S. E. Sale

University of Oxford, Oxford, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (46)130.77 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: O and early B stars are at the apex of galactic ecology, but in the Milky Way, only a minority of them may yet have been identified. We present the results of a pilot study to select and parametrise OB star candidates in the Southern Galactic plane, down to a limiting magnitude of $g=20$. A 2 square-degree field capturing the Carina Arm around the young massive star cluster, Westerlund 2, is examined. The confirmed OB stars in this cluster are used to validate our identification method, based on selection from the $(u-g, g-r)$ diagram for the region. Our Markov Chain Monte Carlo fitting method combines VPHAS+ $u, g, r, i$ with published $J, H, K$ photometry in order to derive posterior probability distributions of the stellar parameters $\log(\rm T_{\rm eff})$ and distance modulus, together with the reddening parameters $A_0$ and $R_V$. The stellar parameters are sufficient to confirm OB status while the reddening parameters are determined to a precision of $\sigma(A_0)\sim0.09$ and $\sigma(R_V)\sim0.08$. There are 489 objects that fit well as new OB candidates, earlier than $\sim$B2. This total includes 74 probable massive O stars, 5 likely blue supergiants and 32 reddened subdwarfs. This increases the number of previously known and candidate OB stars in the region by nearly a factor of 10. Most of the new objects are likely to be at distances between 3 and 6 kpc. We have confirmed the results of previous studies that, at these longer distances, these sight lines require non-standard reddening laws with $3.5<R_V<4$.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 04/2015; 450(4). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stv843 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    S. E. Sale, J. Magorrian
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    ABSTRACT: We present a method for obtaining the likelihood function of distance and extinction to a star given its photometry. The other properties of the star (its mass, age, metallicity and so on) are marginalised assuming a simple Galaxy model. We demonstrate that the resulting marginalised likelihood function can be described faithfully and compactly using a Gaussian mixture model. For dust mapping applications we strongly advocate using monochromatic over bandpass extinctions, and provide tables for converting from the former to the latter for different stellar types.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 11/2014; 448(2). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stv068 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a catalogue of 247 photometrically and spectroscopically confirmed fainter classical Be stars (13 < r < 16) in the direction of the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way (-1 < b < +4, 120 < l < 140). The catalogue consists of 181 IPHAS-selected new classical Be stars, in addition to 66 objects that were studied by Raddi et al. (2013) more closely, and 3 stars identified as classical Be stars in earlier work. This study more than doubles the number known in the region. Photometry spanning 0.6 to 5 micron, spectral types, and interstellar reddenings are given for each object. The spectral types were determined from low-resolution spectra (lambda / Delta-lambda ~ 800-2000), to a precision of 1-3 subtypes. The interstellar reddenings are derived from the (r - i) colour, using a method that corrects for circumstellar disc emission. The colour excesses obtained range from E(B-V) = 0.3 up to 1.6 - a distribution that modestly extends the range reported in the literature for Perseus-Arm open clusters. For around half the sample, the reddenings obtained are compatible with measures of the total sightline Galactic extinction. Many of these are likely to lie well beyond the Perseus Arm.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 10/2014; 446(1). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu2090 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The INT/WFC Photometric Hα Survey of the Northern Galactic Plane (IPHAS) is a 1800 deg2 imaging survey covering Galactic latitudes |b| < 5° and longitudes ℓ = 30°–215° in the r, i, and Hα filters using the Wide Field Camera (WFC) on the 2.5-m Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) in La Palma. We present the first quality-controlled and globally calibrated source catalogue derived from the survey, providing single-epoch photometry for 219 million unique sources across 92 per cent of the footprint. The observations were carried out between 2003 and 2012 at a median seeing of 1.1 arcsec (sampled at 0.33 arcsec pixel−1) and to a mean 5σ depth of 21.2 (r), 20.0 (i), and 20.3 (Hα) in the Vega magnitude system. We explain the data reduction and quality control procedures, describe and test the global re-calibration, and detail the construction of the new catalogue. We show that the new calibration is accurate to 0.03 mag (root mean square) and recommend a series of quality criteria to select accurate data from the catalogue. Finally, we demonstrate the ability of the catalogue's unique (r − Hα, r − i) diagram to (i) characterize stellar populations and extinction regimes towards different Galactic sightlines and (ii) select and quantify Hα emission-line objects. IPHAS is the first survey to offer comprehensive CCD photometry of point sources across the Galactic plane at visible wavelengths, providing the much-needed counterpart to recent infrared surveys.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 06/2014; 444(4). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu1651 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea (VVV) survey is one of six public ESO surveys, and is now in its 4th year of observing. Although far from being complete, the VVV survey has already delivered many results, some directly connected to the intended science goals (detection of variables stars, microlensing events, new star clusters), others concerning more exotic objects, e.g. novae. Now, at the end of the fourth observing period, and comprising roughly 50% of the proposed observations, the actual status of the survey, as well some of the results based on the VVV data, are presented.
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    S. E. Sale, J. Magorrian
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    ABSTRACT: We present a scheme for using stellar catalogues to map the three-dimensional distributions of extinction and dust within our Galaxy. Extinction is modelled as a Gaussian random field, whose covariance function is set by a simple physical model of the ISM that assumes a Kolmogorov-like power spectrum of turbulent fluctuations. As extinction is modelled as a random field, the spatial resolution of the resulting maps is set naturally by the data available; there is no need to impose any spatial binning. We verify the validity of our scheme by testing it on simulated extinction fields and show that its precision is significantly improved over previous dust-mapping efforts. The approach we describe here can make use of any photometric, spectroscopic or astrometric data; it is not limited to any particular survey. Consequently, it can be applied to a wide range of data from both existing and future surveys.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 06/2014; 445(1). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu1728 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a three dimensional map of extinction in the Northern Galactic Plane derived using photometry from the IPHAS survey. The map has fine angular ($\sim 10$ arcmin) and distance (100 pc) sampling allied to a significant depth ($\gtrsim 5$ kpc). We construct the map using a method based on a hierarchical Bayesian model as previously described by Sale (2012). In addition to mean extinction, we also measure differential extinction, which arises from the fractal nature of the ISM, and show that it will be the dominant source of uncertainty in estimates of extinction to some arbitrary position. The method applied also furnishes us with photometric estimates of the distance, extinction, effective temperature, surface gravity, and mass for $\sim 38$ million stars. Both the extinction map and the catalogue of stellar parameters are made publicly available via http://www.iphas.org/extinction.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 05/2014; 443(4). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu1090 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    Leo Huckvale, Eamonn Kerins, Stuart E. Sale
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    ABSTRACT: Difference image analysis (DIA) is an effective technique for obtaining photometry in crowded fields, relative to a chosen reference image. As yet, however, optimal reference image selection is an unsolved problem. We examine how this selection depends on the combination of seeing, background and detector pixel size. Our tests use a combination of simulated data and quality indicators from DIA of well-sampled optical data and under-sampled near-infrared data from the OGLE and VVV surveys, respectively. We search for a figure-of-merit (FoM) which could be used to select reference images for each survey. While we do not find a universally applicable FoM, survey-specific measures indicate that the effect of spatial under-sampling may require a change in strategy from the standard DIA approach, even though seeing remains the primary criterion. We find that background is not an important criterion for reference selection, at least for the dynamic range in the images we test. For our analysis of VVV data in particular, we find that spatial under-sampling is best handled by reversing the standard DIA procedure and convolving target images to a better-sampled (poor seeing) reference image.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 04/2014; 442(1). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu835 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The VST Photometric Hα Survey of the Southern Galactic Plane and Bulge (VPHAS+) is surveying the southern Milky Way in u, g, r, i and Hα at ∼1 arcsec angular resolution. Its footprint spans the Galactic latitude range −5o < b < +5° at all longitudes south of the celestial equator. Extensions around the Galactic Centre to Galactic latitudes ±10° bring in much of the Galactic bulge. This European Southern Observatory public survey, begun on 2011 December 28, reaches down to ∼20th magnitude (10σ) and will provide single-epoch digital optical photometry for ∼300 million stars. The observing strategy and data pipelining are described, and an appraisal of the segmented narrow-band Hα filter in use is presented. Using model atmospheres and library spectra, we compute main-sequence (u − g), (g − r), (r − i) and (r − Hα) stellar colours in the Vega system. We report on a preliminary validation of the photometry using test data obtained from two pointings overlapping the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. An example of the (u − g, g − r) and (r − Hα, r − i) diagrams for a full VPHAS+ survey field is given. Attention is drawn to the opportunities for studies of compact nebulae and nebular morphologies that arise from the image quality being achieved. The value of the u band as the means to identify planetary-nebula central stars is demonstrated by the discovery of the central star of NGC 2899 in survey data. Thanks to its excellent imaging performance, the VLT Survey Telescope (VST)/OmegaCam combination used by this survey is a perfect vehicle for automated searches for reddened early-type stars, and will allow the discovery and analysis of compact binaries, white dwarfs and transient sources.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 02/2014; 440(3). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu394 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Context. The ESO public survey VISTA variables in the Vía Láctea (VVV) started in 2010. VVV targets 562 sq. deg in the Galactic bulge and an adjacent plane region and is expected to run for about five years. Aims: We describe the progress of the survey observations in the first observing season, the observing strategy, and quality of the data obtained. Methods: The observations are carried out on the 4-m VISTA telescope in the ZYJHKs filters. In addition to the multi-band imaging the variability monitoring campaign in the Ks filter has started. Data reduction is carried out using the pipeline at the Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit. The photometric and astrometric calibration is performed via the numerous 2MASS sources observed in each pointing. Results: The first data release contains the aperture photometry and astrometric catalogues for 348 individual pointings in the ZYJHKs filters taken in the 2010 observing season. The typical image quality is 0.9 arcsec {-1.0 arcsec}. The stringent photometric and image quality requirements of the survey are satisfied in 100% of the JHKs images in the disk area and 90% of the JHKs images in the bulge area. The completeness in the Z and Y images is 84% in the disk, and 40% in the bulge. The first season catalogues contain 1.28 × 108 stellar sources in the bulge and 1.68 × 108 in the disk area detected in at least one of the photometric bands. The combined, multi-band catalogues contain more than 1.63 × 108 stellar sources. About 10% of these are double detections because of overlapping adjacent pointings. These overlapping multiple detections are used to characterise the quality of the data. The images in the JHKs bands extend typically 4 mag deeper than 2MASS. The magnitude limit and photometric quality depend strongly on crowding in the inner Galactic regions. The astrometry for Ks = 15-18 mag has rms 35-175 mas. Conclusions: The VVV Survey data products offer a unique dataset to map the stellar populations in the Galactic bulge and the adjacent plane and provide an exciting new tool for the study of the structure, content, and star-formation history of our Galaxy, as well as for investigations of the newly discovered star clusters, star-forming regions in the disk, high proper motion stars, asteroids, planetary nebulae, and other interesting objects. Based on observations taken within the ESO VISTA Public Survey VVV, Programme ID 179.B-2002.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 08/2013; 537:A107. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201118407 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea (VVV) is a public ESO near-IR variability survey aimed at scanning the Milky Way Bulge and an adjacent section of the mid-plane. VVV observations started in October 2009 during ESO science verification. Regular observations for the first year of the survey have been conducted since February 2010 and will cover a total area of 520 square degrees in five passbands and five epochs. Here we address the first results obtained from the VVV Survey as well as the current status of the observations
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate a region of the Galactic plane, between 120 <= l <= 140 and -1 <= b <= +4, and uncover a population of moderately reddened (E(B-V) \sim 1) classical Be stars within and beyond the Perseus and Outer Arms. 370 candidate emission line stars (13 <= r <= 16) selected from the INT Photometric H-alpha Survey of the Northern Galactic plane (IPHAS) have been followed up spectroscopically. A subset of these, 67 stars with properties consistent with those of classical Be stars, have been observed at sufficient spectral resolution (Delta_lambda \sim 2 - 4 Angstrom) at blue wavelengths to narrow down their spectral types. We determine these to a precision estimated to be +/- 1 sub-type and then we measure reddenings via SED fitting with reference to appropriate model atmospheres. Corrections for contribution to colour excess from circumstellar discs are made using an established scaling to H-alpha emission equivalent width. Spectroscopic parallaxes are obtained after luminosity class has been constrained via estimates of distances to neighbouring A/F stars with similar reddenings. Overwhelmingly, the stars in the sample are confirmed as luminous classical Be stars at heliocentric distances ranging from 2 kpc up to \sim 12 kpc. However, the errors are presently too large to enable the cumulative distribution function with respect to distance to distinguish between models placing the stars exclusively in spiral arms, or in a smooth exponentially-declining distribution.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 01/2013; 430(3). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stt038 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There are many pertinent open issues in the area of star and planet formation. Large statistical samples of young stars across star-forming regions are needed to trigger a breakthrough in our understanding, but most optical studies are based on a wide variety of spectrographs and analysis methods, which introduces large biases. Here we show how graphical Bayesian networks can be employed to construct a hierarchical probabilistic model which allows pre-main sequence ages, masses, accretion rates, and extinctions to be estimated using two widely available photometric survey databases (IPHAS r/i/Halpha and 2MASS J-band magnitudes.) Because our approach does not rely on spectroscopy, it can easily be applied to homogeneously study the large number of clusters for which Gaia will yield membership lists. We explain how the analysis is carried out using the Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method and provide Python source code. We then demonstrate its use on 587 known low-mass members of the star-forming region NGC 2264 (Cone Nebula), arriving at a median age of 3.0 Myr, an accretion fraction of 20+/-2% and a median accretion rate of 10^-8.4 Msol/yr. The Bayesian analysis formulated in this work delivers results which are in agreement with spectroscopic studies already in the literature, but achieves this with great efficiency by depending only on photometry. It is a significant step forward from previous photometric studies, because the probabilistic approach ensures that nuisance parameters, such as extinction and distance, are fully included in the analysis with a clear picture on any degeneracies.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 11/2012; 429(3). DOI:10.1093/mnras/sts462 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Context: The ESO Public Survey "VISTA Variables in the V\'ia L\'actea" (VVV) provides deep multi-epoch infrared observations for an unprecedented 562 sq. degrees of the Galactic bulge, and adjacent regions of the disk. Aims: The VVV observations will foster the construction of a sample of Galactic star clusters with reliable and homogeneously derived physical parameters (e.g., age, distance, and mass, etc.). In this first paper in a series, the methodology employed to establish cluster parameters for the envisioned database are elaborated upon by analyzing a subsample of 4 known young open clusters: Danks 1, Danks 2, RCW 79, and DBS 132. The analysis offers a first glimpse of the information that can be gleaned for the final cluster database from the VVV observations. Methods: Wide-field, deep JHKs VVV observations, combined with new infrared spectroscopy, are employed to constrain fundamental parameters for a subset of clusters. Results: Results inferred from the deep near-infrared photometry which features mitigated uncertainties (e.g. the accuracy of the photometry is better than 0.1mag for Ks<18mag), the wide field-of-view of the VVV survey, and numerous high quality low resolution spectra (typically more than 10 per cluster), are used to establish independent cluster parameters which enable existing determinations to be assessed. An anomalous reddening law in the direction toward the Danks' clusters is found, i.e. E(J-H)/E(H-Ks)=2.20+/-0.06, which exceeds published values for the inner Galaxy. The G305 star forming complex, which includes the Danks' clusters, lies beyond the Sagittarius-Carina spiral arm and occupies the Centaurus arm. Finally, the first deep infrared color-magnitude diagram of RCW 79 is presented which reveal a sizable pre-main sequence population. A list of candidate variable stars in G305 region is reported.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 09/2012; 545(0004-6361):54. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201219064 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    S. E. Sale
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    ABSTRACT: The Galaxy and the stars in it form a hierarchical system, such that the properties of individual stars are influenced by those of the Galaxy. Here, an approach is described which uses hierarchical Bayesian models to simultaneously and empirically determine the mean distance-extinction relationship for a sightline and the properties of stars which populate it. By exploiting the hierarchical nature of the problem, the method described is able to achieve significantly improved precision and accuracy with respect to previous 3D extinction mapping techniques. This method is not tied to any individual survey and could be applied to any observations, or combination of observations available. Furthermore, it is extendible and, in addition, could be employed to study Galactic structure as well as factors such as the initial mass function and star formation history in the Galaxy.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 08/2012; 427(3). DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.21662.x · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ESO Public Survey VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV) started in 2010. VVV targets 562 sq. deg in the Galactic bulge and an adjacent plane region and is expected to run for ~5 years. In this paper we describe the progress of the survey observations in the first observing season, the observing strategy and quality of the data obtained. The observations are carried out on the 4-m VISTA telescope in the ZYJHKs filters. In addition to the multi-band imaging the variability monitoring campaign in the Ks filter has started. Data reduction is carried out using the pipeline at the Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit. The photometric and astrometric calibration is performed via the numerous 2MASS sources observed in each pointing. The first data release contains the aperture photometry and astrometric catalogues for 348 individual pointings in the ZYJHKs filters taken in the 2010 observing season. The typical image quality is ~0.9-1.0". The stringent photometric and image quality requirements of the survey are satisfied in 100% of the JHKs images in the disk area and 90% of the JHKs images in the bulge area. The completeness in the Z and Y images is 84% in the disk, and 40% in the bulge. The first season catalogues contain 1.28x10^8 stellar sources in the bulge and 1.68x10^8 in the disk area detected in at least one of the photometric bands. The combined, multi-band catalogues contain more than 1.63x10^8 stellar sources. About 10% of these are double detections due to overlapping adjacent pointings. These overlapping multiple detections are used to characterise the quality of the data. The images in the JHKs bands extend typically ~4 mag deeper than 2MASS. The magnitude limit and photometric quality depend strongly on crowding in the inner Galactic regions. The astrometry for Ks=15-18 mag has rms ~35-175 mas.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 02/2012; · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: One of the main goals of the "VVV - Vista Variables in the Via Lactea" ESO Large Survey is to search for new star clusters of different ages. In order to trace the early stages of star clusters formation we carrying out a survey of infrared star cluster candidates and stellar groups in the directions of known massive star formation regions. To date, we have identified 47 candidates. Most of them appear compact (with small angular sizes) and very young.
    Star Clusters in the Era of Large Surveys, Edited by Moitinho, A. and Alves, J, 01/2012: pages 101;
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    ABSTRACT: Research aiming to describe the spiral structure of the Milky Way disc has to confront both difficulties in obtaining distances and the high interstellar extinction found in the Galactic plane. We present a study of a section of the Perseus Arm, between Galactic longitudes (120∘, 140∘) and Galactic latitudes (-{1}^{circ },+{4}^{circ }), including a number of young clusters. Determination of physical parameters of young stellar objects (YSO) and mapping of the A-star surface density are used to analyse evidence of young structures (typically 10-100 Myrs old) defined in space.
    01/2012; DOI:10.1007/978-3-642-22113-2_48
  • Revista Mexicana de Astronomia y Astrofisica Conference Series; 10/2011
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    ABSTRACT: Young massive clusters are usually deeply embedded in dust and gas. They represent excellent astrophysical laboratories for revealing the enigma of star formation processes and the early stages of stellar evolution. Wide-field infrared surveys are a modern tool for studying hidden clusters. "Vista variables in Via Lactea - VVV" (Minniti et al. New Astron. 15:433, 2010) is an ESO/Chile/VISTA public deep near-IR survey, covering the Galactic Bulge and Southern Galactic disk. This is the next step of our systematic study of the cluster content of the inner Milky Way. Here we present our first analysis of the young hidden clusters Mercer 35, 69 and 70. It is based on VVV and SOFI/NTT JHK(S) photometry and follow-up NIR spectroscopy. All of the investigated clusters are young (t <= 10 Myr). The basic cluster parameters are obtained from photometry. The follow-up spectroscopy of probable cluster members shows that the brightest star in Mercer 35 presents characteristics of a red supergiant!
    10/2011; DOI:10.1007/978-3-642-22113-2_16

Publication Stats

527 Citations
130.77 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008–2014
    • University of Oxford
      • Department of Physics
      Oxford, England, United Kingdom
  • 2011–2013
    • Universidad de Valparaíso (Chile)
      • Institute of Physics and Astronomy
      Ciudad de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile
    • University of Hertfordshire
      Hatfield, England, United Kingdom
    • Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso
      Ciudad de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile
    • Playa Ancha University
      Ciudad de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile
  • 2008–2011
    • Imperial College London
      • Department of Physics
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom