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  1. Central Baja California (BC) experienced tectonism and volcanism that shaped the landscape from the Miocene to Recent. One important feature is the San Ignacio trough (SIT) that hosted a marine seaway or embayment and acted as a physical barrier to animal and plant migration. This barrier may be responsible for a well-known break in the DNA, N and S of this region. Central BC has also hosted contemporary voluminous and chemically diverse volcanism. Radiometric ages provide important constraints on the origins and longevity of critical topographic features. The Baja GeoGenomics research group is investigating the nature and timing of Pliocenemore »marine and tidal deposits in the NE-oriented, low-lying SIT, located W of the peninsular divide. These new data reveal that the Sierra San Francisco, a highland volcanic area immediately N of the SIT, is a series of volcanoes constructed of dacitic and andesitic Peleean domes with voluminous lahar and pyroclastic flow deposits. These calcalkaline rocks were previously thought to be subduction-related magmatism and part of the early to middle Miocene (~2412 Ma) Comondu Group. However, zircon U-Pb and 40Ar/39Ar dates yield ages of 11-9 Ma. These data indicate the Sierra San Francisco erupted post-subduction and is not part of the lithologically similar but older Comondu Group. Within the SIT, 12km NE of San Ignacio at 200 m asl, newly mapped marine tidal deposits, informally called the San Regis beds, indicate that the SIT has been significantly uplifted. Mafic scoria interbedded in tidal deposits yield a groundmass 40Ar/39Ar age of about 4.2 0.1 Ma. San Regis tidal beds are unconformably overlain by a rhyolite ash-flow tuff from the Quaternary La Reforma caldera situated to the E, on the Gulf of California coast. The highly mobile ash cloud flowed W into the SIT at least as far as the San Regis beds locality NE of San Ignacio. The tuff yielded a preliminary U-Pb zircon age of 1.09 0.04 Ma and an 40Ar/39Ar anorthoclase age of 1.11± 0.01 Ma. These dates indicate that the ash-flow was one of the latest erupted from the caldera and its distribution was in part controlled by the SIT. In BC genetic diversity along the peninsula appears to change at the latitude of the SIT. Tidal and volcanic deposits suggest this topographic low persisted for over 4Ma and remains a distinctive feature in the topography today.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  2. Late Cenozoic evolution of the Baja California (BC) peninsula governs its species diversity, with changes to terrestrial habitats and shorelines driven by volcanic and tectonic processes. New geologic mapping and geochronology in central BC help assess if recent landscape evolution created a barrier to gene flow. The NW-trending topographic divide of the BC peninsula near San Ignacio-Santa Rosalia (27.4N) is a low (400500 m asl), broad (2030 km-wide) pass. At the pass, ~2022-Ma volcaniclastic strata, mafic lavas, fluvial conglomerate, cross-bedded eolian sandstone, and a felsic tuff dip ~515 SW. Similar lithology and chronology suggest these strata correlate to the lowermore »Comondu Group (CG). They are overlain by middle Miocene (~1114 Ma) mafic lavas with similar SW dips that overlap in age with the upper CG. NW of the pass, upper Miocene (~9.511 Ma) post-CG volcaniclastic strata and mafic lava flows are exposed in the Sierra San Francisco and dip ~10 SE on its SE flank, inclined differently than older SW-dipping CG at the pass. The basalt of Esperanza (~10 Ma) unconformably overlies the CG at and west of the pass. Its ~1 regional dip suggests that ~515 of SW tilting occurred prior to ~10 Ma in the footwall of the NW-striking Campamento fault, located at the base of the ~150 m-high rift escarpment. The N-striking Arroyo Yaqui fault, ~10 km E of the Campamento fault in a low-relief region capped by Quaternary marine strata, exposes crystalline basement in its footwall and may be a major rift margin structure. Thus the location, orientation, and age of the divide may be controlled by rift-related faulting and tilting plus beveling and lateral retreat of the escarpment. Pliocene tidal sediments occur up to ~200 m asl ~20 km west of the low pass similar to Pliocene marine strata east of the pass at ~300 m asl, indicating late Miocene to Pliocene subsidence was followed by >200 m of post-4 Ma uplift. Uplift was likely driven by transtensional faulting and possibly magmatic inflation by ~7090 km-wavelength domes. Further mapping will constrain the timing of vertical crustal motions and test whether the tidal embayment crossed the peninsula through this low pass, isolated species, and prevented terrestrial gene flow. Integration of geologic and genetic data will determine how volcano- tectonic processes shaped genetic diversity.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. ABSTRACT Strongly lensed quadruply imaged quasars (quads) are extraordinary objects. They are very rare in the sky and yet they provide unique information about a wide range of topics, including the expansion history and the composition of the Universe, the distribution of stars and dark matter in galaxies, the host galaxies of quasars, and the stellar initial mass function. Finding them in astronomical images is a classic ‘needle in a haystack’ problem, as they are outnumbered by other (contaminant) sources by many orders of magnitude. To solve this problem, we develop state-of-the-art deep learning methods and train them on realisticmore »simulated quads based on real images of galaxies taken from the Dark Energy Survey, with realistic source and deflector models, including the chromatic effects of microlensing. The performance of the best methods on a mixture of simulated and real objects is excellent, yielding area under the receiver operating curve in the range of 0.86–0.89. Recall is close to 100 per cent down to total magnitude i ∼ 21 indicating high completeness, while precision declines from 85 per cent to 70 per cent in the range i ∼ 17–21. The methods are extremely fast: training on 2 million samples takes 20 h on a GPU machine, and 108 multiband cut-outs can be evaluated per GPU-hour. The speed and performance of the method pave the way to apply it to large samples of astronomical sources, bypassing the need for photometric pre-selection that is likely to be a major cause of incompleteness in current samples of known quads.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 5, 2023
  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  7. Abstract We present the results of an analysis of Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) observations of the full 2500 deg 2 South Pole Telescope (SPT)-Sunyaev–Zel’dovich cluster sample. We describe a process for identifying active galactic nuclei (AGN) in brightest cluster galaxies (BCGs) based on WISE mid-IR color and redshift. Applying this technique to the BCGs of the SPT-SZ sample, we calculate the AGN-hosting BCG fraction, which is defined as the fraction of BCGs hosting bright central AGNs over all possible BCGs. Assuming an evolving single-burst stellar population model, we find statistically significant evidence (>99.9%) for a mid-IR excess at highmore »redshift compared to low redshift, suggesting that the fraction of AGN-hosting BCGs increases with redshift over the range of 0 < z < 1.3. The best-fit redshift trend of the AGN-hosting BCG fraction has the form (1 + z ) 4.1±1.0 . These results are consistent with previous studies in galaxy clusters as well as as in field galaxies. One way to explain this result is that member galaxies at high redshift tend to have more cold gas. While BCGs in nearby galaxy clusters grow mostly by dry mergers with cluster members, leading to no increase in AGN activity, BCGs at high redshift could primarily merge with gas-rich satellites, providing fuel for feeding AGNs. If this observed increase in AGN activity is linked to gas-rich mergers rather than ICM cooling, we would expect to see an increase in scatter in the P cav versus L cool relation at z > 1. Last, this work confirms that the runaway cooling phase, as predicted by the classical cooling-flow model, in the Phoenix cluster is extremely rare and most BCGs have low (relative to Eddington) black hole accretion rates.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 3, 2023
  8. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  9. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  10. null (Ed.)