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  1. ABSTRACT We study the optical gri photometric variability of a sample of 190 quasars within the SDSS Stripe 82 region that have long-term photometric coverage during ∼1998−2020 with SDSS, PanSTARRS-1, the Dark Energy Survey, and dedicated follow-up monitoring with Blanco 4m/DECam. With on average ∼200 nightly epochs per quasar per filter band, we improve the parameter constraints from a Damped Random Walk (DRW) model fit to the light curves over previous studies with 10–15 yr baselines and ≲ 100 epochs. We find that the average damping time-scale τDRW continues to rise with increased baseline, reaching a median value of ∼750 d (gmore »band) in the rest frame of these quasars using the 20-yr light curves. Some quasars may have gradual, long-term trends in their light curves, suggesting that either the DRW fit requires very long baselines to converge, or that the underlying variability is more complex than a single DRW process for these quasars. Using a subset of quasars with better-constrained τDRW (less than 20 per cent of the baseline), we confirm a weak wavelength dependence of τDRW∝λ0.51 ± 0.20. We further quantify optical variability of these quasars over days to decades time-scales using structure function (SF) and power spectrum density (PSD) analyses. The SF and PSD measurements qualitatively confirm the measured (hundreds of days) damping time-scales from the DRW fits. However, the ensemble PSD is steeper than that of a DRW on time-scales less than ∼ a month for these luminous quasars, and this second break point correlates with the longer DRW damping time-scale.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 2, 2023
  2. Abstract We use a recent census of the Milky Way (MW) satellite galaxy population to constrain the lifetime of particle dark matter (DM). We consider two-body decaying dark matter (DDM) in which a heavy DM particle decays with lifetime τ comparable to the age of the universe to a lighter DM particle (with mass splitting ϵ ) and to a dark radiation species. These decays impart a characteristic “kick velocity,” V kick = ϵ c , on the DM daughter particles, significantly depleting the DM content of low-mass subhalos and making them more susceptible to tidal disruption. We fit themore »suppression of the present-day DDM subhalo mass function (SHMF) as a function of τ and V kick using a suite of high-resolution zoom-in simulations of MW-mass halos, and we validate this model on new DDM simulations of systems specifically chosen to resemble the MW. We implement our DDM SHMF predictions in a forward model that incorporates inhomogeneities in the spatial distribution and detectability of MW satellites and uncertainties in the mapping between galaxies and DM halos, the properties of the MW system, and the disruption of subhalos by the MW disk using an empirical model for the galaxy–halo connection. By comparing to the observed MW satellite population, we conservatively exclude DDM models with τ < 18 Gyr (29 Gyr) for V kick = 20 kms −1 (40 kms −1 ) at 95% confidence. These constraints are among the most stringent and robust small-scale structure limits on the DM particle lifetime and strongly disfavor DDM models that have been proposed to alleviate the Hubble and S 8 tensions.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  3. Abstract On 2019 August 14 at 21:10:39 UTC, the LIGO/Virgo Collaboration (LVC) detected a possible neutron star–black hole merger (NSBH), the first ever identified. An extensive search for an optical counterpart of this event, designated GW190814, was undertaken using the Dark Energy Camera on the 4 m Victor M. Blanco Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. Target of Opportunity interrupts were issued on eight separate nights to observe 11 candidates using the 4.1 m Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope’s Goodman High Throughput Spectrograph in order to assess whether any of these transients was likely to be an optical counterpartmore »of the possible NSBH merger. Here, we describe the process of observing with SOAR, the analysis of our spectra, our spectroscopic typing methodology, and our resultant conclusion that none of the candidates corresponded to the gravitational wave merger event but were all instead other transients. Finally, we describe the lessons learned from this effort. Application of these lessons will be critical for a successful community spectroscopic follow-up program for LVC observing run 4 (O4) and beyond.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  4. Abstract We present morphological classifications of ∼27 million galaxies from the Dark Energy Survey (DES) Data Release 1 (DR1) using a supervised deep learning algorithm. The classification scheme separates: (a) early-type galaxies (ETGs) from late-types (LTGs), and (b) face-on galaxies from edge-on. Our Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) are trained on a small subset of DES objects with previously known classifications. These typically have mr ≲ 17.7mag; we model fainter objects to mr < 21.5 mag by simulating what the brighter objects with well determined classifications would look like if they were at higher redshifts. The CNNs reach 97% accuracy tomore »mr < 21.5 on their training sets, suggesting that they are able to recover features more accurately than the human eye. We then used the trained CNNs to classify the vast majority of the other DES images. The final catalog comprises five independent CNN predictions for each classification scheme, helping to determine if the CNN predictions are robust or not. We obtain secure classifications for ∼ 87% and 73% of the catalog for the ETG vs. LTG and edge-on vs. face-on models, respectively. Combining the two classifications (a) and (b) helps to increase the purity of the ETG sample and to identify edge-on lenticular galaxies (as ETGs with high ellipticity). Where a comparison is possible, our classifications correlate very well with Sérsic index (n), ellipticity (ε) and spectral type, even for the fainter galaxies. This is the largest multi-band catalog of automated galaxy morphologies to date.« less
  5. ABSTRACT We perform a cross validation of the cluster catalogue selected by the red-sequence Matched-filter Probabilistic Percolation algorithm (redMaPPer) in Dark Energy Survey year 1 (DES-Y1) data by matching it with the Sunyaev–Zel’dovich effect (SZE) selected cluster catalogue from the South Pole Telescope SPT-SZ survey. Of the 1005 redMaPPer selected clusters with measured richness $\hat{\lambda }\gt 40$ in the joint footprint, 207 are confirmed by SPT-SZ. Using the mass information from the SZE signal, we calibrate the richness–mass relation using a Bayesian cluster population model. We find a mass trend λ ∝ MB consistent with a linear relation (B ∼ 1),more »no significant redshift evolution and an intrinsic scatter in richness of σλ = 0.22 ± 0.06. By considering two error models, we explore the impact of projection effects on the richness–mass modelling, confirming that such effects are not detectable at the current level of systematic uncertainties. At low richness SPT-SZ confirms fewer redMaPPer clusters than expected. We interpret this richness dependent deficit in confirmed systems as due to the increased presence at low richness of low-mass objects not correctly accounted for by our richness-mass scatter model, which we call contaminants. At a richness $\hat{\lambda }=40$, this population makes up ${\gt}12{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ (97.5 percentile) of the total population. Extrapolating this to a measured richness $\hat{\lambda }=20$ yields ${\gt}22{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ (97.5 percentile). With these contamination fractions, the predicted redMaPPer number counts in different plausible cosmologies are compatible with the measured abundance. The presence of such a population is also a plausible explanation for the different mass trends (B ∼ 0.75) obtained from mass calibration using purely optically selected clusters. The mean mass from stacked weak lensing (WL) measurements suggests that these low-mass contaminants are galaxy groups with masses ∼3–5 × 1013 M⊙ which are beyond the sensitivity of current SZE and X-ray surveys but a natural target for SPT-3G and eROSITA.« less
  6. ABSTRACT Quantifying tensions – inconsistencies amongst measurements of cosmological parameters by different experiments – has emerged as a crucial part of modern cosmological data analysis. Statistically significant tensions between two experiments or cosmological probes may indicate new physics extending beyond the standard cosmological model and need to be promptly identified. We apply several tension estimators proposed in the literature to the dark energy survey (DES) large-scale structure measurement and Planck cosmic microwave background data. We first evaluate the responsiveness of these metrics to an input tension artificially introduced between the two, using synthetic DES data. We then apply the metricsmore »to the comparison of Planck and actual DES Year 1 data. We find that the parameter differences, Eigentension, and Suspiciousness metrics all yield similar results on both simulated and real data, while the Bayes ratio is inconsistent with the rest due to its dependence on the prior volume. Using these metrics, we calculate the tension between DES Year 1 3 × 2pt and Planck, finding the surveys to be in ∼2.3σ tension under the ΛCDM paradigm. This suite of metrics provides a toolset for robustly testing tensions in the DES Year 3 data and beyond.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 6, 2022