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See detailDetermining astrophysical parameters of quasars within the Gaia mission
Delchambre, Ludovic ULiege

Doctoral thesis (2017)

Quasars are one of the most peculiar types of objects in astronomy. The supermassive black hole these harbour effectively makes the surrounding matter radiates an enormous amount of energy before getting ... [more ▼]

Quasars are one of the most peculiar types of objects in astronomy. The supermassive black hole these harbour effectively makes the surrounding matter radiates an enormous amount of energy before getting in the vicinity of the black hole horizon out of which it will never escape. This ironically leads to the most luminous phenomenon in the Universe while being non-transient. It is hence quite natural to rely on these cosmic headlights, visible up to ages when the Universe was still very young, so as to achieve some of the currently most important cosmological applications, notably regarding the determination of the cosmological parameters $H_0$, $\Omega_\Lambda$ and $\Omega_m$. The Gaia mission, on its side, is one of a kind given the one billion of celestial objects it is intended to observe, among which more than half a million quasars are expected. Furthermore, owing to its exceptional astrometric precision, Gaia stands out to be extremely well suited for the detection of gravitational lens (GL) systems. In the latter, light rays coming from a distant background quasar are deflected by the presence of a massive galaxy being in the line-of-sight that leads to the production of multiple images of this background quasar upon a favourable alignment between the quasar, the galaxy and the observer. Supplemental constraints on the aforementioned cosmological parameters being then gained based on these GLs. Gaia hence provides an unprecedented opportunity to detect and characterize quasars as well as to identify GLs which ultimately bring a better understanding of the Universe we live in. This thesis is accordingly concerned with the development of software solutions dedicated to the determination of the astrophysical parameters (APs) of the quasars that Gaia will observe, on one hand, and to the recognition of the GLs among the billion of sources it will uncover, on the other hand. Although Gaia provides state-of-the-art astrometric and photometric observations, its capability in characterizing these celestial objects remains however restricted by the relatively low spectral resolution of the blue and red spectrophotometers upon which it is based as well as by the limited signal-to-noise ratio that is associated with faint objects, including quasars. In addition, the overwhelming amount of data that Gaia has to process translates into a stringent need for algorithms having both low numerical complexities as well as low memory usages. These restrictions and shortcomings along with the requirement for reliable APs were at the heart of this research that led to the development of two specifically designed methods that are the weighted principal components analysis and the weighted phase correlation method. The former of these methods allowed us to extract the most significant patterns out of quasars with a view of using these in the production of a spectral library of quasars as observed by Gaia. These were subsequently used in a fast and automated procedure designed to guess the redshift of the quasars within the Gaia mission through the latter mentioned method. Other APs that are the slope of the quasar continua, the total equivalent width of their emission lines and whether these encompass broad absorption lines or not, being then concurrently derived based on the results of these methods. Finally, the identification of GL candidates relies on the recognition of the structures and symmetries that are observed within lensed images through supervised learning methods. The specific method we choose to use, based on extremely randomized trees, was shown to yield a low contamination rate on simulated configurations composed of three images as well as a very high probability of detection in cases of four image configurations. Real observations out of the first Gaia data release were processed and resulted in the identification of candidates having three potentially lensed images which are currently waiting for confirmation using ground-based facilities. [less ▲]

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See detailGaia Data Release 1. Open cluster astrometry: performance, limitations, and future prospects
Gaia Collaboration; van Leeuwen, F.; Vallenari, A. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2017), 601

Context. The first Gaia Data Release contains the Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution (TGAS). This is a subset of about 2 million stars for which, besides the position and photometry, the proper motion and ... [more ▼]

Context. The first Gaia Data Release contains the Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution (TGAS). This is a subset of about 2 million stars for which, besides the position and photometry, the proper motion and parallax are calculated using Hipparcos and Tycho-2 positions in 1991.25 as prior information. <BR /> Aims: We investigate the scientific potential and limitations of the TGAS component by means of the astrometric data for open clusters. <BR /> Methods: Mean cluster parallax and proper motion values are derived taking into account the error correlations within the astrometric solutions for individual stars, an estimate of the internal velocity dispersion in the cluster, and, where relevant, the effects of the depth of the cluster along the line of sight. Internal consistency of the TGAS data is assessed. <BR /> Results: Values given for standard uncertainties are still inaccurate and may lead to unrealistic unit-weight standard deviations of least squares solutions for cluster parameters. Reconstructed mean cluster parallax and proper motion values are generally in very good agreement with earlier Hipparcos-based determination, although the Gaia mean parallax for the Pleiades is a significant exception. We have no current explanation for that discrepancy. Most clusters are observed to extend to nearly 15 pc from the cluster centre, and it will be up to future Gaia releases to establish whether those potential cluster-member stars are still dynamically bound to the clusters. <BR /> Conclusions: The Gaia DR1 provides the means to examine open clusters far beyond their more easily visible cores, and can provide membership assessments based on proper motions and parallaxes. A combined HR diagram shows the same features as observed before using the Hipparcos data, with clearly increased luminosities for older A and F dwarfs. Tables D.1 to D.19 are also available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr</A> (<A href="http://130.79.128.5">http://130.79.128.5</A>) or via <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/601/A19">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/601/A19</A> [less ▲]

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See detailGaia Data Release 1: Testing parallaxes with local Cepheids and RR Lyrae stars
Clementini, G.; Eyer, L.; Ripepi, V. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2017), 605

Context. Parallaxes for 331 classical Cepheids, 31 Type II Cepheids, and 364 RR Lyrae stars in common between Gaia and the Hipparcos and Tycho-2 catalogues are published in Gaia Data Release 1 (DR1) as ... [more ▼]

Context. Parallaxes for 331 classical Cepheids, 31 Type II Cepheids, and 364 RR Lyrae stars in common between Gaia and the Hipparcos and Tycho-2 catalogues are published in Gaia Data Release 1 (DR1) as part of the Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution (TGAS). Aims. In order to test these first parallax measurements of the primary standard candles of the cosmological distance ladder, which involve astrometry collected by Gaia during the initial 14 months of science operation, we compared them with literature estimates and derived new period-luminosity (PL), period-Wesenheit (PW) relations for classical and Type II Cepheids and infrared PL, PL-metallicity (PLZ), and optical luminosity-metallicity (MV-[Fe/H]) relations for the RR Lyrae stars, with zero points based on TGAS. Methods. Classical Cepheids were carefully selected in order to discard known or suspected binary systems. The final sample comprises 102 fundamental mode pulsators with periods ranging from 1.68 to 51.66 days (of which 33 with σΩ/Ω< 0.5). The Type II Cepheids include a total of 26 W Virginis and BL Herculis stars spanning the period range from 1.16 to 30.00 days (of which only 7 with σΩ/Ω< 0.5). The RR Lyrae stars include 200 sources with pulsation period ranging from 0.27 to 0.80 days (of which 112 with σΩ/Ω< 0.5). The new relations were computed using multi-band (V,I,J,Ks) photometry and spectroscopic metal abundances available in the literature, and by applying three alternative approaches: (i) linear least-squares fitting of the absolute magnitudes inferred from direct transformation of the TGAS parallaxes; (ii) adopting astrometry-based luminosities; and (iii) using a Bayesian fitting approach. The last two methods work in parallax space where parallaxes are used directly, thus maintaining symmetrical errors and allowing negative parallaxes to be used. The TGAS-based PL,PW,PLZ, and MV- [Fe/H] relations are discussed by comparing the distance to the Large Magellanic Cloud provided by different types of pulsating stars and alternative fitting methods. Results. Good agreement is found from direct comparison of the parallaxes of RR Lyrae stars for which both TGAS and HST measurements are available. Similarly, very good agreement is found between the TGAS values and the parallaxes inferred from the absolute magnitudes of Cepheids and RR Lyrae stars analysed with the Baade-Wesselink method. TGAS values also compare favourably with the parallaxes inferred by theoretical model fitting of the multi-band light curves for two of the three classical Cepheids and one RR Lyrae star, which were analysed with this technique in our samples. The K-band PL relations show the significant improvement of the TGAS parallaxes for Cepheids and RR Lyrae stars with respect to the Hipparcos measurements. This is particularly true for the RR Lyrae stars for which improvement in quality and statistics is impressive. Conclusions. TGAS parallaxes bring a significant added value to the previous Hipparcos estimates. The relations presented in this paper represent the first Gaia-calibrated relations and form a work-in-progress milestone report in the wait for Gaia-only parallaxes of which a first solution will become available with Gaia Data Release 2 (DR2) in 2018. © ESO, 2017. [less ▲]

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See detailGaia Data Release 1. Summary of the astrometric, photometric, and survey properties
Gaia Collaboration; Brown, A. G. A.; Vallenari, A. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 595

Context. At about 1000 days after the launch of Gaia we present the first Gaia data release, Gaia DR1, consisting of astrometry and photometry for over 1 billion sources brighter than magnitude 20.7. <BR ... [more ▼]

Context. At about 1000 days after the launch of Gaia we present the first Gaia data release, Gaia DR1, consisting of astrometry and photometry for over 1 billion sources brighter than magnitude 20.7. <BR /> Aims: A summary of Gaia DR1 is presented along with illustrations of the scientific quality of the data, followed by a discussion of the limitations due to the preliminary nature of this release. <BR /> Methods: The raw data collected by Gaia during the first 14 months of the mission have been processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) and turned into an astrometric and photometric catalogue. <BR /> Results: Gaia DR1 consists of three components: a primary astrometric data set which contains the positions, parallaxes, and mean proper motions for about 2 million of the brightest stars in common with the Hipparcos and Tycho-2 catalogues - a realisation of the Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution (TGAS) - and a secondary astrometric data set containing the positions for an additional 1.1 billion sources. The second component is the photometric data set, consisting of mean G-band magnitudes for all sources. The G-band light curves and the characteristics of 3000 Cepheid and RR Lyrae stars, observed at high cadence around the south ecliptic pole, form the third component. For the primary astrometric data set the typical uncertainty is about 0.3 mas for the positions and parallaxes, and about 1 mas yr[SUP]-1[/SUP] for the proper motions. A systematic component of 0.3 mas should be added to the parallax uncertainties. For the subset of 94 000 Hipparcos stars in the primary data set, the proper motions are much more precise at about 0.06 mas yr[SUP]-1[/SUP]. For the secondary astrometric data set, the typical uncertainty of the positions is 10 mas. The median uncertainties on the mean G-band magnitudes range from the mmag level to 0.03 mag over the magnitude range 5 to 20.7. <BR /> Conclusions: Gaia DR1 is an important milestone ahead of the next Gaia data release, which will feature five-parameter astrometry for all sources. Extensive validation shows that Gaia DR1 represents a major advance in the mapping of the heavens and the availability of basic stellar data that underpin observational astrophysics. Nevertheless, the very preliminary nature of this first Gaia data release does lead to a number of important limitations to the data quality which should be carefully considered before drawing conclusions from the data. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Gaia mission
Gaia Collaboration; Prusti, T.; de Bruijne, J. H. J. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 595

Gaia is a cornerstone mission in the science programme of the EuropeanSpace Agency (ESA). The spacecraft construction was approved in 2006, following a study in which the original interferometric concept ... [more ▼]

Gaia is a cornerstone mission in the science programme of the EuropeanSpace Agency (ESA). The spacecraft construction was approved in 2006, following a study in which the original interferometric concept was changed to a direct-imaging approach. Both the spacecraft and the payload were built by European industry. The involvement of the scientific community focusses on data processing for which the international Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) was selected in 2007. Gaia was launched on 19 December 2013 and arrived at its operating point, the second Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth-Moon system, a few weeks later. The commissioning of the spacecraft and payload was completed on 19 July 2014. The nominal five-year mission started with four weeks of special, ecliptic-pole scanning and subsequently transferred into full-sky scanning mode. We recall the scientific goals of Gaia and give a description of the as-built spacecraft that is currently (mid-2016) being operated to achieve these goals. We pay special attention to the payload module, the performance of which is closely related to the scientific performance of the mission. We provide a summary of the commissioning activities and findings, followed by a description of the routine operational mode. We summarise scientific performance estimates on the basis of in-orbit operations. Several intermediate Gaia data releases are planned and the data can be retrieved from the Gaia Archive, which is available through the Gaia home page. <A href="http://www.cosmos.esa.int/gaia">http://www.cosmos.esa.int/gaia</A> [less ▲]

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See detailRedshift determination through weighted phase correlation: a linearithmic implementation
Delchambre, Ludovic ULiege

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2016), 460

We present a new algorithm having a time complexity of O(N log N) and designed to retrieve the phase at which an input signal and a set of not necessarily orthogonal templates match at best in a weighted ... [more ▼]

We present a new algorithm having a time complexity of O(N log N) and designed to retrieve the phase at which an input signal and a set of not necessarily orthogonal templates match at best in a weighted chi-squared sense. The proposed implementation is based on an orthogonalization algorithm and thus also benefits from a high numerical stability. We successfully apply this method to the redshift determination of quasars from the twelfth Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) quasar catalog and derive the proper spectral reduction and redshift selection methods. Also provided are the derivations of the redshift uncertainty and of the associated confidence. Results of this application are comparable to the performances of the SDSS pipeline while not having a quadratic time dependency. [less ▲]

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See detailWeighted principal component analysis: a weighted covariance eigendecomposition approach
Delchambre, Ludovic ULiege

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2014), 446(2), 3545-3555

We present a new straightforward principal component analysis (PCA) method based on the diagonalization of the weighted variance-covariance matrix through two spectral decomposition methods: power ... [more ▼]

We present a new straightforward principal component analysis (PCA) method based on the diagonalization of the weighted variance-covariance matrix through two spectral decomposition methods: power iteration and Rayleigh quotient iteration. This method allows one to retrieve a given number of orthogonal principal components amongst the most meaningful ones for the case of problems with weighted and/or missing data. Principal coefficients are then retrieved by fitting principal components to the data while providing the final decomposition. Tests performed on real and simulated cases show that our method is optimal in the identification of the most significant patterns within data sets. We illustrate the usefulness of this method by assessing its quality on the extrapolation of Sloan Digital Sky Survey quasar spectra from measured wavelengths to shorter and longer wavelengths. Our new algorithm also benefits from a fast and flexible implementation. [less ▲]

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See detailSpectroscopic binaries as observed by the future Gaia space mission
Damerdji, Yassine ULiege; Delchambre, Ludovic ULiege; Morel, Thierry ULiege et al

in Bulletin de la Societe Royale des Sciences de Liege (2011), 80

The future Gaia satellite will observe a large number of stars through its three main channels: astrometric, photometric and, for the brightest stars, spectroscopic. The satellite is equipped with the RVS ... [more ▼]

The future Gaia satellite will observe a large number of stars through its three main channels: astrometric, photometric and, for the brightest stars, spectroscopic. The satellite is equipped with the RVS spectrograph, which will provide medium-resolution spectra over a small wavelength range. These spectra should allow us to identify stars exhibiting a composite spectrum, either because of a chance alignment or a true binarity. We discuss the various aspects related to the data treatment of the binary candidates and describe the algorithms that are intended to be included in the processing pipeline. [less ▲]

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See detailThe International Liquid Mirror Telescope (ILMT) as a Variability Time Machine
Poels, Joël ULiege; Borra, Ermanno; Hickson, Paul et al

in Griffin, Elisabeth (Ed.) New Horizons In Time-Domain Astronomy, IAU Symposium No. 285, 2011 (2011)

During the year 2012 the International Liquid Mirror Telescope (a collaboration between astronomical institutions in Belgium, Canada, India and Poland) will see first light. The instrument will provide ... [more ▼]

During the year 2012 the International Liquid Mirror Telescope (a collaboration between astronomical institutions in Belgium, Canada, India and Poland) will see first light. The instrument will provide substantial, in-depth sky coverage and make an unprecedented number of nightly observations. [less ▲]

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