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  1. Abstract We present new radio and optical data, including very-long-baseline interferometry, as well as archival data analysis, for the luminous, decades-long radio transient FIRST J141918.9+394036. The radio data reveal a synchrotron self-absorption peak around 0.3 GHz and a radius of around 1.3 mas (0.5 pc) 26 yr post-discovery, indicating a blastwave energy ∼5 × 10 50 erg. The optical spectrum shows a broad [O iii ] λ 4959,5007 emission line that may indicate collisional excitation in the host galaxy, but its association with the transient cannot be ruled out. The properties of the host galaxy are suggestive of a massive stellar progenitor that formed at low metallicity. Based on the radio light curve, blastwave velocity, energetics, nature of the host galaxy and transient rates, we find that the properties of J1419+3940 are most consistent with long gamma-ray burst (LGRB) afterglows. Other classes of (optically discovered) stellar explosions as well as neutron star mergers are disfavored, and invoking any exotic scenario may not be necessary. It is therefore likely that J1419+3940 is an off-axis LGRB afterglow (as suggested by Law et al. and Marcote et al.), and under this premise the inverse beaming fraction is found to be f b −more »1 ≃ 280 − 200 + 700 , corresponding to an average jet half-opening angle < θ j > ≃ 5 − 2 + 4 degrees (68% confidence), consistent with previous estimates. From the volumetric rate we predict that surveys with the Very Large Array, Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, and MeerKAT will find a handful of J1419+3940-like events over the coming years.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  2. Context. Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are extremely energetic pulses of millisecond duration and unknown origin. To understand the phenomenon that emits these pulses, targeted and un-targeted searches have been performed for multiwavelength counterparts, including the optical. Aims. The objective of this work is to search for optical transients at the positions of eight well-localized (< 1″) FRBs after the arrival of the burst on different timescales (typically at one day, several months, and one year after FRB detection). We then compare this with known optical light curves to constrain progenitor models. Methods. We used the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT) network to promptly take images with its network of 23 telescopes working around the world. We used a template subtraction technique to analyze all the images collected at differing epochs. We have divided the difference images into two groups: In one group we use the image of the last epoch as a template, and in the other group we use the image of the first epoch as a template. We then searched for optical transients at the localizations of the FRBs in the template subtracted images. Results. We have found no optical transients and have therefore set limiting magnitudesmore »to the optical counterparts. Typical limits in apparent and absolute magnitudes for our LCOGT data are ∼22 and −19 mag in the r band, respectively. We have compared our limiting magnitudes with light curves of super-luminous supernovae (SLSNe), Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia), supernovae associated with gamma-ray bursts (GRB-SNe), a kilonova, and tidal disruption events (TDEs). Conclusions. Assuming that the FRB emission coincides with the time of explosion of these transients, we rule out associations with SLSNe (at the ∼99.9% confidence level) and the brightest subtypes of SNe Ia, GRB-SNe, and TDEs (at a similar confidence level). However, we cannot exclude scenarios where FRBs are directly associated with the faintest of these subtypes or with kilonovae.« less
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  4. ABSTRACT XTE J1810−197 (J1810) was the first magnetar identified to emit radio pulses, and has been extensively studied during a radio-bright phase in 2003–2008. It is estimated to be relatively nearby compared to other Galactic magnetars, and provides a useful prototype for the physics of high magnetic fields, magnetar velocities, and the plausible connection to extragalactic fast radio bursts. Upon the rebrightening of the magnetar at radio wavelengths in late 2018, we resumed an astrometric campaign on J1810 with the Very Long Baseline Array, and sampled 14 new positions of J1810 over 1.3 yr. The phase calibration for the new observations was performed with two-phase calibrators that are quasi-colinear on the sky with J1810, enabling substantial improvement of the resultant astrometric precision. Combining our new observations with two archival observations from 2006, we have refined the proper motion and reference position of the magnetar and have measured its annual geometric parallax, the first such measurement for a magnetar. The parallax of 0.40 ± 0.05 mas corresponds to a most probable distance $2.5^{\, +0.4}_{\, -0.3}$ kpc for J1810. Our new astrometric results confirm an unremarkable transverse peculiar velocity of ≈200 $\rm km~s^{-1}$ for J1810, which is only at the average level among the pulsar population. The magnetar propermore »motion vector points back to the central region of a supernova remnant (SNR) at a compatible distance at ≈70 kyr ago, but a direct association is disfavoured by the estimated SNR age of ∼3 kyr.« less
  5. Abstract

    We use very long baseline interferometry to measure the proper motions of three black hole X-ray binaries (BHXBs). Using these results together with data from the literature and Gaia DR2 to collate the best available constraints on proper motion, parallax, distance, and systemic radial velocity of 16 BHXBs, we determined their three-dimensional Galactocentric orbits. We extended this analysis to estimate the probability distribution for the potential kick velocity (PKV) a BHXB system could have received on formation. Constraining the kicks imparted to BHXBs provides insight into the birth mechanism of black holes (BHs). Kicks also have a significant effect on BH–BH merger rates, merger sites, and binary evolution, and can be responsible for spin–orbit misalignment in BH binary systems. 75 per cent of our systems have potential kicks $\gt 70\, \rm {km\,s^{-1}}$. This suggests that strong kicks and hence spin–orbit misalignment might be common among BHXBs, in agreement with the observed quasi-periodic X-ray variability in their power density spectra. We used a Bayesian hierarchical methodology to analyse the PKV distribution of the BHXB population, and suggest that a unimodal Gaussian model with a mean of 107 $\pm \,\,16\, \rm {km\,s^{-1}}$ is a statistically favourable fit. Such relatively high PKVs would alsomore »reduce the number of BHs likely to be retained in globular clusters. We found no significant correlation between the BH mass and PKV, suggesting a lack of correlation between BH mass and the BH birth mechanism. Our python code allows the estimation of the PKV for any system with sufficient observational constraints.

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