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  1. Context. Blazars are the most numerous class of high-energy (HE; E ∼ 50 MeV−100 GeV) and very high-energy (VHE; E ∼ 100 GeV−10 TeV) gamma-ray emitters. Currently, a measured spectroscopic redshift is available for only about 50% of gamma-ray BL Lacertae objects (BL Lacs), mainly due to the difficulty in measuring reliable redshifts from their nearly featureless continuum-dominated optical spectra. The knowledge of the redshift is fundamental for understanding the emission from blazars, for population studies and also for indirect studies of the extragalactic background light and searches for Lorentz invariance violation and axion-like particles using blazars. Aims. This papermore »is the first in a series of papers that aim to measure the redshift of a sample of blazars likely to be detected with the upcoming Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), a ground-based gamma-ray observatory. Methods. Monte Carlo simulations were performed to select those hard spectrum gamma-ray blazars detected with the Fermi -LAT telescope still lacking redshift measurements, but likely to be detected by CTA in 30 hours of observing time or less. Optical observing campaigns involving deep imaging and spectroscopic observations were organised to efficiently constrain their redshifts. We performed deep medium- to high-resolution spectroscopy of 19 blazar optical counterparts with the Keck II, SALT, and ESO NTT telescopes. We searched systematically for spectral features and, when possible, we estimated the contribution of the host galaxy to the total flux. Results. We measured eleven firm spectroscopic redshifts with values ranging from 0.1116 to 0.482, one tentative redshift, three redshift lower limits including one at z ≥ 0.449 and another at z ≥ 0.868. Four BL Lacs show featureless spectra.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2022
  2. ABSTRACT We present the first intensive continuum reverberation mapping study of the high accretion-rate Seyfert galaxy Mrk 110. The source was monitored almost daily for more than 200 d with the Swift X-ray and ultraviolet (UV)/optical telescopes, supported by ground-based observations from Las Cumbres Observatory, the Liverpool Telescope, and the Zowada Observatory, thus extending the wavelength coverage to 9100 Å. Mrk 110 was found to be significantly variable at all wavebands. Analysis of the intraband lags reveals two different behaviours, depending on the time-scale. On time-scales shorter than 10 d the lags, relative to the shortest UV waveband (∼1928 Å), increase with increasing wavelength up tomore »a maximum of ∼2 d lag for the longest waveband (∼9100 Å), consistent with the expectation from disc reverberation. On longer time-scales, however, the g-band lags the Swift BAT hard X-rays by ∼10 d, with the z-band lagging the g-band by a similar amount, which cannot be explained in terms of simple reprocessing from the accretion disc. We interpret this result as an interplay between the emission from the accretion disc and diffuse continuum radiation from the broad-line region.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 13, 2022
  3. Abstract HESS J0632+057 belongs to a rare subclass of binary systems that emit gamma rays above 100 GeV. It stands out for its distinctive high-energy light curve, which features a sharp “primary” peak and broader “secondary” peak. We present the results of contemporaneous observations by NuSTAR and VERITAS during the secondary peak between 2019 December and 2020 February, when the orbital phase ( ϕ ) is between 0.55 and 0.75. NuSTAR detected X-ray spectral evolution, while VERITAS detected TeV emission. We fit a leptonic wind-collision model to the multiwavelength spectra data obtained over the four NuSTAR and VERITAS observations, constrainingmore »the pulsar spin-down luminosity and the magnetization parameter at the shock. Despite long-term monitoring of the source from 2019 October to 2020 March, the MDM observatory did not detect significant variation in H α and H β line equivalent widths, an expected signature of Be-disk interaction with the pulsar. Furthermore, fitting folded Swift-XRT light-curve data with an intrabinary shock model constrained the orbital parameters, suggesting two orbital phases (at ϕ D = 0.13 and 0.37), where the pulsar crosses the Be-disk, as well as phases for the periastron ( ϕ 0 = 0.30) and inferior conjunction ( ϕ IFC = 0.75). The broadband X-ray spectra with Swift-XRT and NuSTAR allowed us to measure a higher neutral hydrogen column density at one of the predicted disk-passing phases.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2022
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2022
  6. Makerspaces, innovation labs, and creativity spaces are gaining traction in K-12 schools and community centers. This exploratory project, Making Inspired by Nature, brings together the art of making, the disciplined practices of design thinking, and the creative practices of biomimicry to engage preservice teachers and children in building innovative solutions to real-world problems. To achieve this, this project is (a) building and evaluating digital resources and hands-on activities for engaging elementary children in innovation through the application of biomimicry and design thinking in a maker context and (b) evaluating models for deepening pre-service teachers’ pedagogical knowledge for supporting student learningmore »in maker-centered classrooms. This NSF IUSE funded project, just ending year 1 of a 2-year project, was in response to an NSF Dear Colleague Letter calling for EAGER proposals to conduct exploratory work with respect to STEM learning and design thinking.« less
  7. This exploratory project, Making Inspired by Nature, brings together the art of making and the creative practices of biomimicry to engage preservice teachers and children in building innovative solutions to real-world problems. To achieve this, this project is (a) building and evaluating digital resources and hands-on activities for engaging elementary children in innovation through the application of biomimicry and design thinking in a maker context and (b) evaluating models for deepening preservice teachers’ pedagogical knowledge for supporting student learning in maker-centered classrooms. Introduction This exploratory project, Making Inspired by Nature, brings together the act of “making” with the innovative practicesmore »of biomimicry to engage preservice« less
  8. Extragalactic background light (EBL) plays an important role in cosmology since it traces the history of galaxy formation and evolution. Such diffuse radiation from near-UV to far-infrared wavelengths can interact with γ -rays from distant sources such as active galactic nuclei (AGNs), and is responsible for the high-energy absorption observed in their spectra. However, probing the EBL from γ -ray spectra of AGNs is not trivial due to internal processes that can mimic its effect. Such processes are usually taken into account in terms of curvature of the intrinsic spectrum. Hence, an improper choice of parametrization for the latter canmore »seriously affect EBL reconstruction. In this paper, we propose a statistical approach that avoids a priori assumptions on the intrinsic spectral curvature and that, for each source, selects the best-fit model on a solid statistical basis. By combining the Fermi -LAT observations of 490 blazars, we determine the γ -ray-inferred level of EBL for various state-of-the-art EBL models. We discuss the EBL level obtained from the spectra of both BL Lacs and flat spectrum radio quasars (FSRQ) in order to investigate the impact of internal absorption in different classes of objects. We further scrutinize constraints on the EBL evolution from γ -ray observations by reconstructing the EBL level in four redshift ranges, up to z  ∼ 2.5. The approach implemented in this paper, carefully addressing the question of the modeling of the intrinsic emission at the source, can serve as a solid stepping stone for studies of hundreds of high-quality spectra acquired by next-generation γ -ray instruments.« less