibration of color measurements that are similarly accurate. This performance will need to be achieved with measurements made from multiple images taken over the course of many years, and these surveys will observe in less than ideal conditions. This paper describes a technique to implement a new strategy to directly measure variations of atmospheric transmittance at optical wavelengths and application of these measurements to calibration of ground-based observations. This strategy makes use of measurements of the spectra of a small catalog of bright 'probe' stars as they progress across the sky and back-light the atmosphere. The signatures of optical absorption by different atmospheric constituents are recognized in these spectra by their characteristic dependences on wavelength and airmass. State-of-the-art models of atmospheric radiation transport and modern codes are used to accurately compute atmospheric extinction over a wide range of observing conditions. We present results of an observing campaign that demonstrate that correction for extinction due to molecular constituents and aerosols can be done with precisions of a few millimagnitudes with this technique.
[en] As part of our multi-observatory, multifilter campaign, we present r–i color observations of 82 near-Earth objects (NEOs) obtained with the reionization and transients infrared camera (RATIR) instrument on the 1.5 m robotic telescope at the San Pedro Martir’s National Observatory in Mexico. Our project is particularly focused on rapid-response observations of small (≲850 m) NEOs. The rapid response and the use of spectrophotometry allows us to constrain the taxonomic classification of NEOs with high efficiency. Here we present the methodology of our observations and our result, suggesting that the ratio of C-type to S-type asteroids in a size range of ∼30–850 m is 1.1, which is in accordance with our previous results. We also find that 10% of all NEOs in our sample are neither C- nor S-type asteroids