L. Limatola

The Astronomical Observatory of Brera, Merate, Lombardy, Italy

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Publications (26)70.2 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Globular clusters associated with the Galactic bulge are important tracers of stellar populations in the inner Galaxy. High resolution analysis of stars in these clusters allows us to characterize them in terms of kinematics, metallicity, and individual abundances, and to compare these fingerprints with those characterizing field populations. We present iron and element ratios for seven red giant stars in the globular cluster NGC~6723, based on high resolution spectroscopy. High resolution spectra ($R\sim48~000$) of seven K giants belonging to NGC 6723 were obtained with the FEROS spectrograph at the MPG/ESO 2.2m telescope. Photospheric parameters were derived from $\sim130$ FeI and FeII transitions. Abundance ratios were obtained from line-to-line spectrum synthesis calculations on clean selected features. An intermediate metallicity of [Fe/H]$=-0.98\pm0.08$ dex and a heliocentric radial velocity of $v_{hel}=-96.6\pm1.3~km s^{-1}$ were found for NGC 6723. Alpha-element abundances present enhancements of $[O/Fe]=0.29\pm0.18$ dex, $[Mg/Fe]=0.23\pm0.10$ dex, $[Si/Fe]=0.36\pm0.05$ dex, and $[Ca/Fe]=0.30\pm0.07$ dex. Similar overabundance is found for the iron-peak Ti with $[Ti/Fe]=0.24\pm0.09$ dex. Odd-Z elements Na and Al present abundances of $[Na/Fe]=0.00\pm0.21$ dex and $[Al/Fe]=0.31\pm0.21$ dex, respectively. Finally, the s-element Ba is also enhanced by $[Ba/Fe]=0.22\pm0.21$ dex. The enhancement levels of NGC 6723 are comparable to those of other metal-intermediate bulge globular clusters. In turn, these enhancement levels are compatible with the abundance profiles displayed by bulge field stars at that metallicity. This hints at a possible similar chemical evolution with globular clusters and the metal-poor of the bulge going through an early prompt chemical enrichment.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: We describe the observing strategy, data reduction tools and early results of a supernova (SN) search project, named SUDARE, conducted with the ESO VST telescope aimed at measuring the rate of the different types of SNe in the redshift range 0.2<z<0.8. The search was performed in two of the best-studied extragalactic fields, CDFS and COSMOS, for which a wealth of ancillary data are available in the literature or public archives. (abridged) We obtained a final sample of 117 SNe, most of which are SNIa (57%) and the remaining core collapse events of which 44% type II, 22% type IIn and 34% type Ib/c. In order to link the transients, we built a catalog of ~1.3x10^5 galaxies in the redshift range 0<z<1 with a limiting magnitude K_AB=23.5 mag. We measured the SN rate per unit volume for SN Ia and core collapse SNe in different bin of redshifts. The values are consistent with other measurements from the literature. The dispersion of the rate measurements for SNe Ia is comparable with the scatter of the theoretical tracks for single (SD) and double degenerate (DD) binary systems models, therefore the data do not allow to disentangle among the two different progenitor scenarios. However, we may notice that among the three tested models, SD and two flavours of DD, either with a steep (DDC) or a wide (DDW) delay time distribution, the SD gives a better fit across the whole redshift range whereas the DDC better matches the steep rise up to redshift ~1.2. The DDW appears instead less favoured. The core collapse SN rate is fully consistent, unlike recent claims, with the prediction based on recent estimates of the star formation history, and standard progenitor mass range.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: The Shapley Supercluster Survey is a multi-wavelength survey covering an area of ~23 deg^2 (~260 Mpc^2 at z=0.048) around the supercluster core, including nine Abell and two poor clusters, having redshifts in the range 0.045-0.050. The survey aims to investigate the role of the cluster-scale mass assembly on the evolution of galaxies, mapping the effects of the environment from the cores of the clusters to their outskirts and along the filaments. The optical (ugri) imaging acquired with OmegaCAM on the VLT Survey Telescope is essential to achieve the project goals providing accurate multi-band photometry for the galaxy population down to m*+6. We describe the methodology adopted to construct the optical catalogues and to separate extended and point-like sources. The catalogues reach average 5sigma limiting magnitudes within a 3\arcsec diameter aperture of ugri=[24.4,24.6,24.1,23.3] and are 93% complete down to ugri=[23.8,23.8,23.5,22.0] mag, corresponding to ~m*_r+8.5. The data are highly uniform in terms of observing conditions and all acquired with seeing less than 1.1 arcsec full width at half-maximum. The median seeing in r-band is 0.6 arcsec, corresponding to 0.56 kpc h^{-1}_{70} at z=0.048. While the observations in the u, g and r bands are still ongoing, the i-band observations have been completed, and we present the i-band catalogue over the whole survey area. The latter is released and it will be regularly updated, through the use of the Virtual Observatory tools. This includes 734,319 sources down to i=22.0 mag and it is the first optical homogeneous catalogue at such a depth, covering the central region of the Shapley supercluster.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: This work makes use of the VST observations to select variable sources. We use also the IR photometry, SED fitting and X-ray information where available to confirm the nature of the AGN candidates. The IR data, available over the full survey area, allow to confirm the consistency of the variability selection with the IR color selection method, while the detection of variability may prove useful to detect the presence of an AGN in IR selected starburst galaxies.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015
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    ABSTRACT: We present the VST Early-type GAlaxy Survey (VEGAS), which is designed to obtain deep multiband photometry in g, r, i, of about one hundred nearby galaxies down to 27.3, 26.8, and 26 mag/arcsec^2 respectively, using the ESO facility VST/OmegaCAM.} The goals of the survey are 1) to map the light distribution up to ten effective radii, r_e, 2) to trace color gradients and surface brightness fluctuation gradients out to a few r_e for stellar population characterization, and 3) to obtain a full census of the satellite systems (globular clusters and dwarf galaxies) out to 20% of the galaxy virial radius. The external regions of galaxies retain signatures of the formation and evolution mechanisms that shaped them, and the study of nearby objects enables a detailed analysis of their morphology and interaction features. To clarify the complex variety of formation mechanisms of early-type galaxies (ETGs), wide and deep photometry is the primary observational step, which at the moment has been pursued with only a few dedicated programs. The VEGAS survey has been designated to provide these data for a volume-limited sample with exceptional image quality. In this commissioning photometric paper we illustrate the capabilities of the survey using g- and i-band VST/OmegaCAM images of the nearby galaxy NGC 4472 and of smaller ETGs in the surrounding field. Our surface brightness profiles reach rather faint levels and agree excellently well with previous literature. Genuine new results concern the detection of an intracluster light tail in NGC 4472 and of various substructures at increasing scales. We have also produced extended (g-i) color profiles. The VST/OmegaCAM data that we acquire in the context of the VEGAS survey provide an unprecedented view of substructures in the optical emission from extended galaxies, which can be as faint as a hundred times below the sky level.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: One of the most peculiar characteristics of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) is their variability over all wavelengths. This property has been used in the past to select AGN samples and is foreseen to be one of the detection techniques applied in future multi-epoch surveys, complementing photometric and spectroscopic methods. Aims. In this paper, we aim to construct and characterise an AGN sample using a multi-epoch dataset in the r band from the SUDARE-VOICE survey. Methods. Our work makes use of the VST monitoring programme of an area surrounding the Chandra Deep Field South to select variable sources. We use data spanning a six-month period over an area of 2 square degrees, to identify AGN based on their photometric variability. Results. The selected sample includes 175 AGN candidates with magnitude r< 23 mag. We distinguish different classes of variable sources through their lightcurves, as well as X-ray, spectroscopic, SED, optical, and IR information overlapping with our survey. Conclusions. We find that 12% of the sample (21/175) is represented by supernovae (SN). Of the remaining sources, 4% (6/154) are stars, while 66% (102/154) are likely AGNs based on the available diagnostics. We estimate an upper limit to the contamination of the variability selected AGN sample a 34%, but we point out that restricting the analysis to the sources with available multi-wavelength ancillary information, the purity of our sample is close to 80% (102 AGN out of 128 non-SN sources with multi-wavelength diagnostics). Our work thus confirms the efficiency of the variability selection method, in agreement with our previous work on the COSMOS field. In addition we show that the variability approach is roughly consistent with the infrared selection.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: One of the most peculiar characteristics of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) is their variability over all wavelengths. This property has been used in the past to select AGN samples and is foreseen to be one of the detection techniques applied in future multi-epoch surveys, complementing photometric and spectroscopic methods. In this paper, we aim to construct and characterise an AGN sample using a multi-epoch dataset in the r band from the SUDARE-VOICE survey. Our work makes use of the VST monitoring program of an area surrounding the Chandra Deep Field South to select variable sources. We use data spanning a six month period over an area of 2 square degrees, to identify AGN based on their photometric variability. The selected sample includes 175 AGN candidates with magnitude r < 23 mag. We distinguish different classes of variable sources through their lightcurves, as well as X-ray, spectroscopic, SED, optical and IR information overlapping with our survey. We find that 12% of the sample (21/175) is represented by SN. Of the remaining sources, 4% (6/154) are stars, while 66% (102/154) are likely AGNs based on the available diagnostics. We estimate an upper limit to the contamination of the variability selected AGN sample of about 34%, but we point out that restricting the analysis to the sources with available multi-wavelength ancillary information, the purity of our sample is close to 80% (102 AGN out of 128 non-SN sources with multi-wavelength diagnostics). Our work thus confirms the efficiency of the variability selection method in agreement with our previous work on the COSMOS field; in addition we show that the variability approach is roughly consistent with the infrared selection.
    Full-text · Article · May 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Optical variability has proven to be an effective way of detecting AGNs in imaging surveys, lasting from weeks to years. In the present work we test its use as a tool to identify AGNs in the VST multi-epoch survey of the COSMOS field, originally tailored to detect supernova events. We make use of the multi-wavelength data provided by other COSMOS surveys to discuss the reliability of the method and the nature of our AGN candidates. Our selection returns a sample of 83 AGN candidates; based on a number of diagnostics, we conclude that 67 of them are confirmed AGNs (81% purity), 12 are classified as supernovae, while the nature of the remaining 4 is unknown. For the subsample of AGNs with some spectroscopic classification, we find that Type 1 are prevalent (89%) compared to Type 2 AGNs (11%). Overall, our approach is able to retrieve on average 15% of all AGNs in the field identified by means of spectroscopic or X-ray classification, with a strong dependence on the source apparent magnitude. In particular, the completeness for Type 1 AGNs is 25%, while it drops to 6% for Type 2 AGNs. The rest of the X-ray selected AGN population presents on average a larger r.m.s. variability than the bulk of non variable sources, indicating that variability detection for at least some of these objects is prevented only by the photometric accuracy of the data. We show how a longer observing baseline would return a larger sample of AGN candidates. Our results allow us to assess the usefulness of this AGN selection technique in view of future wide-field surveys.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: We present a study of globular clusters (GCs) and other small stellar systems (SSSs) in the field of NGC3115, observed as part of the VEGAS imaging survey, carried out with the VST telescope. We use deep g and i data of NGC3115, a well-studied lenticular galaxy with excellent scientific literature. This is fundamental to test the methodologies, verify the results, and probe the capabilities of the VEGAS-SSS. Leveraging the large field of view of the VST allow us to accurately study of the distribution and properties of SSSs as a function of galactocentric distance Rgc, well beyond ~20 galaxy effective radii, in a way not often possible. Our analysis of colors, magnitudes and sizes of SSS candidates confirms the results from existing studies, some of which carried out with 8-10m class telescopes, and further extends them to unreached Rgc distances, with similar accuracy. We find a color bimodality for the GC population and a r1/4 profile for the surface density of GCs as for the galaxy light profile. The radial color gradient of blue and red GCs previously found, for instance by the SLUGGS survey, is further extended out to the largest Rgc inspected, ~65 kpc. The surface density profiles of blue and red GCs taken separately are well approximated by a r1/4 density profile, with the fraction of blue GCs being slightly larger at larger Rgc. We do not find hints of a trend for the red GC and for the GC turnover magnitude to vary with radius, but we observe a ~0.2 mag difference in the turnover magnitude of the blue and red GCs subpopulations. Inspecting SSS sizes and colors we obtained a list of UCDs and GC candidates suitable for future spectroscopic follow-up. In conclusion, our study shows the reliability of the methodologies developed to study SSSs in the field of bright early-type galaxies, and the great potential of the VEGAS survey to produce original results on SSSs science.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: We present the first deep photometry of a good candidate for a forming polar ring galaxy at redshift z~0.05. This object, named FCSS J033710.0-354727, is a background galaxy in the VST deep field of the Fornax cluster. The deep exposures combined with the high angular resolution of the OmegaCAM at VST allow us to carry out the first detailed photometric analysis for this system in the g and i bands to derive the galaxy structure and colors. Results show that the central object resembles a disk galaxy, surrounded by a ring-like structure 2 times more extended than the central disk. The warped geometry and the presence of bright knots observed along the polar direction, as well as the several debris detected on the NW side with colors comparable to those of the galaxy, suggest that the polar structure is still forming. We argue that the wide polar ring/disk is the result of the ongoing disruption of a companion galaxy in the potential of the central object, which is 2-3 times more massive than the accreting galaxy.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: We present an overview of a multi-wavelength survey of the Shapley supercluster (SSC; z=0.05) covering a contiguous area of 260 h^{-2}_{70} Mpc^2 including the supercluster core. The main aim of the survey is to quantify the influence of cluster-scale mass assembly on galaxy evolution in one of the most massive structures in the local Universe. The Shapley supercluster survey (ShaSS) includes nine Abell clusters (A3552, A3554, A3556, A3558, A3559, A3560, A3562, AS0724, AS0726) and two poor clusters (SC1327- 312, SC1329-313) showing evidence of cluster-cluster interactions. Optical (ugri) and near-infrared (K) imaging acquired with the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) and the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) allow us to study the galaxy population down to m*+6 at the supercluster redshift. A dedicated spectroscopic survey with AAOmega on the Anglo-Australian Telescope provides a magnitude-limited sample of redshifts of supercluster members with 80% completeness at m*+2.5. We discuss the scientific aspects of the survey and describe its main characteristics. We derive the galaxy density across the whole area of the survey, demonstrating that all (sub-)structures within this area are embedded in a single network of clusters, groups and filaments. The stellar mass density in the core of the SSC is always higher than 9E09 M_sun Mpc^-3, which is about 40 times the cosmic stellar mass density for galaxies in the local Universe. We find a new filamentary structure (7 Mpc long in projection) connecting the SSC core to the cluster A3559, as well as previously unidentified density peaks. We perform a weak-lensing analysis of the central 1 sqdeg field of the survey to test the feasibility of mapping the dark matter distribution in the SSC with our data. We obtain for the central cluster A3558 a mass of M_500~7.63E14 M_sun, in agreement with X-ray based estimates.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: STREGA (STRucture and Evolution of the GAlaxy) is a guaranteed time survey being performed at the VST (the ESO Very Large Telescope Survey Telescope) to map about 150 square degrees in the Galactic halo, in order to constrain the mechanisms of galactic formation and evolution. The survey is built as a 5 yr project, organized in two parts: a core programme to explore the surrounding regions of selected stellar systems and a second complementary part to map the southern portion of the Fornax orbit and extend the observations of the core programme. The adopted stellar tracers are mainly variable stars (RR Lyraes and long-period variables) and main-sequence turn-off stars for which observations in the g, r, i bands are obtained. We present an overview of the survey and some preliminary results for three observing runs that have been completed. For the region centred on ω Cen (37 deg2), covering about three tidal radii, we also discuss the detected stellar density radial profile and angular distribution, leading to the identification of extratidal cluster stars. We also conclude that the cluster tidal radius is about 1.2 deg, in agreement with values in the literature based on the Wilson model.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: STEP (the SMC in Time: Evolution of a Prototype interacting late-type dwarf galaxy) is a Guaranteed Time Observation survey being performed at the VST (the ESO VLT Survey Telescope). STEP will image an area of 74 deg2 covering the main body of the Small Magellanic Cloud (32 deg2), the Bridge that connects it to the Large Magellanic Cloud (30 deg2) and a small part of the Magellanic Stream (2 deg2). Our g, r, i, Hα photometry is able to resolve individual stars down to magnitudes well below the main-sequence turn-off of the oldest populations. In this first paper, we describe the observing strategy, the photometric techniques and the upcoming data products of the survey. We also present preliminary results for the first two fields for which data acquisition is completed, including some detailed analysis of the two stellar clusters IC 1624 and NGC 419.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: CBET 3728 available at Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013
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    ABSTRACT: The SUpernova Diversity And Rate Evolution (SUDARE) programme on the VLT Survey Telescope aims to collect an unbiased and homogeneous sample of supernovae (SNe) in all types of galaxies out to redshift ~ 0.6. In four years, around 500 Type Ia and core-collapse SNe are expected to be discovered, including significant numbers of rare SN types. The programme is outlined and 100 SNe candidates have already been detected in the first year of the programme. Follow-up spectroscopy of the SN candidates, an important aspect of the programme, is also described.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2013
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    ABSTRACT: The distance of NGC1316, the brightest galaxy in Fornax, is an interesting test for the cosmological distance scale. First, because Fornax is the 2nd largest cluster of galaxies at <~25 Mpc after Virgo and, in contrast to Virgo, has a small line-of-sight depth; and second, because NGC1316 is the galaxy with the largest number of detected SNeIa, giving the opportunity to test the consistency of SNeIa distances internally and against other indicators. We measure SBF mags in NGC1316 from ground and space-based imaging data, providing a homogeneous set of measurements over a wide wavelength interval. The SBF, coupled with empirical and theoretical calibrations, are used to estimate the distance to the galaxy. We present the first B-band SBF measurements of NGC1316 and use them together with the optical and near-IR SBF data to analyze the properties of field stars. Our distance modulus m-M=31.59 +-0.05(stat) +-0.14(sys), when placed in a consistent Cepheid distance scale, agrees with the results from other indicators. However, our result is ~17% larger than the most recent estimate based on SNeIa. Possible explanations for this disagreement are the uncertainties on internal extinction, or calibration issues. Concerning the stellar population analysis, we confirm earlier results from other indicators: the field stars in NGC1316 are dominated by a solar metallicity, intermediate age component. A substantial mismatch exists between B-band SBF models and data, a behavior that can be accounted for by an enhanced percentage of hot horizontal branch stars. Our study of the SBF distance to NGC1316, and the comparison with distances from other indicators, raises some concern about the homogeneity between the calibrations of different indicators. If not properly placed in the same reference scale, significant differences can occur, with dramatic impact on the cosmological distance ladder.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2013 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: This work is based on data of NGC1316 from the Very Large Telescope (VLT). We used B, V and I-band observations obtained with the FORS1 Imager at ESO's VLT in Paranal (Program 64.H-0624(A), P.I. M. Della Valle). The data reduction was carried out with the VST-Tube imaging pipeline. VST-Tube is a very versatile software for astronomical data analysis, tested against imaging data taken with different telescopes/detectors, adaptable to existing or future multi-CCD cameras (2 data files).
    No preview · Article · Feb 2013
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    ABSTRACT: CBET 3311 available at Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2012
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    ABSTRACT: CBET 3274 available at Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2012

  • No preview · Article · Oct 2012