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See detailL’État burkinabè, le “droit à l'éducation” et les enfants au travail
Wouango, Joséphine ULg

Conference (2012, January 05)

« L’enseignement de base est obligatoire pour tous les enfants de six ans à seize ans », ainsi stipule l’article 4 de la Loi d’Orientation de l’Éducation au Burkina Faso. Dans cette communication, nous ... [more ▼]

« L’enseignement de base est obligatoire pour tous les enfants de six ans à seize ans », ainsi stipule l’article 4 de la Loi d’Orientation de l’Éducation au Burkina Faso. Dans cette communication, nous partirons d’une expérience d’offre et de demande scolaire dans une zone rurale du centre-est du Burkina Faso. Nous verrons comment l’école, de par son fonctionnement interne et sa structuration, a transformé l’engouement en désaffection. Cette expérience rurale n’est pas isolée. Elle nous permet ensuite d’interroger le système scolaire burkinabè contemporain : ses curricula, son fonctionnement interne, sa sélection et sa finalité. Enfin, nous examinerons dans quelle mesure cette école-là peut être une alternative au “travail des enfants”, dont l’élimination semble être une priorité politique depuis une quinzaine d’années. La présente communication s’inspire d’une recherche doctorale en cours. [less ▲]

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See detailHow the DNA damage response determines the fate of HTLV-1 Tax-expressing cells
Boxus, Mathieu ULg; Willems, Luc ULg

in Retrovirology (2012), 9(2),

How the Human T lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) Tax protein stimulates proliferation while triggering cell cycle arrest and senescence remains puzzling. There is also a debate about the ability of Tax ... [more ▼]

How the Human T lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) Tax protein stimulates proliferation while triggering cell cycle arrest and senescence remains puzzling. There is also a debate about the ability of Tax to activate or inhibit the DNA damage response. Here, we comment on these different activities and propose a conceptual rationale for the apparently conflicting observations. [less ▲]

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See detailInteraction of HTLV-1 Tax with minichromosome maintenance proteins accelerates the replication timing program
Boxus, Mathieu ULg; Twizere, Jean-Claude ULg; Legros, Sébastien et al

in Blood (2012), 119

The Tax oncoprotein encoded by the Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) plays a pivotal role in viral persistence and pathogenesis. HTLV-1 infected cells proliferate faster than normal lymphocytes ... [more ▼]

The Tax oncoprotein encoded by the Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) plays a pivotal role in viral persistence and pathogenesis. HTLV-1 infected cells proliferate faster than normal lymphocytes, expand through mitotic division and accumulate genomic lesions. Here, we show that Tax associates with the minichromosome maintenance MCM2-7 helicase complex and localizes to origins of replication. Tax modulates the spatiotemporal program of origin activation and fires supplementary origins at the onset of S phase. Thereby, Tax increases the DNA replication rate, accelerates S phase progression but also generates a replicative stress characterized by the presence of genomic lesions. Mechanistically, Tax favors p300 recruitment and histone hyperacetylation at late replication domains advancing their replication timing in early S phase. [less ▲]

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See detailProblématisation et conceptualisation de la notion de médiation à travers ses usages
Servais, Christine ULg

Scientific conference (2012, January 05)

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See detailFlux avalanches triggered by AC magnetic fields in superconducting thin films
Motta, M; Colauto, F; Johansen, TH et al

in Physica C (2012), 479

Flux avalanches are known to occur as a consequence of thermomagnetic instabilities. Some of their fingerprints are jumps in magnetization curves, or a paramagnetic reentrance in AC susceptibility ... [more ▼]

Flux avalanches are known to occur as a consequence of thermomagnetic instabilities. Some of their fingerprints are jumps in magnetization curves, or a paramagnetic reentrance in AC susceptibility measurements. In this work we have studied flux avalanches triggered by an AC field cycle by means of AC susceptibility and residual magnetization after an applied AC field measured as a function of an AC excitation field (h). These measurements allow comparing both results with magneto-optical imaging carried out in similar conditions. The results show a correspondence for the onset of the avalanche activity, as well as between the residual magnetic moment and the mean gray value calculated from the magneto-optical images in the remanent state. [less ▲]

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See detailDMFSGD: A Decentralized Matrix Factorization Algorithm for Network Distance Prediction
Liao, Yongjun ULg; Du, Wei; Geurts, Pierre ULg et al

Report (2012)

The knowledge of end-to-end network distances is essential to many Internet applications. As active probing of all pairwise distances is infeasible in large-scale networks, a natural idea is to measure a ... [more ▼]

The knowledge of end-to-end network distances is essential to many Internet applications. As active probing of all pairwise distances is infeasible in large-scale networks, a natural idea is to measure a few pairs and to predict the other ones without actually measuring them. This paper formulates the distance prediction problem as matrix completion where unknown entries of an incomplete matrix of pairwise distances are to be predicted. The problem is solvable because strong correlations among network distances exist and cause the constructed distance matrix to be low rank. The new formulation circumvents the well-known drawbacks of existing approaches based on Euclidean embedding. A new algorithm, so-called Decentralized Matrix Factorization by Stochastic Gradient Descent (DMFSGD), is proposed to solve the network distance prediction problem. By letting network nodes exchange messages with each other, the algorithm is fully decentralized and only requires each node to collect and to process local measurements, with neither explicit matrix constructions nor special nodes such as landmarks and central servers. In addition, we compared comprehensively matrix factorization and Euclidean embedding to demonstrate the suitability of the former on network distance prediction. We further studied the incorporation of a robust loss function and of non-negativity constraints. Extensive experiments on various publicly-available datasets of network delays show not only the scalability and the accuracy of our approach but also its usability in real Internet applications. [less ▲]

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See detailExtent of paleofires and past human settlements in the current rainforest patchwork of the Northern Republic of Congo
Gillet, Jean-François ULg; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg

Poster (2012, January 04)

Objectives The origins of the patchwork of lowland semi-deciduous forests in the Northern Republic of Congo were apprehended. The aim of this study was to show that dense forests suffered fewer ... [more ▼]

Objectives The origins of the patchwork of lowland semi-deciduous forests in the Northern Republic of Congo were apprehended. The aim of this study was to show that dense forests suffered fewer disturbances than the open canopy forest types. Old disturbances associated with fires and human settlements seem to have had and still have today a substantial impact on the physiognomy and the composition of the forest types. Understanding past forest dynamics is a major component to predict the effects of both present climate change and human activities. Method Fifteen locations were studied along a 400-km-long SW-NE gradient in the NW of the Congo Basin through the ERA-net BiodivERsA CoForChange project. An anthraco-archaeological study was carried out in association with floristic inventories of three strata. Two main geology substrates were considered: the Mesozoic sandstones and Quaternary alluvial deposits. The abundance of charcoal fragments and human artifacts were evaluated by a network of 1-m-deep boring augers (n =208) and a 1.5-m-deep reference soil pit (n =15) in each site. A rating system was used to quantify the abundance of charcoal, charred Elaeis guineensis seeds and other artifacts (ceramic and metallurgic slag). Estimations were based on 20-cm-depth intervals (augers) or on pedological layers (pits). Twelve radiocarbon dating were performed in the major disturbed layers of each vegetation type studied. Results Two main groups of vegetation were highlighted according to the relative openness of the woody stand, the importance of the woody regeneration, and the development of the herbaceous cover. The two dense forests sampled were preferentially found in the northern part: the dense forest with Manilkara mabokeensis and Haumania dankelmaniana, and the Gilbertiodendron dewevrei forest on dry land. Most parts of the understorey exhibited the woody regeneration. The southern part presented more openness including the largest areas of open canopy vegetation types. Three forest types were identified: the Macaranga barteri pioneer forest, the open canopy vegetation type with Aframomum and Marantaceae, and the sparse forest with Megaphrinium macrostchyum and/or Haumania liebrestisiana. The understorey was a dense thicket of giant herbs belonging to the families Marantaceae and Zingiberaceae, causing a very scarce woody regeneration. Regardless the auger depth, charcoals were more profuse in the soils of the southern open canopy vegetation types (2-Way ANOVA, F=5.46, p=0.02). As in pit layers, charred oil palm nuts were more plentiful in the soils of these vegetation types (Mann-Whitney test, p<0.05). Of the five sites containing artifacts, only one recent potsherd dated 466-302 BP was located in dense forest but near a main river. The oldest signs of ceramic and metallurgical activities dated 2160-1407 BP were found in the current open canopy vegetation types. Within the latter, two expansion phases of the oil palm tree E. guineensis were observed: between 2146-1055 BP and 558-347 BP. Conversely, the oldest palaeofire was discovered in the M. mabokeensis dense forest and dated at 5467-5285 BP. Conclusions The dense forests contained less evidence of ancient fires and human settlements. They currently include evergreen and shade-tolerant tree species such as G. dewevrei and M. mabokeensis. The more sustained and repeated fires in the open canopy vegetation types were often associated with ancient human occupation. Today, the light-demanding giant herbaceous species such as Aframomum sp. and M. macrostchyum proliferate in the understorey below a simplified woody component of pioneer species such as M. barteri. The largest expansion phases of the oil palm tree E. guineensis in the southern part would be linked to ancient human occupation associated with larger canopy openings and fire events. The water availability, more evenly distributed near the heavily-irrigated Congo Basin, would also be a discriminating factor. [less ▲]

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See detailDynamique associative et réduction de la pauvreté rurale: une étude comparative de villages inégalement couverts par des Organisations Non Gouvernementales dans la province du Bandundu et dans l’hinterland de Kinshasa.
Nganda Afumba, Jean Pierre ULg

Doctoral thesis (2012)

Comme bon nombre de pays en développement, la République Démocratique du Congo observe, depuis le début des années 90, un développement sans précédent du mouvement associatif, particulièrement des ... [more ▼]

Comme bon nombre de pays en développement, la République Démocratique du Congo observe, depuis le début des années 90, un développement sans précédent du mouvement associatif, particulièrement des organisations non gouvernementales de développement. Dans un environnement où les pouvoirs publics sont quasi inexistants, ces dernières sont considérées par certains comme des instruments efficaces de réduction de la pauvreté, et par d’autres comme des opportunistes évoluant aux dépens de la misère des gens. La présente recherche se propose de faire une étude comparative entre, d’une part, des ménages de deux villages de l’hinterland de Kinshasa largement couverts par des ONG, et d’autre part, des ménages de deux autres villages dans le Bandundu ne bénéficiant d’aucune intervention d’ONG. Cette étude a pour but la compréhension, l’analyse et l’appréciation empirique de la pertinence de la stratégie de développement et de réduction de la pauvreté rurale orientée vers la promotion des organisations associatives du type ONG, et in fine suggère un outil susceptible d’améliorer les interventions visant la réduction de la pauvreté rurale. [less ▲]

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See detailPain perception in disorders of consciousness: Neuroscience, clinical care, and ethics in dialogue
Demertzi, Athina ULg; Racine, Eric; Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg et al

in Neuroethics (2012)

Pain, suffering and positive emotions in patients in vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (VS/UWS) and minimally conscious states (MCS) pose clinical and ethical challenges. Clinically, we ... [more ▼]

Pain, suffering and positive emotions in patients in vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (VS/UWS) and minimally conscious states (MCS) pose clinical and ethical challenges. Clinically, we evaluate behavioural responses after painful stimulation and also emotionally-contingent behaviours (e.g., smiling). Using stimuli with emotional valence, neuroimaging and electrophysiology technologies can detect subclinical remnants of preserved capacities for pain which might influence decisions about treatment limitation. To date, no data exist as to how healthcare providers think about end-of-life options (e.g., withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration) in the presence or absence of pain in non-communicative patients. Here, we aimed to better clarify this issue by re-analyzing previously published data on pain perception (Prog Brain Res 2009 177, 329–38) and end-of-life decisions (J Neurol 2010 258, 1058–65) in patients with disorders of consciousness. In a sample of 2259 European healthcare professionals we found that, for VS/UWS more respondents agreed with treatment withdrawal when they considered that VS/UWS patients did not feel pain (77%) as compared to those who thought VS/UWS did feel pain (59%). This interaction was influenced by religiosity and professional background. For MCS, end-of-life attitudes were not influenced by opinions on pain perception. Within a contemporary ethical context we discuss (1) the evolving scientific understandings of pain perception and their relationship to existing clinical and ethical guidelines; (2) the discrepancies of attitudes within (and between) healthcare providers and their consequences for treatment approaches, and (3) the implicit but complex relationship between pain perception and attitudes toward life-sustaining treatments. [less ▲]

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See detailClimwat 2.0 & Cropwat 8.0
Debauche, Olivier ULg; Tadrist, Nassima ULg

Learning material (2012)

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See detailÉnonciation visuelle et négation en image : des arts aux sciences
Dondero, Maria Giulia ULg

in Nouveaux Actes Sémiotiques (2012)

Ce travail part du constat que l’image peut prédiquer et vise à démontrer qu’elle possède la capacité de nier. Nous examinons différentes grandeurs discursives (image-texte, série, intertextualité, genre ... [more ▼]

Ce travail part du constat que l’image peut prédiquer et vise à démontrer qu’elle possède la capacité de nier. Nous examinons différentes grandeurs discursives (image-texte, série, intertextualité, genre, statut) où peut se manifester la négation d’un point de vue tensif et méréologique et nous essayons d’en caractériser les différents fonctionnements dans deux domaines d’interprétation variés : les domaines artistique et scientifique. Il s’agit en premier lieu de voir comment l’image met en scène des dispositifs métadiscursifs qui nient la fonction principale de l’image : celle d’être regardée. L’image peut moduler ce qu’elle met en scène par soustraction, diminution, détournement, etc. ou représenter quelque chose d’interdit au regard, en construisant des simulacres d’observateurs en espions ou en voyeurs. En deuxième lieu nous étudions des cas de détournement de la fonction générique du portrait en nature morte via un parcours de dé-singularisation du visage humain, et en troisième lieu nous examinons des images scientifiques visualisant des objets non expérimentables qui posent la question de la représentation de la disparition de la lumière (trous noirs) ou des mirages topologiques (selon la théorie de l’univers chiffonné de J-P. Luminet). [less ▲]

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See detailThe influence of mineral and organic long-term fertilization upon the floristic composition of Festuca rubra L.-Agrostis capillaris L. grassland in Apuseni mountains, Romania
Pacurar, Florin; Rotar, Ioan; Bogdan, Anca Dorina et al

in Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment (2012), 10(1), 866-879

The semi-natural grasslands in Apuseni Mountains are particularly important for the sustainable development of this region. The future development strategies must take into consideration the conservation ... [more ▼]

The semi-natural grasslands in Apuseni Mountains are particularly important for the sustainable development of this region. The future development strategies must take into consideration the conservation of grassland plant diversity. In Apuseni Mountains there are numerous caves and a traditional landscape, these forming the area’s wealth. Their joining with agro-tourism and performing a sustainable agriculture would significantly level up the wellbeing of the local population, who are in need of new income sources considering that the wood resources are more and more reduced. In Gârda de Sus there are considerable areas of semi-natural grasslands which lately have been traditionally used. Nowadays, some of them have been abandoned and others irrationally intensified. Therefore, the objective of this paper was to evaluate the effects of mineral and organic fertilization upon the sward in order to recommend certain versions which have minor repercussions upon the plant diversity. The research was carried out in Apuseni Mountains, in an experimental field with two experiences: one with mineral fertilizers (T1 control, T2 50N25P25K, T3100N50P50K, T4 150N75P75K) and the other with organic fertilizers (T1 control, T2 10 t ha-1 manure, T3 20 t ha-1 manure, T4 30 t ha-1 manure). Administrating mineral fertilizers on the Festuca rubra L.- Agrostis capillaris L. grassland induced the installation of Festuca rubra L. and Trisetum flavescens L. at 50N25P25K treatment, whereas 100N50P50K and 150N75P75K treatments induced the installation of Agrostis capillaris L. and Trisetum flavescens L. grassland subtype. The plant diversity decreased as the system was intensified, especially at the treatment with 100N50P50K and 150N75P75K. Administrating 50N25P25K did not induce any significant changes in plant diversity. Giving organic fertilizers caused installation of Festuca rubra L. and Trisetum flavescens L. at the treatment using 10 t ha-1 manure and Trisetum flavescens L. at using 20 and 30 t ha-1 manure. The treatment with 10 t ha-1 manure induced a growth of the plant diversity and by raising the manure quantity did not cause important changes with respect to the species’ number. For future management actions that are meant to maintain the plant diversity in Apuseni Mountains, the organic fertilization with 10 t ha-1 manure quantities annually administrated or once in two years is recommended first of all, and, secondly, the fertilization with 50N25P25K performed annually or once in two years. [less ▲]

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See detailNew Ophthalmosaurid Ichthyosaurs from the European Lower Cretaceous Demonstrate Extensive Ichthyosaur Survival across the Jurassic–Cretaceous Boundary
Fischer, Valentin ULg; Maisch, Michael; Naish, Darren et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(1), 29234

Background Ichthyosauria is a diverse clade of marine amniotes that spanned most of the Mesozoic. Until recently, most authors interpreted the fossil record as showing that three major extinction events ... [more ▼]

Background Ichthyosauria is a diverse clade of marine amniotes that spanned most of the Mesozoic. Until recently, most authors interpreted the fossil record as showing that three major extinction events affected this group during its history: one during the latest Triassic, one at the Jurassic–Cretaceous boundary (JCB), and one (resulting in total extinction) at the Cenomanian-Turonian boundary. The JCB was believed to eradicate most of the peculiar morphotypes found in the Late Jurassic, in favor of apparently less specialized forms in the Cretaceous. However, the record of ichthyosaurs from the Berriasian–Barremian interval is extremely limited, and the effects of the end-Jurassic extinction event on ichthyosaurs remains poorly understood. Methodology/Principal Findings Based on new material from the Hauterivian of England and Germany and on abundant material from the Cambridge Greensand Formation, we name a new ophthalmosaurid, Acamptonectes densus gen. et sp. nov. This taxon shares numerous features with Ophthalmosaurus, a genus now restricted to the Callovian–Berriasian interval. Our phylogenetic analysis indicates that Ophthalmosauridae diverged early in its history into two markedly distinct clades, Ophthalmosaurinae and Platypterygiinae, both of which cross the JCB and persist to the late Albian at least. To evaluate the effect of the JCB extinction event on ichthyosaurs, we calculated cladogenesis, extinction, and survival rates for each stage of the Oxfordian–Barremian interval, under different scenarios. The extinction rate during the JCB never surpasses the background extinction rate for the Oxfordian–Barremian interval and the JCB records one of the highest survival rates of the interval. Conclusions/Significance There is currently no evidence that ichthyosaurs were affected by the JCB extinction event, in contrast to many other marine groups. Ophthalmosaurid ichthyosaurs remained diverse from their rapid radiation in the Middle Jurassic to their total extinction at the beginning of the Late Cretaceous. [less ▲]

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See detailDetecting and modelling the magnetic field of the β Cephei star V 2052 Ophiuchi
Neiner, C.; Alecian, E.; Briquet, Maryline ULg et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2012), 537

<BR /> Aims: Following the indirect detection of a magnetic field in the β Cephei star <ASTROBJ>V 2052 Oph</ASTROBJ> by Neiner and collaborators in 2003 with the Musicos spectropolarimeter, we remeasured ... [more ▼]

<BR /> Aims: Following the indirect detection of a magnetic field in the β Cephei star <ASTROBJ>V 2052 Oph</ASTROBJ> by Neiner and collaborators in 2003 with the Musicos spectropolarimeter, we remeasured the magnetic field of this star to attempt to directly confirm the detection of a magnetic field and study its configuration in greater detail. <BR /> Methods: We used the Narval spectropolarimeter installed at TBL (Pic du Midi, France), which is about 20 times more efficient than the Musicos spectropolarimeter. We applied the least-squares deconvolution (LSD) technique to various groups of lines to measure the circular polarisation of the light coming from <ASTROBJ>V 2052 Oph</ASTROBJ>. We synthesized the measured Stokes V profiles with a centred and off-centred dipole model. <BR /> Results: For the first time, we clearly detect the Zeeman signature in the Stokes V profiles of <ASTROBJ>V 2052 Oph</ASTROBJ> and thus directly prove the presence of a magnetic field in this star. The modulation with the rotation period is also confirmed and reflects an oblique dipole field. Thanks to the small error bars on the measurements, we are able to study the behaviour of different groups of lines and the centring of the dipole in the star. We find that the dipole is most likely off-centred along the magnetic axis and that He spots are present at the surface next to the magnetic axis. <BR /> Conclusions: We conclude that <ASTROBJ>V 2052 Oph</ASTROBJ> is a magnetic He-strong β Cep star, with a dipole field, probably off-centred, with B[SUB]pol[/SUB] ~ 400 G and He patches close to the magnetic poles. Based on observations obtained with the Narval spectropolarimeter at the Télescope Bernard Lyot, Observatoire du Pic du Midi, France. [less ▲]

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See detailModelling the huge, Herschel-resolved debris ring around HD 207129
Löhne, T.; Augereau, J.-C.; Ertel, S. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2012), 537

Debris disks, which are inferred from the observed infrared excess to be ensembles of dust, rocks, and probably planetesimals, are common features of stellar systems. As the mechanisms of their formation ... [more ▼]

Debris disks, which are inferred from the observed infrared excess to be ensembles of dust, rocks, and probably planetesimals, are common features of stellar systems. As the mechanisms of their formation and evolution are linked to those of planetary bodies, they provide valuable information. The few well-resolved debris disks are even more valuable because they can serve as modelling benchmarks and help resolve degeneracies in modelling aspects such as typical grain sizes and distances. Here, we present an analysis of the HD 207129 debris disk, based on its well-covered spectral energy distribution and Herschel/PACS images obtained in the framework of the DUNES (DUst around NEarby Stars) programme. We use an empirical power-law approach to the distribution of dust and we then model the production and removal of dust by means of collisions, direct radiation pressure, and drag forces. The resulting best-fit model contains a total of nearly 10[SUP]-2[/SUP] Earth masses in dust, with typical grain sizes in the planetesimal belt ranging from 4 to 7 μm. We constrain the dynamical excitation to be low, which results in very long collisional lifetimes and a drag that notably fills the inner gap, especially at 70 μm. The radial distribution stretches from well within 100 AU in an unusual, outward-rising slope towards a rather sharp outer edge at about 170-190 AU. The inner edge is therefore smoother than that reported for Fomalhaut, but the contribution from the extended halo of barely bound grains is similarly small. Both slowly self-stirring and planetary perturbations could potentially have formed and shaped this disk. Herschel is an ESA space observatory with science instruments provided by European-led Principal Investigator consortia and with important participation from NASA. [less ▲]

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See detailNew constraints on very light pseudoscalars
Payez, Alexandre ULg; Cudell, Jean-René ULg; Hutsemekers, Damien ULg

in Zioutas, K. (Ed.) 7th Patras Workshop on Axions, WIMPs and WISPs (2012, January 01)

Nearly massless axion-like particles are of interest for astrophysical observations, and some constraints on their parameter space do exist in the literature. Here, we propose to put new constraints on ... [more ▼]

Nearly massless axion-like particles are of interest for astrophysical observations, and some constraints on their parameter space do exist in the literature. Here, we propose to put new constraints on these particles using polarisation and, in particular, the polarisation differences observed between different quasar classes. [less ▲]

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See detailAsteroseismology of old open clusters with Kepler: direct estimate of the integrated red giant branch mass-loss in NGC 6791 and 6819
Miglio, A.; Brogaard, K.; Stello, D. et al

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2012), 419

Mass-loss of red giant branch (RGB) stars is still poorly determined, despite its crucial role in the chemical enrichment of galaxies. Thanks to the recent detection of solar-like oscillations in G-K ... [more ▼]

Mass-loss of red giant branch (RGB) stars is still poorly determined, despite its crucial role in the chemical enrichment of galaxies. Thanks to the recent detection of solar-like oscillations in G-K giants in open clusters with Kepler, we can now directly determine stellar masses for a statistically significant sample of stars in the old open clusters NGC 6791 and 6819. The aim of this work is to constrain the integrated RGB mass-loss by comparing the average mass of stars in the red clump (RC) with that of stars in the low-luminosity portion of the RGB [i.e. stars with L≲L(RC)]. Stellar masses were determined by combining the available seismic parameters ν[SUB]max[/SUB] and Δν with additional photometric constraints and with independent distance estimates. We measured the masses of 40 stars on the RGB and 19 in the RC of the old metal-rich cluster NGC 6791. We find that the difference between the average mass of RGB and RC stars is small, but significant [? (random) ±0.04 (systematic) M[SUB]&sun;[/SUB]]. Interestingly, such a small ? does not support scenarios of an extreme mass-loss for this metal-rich cluster. If we describe the mass-loss rate with Reimers prescription, a first comparison with isochrones suggests that the observed ? is compatible with a mass-loss efficiency parameter in the range 0.1 ≲η≲ 0.3. Less stringent constraints on the RGB mass-loss rate are set by the analysis of the ˜2 Gyr old NGC 6819, largely due to the lower mass-loss expected for this cluster, and to the lack of an independent and accurate distance determination. In the near future, additional constraints from frequencies of individual pulsation modes and spectroscopic effective temperatures will allow further stringent tests of the Δν and ν[SUB]max[/SUB] scaling relations, which provide a novel, and potentially very accurate, means of determining stellar radii and masses. [less ▲]

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