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  1. Aims. We present a variability-, color-, and morphology-based classifier designed to identify multiple classes of transients and persistently variable and non-variable sources from the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) Data Release 11 (DR11) light curves of extended and point sources. The main motivation to develop this model was to identify active galactic nuclei (AGN) at different redshift ranges to be observed by the 4MOST Chilean AGN/Galaxy Evolution Survey (ChANGES). That being said, it also serves as a more general time-domain astronomy study. Methods. The model uses nine colors computed from CatWISE and Pan-STARRS1 (PS1), a morphology score from PS1, and 61 single-band variability features computed from the ZTF DR11 g and r light curves. We trained two versions of the model, one for each ZTF band, since ZTF DR11 treats the light curves observed in a particular combination of field, filter, and charge-coupled device (CCD) quadrant independently. We used a hierarchical local classifier per parent node approach-where each node is composed of a balanced random forest model. We adopted a taxonomy with 17 classes: non-variable stars, non-variable galaxies, three transients (SNIa, SN-other, and CV/Nova), five classes of stochastic variables (lowz-AGN, midz-AGN, highz-AGN, Blazar, and YSO), and seven classes of periodic variables (LPV, EA, EB/EW, DSCT, RRL, CEP, and Periodic-other). Results. The macro-averaged precision, recall, and F1-score are 0.61, 0.75, and 0.62 for the g -band model, and 0.60, 0.74, and 0.61, for the r -band model. When grouping the four AGN classes (lowz-AGN, midz-AGN, highz-AGN, and Blazar) into one single class, its precision-recall, and F1-score are 1.00, 0.95, and 0.97, respectively, for both the g and r bands. This demonstrates the good performance of the model in classifying AGN candidates. We applied the model to all the sources in the ZTF/4MOST overlapping sky (−28 ≤ Dec ≤ 8.5), avoiding ZTF fields that cover the Galactic bulge (| gal_b | ≤ 9 and gal_l ≤ 50). This area includes 86 576 577 light curves in the g band and 140 409 824 in the r band with 20 or more observations and with an average magnitude in the corresponding band lower than 20.5. Only 0.73% of the g -band light curves and 2.62% of the r -band light curves were classified as stochastic, periodic, or transient with high probability ( P init ≥ 0.9). Even though the metrics obtained for the two models are similar, we find that, in general, more reliable results are obtained when using the g -band model. With it, we identified 384 242 AGN candidates (including low-, mid-, and high-redshift AGN and Blazars), 287 156 of which have P init ≥ 0.9. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  2. ABSTRACT

    The period-change rate (PCR) of pulsating variable stars is a useful probe of changes in their interior structure, and thus of their evolutionary stages. So far, the PCRs of classical Cepheids in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) have been explored in a limited sample of the total population of these variables. Here, we use a template-based method to build observed-minus-computed (O − C) period diagrams, from which we can derive PCRs for these stars by taking advantage of the long time baseline afforded by the Digital Access to a Sky Century @ Harvard light curves, combined with additional data from the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, the MAssive Compact Halo Object project, Gaia’s Data Release 2, and in some cases the All-Sky Automated Survey. From an initial sample of 2315 sources, our method provides an unprecedented sample of 1303 LMC classical Cepheids with accurate PCRs, the largest for any single galaxy, including the Milky Way. The derived PCRs are largely compatible with theoretically expected values, as computed by our team using the Modules for Experiments in Stellar Astrophysics code, as well as with similar previous computations available in the literature. Additionally, five long-period ($P\,\gt\, 50\, \rm {d}$) sources display a cyclic behaviour in their O − C diagrams, which is clearly incompatible with evolutionary changes. Finally, on the basis of their large positive PCR values, two first-crossing Cepheid candidates are identified.

     
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  3. ABSTRACT A search of the first Data Release of the VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV) Survey discovered the exceptionally red transient VVV-WIT-01 (H − Ks = 5.2). It peaked before March 2010, then faded by ∼9.5 mag over the following 2 yr. The 1.6–22 μm spectral energy distribution in March 2010 was well fit by a highly obscured blackbody with T ∼ 1000 K and $A_{K_s} \sim 6.6$ mag. The source is projected against the Infrared Dark Cloud (IRDC) SDC G331.062−0.294. The chance projection probability is small for any single event (p ≈ 0.01–0.02), which suggests a physical association, e.g. a collision between low mass protostars. However, blackbody emission at T ∼ 1000 K is common in classical novae (especially CO novae) at the infrared peak in the light curve due to condensation of dust ∼30–60 d after the explosion. Radio follow-up with the Australia Telescope Compact Array detected a fading continuum source with properties consistent with a classical nova but probably inconsistent with colliding protostars. Considering all VVV transients that could have been projected against a catalogued IRDC raises the probability of a chance association to p = 0.13–0.24. After weighing several options, it appears likely that VVV-WIT-01 was a classical nova event located behind an IRDC. 
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