Publications by Chris Lintott

Secularly powered outflows from AGN: the dominance of non-merger driven supermassive black hole growth

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Oxford University Press (OUP) (0)

RJ Smethurst, BD Simmons, CJ Lintott, J Shanahan

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title> <jats:p>Recent observations and simulations have revealed the dominance of secular processes over mergers in driving the growth of both supermassive black holes (SMBH) and galaxy evolution. Here we obtain narrowband imaging of AGN powered outflows in a sample of 12 galaxies with disk-dominated morphologies, whose history is assumed to be merger-free. We detect outflows in 10/12 sources in narrow band imaging of the $\mathrm{\left[ O \small {III}\right] }$ $5007~\mathring{\rm A}$ emission using filters on the Shane-3m telescope. We calculate a mean outflow rate for these AGN of $0.95\pm 0.14~\rm {M}_{\odot }~\rm {yr}^{-1}$. This exceeds the mean accretion rate of their SMBHs ($0.054\pm 0.039~\rm {M}_{\odot }~\rm {yr}^{-1}$) by a factor of ∼18. Assuming that the galaxy must provide at least enough material to power both the AGN and the outflow, this gives a lower limit on the average inflow rate of $\sim 1.01\pm 0.14~\rm {M}_{\odot }~\rm {yr}^{-1}$, a rate which simulations show can be achieved by bars, spiral arms and cold accretion. We compare our disk dominated sample to a sample of nearby AGN with merger dominated histories and show that the black hole accretion rates in our sample are 5 times higher (4.2σ) and the outflow rates are 5 times lower ( 2.6σ). We suggest that this could be a result of the geometry of the smooth, planar inflow in a secular dominated system, which is both spinning up the black hole to increase accretion efficiency and less affected by feedback from the outflow, than in a merger-driven system with chaotic quasi-spherical inflows. This work provides further evidence that secular processes are sufficient to fuel SMBH growth.</jats:p>

The Ultraviolet Attenuation Law in Backlit Spiral Galaxies

ArXiv (0)

WC Keel, AM Manning, BW Holwerda, CJ Lintott, K Schawinski

(Abridged) The effective extinction law (attenuation behavior) in galaxies in the emitted ultraviolet is well known only for actively star-forming objects and combines effects of the grain properties, fine structure in the dust distribution, and relative distributions of stars and dust. We use GALEX, XMM Optical Monitor, and HST data to explore the UV attenuation in the outer parts of spiral disks which are backlit by other UV-bright galaxies, starting with candidates provided by Galaxy Zoo participants. Our analysis incorporates galaxy symmetry, using non-overlapping regions of each galaxy to derive error estimates on the attenuation measurements. The entire sample has an attenuation law close to the Calzetti et al. (1994) form; the UV slope for the overall sample is substantially shallower than found by Wild et al. (2011), a reasonable match to the more distant galaxies in our sample but not to the weighted combination including NGC 2207. The nearby, bright spiral NGC 2207 alone gives accuracy almost equal to the rest of our sample, and its outer arms have a very low level of foreground starlight. This "grey" law can be produced from the distribution of dust alone, without a necessary contribution from differential escape of stars from dense clouds. The extrapolation needed to compare attenution between backlit galaxies at moderate redshifts, and local systems from SDSS data, is mild enough to allow use of galaxy overlaps to trace the cosmic history of dust. For NGC 2207, the covering factor of clouds with small optical attenuation becomes a dominant factor farther into the ultraviolet, which opens the possibility that widespread diffuse dust dominates over dust in star-forming regions deep into the ultraviolet. Comparison with published radiative-transfer models indicates that the role of dust clumping dominates over differences in grain populations, at this spatial resolution.

Planet Hunters. VI: An Independent Characterization of KOI-351 and Several Long Period Planet Candidates from the Kepler Archival Data

ArXiv (0)

JR Schmitt, J Wang, DA Fischer, KJ Jek, JC Moriarty, TS Boyajian, ME Schwamb, C Lintott, S Lynn, AM Smith, M Parrish, K Schawinski, R Simpson, D LaCourse, MR Omohundro, T Winarski, SJ Goodman, T Jebson, HM Schwengeler, DA Paterson, J Sejpka, I Terentev, T Jacobs, N Alsaadi, RC Bailey, T Ginman, P Granado, KV Guttormsen, F Mallia, AL Papillon, F Rossi, M Socolovsky

We report the discovery of 14 new transiting planet candidates in the Kepler field from the Planet Hunters citizen science program. None of these candidates overlapped with Kepler Objects of Interest (KOIs) at the time of submission. We report the discovery of one more addition to the six planet candidate system around KOI-351, making it the only seven planet candidate system from Kepler. Additionally, KOI-351 bears some resemblance to our own solar system, with the inner five planets ranging from Earth to mini-Neptune radii and the outer planets being gas giants; however, this system is very compact, with all seven planet candidates orbiting $\lesssim 1$ AU from their host star. A Hill stability test and an orbital integration of the system shows that the system is stable. Furthermore, we significantly add to the population of long period transiting planets; periods range from 124-904 days, eight of them more than one Earth year long. Seven of these 14 candidates reside in their host star's habitable zone.

Planet Hunters: A Transiting Circumbinary Planet in a Quadruple Star System

ArXiv (0)

ME Schwamb, JA Orosz, JA Carter, WF Welsh, DA Fischer, G Torres, AW Howard, JR Crepp, WC Keel, CJ Lintott, NA Kaib, D Terrell, R Gagliano, KJ Jek, M Parrish, AM Smith, S Lynn, RJ Simpson, MJ Giguere, K Schawinski

We report the discovery and confirmation of a transiting circumbinary planet (PH1b) around KIC 4862625, an eclipsing binary in the Kepler field. The planet was discovered by volunteers searching the first six Quarters of publicly available Kepler data as part of the Planet Hunters citizen science project. Transits of the planet across the larger and brighter of the eclipsing stars are detectable by visual inspection every ~137 days, with seven transits identified in Quarters 1-11. The physical and orbital parameters of both the host stars and planet were obtained via a photometric-dynamical model, simultaneously fitting both the measured radial velocities and the Kepler light curve of KIC 4862625. The 6.18 +/- 0.17 Earth radii planet orbits outside the 20-day orbit of an eclipsing binary consisting of an F dwarf (1.734 +/- 0.044 Solar radii, 1.528 +/- 0.087 Solar masses) and M dwarf (0.378+/- 0.023 Solar radii, 0.408 +/- 0.024 Solar masses). For the planet, we find an upper mass limit of 169 Earth masses (0.531 Jupiter masses) at the 99.7% confidence level. With a radius and mass less than that of Jupiter, PH1b is well within the planetary regime. Outside the planet's orbit, at ~1000 AU,a previously unknown visual binary has been identified that is likely bound to the planetary system, making this the first known case of a quadruple star system with a transiting planet.

Galaxy Zoo: Bulgeless Galaxies With Growing Black Holes

ArXiv (0)

BD Simmons, C Lintott, K Schawinski, EC Moran, A Han, S Kaviraj, KL Masters, CM Urry, KW Willett, SP Bamford, RC Nichol

The growth of supermassive black holes appears to be driven by galaxy mergers, violent merger-free processes and/or `secular' processes. In order to quantify the effects of secular evolution on black hole growth, we study a sample of active galactic nuclei (AGN) in galaxies with a calm formation history free of significant mergers, a population that heretofore has been difficult to locate. Here we present an initial sample of 13 AGN in massive (M_* >~ 1e10 M_sun) bulgeless galaxies -- which lack the classical bulges believed inevitably to result from mergers -- selected from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey using visual classifications from Galaxy Zoo. Parametric morphological fitting confirms the host galaxies lack classical bulges; any contributions from pseudobulges are very small (typically < 5%). We compute black hole masses for the two broad-line objects in the sample (4.2e6 and 1.2e7 M_sun) and place lower limits on black hole masses for the remaining sample (typically M_BH >~ 1e6 M_sun), showing that significant black hole growth must be possible in the absence of mergers or violent disk instabilities. The black hole masses are systematically higher than expected from established bulge-black hole relations. However, if the mean Eddington ratio of the systems with measured black hole masses (L/L_Edd = 0.065) is typical, 10 of 13 sources are consistent with the correlation between black hole mass and total stellar mass. That pure disk galaxies and their central black holes may be consistent with a relation derived from elliptical and bulge-dominated galaxies with very different formation histories implies the details of stellar galaxy evolution and dynamics may not be fundamental to the co-evolution of galaxies and black holes.

Galaxy Zoo: Quantifying Morphological Indicators of Galaxy Interaction

ArXiv (0)

KRV Casteels, SP Bamford, RA Skibba, KL Masters, CJ Lintott, WC Keel, K Schawinski, RC Nichol, AM Smith

We use Galaxy Zoo 2 visual classifications to study the morphological signatures of interaction between similar-mass galaxy pairs in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. We find that many observable features correlate with projected pair separation; not only obvious indicators of merging, disturbance and tidal tails, but also more regular features, such as spiral arms and bars. These trends are robustly quantified, using a control sample to account for observational biases, producing measurements of the strength and separation scale of various morphological responses to pair interaction. For example, we find that the presence of spiral features is enhanced at scales < 70 h^-1 kpc, probably due to both increased star formation and the formation of tidal tails. On the other hand, the likelihood of identifying a bar decreases significantly in pairs with separations < 30 h^-1 kpc, suggesting that bars are suppressed by close interactions between galaxies of similar mass. We go on to show how morphological indicators of physical interactions provide a way of significantly refining standard estimates for the frequency of close pair interactions, based on velocity offset and projected separation. The presence of loosely wound spiral arms is found to be a particularly reliable signal of an interaction, for projected pair separations up to ~100 h^-1 kpc. We use this indicator to demonstrate our method, constraining the fraction of low-redshift galaxies in truly interacting pairs, with M_* > 10^9.5 M_Sun and mass ratio < 4, to be between 0.4 - 2.7 per cent.

Galaxy Zoo: Observing Secular Evolution Through Bars

ArXiv (0)

E Cheung, E Athanassoula, KL Masters, RC Nichol, A Bosma, EF Bell, SM Faber, DC Koo, C Lintott, T Melvin, K Schawinski, RA Skibba, KW Willett

In this paper, we use the Galaxy Zoo 2 dataset to study the behavior of bars in disk galaxies as a function of specific star formation rate (SSFR), and bulge prominence. Our sample consists of 13,295 disk galaxies, with an overall (strong) bar fraction of $23.6\pm 0.4\%$, of which 1,154 barred galaxies also have bar length measurements. These samples are the largest ever used to study the role of bars in galaxy evolution. We find that the likelihood of a galaxy hosting a bar is anti-correlated with SSFR, regardless of stellar mass or bulge prominence. We find that the trends of bar likelihood and bar length with bulge prominence are bimodal with SSFR. We interpret these observations using state-of-the-art simulations of bar evolution which include live halos and the effects of gas and star formation. We suggest our observed trends of bar likelihood with SSFR are driven by the gas fraction of the disks; a factor demonstrated to significantly retard both bar formation and evolution in models. We interpret the bimodal relationship between bulge prominence and bar properties as due to the complicated effects of classical bulges and central mass concentrations on bar evolution, and also to the growth of disky pseudobulges by bar evolution. These results represent empirical evidence for secular evolution driven by bars in disk galaxies. This work suggests that bars are not stagnant structures within disk galaxies, but are a critical evolutionary driver of their host galaxies in the local universe ($z<1$).

Planet Hunters: New Kepler planet candidates from analysis of quarter 2

ArXiv (0)

CJ Lintott, ME Schwamb, T Barclay, C Sharzer, DA Fischer, J Brewer, M Giguere, S Lynn, M Parrish, N Batalha, S Bryson, J Jenkins, D Ragozzine, JF Rowe, K Schwainski, R Gagliano, J Gilardi, KJ Jek, J-P Pääkkönen, T Smits

We present new planet candidates identified in NASA Kepler quarter two public release data by volunteers engaged in the Planet Hunters citizen science project. The two candidates presented here survive checks for false-positives, including examination of the pixel offset to constrain the possibility of a background eclipsing binary. The orbital periods of the planet candidates are 97.46 days (KIC 4552729) and 284.03 (KIC 10005758) days and the modeled planet radii are 5.3 and 3.8 R_Earth. The latter star has an additional known planet candidate with a radius of 5.05 R_Earth and a period of 134.49 which was detected by the Kepler pipeline. The discovery of these candidates illustrates the value of massively distributed volunteer review of the Kepler database to recover candidates which were otherwise uncatalogued.

Galaxy Zoo: dust lane early-type galaxies are tracers of recent, gas-rich minor mergers

ArXiv (0)

SS Shabala, Y-S Ting, S Kaviraj, C Lintott, RM Crockett, J Silk, M Sarzi, K Schawinski, SP Bamford, E Edmondson

We present the second of two papers concerning the origin and evolution of local early-type galaxies exhibiting dust features. We use optical and radio data to examine the nature of active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity in these objects, and compare these with a carefully constructed control sample. We find that dust lane early-type galaxies are much more likely to host emission-line AGN than the control sample galaxies. Moreover, there is a strong correlation between radio and emission-line AGN activity in dust lane early-types, but not the control sample. Dust lane early-type galaxies show the same distribution of AGN properties in rich and poor environments, suggesting a similar triggering mechanism. By contrast, this is not the case for early-types with no dust features. These findings strongly suggest that dust lane early-type galaxies are starburst systems formed in gas-rich mergers. Further evidence in support of this scenario is provided by enhanced star formation and black hole accretion rates in these objects. Dust lane early-types therefore represent an evolutionary stage between starbursting and quiescent galaxies. In these objects, the AGN has already been triggered but has not as yet completely destroyed the gas reservoir required for star formation.

Galaxy Zoo: building the low-mass end of the red sequence with local post-starburst galaxies

ArXiv (0)

OI Wong, K Schawinski, S Kaviraj, KL Masters, RC Nichol, C Lintott, WC Keel, D Darg, SP Bamford, D Andreescu, P Murray, MJ Raddick, A Szalay, D Thomas, J VandenBerg

We present a study of local post-starburst galaxies (PSGs) using the photometric and spectroscopic observations from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and the results from the Galaxy Zoo project. We find that the majority of our local PSG population have neither early- nor late- type morphologies but occupy a well-defined space within the colour-stellar mass diagram, most notably, the low-mass end of the "green valley" below the transition mass thought to be the mass division between low-mass star-forming galaxies and high-mass passively-evolving bulge-dominated galaxies. Our analysis suggests that it is likely that a local PSG will quickly transform into "red", low-mass early-type galaxies as the stellar morphologies of the "green" PSGs largely resemble that of the early-type galaxies within the same mass range. We propose that the current population of PSGs represents a population of galaxies which is rapidly transitioning between the star-forming and the passively-evolving phases. Subsequently, these PSGs will contribute towards the build-up of the low-mass end of the "red sequence" once the current population of young stars fade and stars are no longer being formed. These results are consistent with the idea of "downsizing" where the build-up of smaller galaxies occurs at later epochs.

Chandra Observations of Galaxy Zoo Mergers: Frequency of Binary Active Nuclei in Massive Mergers

ArXiv (0)

SH Teng, K Schawinski, CM Urry, DW Darg, S Kaviraj, K Oh, EW Bonning, CN Cardamone, WC Keel, CJ Lintott, BD Simmons, E Treister

We present the results from a Chandra pilot study of 12 massive galaxy mergers selected from Galaxy Zoo. The sample includes major mergers down to a host galaxy mass of 10$^{11}$ $M_\odot$ that already have optical AGN signatures in at least one of the progenitors. We find that the coincidences of optically selected active nuclei with mildly obscured ($N_H \lesssim 1.1 \times 10^{22}$ cm$^{-2}$) X-ray nuclei are relatively common (8/12), but the detections are too faint ($< 40$ counts per nucleus; $f_{2-10 keV} \lesssim 1.2 \times 10^{-13}$ erg s$^{-1}$ cm$^{-2}$) to reliably separate starburst and nuclear activity as the origin of the X-ray emission. Only one merger is found to have confirmed binary X-ray nuclei, though the X-ray emission from its southern nucleus could be due solely to star formation. Thus, the occurrences of binary AGN in these mergers are rare (0-8%), unless most merger-induced active nuclei are very heavily obscured or Compton thick.

The distribution of interplanetary dust between 0.96 and 1.04 AU as inferred from impacts on the STEREO spacecraft observed by the Heliospheric Imagers

ArXiv (0)

CJ Davis, JA Davies, OCS Cyr, M Campbell-Brown, A Skelt, M Kaiser, N Meyer-Vernet, S Crothers, C Lintott, A Smith, S Bamford, EML Baeten

The distribution of dust in the ecliptic plane between 0.96 and 1.04 AU has been inferred from impacts on the two STEREO spacecraft through observation of secondary particle trails and unexpected off-points in the Heliospheric Imager (HI) cameras. This study made use of analysis carried out by members of a distributed web-based project, Solar Stormwatch. A comparison between observations of the brightest particle trails and a survey of fainter trails shows consistent distributions. While there is no obvious correlation between this distribution and the occurrence of individual meteor streams at Earth, there are some broad longitudinal features in these distributions that are also observed in sources of the sporadic meteor population. The asymmetry in the number of trails seen by each spacecraft and the fact that there are many more unexpected off-points in the HI-B than in HI-A, indicates that the majority of impacts are coming from the apex direction. For impacts causing off-points in the HI-B camera these dust particles are estimated to have masses in excess of 10-17 kg with radii exceeding 0.1 {\mu}m. For off-points observed in the HI-A images, which can only have been caused by particles travelling from the anti-apex direction, the distribution is consistent with that of secondary 'storm' trails observed by HI-B, providing evidence that these trails also result from impacts with primary particles from an anti-apex source. It is apparent that the differential mass index of particles from the apex direction is consistently above 2. This indicates that the majority of the mass is within the smaller particles of this population. In contrast, the differential mass index of particles from the anti-apex direction (causing off-points in HI-A) is consistently below 2, indicating that the majority of the mass is to be found in larger particles of this distribution.

Galaxy Zoo 1 : Data Release of Morphological Classifications for nearly 900,000 galaxies

ArXiv (0)

C Lintott, K Schawinski, S Bamford, A Slosar, K Land, D Thomas, E Edmondson, K Masters, R Nichol, J Raddick, A Szalay, D Andreescu, P Murray, J Vandenberg

Morphology is a powerful indicator of a galaxy's dynamical and merger history. It is strongly correlated with many physical parameters, including mass, star formation history and the distribution of mass. The Galaxy Zoo project collected simple morphological classifications of nearly 900,000 galaxies drawn from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, contributed by hundreds of thousands of volunteers. This large number of classifications allows us to exclude classifier error, and measure the influence of subtle biases inherent in morphological classification. This paper presents the data collected by the project, alongside measures of classification accuracy and bias. The data are now publicly available and full catalogues can be downloaded in electronic format from

Galaxy Zoo: Bars in Disk Galaxies

ArXiv (0)

KL Masters, RC Nichol, B Hoyle, C Lintott, S Bamford, EM Edmondson, L Fortson, WC Keel, K Schawinski, A Smith, D Thomas

We present first results from Galaxy Zoo 2, the second phase of the highly successful Galaxy Zoo project ( Using a volume-limited sample of 13665 disk galaxies (0.01< z < 0.06 and M_r<-19.38), we study the fraction of galaxies with bars as a function of global galaxy properties like colour, luminosity and bulge prominence. Overall, 29.4+/-0.5% of galaxies in our sample have a bar, in excellent agreement with previous visually classified samples of galaxies (although this overall fraction is lower than measured by automated bar-finding methods). We see a clear increase in the bar fraction with redder (g-r) colours, decreased luminosity and in galaxies with more prominent bulges, to the extent that over half of the red, bulge-dominated, disk galaxies in our sample possess a bar. We see evidence for a colour bi-modality for our sample of disk galaxies, with a "red sequence" that is both bulge and bar-dominated, and a "blue cloud" which has little, or no, evidence for a (classical) bulge or bar. These results are consistent with similar trends for barred galaxies seen recently both locally and at higher redshift, and with early studies using the RC3. We discuss these results in the context of internal (secular) galaxy evolution scenarios and the possible links to the formation of bars and bulges in disk galaxies.

Galaxy Zoo: Dust in Spirals

ArXiv (0)

KL Masters, RC Nichol, S Bamford, M Mosleh, CJ Lintott, D Andreescu, EM Edmondson, WC Keel, P Murray, MJ Raddick, K Schawinski, A Slosar, AS Szalay, D Thomas, J Vandenberg

We investigate the effect of dust on spiral galaxies by measuring the inclination-dependence of optical colours for 24,276 well-resolved SDSS galaxies visually classified in Galaxy Zoo. We find clear trends of reddening with inclination which imply a total extinction from face-on to edge-on of 0.7, 0.6, 0.5 and 0.4 magnitudes for the ugri passbands. We split the sample into "bulgy" (early-type) and "disky" (late-type) spirals using the SDSS fracdeV (or f_DeV) parameter and show that the average face-on colour of "bulgy" spirals is redder than the average edge-on colour of "disky" spirals. This shows that the observed optical colour of a spiral galaxy is determined almost equally by the spiral type (via the bulge-disk ratio and stellar populations), and reddening due to dust. We find that both luminosity and spiral type affect the total amount of extinction, with "disky" spirals at M_r ~ -21.5 mags having the most reddening. This decrease of reddening for the most luminous spirals has not been observed before and may be related to their lower levels of recent star formation. We compare our results with the latest dust attenuation models of Tuffs et al. We find that the model reproduces the observed trends reasonably well but overpredicts the amount of u-band attenuation in edge-on galaxies. We end by discussing the effects of dust on large galaxy surveys and emphasize that these effects will become important as we push to higher precision measurements of galaxy properties and their clustering.

Galaxy Zoo: The properties of merging galaxies in the nearby Universe - local environments, colours, masses, star-formation rates and AGN activity

ArXiv (0)

DW Darg, S Kaviraj, CJ Lintott, K Schawinski, M Sarzi, S Bamford, J Silk, D Andreescu, P Murray, RC Nichol, MJ Raddick, A Slosar, AS Szalay, D Thomas, J Vandenberg

Following the study of Darg et al. (2009; hereafter D09a) we explore the environments, optical colours, stellar masses, star formation and AGN activity in a sample of 3003 pairs of merging galaxies drawn from the SDSS using visual classifications from the Galaxy Zoo project. While D09a found that the spiral-to-elliptical ratio in (major) mergers appeared higher than that of the global galaxy population, no significant differences are found between the environmental distributions of mergers and a randomly selected control sample. This makes the high occurrence of spirals in mergers unlikely to be an environmental effect and must, therefore, arise from differing time-scales of detectability for spirals and ellipticals. We find that merging galaxies have a wider spread in colour than the global galaxy population, with a significant blue tail resulting from intense star formation in spiral mergers. Galaxies classed as star-forming using their emission-line properties have average star-formation rates approximately doubled by the merger process though star formation is negligibly enhanced in merging elliptical galaxies. We conclude that the internal properties of galaxies significantly affect the time-scales over which merging systems can be detected (as suggested by recent theoretical studies) which leads to spirals being `over-observed' in mergers. We also suggest that the transition mass $3\times10^{10}{M}_{\astrosun}$, noted by \citet{kauffmann1}, below which ellipticals are rare could be linked to disc survival/destruction in mergers.

Galaxy Zoo: A correlation between coherence of galaxy spin chirality and star formation efficiency

ArXiv (0)

R Jimenez, A Slosar, L Verde, S Bamford, C Lintott, K Schawinski, R Nichol, D Andreescu, K Land, P Murray, MJ Raddick, A Szalay, D Thomas, J Vandenberg

We report on the finding of a correlation between galaxies' past star formation activity and the degree to which neighbouring galaxies rotation axes are aligned. This is obtained by cross-correlating star formation histories, derived with MOPED, and spin direction (chirality), as determined by the Galaxy Zoo project, for a sample of SDSS galaxies. Our findings suggest that spiral galaxies which formed the majority of their stars early (z > 2) tend to display coherent rotation over scales of ~10 Mpc/h. The correlation is weaker for galaxies with significant recent star formation. We find evidence for this alignment at more than the 5-sigma level, but no correlation with other galaxy stellar properties. This finding can be explained within the context of hierarchical tidal-torque theory if the SDSS galaxies harboring the majority of the old stellar population where formed in the past, in the same filament and at about the same time. Galaxies with significant recent star formation instead are in the field, thus influenced by the general tidal field that will align them in random directions or had a recent merger which would promote star formation, but deviate the spin direction.

Determining the cosmic ray ionization rate in dynamically evolving clouds

ArXiv (0)

CJ Lintott, JMC Rawlings

The ionization fraction is an important factor in determining the chemical and physical evolution of star forming regions. In the dense, dark starless cores of such objects, the ionization rate is dominated by cosmic rays; it is therefore possible to use simple analytic estimators, based on the relative abundances of different molecular tracers, to determine the cosmic ray ionization rate. This paper uses a simple model to investigate the accuracy of two well-known estimators in dynamically evolving molecular clouds. It is found that, although the analytical formulae based on the abundances of H3+,H2,CO,O,H2O and HCO+ give a reasonably accurate measure of the cosmic ray ionization rate in static, quiescent clouds, significant discrepancies occur in rapidly evolving (collapsing) clouds. As recent evidence suggests that molecular clouds may consist of complex, dynamically evolving sub-structure, we conclude that simple abundance ratios do not provide reliable estimates of the cosmic ray ionization rate in dynamically active regions.

Massive elliptical galaxies : From cores to haloes

ArXiv (0)

C Lintott, I Ferreras, O Lahav

In the context of recent observational results that show massive ellipticals were in place at high redshifts, we reassess the status of monolithic collapse in a LCDM universe. Using a sample of over 2000 galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, by comparing the dynamical mass and stellar mass (estimated from colours) we find that ellipticals have `cores' which are baryon-dominated within their half-light radius. These galaxies correspond to 3-sigma peaks in the spherical collapse model if the total mass in the halo is assumed to be 20 times the dynamical mass within the half-light radius. This value yields stellar mass to total mass ratios of 8%, compared to a cosmological baryon fraction of 18% derived from WMAP3 alone. We further develop a method for reconstructing the concentration halo parameter c of the progenitors of these galaxies by utilizing adiabatic contraction. Although the analysis is done within the framework of monolithic collapse, the resulting distribution of c is log-normal with a peak value of c~3-10 and a distribution width similar to the results of N-body simulations. We also derive scaling relations between stellar and dynamical mass and the velocity dispersion, and find that these are sufficient to recover the tilt of the fundamental plane.

Galaxy Zoo: Exploring the Motivations of Citizen Science Volunteers

ArXiv (0)

MJ Raddick, G Bracey, PL Gay, CJ Lintott, P Murray, K Schawinski, AS Szalay, J Vandenberg

The Galaxy Zoo citizen science website invites anyone with an Internet connection to participate in research by classifying galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. As of April 2009, more than 200,000 volunteers had made more than 100 million galaxy classifications. In this paper, we present results of a pilot study into the motivations and demographics of Galaxy Zoo volunteers, and define a technique to determine motivations from free responses that can be used in larger multiple-choice surveys with similar populations. Our categories form the basis for a future survey, with the goal of determining the prevalence of each motivation.