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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 30, 2022
  2. 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
  3. The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is the closest and most studied example of an irregular galaxy. Among its principal defining morphological features, its off-centred bar and single spiral arm stand out, defining a whole family of galaxies known as the Magellanic spirals (Sm). These structures are thought to be triggered by tidal interactions and possibly maintained via gas accretion. However, it is still unknown whether they are long-lived stable structures. In this work, by combining photometry that reaches down to the oldest main sequence turn-off in the colour-magnitude diagrams (CMD, up to a distance of ∼4.4 kpc from the LMCmore »centre) from the SMASH survey and CMD fitting techniques, we find compelling evidence supporting the long-term stability of the LMC spiral arm, dating the origin of this structure to more than 2 Gyr ago. The evidence suggests that the close encounter between the LMC and the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) that produced the gaseous Magellanic Stream and its Leading Arm also triggered the formation of the LMC’s spiral arm. Given the mass difference between the Clouds and the notable consequences of this interaction, we can speculate that this should have been one of their closest encounters. These results set important constraints on the timing of LMC-SMC collisions, as well as on the physics behind star formation induced by tidal encounters.« less
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 16, 2022