R. R. Gibson

University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, United States

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Publications (68)182.58 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We present an X-ray and multiwavelength study of 33 weak emission-line quasars (WLQs) and 18 quasars that are analogs of the extreme WLQ, PHL 1811, at z ~ 0.5-2.9. New Chandra 1.5-9.5 ks exploratory observations were obtained for 32 objects while the others have archival X-ray observations. Significant fractions of these luminous type 1 quasars are distinctly X-ray weak compared to typical quasars, including 16 (48%) of the WLQs and 17 (94%) of the PHL 1811 analogs with average X-ray weakness factors of 17 and 39, respectively. We measure a relatively hard ($\Gamma=1.16_{-0.32}^{+0.37}$) effective power-law photon index for a stack of the X-ray weak subsample, suggesting X-ray absorption, and spectral analysis of one PHL 1811 analog, J1521+5202, also indicates significant intrinsic X-ray absorption. We compare composite SDSS spectra for the X-ray weak and X-ray normal populations and find several optical-UV tracers of X-ray weakness; e.g., Fe II rest-frame equivalent width and relative color. We describe how orientation effects under our previously proposed "shielding-gas" scenario can likely unify the X-ray weak and X-ray normal populations. We suggest that the shielding gas may naturally be understood as a geometrically thick inner accretion disk that shields the broad line region from the ionizing continuum. If WLQs and PHL 1811 analogs have very high Eddington ratios, the inner disk could be significantly puffed up (e.g., a slim disk). Shielding of the broad emission-line region by a geometrically thick disk may have a significant role in setting the broad distributions of C IV rest-frame equivalent width and blueshift for quasars more generally.
    The Astrophysical Journal 03/2015; 805(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/805/2/122 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of recent Chandra High-Energy Transmission Grating Spectrometer and Hubble Space Telescope Cosmic Origins Spectrograph observations of the nearby Seyfert 1 galaxy NGC 3783, which show a strong, nonvarying X-ray warm absorber and physically related and kinematically varying UV absorption. We compare our new observations to high-resolution, high signal-to-noise archival data from 2001, allowing a unique investigation into the long-term variations of the absorption over a 12 yr period. We find no statistically significant changes in the physical properties of the X-ray absorber, but there is a significant drop of ~40% in the UV and X-ray flux and a significant flattening of the underlying X-ray power-law slope. Large kinematic changes are seen in the UV absorbers, possibly due to radial deceleration of the material. Similar behavior is not observed in the X-ray data, likely due to its lower-velocity resolution, which shows an outflow velocity of v out ~ –655 km s–1 in both epochs. The narrow iron Kα emission line at 6.4 keV shows no variation between epochs, and its measured width places the material producing the line at a radial distance of ~0.03 pc from the central black hole.
    The Astrophysical Journal 12/2014; 797(2):105. DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/797/2/105 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of recent Chandra High-Energy Transmission Grating Spectrometer and Hubble Space Telescope Cosmic Origins Spectrograph observations of the nearby Seyfert 1 galaxy NGC 3783 which shows a strong, non-varying X-ray warm absorber and physically related and kinematically varying UV absorption. We compare our new observations to high-resolution, high signal-to-noise archival data from 2001, allowing a unique investigation into the long-term variations of the absorption over a 12 yr period. We find no statistically significant changes in the physical properties of the X-ray absorber, but there is a significant drop of ~40% in the UV and X-ray flux, and a significant flattening of the underlying X-ray power-law slope. Large kinematic changes are seen in the UV absorbers, possibly due to radial deceleration of the material. Similar behavior is not observed in the X-ray data, likely due to its lower velocity resolution, which shows an outflow velocity of v ~ -655 km/s in both epochs. The narrow iron K-alpha emission line at 6.4 keV shows no variation between epochs, and its measured width places the material producing the line at a radial distance of ~0.03 pc from the central black hole.
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    ABSTRACT: We present initial results from an exploratory X-ray monitoring project of two groups of comparably luminous radio-quiet quasars (RQQs). The first consists of four sources at 4.10 <= z <= 4.35, monitored by Chandra, and the second is a comparison sample of three sources at 1.33 <= z <= 2.74, monitored by Swift. Together with archival X-ray data, the total rest-frame temporal baseline spans ~2-4 yr and ~5-13 yr for the first and second group, respectively. Six of these sources show significant X-ray variability over rest-frame timescales of ~10^2 - 10^3 d; three of these also show significant X-ray variability on rest-frame timescales of ~1-10 d. The X-ray variability properties of our variable sources are similar to those exhibited by nearby and far less luminous active galactic nuclei (AGNs). While we do not directly detect a trend of increasing X-ray variability with redshift, we do confirm previous reports of luminous AGNs exhibiting X-ray variability above that expected from their luminosities, based on simplistic extrapolation from lower luminosity sources. This result may be attributed to luminous sources at the highest redshifts having relatively high accretion rates. Complementary UV-optical monitoring of our sources shows that variations in their optical-X-ray spectral energy distribution are dominated by the X-ray variations. We confirm previous reports of X-ray spectral variations in one of our sources, HS 1700+6416, but do not detect such variations in any of our other sources in spite of X-ray flux variations of up to a factor of ~4. This project is designed to provide a basic assessment of the X-ray variability properties of RQQs at the highest accessible redshifts that will serve as a benchmark for more systematic monitoring of such sources with future X-ray missions.
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2014; 783(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/783/2/116 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: With upcoming all sky surveys such as LSST poised to generate a deep digital movie of the optical sky, variability-based AGN selection will enable the construction of highly-complete catalogs with minimum contamination. In this study, we generate $g$-band difference images and construct light curves for QSO/AGN candidates listed in SDSS Stripe 82 public catalogs compiled from different methods, including spectroscopy, optical colors, variability, and X-ray detection. Image differencing excels at identifying variable sources embedded in complex or blended emission regions such as Type II AGNs and other low-luminosity AGNs that may be omitted from traditional photometric or spectroscopic catalogs. To separate QSOs/AGNs from other sources using our difference image light curves, we explore several light curve statistics and parameterize optical variability by the characteristic damping timescale ($\tau$) and variability amplitude. By virtue of distinguishable variability parameters of AGNs, we are able to select them with high completeness of 93.4% and efficiency (i.e., purity) of 71.3%. Based on optical variability, we also select highly variable blazar candidates, whose infrared colors are consistent with known blazars. One third of them are also radio detected. With the X-ray selected AGN candidates, we probe the optical variability of X-ray detected optically-extended sources using their difference image light curves for the first time. A combination of optical variability and X-ray detection enables us to select various types of host-dominated AGNs. Contrary to the AGN unification model prediction, two Type II AGN candidates (out of 6) show detectable variability on long-term timescales like typical Type I AGNs. This study will provide a baseline for future optical variability studies of extended sources.
    The Astrophysical Journal 12/2013; 782(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/782/1/37 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the SDSS-III Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey of seventeen broad absorption line (BAL) quasars with high-ionization troughs that include absorption redshifted relative to the quasar rest frame. The redshifted troughs extend to velocities up to v=12,000 km/s and the trough widths exceed 3000 km/s in all but one case. Approximately 1 in 1000 BAL quasars with blueshifted C IV absorption also has redshifted C IV absorption; objects with C IV absorption present only at redshifted velocities are roughly four times rarer. In more than half of our objects, redshifted absorption is seen in C II or Al III as well as C IV, making low-ionization absorption at least ten times more common among BAL quasars with redshifted troughs than among standard BAL quasars. However, the C IV absorption equivalent widths in our objects are on average smaller than those of standard BAL quasars with low-ionization absorption. We consider several possible ways of generating redshifted absorption. The two most likely possibilities may be at work simultaneously, in the same objects or in different ones. Rotationally dominated outflows seen against a quasar's extended continuum source can produce redshifted and blueshifted absorption, but variability consistent with this scenario is seen in only one of the four objects with multiple spectra. The infall of relatively dense and low-ionization gas to radii as small as 400 Schwarzschild radii can in principle explain the observed range of trough profiles, but current models do not easily explain the origin and survival of such gas. Whatever the origin(s) of the absorbing gas in these objects, it must be located at small radii to explain its large redshifted velocities, and thus offers a novel probe of the inner regions of quasars.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 06/2013; 434(1). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stt1012 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The statistics of peak counts in reconstructed shear maps contain information beyond the power spectrum, and can improve cosmological constraints from measurements of the power spectrum alone if systematic errors can be controlled. We study the effect of galaxy shape measurement errors on predicted cosmological constraints from the statistics of shear peak counts with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). We use the LSST image simulator in combination with cosmological N-body simulations to model realistic shear maps for different cosmological models. We include both galaxy shape noise and, for the first time, measurement errors on galaxy shapes. We find that the measurement errors considered have relatively little impact on the constraining power of shear peak counts for LSST.
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2013; 774(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/774/1/49 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST; http://lsst.org) will revolutionize our understanding of active galactic nuclei (AGN) and their environments. The decade-long survey will discover at least 10 million AGN across 18,000 square degrees on the sky, with between about 50 to 200 visits per source for each of the ugrizy filters. A combination of the LSST sub-arcsecond astrometry, six-band photometry, and unprecedented cadence will enable the most efficient AGN selection, with additional characterization through the use of sophisticated star-galaxy separation techniques. The time-domain nature of the survey will provide invaluable information on the physics of the AGN central engine, as well as on transient fueling events, and will allow real-time alerts that will trigger follow-up observations. Several LSST "deep drilling" fields will help discover the faintest AGN at high redshift, enhancing the value of current and planned multiwavelength pencil-beam surveys while providing hours-to-years temporal information on thousands of AGN. The wide ranges of both luminosity and redshift spanned by LSST, including the discovery of over 1000 quasars at z>6.5, will dramatically improve the quantification of the optical AGN luminosity function. Measurements of AGN clustering at high redshift will be used to determine the relationship between AGN and dark matter. The discovery of about 8000 gravitationally lensed quasars, including 1000 systems with measurable time delays, will place significantly tighter constraints on key cosmological parameters.
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    ABSTRACT: Most quasars are known to be variable and they show larger variability on longer timescales of months to years. In this study, we generate g-band difference images and construct light curves for QSO/AGN candidates listed in Stripe 82 public catalogs complied from different methods, including spectroscopy, colors, variability, and X-ray detection. To separate QSOs/AGNs from other (non-)variable sources, we quantify their variability in the characteristic timescales (τ) and amplitude (SF∞) using the first-order structure function (SF) for the damped random walk (DRW) model. We find that QSOs occupy a specific region in the SF parameter space, enabling us to identify them with high efficiency and completeness. Since difference imaging excels at identifying variable sources embedded in complex or blended emission regions, it is one of the best tools to examine the variability of active nuclei surrounded by host galaxy emission, i.e. type II AGNs, and lower-luminosity AGNs. For the first time, we probe the variability of X-ray detected extended sources using their difference imaging light curves. Contrary to the AGN unification model prediction, some type II AGNs show detectable variability on long-term timescales like typical QSOs/AGNs.
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    ABSTRACT: The complete 10-yr survey from the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will image ˜20 000 deg2 of the sky in six filter bands every few nights, bringing the final survey depth to r ˜ 27.5, with over four billion well-measured galaxies. To take full advantage of this unprecedented statistical power, the systematic errors associated with weak lensing measurements need to be controlled to a level similar to the statistical errors. This work is the first attempt to quantitatively estimate the absolute level and statistical properties of the systematic errors on weak lensing shear measurements due to the most important physical effects in the LSST system via high-fidelity ray-tracing simulations. We identify and isolate the different sources of algorithm-independent, additive systematic errors on shear measurements for LSST and predict their impact on the final cosmic shear measurements using conventional weak lensing analysis techniques. We find that the main source of the errors comes from an inability to adequately characterize the atmospheric point spread function due to its high-frequency spatial variation on angular scales smaller than ˜10 arcmin in the single short exposures, which propagates into a spurious shear correlation function at the 10-4-10-3 level on these scales. With the large multi-epoch data set that will be acquired by LSST, the stochastic errors average out, bringing the final spurious shear correlation function to a level very close to the statistical errors. Our results imply that the cosmological constraints from LSST will not be severely limited by these algorithm-independent, additive systematic effects.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 01/2013; 428(3):2695-2713. DOI:10.1093/mnras/sts223 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the Data Release 9 Quasar (DR9Q) catalog from the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III. The catalog includes all BOSS objects that were targeted as quasar candidates during the survey, are spectrocopically confirmed as quasars via visual inspection, have luminosities Mi[z=2]<-20.5 (in a $\Lambda$CDM cosmology with H0 = 70 km/s/Mpc, $\Omega_{\rm M}$ = 0.3, and $\Omega_{\Lambda}$ = 0.7) and either display at least one emission line with full width at half maximum (FWHM) larger than 500 km/s or, if not, have interesting/complex absorption features. It includes as well, known quasars (mostly from SDSS-I and II) that were reobserved by BOSS. This catalog contains 87,822 quasars (78,086 are new discoveries) detected over 3,275 deg$^{2}$ with robust identification and redshift measured by a combination of principal component eigenspectra newly derived from a training set of 8,632 spectra from SDSS-DR7. The number of quasars with $z>2.15$ (61,931) is ~2.8 times larger than the number of z>2.15 quasars previously known. Redshifts and FWHMs are provided for the strongest emission lines (CIV, CIII], MgII). The catalog identifies 7,533 broad absorption line quasars and gives their characteristics. For each object the catalog presents five-band (u,g,r,i,z) CCD-based photometry with typical accuracy of 0.03 mag, and information on the morphology and selection method. The catalog also contains X-ray, ultraviolet, near-infrared, and radio emission properties of the quasars, when available, from other large-area surveys.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 12/2012; 548:A66. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201220142 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We use Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) photometry of 73 million stars to simultaneously constrain best-fit main-sequence stellar spectral energy distribution (SED) and amount of dust extinction along the line of sight toward each star. Using a subsample of 23 million stars with Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) photometry, whose addition enables more robust results, we show that SDSS photometry alone is sufficient to break degeneracies between intrinsic stellar color and dust amount when the shape of extinction curve is fixed. When using both SDSS and 2MASS photometry, the ratio of the total to selective absorption, R{sub V} , can be determined with an uncertainty of about 0.1 for most stars in high-extinction regions. These fits enable detailed studies of the dust properties and its spatial distribution, and of the stellar spatial distribution at low Galactic latitudes (|b| < 30 Degree-Sign ). Our results are in good agreement with the extinction normalization given by the Schlegel et al. (SFD) dust maps at high northern Galactic latitudes, but indicate that the SFD extinction map appears to be consistently overestimated by about 20% in the southern sky, in agreement with recent study by Schlafly et al. The constraints on the shape of the dust extinction curve across the SDSS and 2MASS bandpasses disfavor the reddening law of O'Donnell, but support the models by Fitzpatrick and Cardelli et al. For the latter, we find a ratio of the total to selective absorption to be R{sub V} = 3.0 {+-} 0.1(random){+-}0.1 (systematic) over most of the high-latitude sky. At low Galactic latitudes (|b| < 5 Degree-Sign ), we demonstrate that the SFD map cannot be reliably used to correct for extinction because most stars are embedded in dust, rather than behind it, as is the case at high Galactic latitudes. We analyze three-dimensional maps of the best-fit R{sub V} and find that R{sub V} = 3.1 cannot be ruled out in any of the 10 SEGUE stripes at a precision level of {approx}0.1-0.2. Our best estimate for the intrinsic scatter of R{sub V} in the regions probed by SEGUE stripes is {approx}0.2. We introduce a method for efficient selection of candidate red giant stars in the disk, dubbed 'dusty parallax relation', which utilizes a correlation between distance and the extinction along the line of sight. We make these best-fit parameters, as well as all the input SDSS and 2MASS data, publicly available in a user-friendly format. These data can be used for studies of stellar number density distribution, the distribution of dust properties, for selecting sources whose SED differs from SEDs for high-latitude main-sequence stars, and for estimating distances to dust clouds and, in turn, to molecular gas clouds.
    The Astrophysical Journal 10/2012; 757(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/757/2/166 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present 21 examples of C IV Broad Absorption Line (BAL) trough disappearance in 19 quasars selected from systematic multi-epoch observations of 582 bright BAL quasars (1.9 < z < 4.5) by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey-I/II (SDSS-I/II) and SDSS-III. The observations span 1.1-3.9 yr rest-frame timescales, longer than have been sampled in many previous BAL variability studies. On these timescales, ~2.3% of C IV BAL troughs disappear and ~3.3% of BAL quasars show a disappearing trough. These observed frequencies suggest that many C IV BAL absorbers spend on average at most a century along our line of sight to their quasar. Ten of the 19 BAL quasars showing C IV BAL disappearance have apparently transformed from BAL to non-BAL quasars; these are the first reported examples of such transformations. The BAL troughs that disappear tend to be those with small-to-moderate equivalent widths, relatively shallow depths, and high outflow velocities. Other non-disappearing C IV BALs in those nine objects having multiple troughs tend to weaken when one of them disappears, indicating a connection between the disappearing and non-disappearing troughs, even for velocity separations as large as 10000-15000 km/s. We discuss possible origins of this connection including disk-wind rotation and changes in shielding gas.
    The Astrophysical Journal 08/2012; 757(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/757/2/114 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The complete 10-year survey from the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will image $\sim$ 20,000 square degrees of sky in six filter bands every few nights, bringing the final survey depth to $r\sim27.5$, with over 4 billion well measured galaxies. To take full advantage of this unprecedented statistical power, the systematic errors associated with weak lensing measurements need to be controlled to a level similar to the statistical errors. This work is the first attempt to quantitatively estimate the absolute level and statistical properties of the systematic errors on weak lensing shear measurements due to the most important physical effects in the LSST system via high fidelity ray-tracing simulations. We identify and isolate the different sources of algorithm-independent, \textit{additive} systematic errors on shear measurements for LSST and predict their impact on the final cosmic shear measurements using conventional weak lensing analysis techniques. We find that the main source of the errors comes from an inability to adequately characterise the atmospheric point spread function (PSF) due to its high frequency spatial variation on angular scales smaller than $\sim10'$ in the single short exposures, which propagates into a spurious shear correlation function at the $10^{-4}$--$10^{-3}$ level on these scales. With the large multi-epoch dataset that will be acquired by LSST, the stochastic errors average out, bringing the final spurious shear correlation function to a level very close to the statistical errors. Our results imply that the cosmological constraints from LSST will not be severely limited by these algorithm-independent, additive systematic effects.
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    ABSTRACT: A main science goal for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is to measure the cosmic shear signal from weak lensing to extreme accuracy. One difficulty, however, is that with the short exposure time ($\simeq$15 seconds) proposed, the spatial variation of the Point Spread Function (PSF) shapes may be dominated by the atmosphere, in addition to optics errors. While optics errors mainly cause the PSF to vary on angular scales similar or larger than a single CCD sensor, the atmosphere generates stochastic structures on a wide range of angular scales. It thus becomes a challenge to infer the multi-scale, complex atmospheric PSF patterns by interpolating the sparsely sampled stars in the field. In this paper we present a new method, PSFent, for interpolating the PSF shape parameters, based on reconstructing underlying shape parameter maps with a multi-scale maximum entropy algorithm. We demonstrate, using images from the LSST Photon Simulator, the performance of our approach relative to a 5th-order polynomial fit (representing the current standard) and a simple boxcar smoothing technique. Quantitatively, PSFent predicts more accurate PSF models in all scenarios and the residual PSF errors are spatially less correlated. This improvement in PSF interpolation leads to a factor of 3.5 lower systematic errors in the shear power spectrum on scales smaller than $\sim13'$, compared to polynomial fitting. We estimate that with PSFent and for stellar densities greater than $\simeq1/{\rm arcmin}^{2}$, the spurious shear correlation from PSF interpolation, after combining a complete 10-year dataset from LSST, is lower than the corresponding statistical uncertainties on the cosmic shear power spectrum, even under a conservative scenario.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 06/2012; DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.22134.x · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    B. P. Miller · C. A. Welling · W. N. Brandt · R. R. Gibson
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    ABSTRACT: We present preliminary results from an investigation into broad absorption line (BAL) variability within a sample of 41 radio-loud quasars (RLQs). Using 28 new Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) spectra along with earlier Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) or other archival data, we generate a total set of 50 pairs of BAL equivalent width measurements. Absorption variability in BAL RLQs typically consists of modest changes in the depth of trough segments, and variability is more common on longer rest-frame timescales; these tendencies are similar to previous findings for BAL radio-quiet quasars (RQQs). BAL variability in RLQs does not show any obvious dependence upon radio luminosity or loudness, but there is suggestive support for greater fractional variability within lobe-dominated RLQs.
    01/2012; 440(3). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu402
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    ABSTRACT: We present initial results from an exploratory X-ray monitoring of luminous, high redshift radio-quiet quasars (RQQs). This project consists of two groups of RQQs: 1) four sources at z =4.2 monitored by Chandra, and 2) three sources at 1.3 <z <2.7 monitored by Swift. The two groups have matched luminosities to disentangle the strong redshift-luminosity dependence. The prime goal of this project is to test claims that quasars were more X-ray variable in the early universe with implications for evolution scenarios of the central engine in active galactic nuclei. The X-ray monitoring is also supported by simultaneous or near-simultaneous UV-optical monitoring in order to search for potential correlated UV-optical and X-ray variations. The data will provide basic assessments of variability amplitudes and timescales that will allow planning of more ambitious and systematic X-ray monitoring of such distant RQQs with future X-ray missions.
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    ABSTRACT: Quasars are key astrophysical objects and cosmological probes. Using a selection method based on a "damped random walk" model, we obtained SDSS-III BOSS spectra of 1500 unresolved sources in the SDSS Stripe 82, which exhibit photometric variability statistically similar to the variability of spectroscopically confirmed quasars. The targets were selected from 11,000 variable sources with 16.2 < i < 20.5. Our selection criteria were deliberately liberal, i.e., we aim for completeness rather than purity. The bright subset (i < 19) tests the completeness of the color-selected SDSS sample, while the faint subset represents a highly complete sample selected using a uniform photometric dataset and well-defined criteria. This new sample, as we show, verifies that quasars can be selected in a highly efficient manner (>95% purity) based on light curve information only, and that these light curves can be distinguished from those of variable stars with very little contamination.
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    ABSTRACT: The precise measurements planned for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) require careful algorithmic studies before the telescope begins operating with its unprecedented image production rate. The LSST Image Simulation group is leading the effort to simulate the LSST system from end-to-end using a high fidelity framework. We first synthesize input astrophysical object catalogs that include stars based on a galaxy model, asteroids, and cosmologically-based galaxy catalogs with morphological parameters. We then use a novel approach to simulate images using a photon Monte Carlo approach. We draw photons from the objects using their spectral energy distributions and propagate those photons through the Universe, atmosphere, telescope, and camera using complex wavelength-dependent photon simulation physics. We describe the simulation framework, and discuss the photon simulation approach that has been used generate millions of high fidelity images.
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    ABSTRACT: We use SDSS photometry of 73 million stars to simultaneously obtain best-fit main-sequence stellar energy distribution (SED) and amount of dust extinction along the line of sight towards each star. Using a subsample of 23 million stars with 2MASS photometry, whose addition enables more robust results, we show that SDSS photometry alone is sufficient to break degeneracies between intrinsic stellar color and dust amount when the shape of extinction curve is fixed. When using both SDSS and 2MASS photometry, the ratio of the total to selective absorption, $R_V$, can be determined with an uncertainty of about 0.1 for most stars in high-extinction regions. These fits enable detailed studies of the dust properties and its spatial distribution, and of the stellar spatial distribution at low Galactic latitudes. Our results are in good agreement with the extinction normalization given by the Schlegel et al. (1998, SFD) dust maps at high northern Galactic latitudes, but indicate that the SFD extinction map appears to be consistently overestimated by about 20% in the southern sky, in agreement with Schlafly et al. (2010). The constraints on the shape of the dust extinction curve across the SDSS and 2MASS bandpasses support the models by Fitzpatrick (1999) and Cardelli et al. (1989). For the latter, we find an $R_V=3.0\pm0.1$(random) $\pm0.1$(systematic) over most of the high-latitude sky. At low Galactic latitudes (|b|<5), we demonstrate that the SFD map cannot be reliably used to correct for extinction as most stars are embedded in dust, rather than behind it. We introduce a method for efficient selection of candidate red giant stars in the disk, dubbed "dusty parallax relation", which utilizes a correlation between distance and the extinction along the line of sight. We make these best-fit parameters, as well as all the input SDSS and 2MASS data, publicly available in a user-friendly format.

Publication Stats

752 Citations
182.58 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2014
    • University of North Texas
      • Department of Physics
      Denton, Texas, United States
  • 2009–2014
    • University of Washington Seattle
      • Department of Astronomy
      Seattle, Washington, United States
  • 2012
    • Michigan State University
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      East Lansing, Michigan, United States
  • 2008–2009
    • Pennsylvania State University
      • Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
      University Park, Maryland, United States
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      • Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research
      Cambridge, MA, United States
  • 2005
    • University of Maryland, College Park
      • Department of Astronomy
      Maryland, United States