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    Many astrophysical environments, from star clusters and globular clusters to the discs of active galactic nuclei, are characterized by frequent interactions between stars and the compact objects that they leave behind. Here, using a suite of 3D hydrodynamics simulations, we explore the outcome of close interactions between $1\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$ stars and binary black holes (BBHs) in the gravitational wave regime, resulting in a tidal disruption event (TDE) or a pure scattering, focusing on the accretion rates, the back reaction on the BH binary orbital parameters, and the increase in the binary BH effective spin. We find that TDEs can make a significant impact on the binary orbit, which is often different from that of a pure scattering. Binaries experiencing a prograde (retrograde) TDE tend to be widened (hardened) by up to $\simeq 20{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$. Initially circular binaries become more eccentric by $\lesssim 10{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ by a prograde or retrograde TDE, whereas the eccentricity of initially eccentric binaries increases (decreases) by a retrograde (prograde) TDE by $\lesssim 5{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$. Overall, a single TDE can generally result in changes of the gravitational-wave-driven merger time-scale by order unity. The accretion rates of both black holesmore »are very highly super-Eddington, showing modulations (preferentially for retrograde TDEs) on a time-scale of the orbital period, which can be a characteristic feature of BBH-driven TDEs. Prograde TDEs result in the effective spin parameter χ to vary by ≲0.02, while χ ≳ −0.005 for retrograde TDEs.

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  2. Crystallization is a universal phenomenon underpinning many industrial and natural processes and is fundamental to chemistry and materials science. However, microscopic crystallization pathways of nanoparticle superlattices have been seldom studied mainly owing to the difficulty of real-time observation of individual self-assembling nanoparticles in solution. Here, using in situ electron microscopy, we directly image the full self-assembly pathway from dispersed nanoparticles into ordered superlattices in nonaqueous solution. We show that electron-beam irradiation controls nanoparticle mobility, and the solvent composition largely dictates interparticle interactions and assembly behaviors. We uncover a multistep crystallization pathway consisting of four distinct stages through multi-order-parameter analysis and visualize the formation, migration, and annihilation of multiple types of defects in nanoparticle superlattices. These findings open the door for achieving independent control over imaging conditions and nanoparticle assembly conditions and will enable further study of the microscopic kinetics of assembly and phase transition in nanocolloidal systems.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 5, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 3, 2023

    The discs of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) have emerged as rich environments for the production and capture of stars and the compact objects that they leave behind. These stars produce long gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) at their deaths, while frequent interactions among compact objects form binary neutron stars and neutron star–black hole binaries, leading to short GRBs upon their merger. Predicting the properties of these transients as they emerge from the dense environments of AGN discs is key to their proper identification and to better constrain the star and compact object population in AGN discs. Some of these transients would appear unusual because they take place in much higher densities than the interstellar medium. Others, which are the subject of this paper, would additionally be modified by radiation diffusion, since they are generated within optically thick regions of the accretion discs. Here, we compute the GRB afterglow light curves for diffused GRB sources for a representative variety of central black hole masses and disc locations. We find that the radiation from radio to ultraviolet and soft X-rays can be strongly suppressed by synchrotron self-absorption in the dense medium of the AGN disc. In addition, photon diffusion can significantly delay themore »emergence of the emission peak, turning a beamed, fast transient into a slow, isotropic, and dimmer one. These would appear as broad-band correlated AGN variability with a dominance at the higher frequencies. Their properties can constrain both the stellar populations within AGN discs and the disc structure.

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  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  6. Telomeres consist of highly conserved simple tandem telomeric repeat motif (TRM): (TTAGG)n in arthropods, (TTAGGG)n in vertebrates, and (TTTAGGG)n in most plants. TRM can be detected from chromosome-level assembly, which typically requires long-read sequencing data. To take advantage of short-read data, we developed an ultra-fast Telomeric Repeats Identification Pipeline and evaluated its performance on 91 species. With proven accuracy, we applied Telomeric Repeats Identification Pipeline in 129 insect species, using 7 Tbp of short-read sequences. We confirmed (TTAGG)n as the TRM in 19 orders, suggesting it is the ancestral form in insects. Systematic profiling in Hymenopterans revealed a diverse range of TRMs, including the canonical 5-bp TTAGG (bees, ants, and basal sawflies), three independent losses of tandem repeat form TRM (Ichneumonoids, hunting wasps, and gall-forming wasps), and most interestingly, a common 8-bp (TTATTGGG)n in Chalcid wasps with two 9-bp variants in the miniature wasp (TTACTTGGG) and fig wasps (TTATTGGGG). Our results identified extraordinary evolutionary fluidity of Hymenopteran TRMs, and rapid evolution of TRM and repeat abundance at all evolutionary scales, providing novel insights into telomere evolution.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  7. Abstract Maternal-to-filial nutrition transfer is central to grain development and yield. nitrate transporter 1/peptide transporter (NRT1-PTR)-type transporters typically transport nitrate, peptides, and ions. Here, we report the identification of a maize (Zea mays) NRT1-PTR-type transporter that transports sucrose and glucose. The activity of this sugar transporter, named Sucrose and Glucose Carrier 1 (SUGCAR1), was systematically verified by tracer-labeled sugar uptake and serial electrophysiological studies including two-electrode voltage-clamp, non-invasive microelectrode ion flux estimation assays in Xenopus laevis oocytes and patch clamping in HEK293T cells. ZmSUGCAR1 is specifically expressed in the basal endosperm transfer layer and loss-of-function mutation of ZmSUGCAR1 caused significantly decreased sucrose and glucose contents and subsequent shrinkage of maize kernels. Notably, the ZmSUGCAR1 orthologs SbSUGCAR1 (from Sorghum bicolor) and TaSUGCAR1 (from Triticum aestivum) displayed similar sugar transport activities in oocytes, supporting the functional conservation of SUGCAR1 in closely related cereal species. Thus, the discovery of ZmSUGCAR1 uncovers a type of sugar transporter essential for grain development and opens potential avenues for genetic improvement of seed-filling and yield in maize and other grain crops.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  8. It has been observed in both natural and man-made materials that volume sometimes decreases with increasing temperature. Though mechanistic understanding has been gained for some individual materials, a general answer to the question “Why does volume sometimes decrease with the increase of temperature?” remains lacking. Based on the thermodynamic relation that the derivative of volume with respect to temperature, i.e., thermal expansion, is equal to the negative derivative of entropy with respect to pressure, we developed a general theory in terms of multiscale entropy to understand and predict the change of volume as a function of temperature, which is termed as zentropy theory in the present work. It is shown that a phase at high temperatures is a statistical representation of the ground-state stable and multiple nonground-state metastable configurations. It is demonstrated that when the volumes of the nonground-state configurations with high probabilities are smaller than that of the ground-state configuration, the volume of the phase may decrease with the increase of temperature in certain ranges of temperature-pressure combinations, depicting the negative divergency of thermal expansion at the critical point. As examples, positive and negative divergencies of thermal expansion are predicted at the critical points of Ce and Fe3Pt, respectively,more »along with the temperature and pressure ranges for abnormally positive and negative thermal expansions. The authors believe that the zentropy theory is applicable to predict anomalies of other physical properties of phases because the change of entropy drives the responses of a system to external stimuli.« less
  9. We present a photoinduced reconfigurable metasurface to enable high spatial resolution terahertz (THz) wave modulation. Conventional photoinduced THz wave modulation uses optically induced conductive patterns on a semiconductor substrate to create programmable passive THz devices. The technique, albeit versatile and straightforward, suffers from limited performance resulting from the severe lateral diffusion of the photogenerated carriers that undermines the spatial resolution and conductivity contrast of the photoinduced conductive patterns. The proposed metasurface overcomes the limitation using a metal-jointed silicon mesa array with subwavelength-scaled dimensions on an insulator substrate. The structure physically restrains the lateral diffusion of the photogenerated carriers while ensuring the electrical conductivity between the silicon mesas , which is essential for THz wave modulation. The metasurface creates high-definition photoconductive patterns with dimensions smaller than the diffusion length of photogenerated carriers. The metasurface provides a modulation depth of −20 to −10 dB for the THz waves between 0.2 to 1.2 THz and supports a THz bandpass filter with a tunable central frequency. The new, to the best of our knowledge, design concept will benefit the implementation of reconfigurable THz devices.

    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 20, 2023