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The majority of stars in our galaxy come in pairs. In particular, the most massive stars usually have a companion. These fraternal twins tend to be somewhat equal partners when it comes to mass — but not always. In a quest to find mismatched star pairs known as extreme mass-ratio binaries, astronomers have discovered a new class of binary stars: One star is fully formed while the other is still in its infancy.“We caught them at just the right time. In effect, we’re seeing these stars in the delivery room,” says lead author Maxwell Moe of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).The more massive a star is, the brighter it shines. This makes it difficult to identify extreme mass-ratio binaries because the heavier star outshines, and thereby hides, the lighter star.To combat this effect, Moe and his CfA colleague Rosanne Di Stefano looked for eclipsing systems, in which the two stars line up in such a way that they periodically pass in front of each other as seen from Earth. When the fainter star eclipses the brighter, their combined light drops detectably. These systems are rare because they require a precise alignment as seen from Earth.After sifting through thousands of eclipsing systems, Moe and Di Stefano identified 18 extreme mass-ratio binaries in a neighboring galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud. The stars circle each other tightly in orbits with periods of three to nine days. The more massive stars weigh six to 16 times as much as the sun, while the less massive stars weigh about one or two times the sun.A clue to the youth of these systems came from an unusual feature in the data. The fainter star shows illumination phases, just like phases of the moon, as the two stars orbit each other. This indicates that the companion is reflecting the light of the brighter, more massive star.We only see phases because the fainter, less massive companion is not yet a full-fledged star. Astronomers describe it as being “pre-main sequence.”A star forms when a giant clump of gas pulls together under its own gravity, growing denser and hotter until nuclear fusion ignites. This process happens faster for more massive stars.“Imagine if a human baby shrank as it got older instead of growing. That’s what happens for young stars,” says Di Stefano.In the young systems this research identified, the more massive star is already on the main sequence, while the less massive companion is not. As a result, that companion is puffier than it would be, since it is still contracting. This effectively lets the pre-main sequence star act as a giant mirror, reflecting its partner’s brilliance.The discovery of these stellar twins could provide invaluable insight into the formation and evolution of massive stars, close binaries, and star nurseries.These 18 systems were culled from millions of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud observed by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment. Due to their rarity, finding examples in our galaxy likely will require an extensive survey using facilities like the upcoming Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.This research has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.
David Shulkin, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will deliver the 2017 Disabled American Veterans Distinguished Lecture at Harvard Law School (HLS) on Thursday. This is the fourth annual event in the DAV Distinguished Speaker Series, which provides a forum for national leaders to address critical issues facing America’s disabled veterans and to engage in conversation with the local community. The series is co-hosted by the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of HLS and the HLS Armed Forces Association. In advance of his visit, Shulkin answered a few questions about the Department of Veterans Affairs and the services it provides.HLS: A VA study found that 20 veterans commit suicide each day. What is the Department of Veterans Affairs doing to increase the availability of mental health services for all our veterans? And what is being done to increase the availability of these services for individuals who — due to PTSD or other mental health issues incurred during their service — may have left the military with less-than-honorable discharges and therefore may not be eligible for benefits?SHULKIN: Nothing is more important to me than making sure that we don’t lose any veterans to suicide. Twenty veterans a day dying by suicide should be unacceptable to all of us. This is a national public health crisis and it requires solutions that not only the VA will work on, but all of government and other partnerships in the private sector and nonprofit organizations.Within weeks of becoming secretary, I authorized emergency mental health services for those who were less-than-honorably discharged. That is a population of veterans at very high risk for suicide. Under this initiative, former service members with an OTH [other than honorable] administrative discharge may receive emergency mental health care for an initial period of up to 90 days, which can include inpatient, residential, or outpatient care. During this time, the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration will work together to determine if the mental health condition is a result of a service-related injury, making the service member eligible for ongoing coverage for that condition.HLS: How is the VA responding to the changing nature of warfare and science and its effects on veterans’ health?SHULKIN: Advances in emergency, trauma, and general medicine at the Department of Defense have improved the survival of seriously injured service members. It starts with the training of an entire team, from combat medic to the surgeon and those providing care during and after evacuation. It is truly an amazing system. As a result, many veterans from the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home with multiple and more severe long-term injuries. In addition, these veterans are experiencing some injuries at higher rates than seen in past wars, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amputations, and traumatic brain injuries. The VA has in turn improved its ability to better diagnose and treat these conditions in veterans who fought in previous wars, such as the case of PTSD in Vietnam-era veterans. Advances in prosthetics, medical, and mental health treatments have also improved the quality of life for veterans with these conditions.HLS: The effects of environmental toxins on service members are much better understood today than they were years ago. How is the VA addressing these challenges? SHULKIN: The VA works closely with its counterparts at the Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control for a synergistic approach to care and for sharing of information, joint campaign efforts, and studies on environmental exposures. We have a better understanding of the implication of environmental toxins such as Agent Orange, burn pits, and environmental hazards. The VA is a leader in efforts to research, diagnose, monitor, and treat these exposures, and this will likely have implications for civilian environmental exposure concerns as well.HLS: As secretary of Veterans Affairs, you head the largest integrated healthcare system in the U.S. Coordinating the safety, availability, and quality of care in such a large system is complex. Recent news stories report serious incidents of substandard care, including at the VA hospital in Bedford, Mass., and at a facility in New Hampshire. How will you address these issues?SHULKIN: I have made clear that the VA will hold employees accountable when the facts demonstrate that they have failed to live up to the high standards taxpayers expect from us. In May, I established the VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection to help protect employees who expose problems and assist in using all available authority to discipline or terminate any VA manager or employee who has violated the public’s trust and failed to carry out his or her duties.In June, the president signed into law the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. This is an important step forward for our modernization of the VA. It allows us to hold ourselves accountable for the work we do for our veterans. Recently, the VA became the first agency to post information on employee disciplinary actions online. The VA is posting weekly online wait times for every one of our 168 medical centers across the country. No other health system in the country has done anything like that, and no one is as transparent as we are.Regarding the Bedford facility, once I heard of the incident I reminded Veterans Health Administration leadership that I expected them to make decisions involving employee accountability independently in the interests of veterans. Since I was made aware, the VA has taken a number of actions on this issue.This interview has been lightly edited.The 2017 DAV Distinguished Lecture event will be held Thursday (Nov. 2) at noon in Milstein East B on the second floor of Wasserstein Hall on the Harvard Law School campus. The event is open to the public.
Fitbits, the activity tracking wristbands, have become a popular identifying feature of Notre Dame freshmen this year. Five hundred Fitbit-wearing freshmen are participating in a study called NetHealth, which aims to explore the relationship between social networks and health.Notre Dame sociologists David Hachen and Omar Lizardo, in conjunction with University computer scientists Aaron Striegel and Christian Poellabauer, are conducting the study. Hachen said the National Institute of Health is funding the study through a $3 million grant.“The National Institute of Health is very interested in the social conditions that influence peoples’ behaviors, like sleep, diet and activity,” Hachen said.According to the NetHealth website, the Fitbit devices will be used to track each student’s sleep and fitness, while a monitoring app on their smartphones will record social activity. The study therefore attempts to find a connection between social activity and health, one already seen by freshman Brian Quigley, who is participating in the study.“I can see my friends on Fitbit and how many steps they have, and so I always want to have more steps than them,” Quigley said. “It’s a way to compete in a friendly manner.”Hachen said he believes “our patterns and health related behaviors are amplified by the people we hang out with.” The challenge, though, he said, will be determining the direction of the causality between friendship and health.“The biggest puzzle is we believe we are affected in our behaviors, attitudes, and taste by who we hang out with,” Hachen said. “… It’s also the case that we tend to choose as our friends people that are similar to us, so we’re trying to disentangle whether your networks are influencing you, or you select the networks to be like you.”In looking to solve that puzzle, Striegel said one of the major questions in this study is, “Do you conform to the group, or do you change the group?”Hachen said the researchers plan to note changes in each student’s social groups over time, which is made possible by the continuous data collection from the Fitbits and smartphones.“People’s networks are much more fluid than most social scientists have ever thought,” Hachen said. “So we want to look at how people’s networks change, because if I’m not healthy and I hang out with someone who is healthy, I could become more healthy, or I could stop hanging out with them. I could change my network.”Hachen also said the study’s use of Fitbits and smartphones will make it more accurate than similar past studies, which usually rely only on surveys for information.“On surveys, you may not tell the truth, you may not remember or recall your social networks. … By this method, we get continuous, reliable data that’s probably better than the self-reports that come from surveys.”In addition, Striegel said the study can be used to “improve the health of the network,” since the researchers receive data on how many times people try and fail to connect to the network in different locations on campus, thus allowing them to identify the network’s weaker points.Hachen said in the next few months the study will be expanded to include about 400 more students — without Fitbits — who, through smartphones and surveys, will further contribute to the data collection. Further, Hachen said in the future he hopes to perform the same study at different universities and with different age groups.Tags: Fitbit, NetHealth, sociology
Stars flocked to the Great White Way on April 2 to celebrate the official opening night of Skylight, starring Carey Mulligan, Bill Nighy and Matthew Beard. After an acclaimed run in London, the Broadway production of David Hare’s drama will play through June 21 at the John Golden Theatre. After taking their first official bows, the trio headed to a swanky opening night party at the Bowery Hotel. Check out this Hot Shot of the cast by Erin Baiano, then see the stars shine in Skylight on Broadway! Related Shows View Comments Skylight Show Closed This production ended its run on June 21, 2015
New Delhi: Former Australian vice-captain David Warner has made a comeback to cricket since his ball-tampering suspension and scored 36 runs in a One-day match in Darwin’s Strike League in Australia.The Sydney-born southpaw played for the City Cyclones in a 50 overs match against the Northern Tide at the Marrara Cricket Ground.Aussie batsman Cameron Bancroft also made a comeback to cricket and played in the same tournament but on an adjacent ground.Warner and Australia captain Steve Smith were suspended for 12 months and Bancroft for nine months for their involvement in the ball-tampering incident during a Test match against South Africa at Cape Town. Cricket Australia suspended Warner, Bancroft and Steve Smith but their ban is only for international matches but the trio are free to participate in independent leagues such as the Strike League.Both Warner and Smith recently took part in a T20 competition in Canada. The Delhi Daredevils man was playing some brilliant shots but fell to a top-edged catch. For all the Latest Sports News News, Cricket News News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps.