D. E. Winget

University of Canterbury, Christchurch, Canterbury Region, New Zealand

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Publications (279)826.75 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Our preliminary results from laboratory experiments studying white dwarf (WD) photospheres show a systematic difference between experimental plasma conditions inferred from measured H$\beta$ absorption line profiles versus those from H$\gamma$. One hypothesis for this discrepancy is an inaccuracy in the relative theoretical line profiles of these two transitions. This is intriguing because atmospheric parameters inferred from H Balmer lines in observed WD spectra show systematic trends such that inferred surface gravities decrease with increasing principal quantum number, $n$. If conditions inferred from lower-$n$ Balmer lines are indeed more accurate, this suggests that spectroscopically determined DA WD masses may be greater than previously thought and in better agreement with the mean mass determined from gravitational redshifts.
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    ABSTRACT: We carry out high-speed photometry on 20 of the shortest-period, detached white dwarf binaries known and discover systems with eclipses, ellipsoidal variations (due to tidal deformations of the visible white dwarf), and Doppler beaming. All of the binaries contain low-mass white dwarfs with orbital periods less than 4 hr. Our observations identify the first eight tidally distorted white dwarfs, four of which are reported for the first time here, which we use to put empirical constraints on the mass-radius relationship for extremely low-mass (<0.30 Msun) white dwarfs. We also detect Doppler beaming in several of these binaries, which confirms the high-amplitude radial-velocity variability. All of these systems are strong sources of gravitational radiation, and long-term monitoring of those that display ellipsoidal variations can be used to detect spin-up of the tidal bulge due to orbital decay.
    The Astrophysical Journal 07/2014; 792(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Z Facility at Sandia National Laboratories [Matzen et al., Phys. Plasmas 12, 055503 (2005)] provides MJ-class x-ray sources that can emit powers >0.3 PW. This capability enables benchmark experiments of fundamental material properties in radiation-heated matter at conditions previously unattainable in the laboratory. Experiments on Z can produce uniform, long-lived, and large plasmas with volumes up to 20 cc, temperatures from 1–200 eV, and electron densities from 10 17–23 cc À1 . These unique characteristics and the ability to radiatively heat multiple experiments in a single shot have led to a new effort called the Z Astrophysical Plasma Properties (ZAPP) collaboration. The focus of the ZAPP collaboration is to reproduce the radiation and material characteristics of astrophysical plasmas as closely as possible in the laboratory and use detailed spectral measurements to strengthen models for atoms in plasmas. Specific issues under investigation include the LTE opacity of iron at stellar-interior conditions, photoionization around active galactic nuclei, the efficiency of resonant Auger destruction in black-hole accretion disks, and H-Balmer line shapes in white dwarf photospheres. V C 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.
    Physics of Plasmas 05/2014; 21:056308. · 2.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a preliminary analysis of the cool pulsating white dwarf GD 1212, enabled by more than 11.5 days of space-based photometry obtained during an engineering test of the two-reaction-wheel-controlled Kepler spacecraft. We detect at least 19 independent pulsation modes, ranging from 828.2-1220.8 s, and at least 17 nonlinear combination frequencies of those independent pulsations. Our longest uninterrupted light curve, 9.0 days in length, evidences coherent difference frequencies at periods inaccessible from the ground, up to 14.5 hr, the longest-period signals ever detected in a pulsating white dwarf. These results mark some of the first science to come from a two-wheel-controlled Kepler spacecraft, proving the capability for unprecedented discoveries afforded by extending Kepler observations to the ecliptic.
    The Astrophysical Journal 05/2014; 789(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We describe a portable CCD-based instrumentation system designed to efficiently undertake high time precision fast photometry. The key components of the system are (1) an externally triggered commercial frame-transfer CCD, (2) a custom Global Positioning System-derived time source and (3) flexible software for both instrument control and online analysis/display. Two working instruments that implement this design are described. The New Zealand-based instrument employs a Princeton Instruments (PI) 1k × 1k CCD and has been used with the 1 m telescope at Mt John University Observatory, while the other uses a newer 1k × 1k electron-multiplying CCD supplied by PI and is based at the University of Texas at Austin. We include some recent observations that illustrate the capabilities of the instruments.
    04/2014; 440(2).
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery of two new pulsating extremely low-mass (ELM) white dwarfs (WDs), SDSS J161431.28+191219.4 (hereafter J1614) and SDSS J222859.93+362359.6 (hereafter J2228). Both WDs have masses <0.25 Msun and thus likely harbor helium cores. Spectral fits indicate these are the two coolest pulsating WDs ever found. J1614 has Teff = 8880 +/- 170 K and log g = 6.66 +/- 0.14, which corresponds to a roughly 0.19 Msun WD. J2228 is considerably cooler, with a Teff = 7870 +/- 120 K and log g = 6.03 +/- 0.08, which corresponds to a roughly 0.16 Msun WD, making it the coolest and lowest-mass pulsating WD known. There are multiple ELM WDs with effective temperatures between the warmest and coolest known ELM pulsators that do not pulsate to observable amplitudes, which questions the purity of the instability strip for low-mass WDs. In contrast to the CO-core ZZ Ceti stars, which are believed to represent a stage in the evolution of all such WDs, ELM WDs may not all evolve as a simple cooling sequence through an instability strip. Both stars exhibit long-period variability (1184-6235 s) consistent with non-radial g-mode pulsations. Although ELM WDs are preferentially found in close binary systems, both J1614 and J2228 do not exhibit significant radial-velocity variability, and are perhaps in low-inclination systems or have low-mass companions. These are the fourth and fifth pulsating ELM WDs known, all of which have hydrogen-dominated atmospheres, establishing these objects as a new class of pulsating WD.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 09/2013; 436(4). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Photometric observations of the cataclysmic variable EQ Lyn (SDSS J074531.92+453829.6), acquired from 2005 October to 2006 January, revealed high-amplitude variability in the range 1166-1290 s. This accreting white dwarf underwent an outburst in 2006 October, during which its brightness increased by at least five magnitudes, and it started exhibiting superhumps in its light curve. Upon cooling to quiescence, the superhumps disappeared and it displayed the same periods in 2010 February as prior to the outburst within the uncertainties of a couple of seconds. This behavior suggests that the observed variability is likely due to nonradial pulsations in the white dwarf star, whose core structure has not been significantly affected by the outburst. The enigmatic observations begin with an absence of pulsational variability during a multi-site campaign conducted in 2011 January-February without any evidence of a new outburst; the light curve is instead dominated by superhumps with periods in the range of 83-87 minutes. Ultraviolet Hubble Space Telescope time-series spectroscopy acquired in 2011 March reveals an effective temperature of 15,400 K, placing EQ Lyn within the broad instability strip of 10,500-16,000 K for accreting pulsators. The ultraviolet light curve with 90% flux from the white dwarf shows no evidence of any pulsations. Optical photometry acquired during 2011 and Spring 2012 continues to reflect the presence of superhumps and an absence of pulsations. Subsequent observations acquired in 2012 December and 2013 January finally indicate the disappearance of superhumps and the return of pulsational variability with similar periods as previous data. However, our most recent data from 2013 March to May reveal superhumps yet again with no sign of pulsations. We speculate that this enigmatic post-outburst behavior of the frequent disappearance of pulsational variability in EQ Lyn is caused either by heating the white dwarf beyond the instability strip due to an elevated accretion rate, disrupting pulsations associated with the He II instability strip by lowering the He abundance of the convection zone, free geometric precession of the entire system, or appearing and disappearing disk pulsations.
    The Astronomical Journal 08/2013; 146(3):54. · 4.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We announce the discovery of the most massive pulsating hydrogen-atmosphere (DA) white dwarf (WD) ever discovered, GD 518. Model atmosphere fits to the optical spectrum of this star show it is a 12,030 +/- 210 K WD with a log(g) = 9.08 +/- 0.06, which corresponds to a mass of 1.20 +/- 0.03 Msun. Stellar evolution models indicate that the progenitor of such a high-mass WD endured a stable carbon-burning phase, producing an oxygen-neon-core WD. The discovery of pulsations in GD 518 thus offers the first opportunity to probe the interior of a WD with a possible oxygen-neon core. Such a massive WD should also be significantly crystallized at this temperature. The star exhibits multi-periodic luminosity variations at timescales ranging from roughly 425-595 s and amplitudes up to 0.7%, consistent in period and amplitude with the observed variability of typical ZZ Ceti stars, which exhibit non-radial g-mode pulsations driven by a hydrogen partial ionization zone. Successfully unraveling both the total mass and core composition of GD 518 provides a unique opportunity to investigate intermediate-mass stellar evolution, and can possibly place an upper limit to the mass of a carbon-oxygen-core WD, which in turn constrains SNe Ia progenitor systems.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 06/2013; 771(1). · 6.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have finally measured the evolutionary rate of cooling of the pulsating hydrogen atmosphere (DA) white dwarf ZZ Ceti (Ross 548), as reflected by the drift rate of the 213.13260694 s period. Using 41 yr of time-series photometry from 1970 November to 2012 January, we determine the rate of change of this period with time to be dP/dt = (5.2 ± 1.4) × 10–15 s s–1 employing the O – C method and (5.45 ± 0.79) × 10–15 s s–1 using a direct nonlinear least squares fit to the entire lightcurve. We adopt the dP/dt obtained from the nonlinear least squares program as our final determination, but augment the corresponding uncertainty to a more realistic value, ultimately arriving at the measurement of dP/dt = (5.5 ± 1.0) × 10–15 s s–1. After correcting for proper motion, the evolutionary rate of cooling of ZZ Ceti is computed to be (3.3 ± 1.1) × 10–15 s s–1. This value is consistent within uncertainties with the measurement of (4.19 ± 0.73) × 10–15 s s–1 for another similar pulsating DA white dwarf, G 117-B15A. Measuring the cooling rate of ZZ Ceti helps us refine our stellar structure and evolutionary models, as cooling depends mainly on the core composition and stellar mass. Calibrating white dwarf cooling curves with this measurement will reduce the theoretical uncertainties involved in white dwarf cosmochronometry. Should the 213.13 s period be trapped in the hydrogen envelope, then our determination of its drift rate compared to the expected evolutionary rate suggests an additional source of stellar cooling. Attributing the excess cooling to the emission of axions imposes a constraint on the mass of the hypothetical axion particle.
    The Astrophysical Journal 06/2013; 771(1):17. · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the discovery of photometric variability in the DQ white dwarf SDSS J103655.39+652252.2 (SDSS J1036+6522). Time-series photometry reveals a coherent monoperiodic modulation at a period of 1115.64751(67) s with an amplitude of 0.442% +/- 0.024%; no other periodic modulations are observed with amplitudes >~0.13%. The period, amplitude, and phase of this modulation are constant within errors over 16 months. The spectrum of SDSS J1036+6522 shows magnetic splitting of carbon lines, and we use Paschen-Back formalism to develop a grid of model atmospheres for mixed carbon and helium atmospheres. Our models, while reliant on several simplistic assumptions, nevertheless match the major spectral and photometric properties of the star with a self-consistent set of parameters: Teff~15,500 K, log g ~9, log(C/He)=-1.0, and a mean magnetic field strength of 3.0 +/- 0.2 MG. The temperature and abundances strongly suggest that SDSS J1036+6522 is a transition object between the hot, carbon-dominated DQs and the cool, He-dominated DQs. The variability of SDSS J1036+6522 has characteristics similar to those of the variable hot carbon-atmosphere white dwarfs (DQVs), however, its temperature is significantly cooler. The pulse profile of SDSS J1036+6522 is nearly sinusoidal, in contrast with the significantly asymmetric pulse shapes of the known magnetic DQVs. If the variability in SDSS J1036+6522 is due to the same mechanism as other DQVs, then the pulse shape is not a definitive diagnostic on the absence of a strong magnetic field in DQVs. It remains unclear whether the root cause of the variability in SDSS J1036+6522 and the other hot DQVs is the same.
    The Astrophysical Journal 05/2013; 769(2):123. · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the most rapid rate of period change measured to date for a pulsating DA (hydrogen atmosphere) white dwarf (WD), observed in the 292.9 s mode of WD 0111+0018. The observed period change, faster than 10^{-12} s/s, exceeds by more than two orders of magnitude the expected rate from cooling alone for this class of slow and simply evolving pulsating WDs. This result indicates the presence of an additional timescale for period evolution in these pulsating objects. We also measure the rates of period change of nonlinear combination frequencies and show that they share the evolutionary characteristics of their parent modes, confirming that these combination frequencies are not independent modes but rather artifacts of some nonlinear distortion in the outer layers of the star.
    The Astrophysical Journal 02/2013; 766(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: After an extensive search, we announce the discovery of the first three extremely low mass (ELM, ≤ 0.25 M⊙), putatively He-core pulsating white dwarfs (WDs). The objects are by far the coolest and the lowest-mass pulsating WD known. The first to be published, SDSS J1840+6423 (Hermes et al. 2012), has Teff = 9140±170 K and log g = 6.22±0.06, which corresponds to a mass of ˜ 0.17 M⊙. The second and third pulsating ELM WDs have similarly low masses. SDSS J1112+1117 has Teff = 9400±490 K and a log g = 5.99±0.12. SDSS J1518+0658 has Teff = 9810±320 K and a log g = 6.66±0.06. These low-mass pulsating WDs greatly extend the DAV (or ZZ Ceti) instability strip, and begin to bridge the gap in surface gravity between WDs and main-sequence stars. Consistent with the expectation that these ELM WDs are the product of binary evolution, all three of these stars have an unseen binary companion, with 4.2-14.6 hr orbital periods, in each case most likely another WD.
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery of the second and third pulsating extremely low mass white dwarfs (WDs), SDSS J111215.82+111745.0 (hereafter J1112) and SDSS J151826.68+065813.2 (hereafter J1518). Both have masses < 0.25 Msun and effective temperatures below 10,000 K, establishing these putatively He-core WDs as a cooler class of pulsating hydrogen-atmosphere WDs (DAVs, or ZZ Ceti stars). The short-period pulsations evidenced in the light curve of J1112 may also represent the first observation of acoustic (p-mode) pulsations in any WD, which provide an exciting opportunity to probe this WD in a complimentary way compared to the long-period g-modes also present. J1112 is a Teff = 9590 +/- 140 K and log(g) = 6.36 +/- 0.06 WD. The star displays sinusoidal variability at five distinct periodicities between 1792-2855 s. In this star we also see short-period variability, strongest at 134.3 s, well short of expected g-modes for such a low-mass WD. The other new pulsating WD, J1518, is a Teff = 9900 +/- 140 K and log(g) = 6.80 +/- 0.05 WD. The light curve of J1518 is highly non-sinusoidal, with at least seven significant periods between 1335-3848 s. Consistent with the expectation that ELM WDs must be formed in binaries, these two new pulsating He-core WDs, in addition to the prototype SDSS J184037.78+642312.3, have close companions. However, the observed variability is inconsistent with tidally induced pulsations and is so far best explained by the same hydrogen partial-ionization driving mechanism at work in classic C/O-core ZZ Ceti stars.
    The Astrophysical Journal 11/2012; 765(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present an experimental platform for measuring hydrogen Balmer emission and absorption line profiles for plasmas with white dwarf (WD) photospheric conditions (T_e ~ 1 eV, n_e ~ 10^17 cm^-3). These profiles will be used to benchmark WD atmosphere models, which, used with the spectroscopic method, are responsible for determining fundamental parameters (e.g., effective temperature, mass) for tens of thousands of WDs. Our experiment, performed at the Z Pulsed Power Facility at Sandia National Laboratories, uses the large amount of x-rays generated from a z-pinch dynamic hohlraum to drive plasma formation in a gas cell. The platform is unique compared to past hydrogen line profile experiments in that the plasma is radiation-driven. This decouples the heating source from the plasma to be studied in the sense that the radiation temperature causing the photoionization is independent of the initial conditions of the gas. For the first time we measure hydrogen Balmer lines in absorption at these conditions in the laboratory for the purpose of benchmarking Stark-broadened line shapes. The platform can be used to study other plasma species and to explore non-LTE, time-dependent collisional-radiative atomic kinetics.
    High Energy Density Physics. 10/2012; 9(1).
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    ABSTRACT: Astrophysics experiments by Falcon et al. to create white dwarf photospheres in the laboratory are currently underway. The experimental platform measures Balmer line profiles of a radiation-driven, pure hydrogen plasma in emission and in absorption for conditions at T_e ~ 1 eV, n_e ~ 10^17 cm^-3. These will be used to compare and test line broadening theories used in white dwarf atmosphere models. The flexibility of the platform allows us to expand the direction of our experiments using other compositions. We discuss future prospects such as exploring helium plasmas and carbon/oxygen plasmas relevant to the photospheres of DBs and hot DQs, respectively.
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    ABSTRACT: We report our observations of the new pulsating hydrogen atmosphere white dwarf SDSS J132350.28+010304.22. We discovered periodic photometric variations in frequency and amplitude that are commensurate with nonradial g-mode pulsations in ZZ Ceti stars. This, along with estimates for the star's temperature and gravity, establishes it as a massive ZZ Ceti star. We used time-series photometric observations with the 4.1 m SOAR Telescope, complemented by contemporary McDonald Observatory 2.1 m data, to discover the photometric variability. The light curve of SDSS J132350.28+010304.22 shows at least nine detectable frequencies. We used these frequencies to make an asteroseismic determination of the total mass and effective temperature of the star: M sstarf = 0.88 ± 0.02 M sun and T eff = 12, 100 ± 140 K. These values are consistent with those derived from the optical spectra and photometric colors.
    The Astrophysical Journal 10/2012; 757:177. · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the detection of orbital decay in the 12.75-minute, detached binary white dwarf (WD) SDSS J065133.338+284423.37 (hereafter J0651). Our photometric observations over a 13 month baseline constrain the orbital period to 765.206543(55) s and indicate that the orbit is decreasing at a rate of (- 9.8 {+-} 2.8) Multiplication-Sign 10{sup -12} s s{sup -1} (or -0.31 {+-} 0.09 ms yr{sup -1}). We revise the system parameters based on our new photometric and spectroscopic observations: J0651 contains two WDs with M{sub 1} = 0.26 {+-} 0.04 M{sub Sun} and M{sub 2} = 0.50 {+-} 0.04 M{sub Sun }. General relativity predicts orbital decay due to gravitational wave radiation of (- 8.2 {+-} 1.7) Multiplication-Sign 10{sup -12} s s{sup -1} (or -0.26 {+-} 0.05 ms yr{sup -1}). Our observed rate of orbital decay is consistent with this expectation. J0651 is currently the second-loudest gravitational wave source known in the milli-Hertz range and the loudest non-interacting binary, which makes it an excellent verification source for future missions aimed at directly detecting gravitational waves. Our work establishes the feasibility of monitoring this system's orbital period decay at optical wavelengths.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 10/2012; 757(2). · 6.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Via Hubble Space Telescope (HST) spectroscopy, we find He II lines in surface spectra of the DBV GD 358. We propose that pulsation heating of GD 358's atmosphere is responsible for producing the He II lines. We also apply the so-called “chromatic amplitude method” to identify the three largest modes observed and obtain consistent results with those obtained previously from the Whole Earth Telescope (WET) observations.
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    ABSTRACT: We report the detection of orbital decay in the 12.75-min, detached binary white dwarf (WD) SDSS J065133.338+284423.37 (hereafter J0651). Our photometric observations over a 13-month baseline constrain the orbital period to 765.206543(55) s and indicate the orbit is decreasing as a rate of (-9.8 +/- 2.8) x 10^(-12) s/s (or -0.31 +/- 0.09 ms/yr). We revise the system parameters based on our new photometric and spectroscopic observations: J0651 contains two WDs with M1 = 0.26 +/- 0.04 Msun and M2 = 0.50 +/- 0.04 Msun. General relativity predicts orbital decay due to gravitational wave radiation of (-8.2 +/- 1.7) x 10^(-12) s/s (or -0.26 +/- 0.05 ms/yr). Our observed rate of orbital decay is consistent with this expectation. J0651 is currently the second-loudest gravitational wave source known in the milli-Hertz range and the loudest non-interacting binary, which makes it an excellent verification source for future missions aimed at directly detecting gravitational waves. Our work establishes the feasibility of monitoring this system's orbital period decay at optical wavelengths.
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    ABSTRACT: We measure apparent velocities (v_app) of absorption lines for 36 white dwarfs (WDs) with helium-dominated atmospheres -- 16 DBAs and 20 DBs -- using optical spectra taken for the European Southern Observatory SN Ia progenitor survey (SPY). We find a difference of 6.9+/-6.9 km/s in the average apparent velocity of the H-alpha lines versus that of the HeI 5876AA for our DBAs. This is a measure of the blueshift of this He line due to pressure effects. By using this as a correction, we extend the gravitational redshift method employed by Falcon et al. (2010) to use the apparent velocity of the HeI 5876AA line and conduct the first gravitational redshift investigation of a group of WDs without visible hydrogen lines. We use biweight estimators to find an average apparent velocity, _BI, (and hence average gravitational redshift, _BI) for our WDs; from that we derive an average mass, _BI. For the DBAs, we find _BI = 40.8+/-4.7 km/s and derive _BI = 0.71 +0.04 -0.05 Msun. Though different from of DAs (32.57 km/s) at the 91% confidence level and suggestive of a larger DBA mean mass than that for normal DAs derived using the same method (0.647 +0.013 -0.014 Msun; Falcon et al. 2010), we do not claim this as a stringent detection. Rather, we emphasize that the difference between _BI of the DBAs and of normal DAs is no larger than 9.2 km/s, at the 95% confidence level; this corresponds to roughly 0.10 Msun. For the DBs, we find ^He_BI = 42.9+/-8.49 km/s after applying the blueshift correction and determine _BI = 0.74 +0.08 -0.09 Msun. The difference between ^He_BI of the DBs and of DAs is less than or equal to 11.5 km/s (~0.12 Msun), at the 95% confidence level. The gravitational redshift method indicates much larger mean masses than the spectroscopic determinations of the same sample by Voss et al. (2007)...
    The Astrophysical Journal 08/2012; 757(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

3k Citations
826.75 Total Impact Points


  • 2014
    • University of Canterbury
      Christchurch, Canterbury Region, New Zealand
  • 1991–2014
    • Iowa State University
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Ames, Iowa, United States
  • 1983–2014
    • University of Texas at Austin
      • Department of Astronomy
      Austin, Texas, United States
  • 2008
    • Missouri State University
      • Department of Physics, Astronomy and Materials Science
      Springfield, Missouri, United States
    • Siena College
      Troy, New York, United States
  • 1990–2008
    • Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
      • Instituto de Física
      Porto Alegre, Estado do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • 2007
    • Victoria University of Wellington
      • School of Chemical and Physical Sciences
      Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
  • 2006
    • University of Rochester
      Rochester, New York, United States
    • Purdue University
      • Department of Physics
      West Lafayette, Indiana, United States
  • 1999–2001
    • University of Vienna
      Wien, Vienna, Austria
  • 1992–1993
    • Florida Institute of Technology
      • Department of Physics and Space Sciences
      Melbourne, FL, United States
  • 1985
    • University of Colorado at Boulder
      Boulder, Colorado, United States
  • 1982
    • University of Cambridge
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom