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Twenty years ago, there was disagreement at a level of a factor of two as regards the value of the expansion rate of the Universe. Ten years ago, a value that was good to 10% was established using the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), completing one of the primary missions that NASA designed and built the HST to undertake. Today, after confronting most of the systematic uncertainties listed at the end of the Key Project, we are looking at a value of the Hubble constant that is plausibly known to within 3%. In the near future, an independently determined value of H0 good to 1% is desirable to constrain the extraction of other cosmological parameters from the power spectrum of the cosmic microwave background in defining a concordance model of cosmology. We review recent progress and assess the future prospects for those tighter constraints on the Hubble constant, which were unimaginable just a decade ago.
Ever since the first pulsar was discovered by Bell and Hewish over 40 years ago, we've known that not only are pulsars fascinating and truly exotic objects, but that we can use them as powerful tools for basic physics and astrophysics as well. Taylor and Hulse hammered these views home with their discovery and timing of the spectacular “binary pulsar” in the 1970s and 1980s. In the last two decades a host of surprises and a promise of phenomenal scientific riches in the future has come from the millisecond pulsars. As our instrumentation has become more sensitive and better suited to measuring the pulses from these objects, they've given us new tests of general relativity, fantastic probes of the interstellar medium, constraints on the physics of ultra-dense matter, new windows into binary and stellar evolution, and the promise of a direct detection of gravitational waves. These things really are cool, and there is much more we will do with them in the future.
The formation of stars from gas drives the evolution of galaxies. Yet, it remains one of the hardest processes to understand when trying to connect observations of modern and high-redshift stellar and galaxy populations to models of large scale structure formation. It has become clear that the star formation rate at redshifts z > 2 drops off rather more quickly than was thought even five years ago. Theoretical models have tended to overpredict the star formation rate at these high redshifts substantially, primarily due to overcooling. Overcooling in galaxies typically occurs because of unphysical radiative cooling. As a result, insufficient turbulence is driven by stellar feedback in galaxies. I show that such turbulence has the net effect of strongly inhibiting star formation, despite its ability to locally promote star formation by compression. Radiation pressure appears less likely to be a dominant driver of the turbulence than has been argued, but supernova and magnetorotational instabilities remain viable mechanisms. Gravity alone cannot be the main driver, as otherwise well-resolved models without feedback would accurately predict star formation rates. Star formation rate surface density correlates well with observed molecular gas surface density, as well as with other tracers of high density material. Correlation does not, however, necessarily imply causation. In this case, it appears that both molecule formation and star formation occur as a consequence of gravitational collapse, with molecules typically playing an important but not an essential role in cooling. The basic concept that gravitational instability drives star formation remains a true guide through the thickets of complexity surrounding this topic. I finally briefly note that understanding ionization heating and radiation pressure from the most massive stars will likely require much higher resolution models (sub-parsec scale) than resolving supernova feedback.
The last decade has yielded the first images of exoplanets, considerably advancing our understanding of the properties of young giant planets. In this talk I will discuss current results from ongoing direct imaging efforts as well as future prospects for detection and characterization of exoplanets via high contrast imaging. Direct detection, and direct spectroscopy in particular, have great potential for advancing our understanding of extrasolar planets. In combination with other methods of planet detection, direct imaging and spectroscopy will allow us to eventually: 1) study the physical properties of exoplanets (colors, temperatures, etc.) in depth and 2) fully map out the architecture of typical planetary systems. Direct imaging has offered us the first glimpse into the atmospheric properties of young high-mass (3-10 MJup) exoplanets. Deep direct imaging surveys for exoplanets have also yielded the strongest constraints to date on the statistical properties of wide giant exoplanets. A number of extremely high contrast exoplanet imaging instruments have recently come online or will come online within the next year (including Project 1640, SCExAO, SPHERE, GPI, among others). I will discuss future prospects with these instruments.
Hundreds of extrasolar planets have been discovered around various types of stars by various techniques during the past decade. Among them precise radial velocity measurements for stars are fundamental technique to detect and confirm exoplanets. In this paper activities in East-Asian region in this research field are introduced: East-Asian Planet Search Network, which is a network searching for planets around evolved intermediate-mass stars, and Subaru/IRD project, which will search for habitable planets around M-type dwarfs using infrared radial-velocity method.
Solar interior differential rotation and meridional flow play important roles in dynamo models. In this review, I briefly review results in interior rotational profiles and zonal flows obtained from helioseismology studies. Due to the new developments in recent years in interior meridional flow studies, this review focuses more on results on meridional flow. I describe new developments in the shallower poleward meridional flow, and the temporal evolution of these flows. Then I introduce a newly identified center-to-limb variation effect in helioseismology studies, and present recent results in the search of equatorward meridional flows. I also discuss how these results will effect the dynamo models.
The formation of the first galaxies marks the end of the cosmic dark ages, initiating the prolonged process of reionization and enriching the pristine intergalactic medium with the first heavy chemical elements. It is now possible to simulate this process with ever greater detail of physical realism, while still considering the proper cosmological context. The simulations have taught us that the feedback from Population III stars is vital in shaping the properties of early galaxies. We are close in pushing ab initio simulations to the point where future instruments, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, can directly test theoretical predictions.
The groundwork of the cosmic maser theory was laid four decades ago. The elapsed time, including the few years after the last IAU symposium dedicated to masers, did not add much to the fundamentals. In this review, I will summarize some cornerstones of the theory, with an emphasis on issues that don't seem to have received due attention in the past. I will also comment on some new developments.
Astronomers have always sought the best sites for their telescopes. Antarctica, with its high plateau reaching to above 4,000 metres, intense cold, exceptionally low humidity and stable atmosphere, offers what for many forms of astronomy is the ultimate observing location on this planet. While optical, infrared and millimetre astronomers are building their observatories on the ice, particle physicists are using the ice itself as a detector and exploration of the terahertz region is being conducted from circumpolar long-duration balloons. Remarkable astronomical discoveries are already coming out of Antarctica, and much, much more is just around the corner.
Most of the X-ray emission from luminous accreting black holes emerges from within 20 gravitational radii. The effective emission radius is several times smaller if the black hole is rapidly spinning. General Relativistic effects can then be very important. Large spacetime curvature causes strong lightbending and large gravitational redshifts. The hard X-ray, power-law-emitting corona irradiates the accretion disc generating an X-ray reflection component. Atomic features in the reflection spectrum allow gravitational redshifts to be measured. Time delays between observed variations in the power-law and the reflection spectrum (reverberation) enable the physical scale of the reflecting region to be determined. The relative strength of the reflection and power-law continuum depends on light bending. All of these observed effects enable the immediate environment of the black hole where the effects of General Relativity are on display to be probed and explored.
The quest for a better understanding of the evolution of massive galaxies can be broadly summarised with 2 questions: how did they build up their large (stellar) masses and what eventually quenched their star formation (SF)? To tackle these questions, we use high-resolution ramses simulations (Teyssier 2002) to study several aspects of the detailed interplay between accretion (mergers and cold flows), SF and feedback in individual galaxies. We examine SF in major mergers; a process crucial to stellar mass assembly. We explore whether the merger-induced, clustered SF is as important a mechanism in average mergers, as it is in extreme systems like the Antennae. We find that interaction-induced turbulence drives up the velocity dispersion, and that there is a correlated rise in SFR in all our simulated mergers as the density pdf evolves to have an excess of very dense gas. Next, we introduce a new study into whether mechanical jet feedback can impact upon the ability of hot gas haloes to provide a supply of fuel for SF during mergers and in their remnants. Finally, we briefly review our recent study, in which we examine the effect of supernova (SN) feedback on galaxies accreting via the previously overlooked cold-mode, by resimulating a stream-fed galaxy at z ~ 9. A far-reaching galactic wind results yet it cannot suppress the cold, filamentary accretion or eject significant mass in order to reduce the SFR, suggesting that SN feedback may not be as effective as is often assumed.
Among the many different classes of stellar objects, neutron stars provide a unique environment where we can test (at the same time) our understanding of matter with extreme density, temperature, and magnetic field. In particular, the properties of matter under the influence of magnetic fields and the role of electromagnetism in physical processes are key areas of research in physics. However, despite decades of research, our limited knowledge on the physics of strong magnetic fields is clear: we only need to note that the strongest steady magnetic field achieved in terrestrial labs is some millions of Gauss, only thousands of times stronger than a common refrigerator magnet. In this general context, I will review here the state of the art of our research on the most magnetic objects in the Universe, a small sample of neutron stars called magnetars. The study of the large high-energy emission, and the flares from these strongly magnetized (~ 1015 Gauss) neutron stars is providing crucial information about the physics involved at these extremes conditions, and favoring us with many unexpected surprises.
The helicity is important to present the basic topological configuration of magnetic field in solar atmosphere. The distribution of magnetic helicity in solar atmosphere is presented by means of the observational (vector) magnetograms. As the kinetic helicity in the solar subatmosphere can be inferred from the velocity field based on the technique of the helioseismology and used to compare with the magnetic helicity in the solar atmosphere, the observational helicities provide the important chance for the confirmation on the generation of magnetic fields in the subatmosphere and solar dynamo models also. In this paper, we present the observational magnetic and kinetic helicity in solar active regions and corresponding questions, except the relationship with solar eruptive phenomena.
All stars are born in molecular clouds, and most in giant molecular clouds (GMCs), which thus set the star formation activity of galaxies. We first review their observed properties, including measures of mass surface density, Σ, and thus mass, M. We discuss cloud dynamics, concluding most GMCs are gravitationally bound. Star formation is highly clustered within GMCs, but overall is very inefficient. We compare properties of star-forming clumps with those of young stellar clusters (YSCs). The high central densities of YSCs may result via dynamical evolution of already-formed stars during and after star cluster formation. We discuss theoretical models of GMC evolution, especially addressing how turbulence is maintained, and emphasizing the importance of GMC collisions. We describe how feedback limits total star formation efficiency, ε, in clumps. A turbulent and clumpy medium allows higher ε, permitting formation of bound clusters even when escape speeds are less than the ionized gas sound speed.
SEEDS is the first Subaru Strategic Program, whose aim is to conduct a direct imaging survey for giant planets as well as protoplanetary/debris disks at a few to a few tens of AU region around 500 nearby solar-type or more massive young stars devoting 120 Subaru nights for 5 years. The targets are composed of five categories spanning the ages of ~1 Myr to ~1 Gyr. Some RV-planet targets with older ages are also observed. The survey employs the new high-contrast instrument HiCIAO, a successor of the previous NIR coronagraph camera CIAO for the Subaru Telescope. We describe the outline of this survey and present its first three years of results. The survey has published ~20 refereed papers by now. The main results are as follows: (1) detection and characterization of the most unequivocal and lowest-mass planet via direct imaging. (2) detection of a super-Jupiter around the most massive star ever imaged, (3) detection of companions around a retrograde exoplanet system, which supports the Kozai mechanism for the origin of retrograde orbit (not in this proceedings, but see Narita et al. 2010, 2012). We also report (4) the discovery of unprecedentedly detailed structures of more than a dozen of protoplanetary disks and some debris disks. The detected structures such as wide gaps and spirals arms of a Solar-system scale could be signpost of planet.
Numerical modeling of molecular masers is necessary in order to understand their nature and diagnostic capabilities. Model construction requires elaboration of a basic description which allows computation, that is a definition of the parameter space and basic physical relations. Usually, this requires additional thorough studies that can consist of the following stages/parts: relevant molecular spectroscopy and collisional rate coefficients; conditions in and around the masing region (that part of space where population inversion is realized); geometry and size of the masing region (including the question of whether maser spots are discrete clumps or line-of-sight correlations in a much bigger region) and propagation of maser radiation. Output of the maser computer modeling can have the following forms: exploration of parameter space (where do inversions appear in particular maser transitions and their combinations, which parameter values describe a ‘typical’ source, and so on); modeling of individual sources (line flux ratios, spectra, images and their variability); analysis of the pumping mechanism; predictions (new maser transitions, correlations in variability of different maser transitions, and the like). Described schemes (constituents and hierarchy) of the model input and output are based mainly on the experience of the authors and make no claim to be dogmatic.
Allan Sandage returned to the distance scale and the calibration of the Hubble constant again and again during his active life, experimenting with different distance indicators. In 1952 his proof of the high luminosity of Cepheids confirmed Baade's revision of the distance scale (H0 ~ 250 km s−1 Mpc−1). During the next 25 years, he lowered the value to 75 and 55. Upon the arrival of the Hubble Space Telescope, he observed Cepheids to calibrate the mean luminosity of nearby Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) which, used as standard candles, led to the cosmic value of H0 = 62.3 ± 1.3 ± 5.0 km s−1 Mpc−1. Eventually he turned to the tip of the red giant branch (TRGB) as a very powerful distance indicator. A compilation of 176 TRGB distances yielded a mean, very local value of H0 = 62.9 ± 1.6 km s−1 Mpc−1 and shed light on the streaming velocities in the Local Supercluster. Moreover, TRGB distances are now available for six SNe Ia; if their mean luminosity is applied to distant SNe Ia, one obtains H0 = 64.6 ± 1.6 ± 2.0 km s−1 Mpc−1. The weighted mean of the two independent large-scale calibrations yields H0 = 64.1 km s−1 Mpc−1 within 3.6%.
Gravitational microlensing has a unique sensitivity to exoplanets at outside of the snow-line with masses down to the Earth-mass. Because of the rarity and short timescale of the planetary signal, the survey groups, MOA-II in New Zealand and OGLE-IV in Chile carry out the wide field survey observation towards the galactic bulge to issue alerts in real time. Then telescopes of the follow-up groups conduct high cadence follow-up observation to get dense sampling of the short planetary signal. Recent high cadence survey observations by MOA-II and OGLE-IV have started to find exoplanets without follow-up observation systematically. This is a transition to the next generation 24-hour high cadence survey network which can reveal the mass function of exoplanets down to Earth-mass outside of the snow-line. The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is the highest ranked recommendation for a large space mission in the recent New Worlds, New Horizons (NWNH) in Astronomy and Astrophysics 2010 Decadal Survey. Exoplanet microlensing program is one of the primary science of WFIRST. WFIRST will find about 2,000 bound planets and 1,000 unbound planets by the high precision continuous survey with 15 min. cadence. WFIRST can complete the statistical census of planetary systems in the Galaxy, from the outer habitable zone to gravitationally unbound planets – a discovery space inaccessible to other exoplanet detection techniques.