S. E. Sale

University of Oxford, Oxford, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (44)120.15 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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.
    10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The INT/WFC Photometric H-Alpha Survey of the Northern Galactic Plane (IPHAS) is a 1800 square degrees imaging survey covering Galactic latitudes |b| < 5 deg and longitudes l = 30 to 215 deg in the r, i and H\alpha\ filters using the Wide Field Camera (WFC) on the 2.5-metre 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% 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) and to a mean 5\sigma-depth of 21.2 (r), 20.0 (i) and 20.3 (H\alpha) 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 (rms) and recommend a series of quality criteria to select the most reliable data from the catalogue. Finally, we demonstrate the ability of the catalogue's unique (r-H\alpha, r-i) diagram to (1) characterise stellar populations and extinction regimes towards different Galactic sightlines and (2) select H\alpha\ 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.
    06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The VISTA Variables in the V\'ia L\'actea (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.
    06/2014;
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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). · 5.52 Impact Factor
  • 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). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The VST Photometric Halpha Survey of the Southern Galactic Plane and Bulge (VPHAS+) is surveying the southern Milky Way in u, g, r, i and Halpha at 1 arcsec angular resolution. Its footprint spans the Galactic latitude range -5 < 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 ESO public survey, begun on 28th December 2011, reaches down to 20th magnitude (10-sigma) and will provide single-epoch digital optical photometry for around 300 million stars. The observing strategy and data pipelining is described, and an appraisal of the segmented narrowband Halpha filter in use is presented. Using model atmospheres and library spectra, we compute main-sequence (u - g), (g - r), (r - i) and (r - Halpha) 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 - Halpha, 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 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). · 5.52 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. · 5.08 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
    The Messenger. 08/2013; 141:24-28.
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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). · 5.52 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). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Context. The ESO Public Survey “VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea” (VVV) provides deep multi-epoch infrared observations for 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 analysing four 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 from the VVV observations for clusters in the final database. 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 are inferred from VVV near-infrared photometry and numerous low resolution spectra (typically more than 10 per cluster). The high quality of the spectra and the deep wide–field VVV photometry enables us to precisely and independently determine the characteristics of the clusters studied, which we compare to previous determinations. An anomalous reddening law in the direction of the Danks clusters is found, specifically 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 colour-magnitude diagram of RCW 79 is presented, which reveals a sizeable pre-main sequence population. A list of candidate variable stars in G305 region is reported. Conclusions. This study demonstrates the strength of the dataset and methodology employed, and constitutes the first step of a broader study which shall include reliable parameters for a sizeable number of poorly characterised and/or newly discovered clusters.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 09/2012; 545:54. · 5.08 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). · 5.52 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; · 5.08 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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 ~ . 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.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 01/2012; 537:107. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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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.
    Star Clusters in the Era of Large Surveys. 01/2012;
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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;
  • Revista Mexicana de Astronomia y Astrofisica Conference Series; 10/2011
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    ABSTRACT: We present here our first analysis of the young hidden clusters Mercer 35, 69 and 70 based on JHKs photometry and near-IR spectroscopy, as part of our systematic study of the inner Milky Way cluster content.
    10/2011;
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    ABSTRACT: Context. VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea (VVV) is one of the six ESO Public Surveys operating on the new 4-meter Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA). VVV is scanning the Milky Way bulge and an adjacent section of the disk, where star formation activity is high. One of the principal goals of the VVV Survey is to find new star clusters of different ages. Aims. In order to trace the early epochs of star cluster formation we concentrated our search in the directions to those of known star formation regions, masers, radio, and infrared sources. Methods. The disk area covered by VVV was visually inspected using the pipeline processed and calibrated KS-band tile images for stellar overdensities. Subsequently, we examined the composite JHKS and ZJKS color images of each candidate. PSF photometry of 15 × 15 arcmin fields centered on the candidates was then performed on the Cambridge Astronomy Survey Unit reduced images. After statistical field-star decontamination, color-magnitude and color-color diagrams were constructed and analyzed. Results. We report the discovery of 96 new infrared open clusters and stellar groups. Most of the new cluster candidates are faint and compact (with small angular sizes), highly reddened, and younger than 5 Myr. For relatively well populated cluster candidates we derived their fundamental parameters such as reddening, distance, and age by fitting the solar-metallicity Padova isochrones to the color-magnitude diagrams.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 07/2011; 532. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We are reporting the discovery of 156 new infrared open clusters and stellar groups in the Vista Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV) ESO Large Public Survey area.
    Scientific Meeting in Honor of Anthony F. J. Moffat; 07/2011

Publication Stats

203 Citations
120.15 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008–2014
    • University of Oxford
      • Department of Physics
      Oxford, England, United Kingdom
  • 2012
    • Universidad de Valparaíso (Chile)
      • Institute of Physics and Astronomy
      Ciudad de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile
  • 2011
    • Playa Ancha University
      Ciudad de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile
  • 2008–2010
    • Imperial College London
      • Department of Physics
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2009
    • Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
      • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States