HEADNEWS: THE ELECTRONIC NEWSLETTER OF THE
HIGH ENERGY ASTROPHYSICS DIVISION OF THE AAS
Newsletter No. 96, June 2010
- Notes from the Editor- Ann Hornschemeier
- View from the Chair - Chryssa Kouveliotou
- Congressional Visits Day Summary - Paul Ray
- News from NASA Headquarters - Ilana Harrus and Jaya Bajpayee
- HEAD in the News -Megan Watzke
- Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report - Roger Brissenden and Martin Weisskopf
- XMM-Newton Mission News - Lynne Valencic and Lynn Cominsky
- RHESSI Mission News
- INTEGRAL Mission News- Christoph Winkler and Steve Sturner
- Swift Mission News - Stefan Immler, Lynn Cominsky, & Neil Gehrels
- Suzaku Mission News - Koji Mukai
- Fermi Mission News - Julie McEnery et al.
- NuSTAR Mission News - Daniel Stern and Fiona Harrison
- IXO Mission News - Michael Garcia
- LISA Mission News - Michele Vallisneri
- Meetings Calendar
- Draft Explorer AO Released!
- Annual HEAD Schedule
from the Editor - Ann Hornschemeier, HEAD Secretary-Treasurer,
HEAD only delivers the table-of-contents for HEADNEWS and notes
from the editor into your mailbox.
The newsletter itself can be found online at
Thanks to Paul Ray, HEAD Executive Committee member, for standing in for me during my maternity leave. I'll be back on the job starting July 6!
As a reminder, the HEAD bylaw changes did pass, so this fall we will be voting using the AAS website. Nominations generally happen over the summer, so please feel free to suggest candidates for the nominating committee and/or for office to any of your HEAD executive committee members. We hope to get the ballot out a bit early this year so you can all remember to get into the AAS website and vote.
Plans are now underway for the next HEAD meeting which will happen in September 2011 in Newport, RI. Joel Bregman, our current HEAD vice-chair, is leading the organization effort. We'll be sending out details as they become available. The tentative dates under consideration are September 7-10, 2011 (TBR). Pencil this into your calendar until we get back with you with more details!
Contact information for all current HEAD Executive Committee members may be found at the end of this newsletter.
Reminder about HEAD Email Addresses:
All HEAD members must maintain an up-to-date email address with the AAS to ensure that society email (including ballots for elections) reaches them. To change your email address with the AAS please visit http://www.aas.org and follow the member log-in links.
Back to Top
2. View from the Chair - Chryssa Kouveliotou
This year I took over the HEAD chair from Mitch Begelman -- a usually
uneventful duty and a pleasant one at that. In 2010, however, there is a lot
to be concerned about, the global financial crisis notwithstanding. Of
particular interest to our community is the upcoming report from Astro2010,
the current Astrophysics Decadal survey, that has gone beyond any other
survey in its efforts to collect accurate and thorough information on all
existing and currently developed assets and technology in Astrophysics,
together with extensive studies in the "social culture" of the field in the
States and internationally. At the same time, however, the NASA Astrophysics
budget for new missions is dramatically reduced. As a result, very few of
these Astro2010 prioritized missions would be built, should the budget
And yet the HEAD membership has grown and for the first time is close to
reaching the 1000 member milestone. Our recent -- 11th -- HEAD meeting on the
Big Island of Hawaii reached an unprecedented participant level of 522
attendees! And most importantly (for me at least) about 30% of the
participants were women and a good percentage was young HEAD members. So, we
are growing, we are interested and we have heritage and continuity. We are
now in the golden years of HEA with about fifteen active missions. In ten
years, this number is projected to be 1 or 2. It is very important,
therefore, to stress here that the precious few new missions given highest
priority by Astro2010 will take all the support we can provide to
materialize. Let me be clear: I am not happy with the frugal reality of our
field and as a private citizen, I advocate more funding for Astrophysics. I
consider, however, the strong support of the Decadal report as an important
first step in building on our future. So it will take your active interest,
cooperation and participation in the process to make it happen. The HEAD
Executive committee will be the link between the community and the Decadal --
we will send frequent newsletters and updates as soon as the report is
public, on the different ways you can help. We need you to be active and we
need your input on how to be successful and resourceful.
I take the opportunity here to stress one more issue that concerns me
greatly. In the past several years, we have been struggling to obtain
nominations for our Division's highest award, the Rossi Prize. I can hardly
believe that in almost 1000 members we cannot find at least 10 candidates
with excellent qualifications every year! Please, do not depend on your
"neighbors" for the nomination -- be the one who is active. An honorable
award is all that many of us strive for these days; we did not get into the
field for the money...
And stay tuned for the upcoming Decadal activities. Even, or especially with
the current budget, we need a unified community solidly behind the Decadal.
To quote the Greek poet, Kavafis: "...And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't
have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you
will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean."
Back to Top
3. Congressional Visits Day Summary - Paul Ray (HEAD EC Member)
On April 28-29, hundreds of scientists and engineers flocked to Capitol Hill as part of Science, Engineering and Technology Congressional Visits Day. We spent the first day getting briefed on the legislative and budgetary processes and hearing updates from NSF (Jim Ulvested) and NASA (Ed Weiler). The message we heard was that there is a lot of support for continuing on the path to double basic research funding over a 10 year period at several agencies (NSF, DOE, NIST) under the America COMPETES Act. Note that NASA is not included in this Act, but their budget is scheduled to grow by $6 billion over the next 5 years as part of the President's new approach to space exploration and discovery. This rising tide is very good for science as a whole; however, the situation for astronomy and astrophysics is not so good. At NASA this is because the President's priorities are earth science and climate change, while at NSF, even the most optimistic funding scenarios still see the costs to build and operate large new facilities forcing hard decisions on operations of current instruments and the funding of research grants. So, the message we carried to congress was that astronomy should be viewed as a crucial part of the nation's science and technology research agenda that should specifically be included in efforts to grow basic research. We emphasized that astronomy is a "gateway science" that inspires the public and is the only college-level science class for a very large number of people. We asked each member to support the re-authorization of COMPETES.
We thank Anita Krishnamurthy (AAS Bahcall Public Policy Fellow) and Kevin Marvel (AAS Executive Officer) for organizing this important effort. Photos of the AAS contingent are posted at http://picasaweb.google.com/American.Astronomical.Society/CVD2010. Although I was the only HEAD representative at this event, we will get another opportunity to participate in greater numbers when we visit congress in the Fall on the heels of the release of the Astro2010 Decadal Survey report. And, as always, we strongly encourage all HEAD members to personally appeal to the political leadership, at the state and national level, with the positive message that astronomy and astrophysics engages public (especially student) interest in science, has strong societal impact, including e.g. the creation of high technology jobs, and is therefore worthy of support and inclusion in the competitiveness and recovery agendas. Personal letters and visits from constituents carry a great deal of weight!
Back to Top
4. News from NASA Headquarters - Ilana Harrus and Jaya Bajpayee
- The report from the Senior Review is now public. Eleven missions were evaluated and ranked this year. Planck was ranked first with Chandra a close second.
Read the entire report online at:
- Personnel Changes --
A lot happening this past semester at NASA HQ!
- Dr. Felicia Jones-Selden went back to Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) after half a year as the acting Astrophysics Deputy Director. She is currently the deputy director of the Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate (code 500) at GSFC
- Dr. Geoff Yoder is now the new Astrophysics Deputy Director. Prior to coming to the Astrophysics Division, Dr. Yoder was the Constellation Systems Division Director at NASA HQ.
- Dr. Patricia Boyd went back to GSFC after a year and a half in detail in the Astrophysics Division. Dr. Mario Perez is now the new Program Scientist for Galex and Dr. Doug Hudgins is the new Program Scientist for Kepler.
- Dr. Michael Salamon is leaving NASA HQ to join the Department of Energy.
The acting PCOS (Physics of the Cosmos) Lead Program Scientist is Dr. Lou Kaluzienki and Dr. Wilt Sanders is the acting Program Scientist for LISA.
- Dr. William Danchi is the new Program Scientist for Planck, WMAP, Herschel and Spitzer. Dr. Danchi is in detail from GSFC where he was the Senior Scientist for Interferometry in the Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory (Code 667).
Back to Top
5. HEAD in the News - Megan Watzke (HEAD Press Secretary) and Lynn Cominsky
The realm of high-energy astrophysics continues to produce interesting and newsworthy results. The list below contains some of the major stories to come out of the fleet of operating missions as press releases and press conferences in the past six months, but it does not represent the full scope of how astronomical results are communicated with the public. In this age of blogs, podcasts, and smart phones, the latest scientific results are being shared in ever-changing ways. For a more comprehensive view of this is being done, visit the respective websites of each of the missions.
- "X-ray Discovery Points to Location of Missing Matter"
May 11, 2010
This result made using both Chandra and XMM-Newton is the strongest evidence yet that the "missing matter" in the nearby Universe is located in an enormous web of hot, diffuse gas.
- "'Survivor' Black Holes May Be Mid-Sized"
April 29, 2010
Evidence from Chandra and XMM-Newton strengthen the case that two intermediate-mass black holes exist near the center of M87. These objects could be examples of the seeds required to grow supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies.
- "Einstein's Theory Fights off Challengers"
April 14, 2010
Two independent studies of the General Theory of Relativity made using Chandra showed Einstein's theory is still the best game in town.
- "NASA's Chandra Reveals Origin of Key Cosmic Explosions"
February 17, 2010
Findings from Chandra showed mergers of two dense stellar remnants are the likely cause of many of Type Ia supernovae, providing a key piece of information on "standard candles" used to probe dark energy.
This was a NASA HQ media telecon press conference.
- "Massive Black Hole Implicated in Stellar Destruction"
January, 4, 2010
Chandra and Magellan data suggest that an intermediate-mass black hole may have tidally destroyed a star. If confirmed, this would be the first such discovery.
This was a press conference at the AAS meeting in DC.
- "Supernova Explosions Stay in Shape"
December 17, 2009
A study using Chandra suggests that the symmetry of some supernova remnants may reveal how the star exploded.
- "NASA's Fermi Probes "Dragons" of the Gamma-ray Sky"
March 2, 2010
A study showed that less than a third of the gamma-ray background can be explained by AGN.
This was a press conference at the HEAD meeting in Hawaii.
- "NASA's Fermi Closes on Source of Cosmic Rays"
Feb 16th, 2010
By comparing emissions from supernova remnants of wildly differing ages and in different interstellar environments, astronomers have gained more evidence that cosmic rays originate from supernova remnants.
This was a press conference at APS meeting in DC.
- "Nature's Clocks May Make ‘Galactic GPS' Possible"
Jan 5th, 2010
With Fermi helping to discover 17 millisecond pulsars in our galaxy within three months, astronomers are closer to being able to use the radiation of these rapidly spinning neutron stars as a kind of GPS to detect and track gravitational waves.
This was a press conference at AAS meeting in DC.
- "Fermi Sees Brightest-Ever Blazar Flare"
Dec 8th, 2009
A galaxy with the unassuming name of 3C 454.3, has become the brightest source of gamma rays in the sky despite being over 7 billion light years away. The flares began on September 15, 2009 and Fermi has been watching ever since.
For the original press release: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/brightest-blazar.html
- "Fermi Telescope Peers Deep Into Microquasar"
Nov 26th 2009
First Discovered in 1966, Cygnus X-3 has long been suspected of being a high-energy gamma-ray emitter which Fermi confirmed from observations made earlier this year and late last year. This data also revealed that the gamma-ray emissions precede the microquasar's radio jet flares by approximately five days.
For the original press release: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/fermi-cygnus.html
- "Fermi Detects Gamma-Rays From Distant ‘Star Factories'"
Nov 2nd 2009
Fermi has detected diffuse gamma-ray emissions from starburst galaxies with implications that it is the stellar nurseries producing the gamma rays.
For the original press release: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/star_factories.html
- "NASA's Swift Catches 500th Gamma-ray Burst"
Apr 19th, 2010
Swift detected its 500th gamma-ray burst (GRB) on April 13, 2009. Known as GRB 100413B, this GRB was located in constellation Cassiopeia and was a long burst, such as those caused by the end of the life of a high-mass star.
- "Magnetic Power Revealed in Gamma-Ray Burst Jet"
Dec 9th, 2009
Swift's detection and notification of a gamma-ray burst (GRB) on January 2, 2009, allowed Liverpool John Moores University's optical polarimeter, RINGO, to measure the magnetic fields of the GRB.
- "Swift XMM-Newton Satellites Tune Into a Middleweight Black Hole"
Nov 10th, 2009
By turning Swift and XMM-Newton to ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs), astronomers have found strong candidates for intermediate-mass black holes. For one such ULX, NGC 5408 X-1, astronomers have detected quasi-periodic oscillations akin to stellar mass black holes but far brighter, and have estimated the object to be between one and nine thousand solar masses.
Back to Top
6. Chandra X-ray Observatory Report - Roger Brissenden (SAO) and
Martin Weisskopf (MSFC)
Chandra has now carried out almost 11 years of successful science operations, with excellent performance by the spacecraft, instruments, and mirror assembly.
Following an extensive proposal process, NASA, in December, signed a contract modification extending Chandra operations through September 2013, with two additional three-year options to 2016 and 2019. NASA also conducted its biannual Senior Review of operating missions. The panel rated Chandra second of eleven missions, with a score of 9.5 out of 10. The panel observed, "After a decade in operation, Chandra remains an immensely powerful observatory in its prime....Chandra has subarcsecond spatial resolution with spatially resolved spectra on the same scale. These attributes do not exist in any other mission and will not be seen again for several decades."
We have taken several steps to make mission operations more robust and flexible, including updating ACIS flight software, testing the momentum unloading thrusters at elevated temperatures, and improving the ground spacecraft simulator. Chandra's overall observing efficiency has remained close to optimal. The science data processing, archiving, and distribution proceeded smoothly, with time from observation to data release remaining at about a day.
The Einstein Fellowship program attracted a record 162 proposals for 10 fellowships, whose recipients were selected in January by a panel with expertise covering NASA's entire Physics of the Cosmos program.
Researchers worldwide submitted 678 proposals in response to the Chandra X-ray Center's Call for Proposals for observing Cycle 12. The Peer Review will be held in June.
The CXC will conduct the workshop "Accretion Processes in X-rays: >From White Dwarfs to Quasars" on 13-15 July in Cambridge, MA.
The Chandra Press Office issued 14 press releases and 21 image releases in the period November through May. A complete listing is available at http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/.
Back to Top
7. XMM-Newton Mission News - Lynne Valencic and Lynn Cominsky
The Ninth Call for Proposals for XMM-Newton closed in October 2009; successful submissions were announced in December 2010, and observations began in May 2010.
The XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre has organized a workshop for May 24-26 on Ultra-Luminous X-ray Sources and Middle Weight Black Holes in Madrid, Spain. The goal of the workshop is to explore the physical nature of ultra-luminous X-ray sources and models for their formation, accretion, and evolution. More information, including the submitted abstracts, can be found here: http://xmm.esac.esa.int/external/xmm_science/ workshops/2010_science/.
The fifth International Astronomical Consortium for High Energy Calibration (IACHEC) meeting took place in Woods Hole, Massachusetts during April 12-15. Updates on the XMM-Newton's instrument calibrations and comparisons with Chandra's instruments were discussed; the presentations are available in pdf format at http://web.mit.edu/iachec/meetings/2010/index.html.
On the EPO side of things, work continues on the eXtreme Universe planetarium show, to be hosted by the NASA Goddard Geodome. XMM-Newton co-sponsored a teacher's workshop in Hawaii after the HEAD meeting, with activities from the Supernova guide. XMM-Newton was featured in the May Special Episode of Epo's Chronicles, which will appear as part of the 2011 Epo's Chronicle Calendar.
Back to Top
8. RHESSI Mission News
The Reuven Ramaty High Energy Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) has just
completed a successful second anneal of its high-resolution germanium
detectors to reduce the effects of radiation damage. RHESSI's overall
solar hard x-ray performance is now even better than when it was newly
launched. Because there is some residual damage, the resolution for
nuclear gamma-ray lines is still degraded, but the instrument is in good
condition for continuum spectroscopy of non-solar sources like cosmic
gamma-ray bursts and terrestrial gamma-ray flashes. See RHESSI Science
Nugget #127 at
where you can also find short articles on a variety of RHESSI science
Back to Top
9. INTEGRAL Mission News - Christoph Winkler (ESA-ESTEC) and Steve Sturner (NASA GSFC)
The INTEGRAL mission is currently approved by ESA for science operations until 31 December 2012. A request for extension of mission operations until 31 December 2014 will be submitted later this year to ESA' advisory committees.
The AO-7 observing cycle will continue until 31 December 2010. The Call for AO-8 cycle observations was released on 15 March. By the deadline of 23 April, 64 proposals were received, oversubscribing the available observing time by a factor 3.8. Results of the time allocation peer review process will be announced in June. The second Call of the AO-8 cycle, this time for data rights only for sources located in the FOV of selected AO-8 observations will be released on 30 August, with a deadline of 08 October. As with previous INTEGRAL AO cycles, NASA will fund US scientists with successful AO-8 proposals via the NASA INTEGRAL Guest Investigator Program.
The US INTEGRAL project recently participated in the 2010 NASA Senior Review. A proposal was submitted with extensive input from the US INTEGRAL Users' Committee. Oral presentations were given to the Senior Review Committee by Dr. Neil Gehrels, the US Project Scientist, and Dr. Mark Leising, the chair of the users' committee. The recommendation of the Senior Review Committee to NASA was to discontinue funding for the INTEGRAL project in the US including funding for the US INTEGRAL GOF and the US Guest Observer Program. The US mirror to the INTEGRAL Public Data Archive will be maintained as part of the HEASARC.
The 8th INTEGRAL workshop, "The restless gamma-ray universe" will take place 27-30 Sep 2010 in Dublin/Ireland , see the LOC website http://ssmr.ucd.ie/8thintegralworkshop/INTEGRAL_Workshop/8th_INTEGRAL_Workshop.html for further details.
Some recent scientific highlights since the last report (November 2009) include:
- First constraints on the hard X-ray morphology of the Crab nebula (D. Eckert et al, A&A 509, 33, 2010)
- The Fermi/LAT Sky as Seen by INTEGRAL/IBIS (P. Ubertini et al., 2009, ApJL 706, L7-L11, 2009)
- The Magellanic Bridge: evidence for a population of X-ray binaries (V.A. McBride, et al., 2010, MNRAS in press, arXiv: 0912.2951)
- New estimates of the gamma-ray line emission of the Cygnus region (P. Martin et al., A&A 506, 703, 2009),
- Predicted gamma-ray line emission from the Cygnus complex (P. Martin et al., A&A 511, 86, 2010)
- Improved X-ray position for unidentified/unclassified INTEGRAL sources in the 4th IBIS survey (J.B. Stephen et al., 2010, ATEL 2441)
Back to Top
10. Swift Mission News - Stefan Immler (UMd/GSFC), Lynn Cominsky (Sonoma
State), & Neil Gehrels (GSFC)
Senior Review Results
Swift was ranked #4 (after Planck, Chandra and Spitzer) in the 2010 Senior Review of NASA's Astrophysics Division operating missions. The high ranking and excellent health status of Swift will allow operations through 2012 with an extension through 2014 pending review in two years. The Senior Review Committee also recommended that the Swift Guest Investigator program should continue to be a key component of the mission.
Swift Catches 500th Burst
On April 13, Swift detected its 500th Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB). This "500 bursts in 5 years" milestone added to a long series of Swift's accomplishments, such as discovering the highest spectroscopically confirmed object in the universe (GRB 090423 at z=8.2), recording a "naked eye" burst (GRB 080319B), and witnessing the birth of a supernova (SN 2008D). To date, 75% of all GRBs with known redshifts were discovered by Swift.
Swift X-Ray Survey finds dozens of new AGN
In a recent Swift BAT study published in ApJL, Mike Koss et al. find that roughly 22% of Swift-observed AGN undergo mergers. Since surveys in other wavelengths find significantly fewer AGN in mergers because of extinction and dilution by star formation, the Swift BAT hard X-ray survey is a statistically complete survey of AGN in the nearby universe (z<0.05).
Swift E/PO News
The Educator Ambassadors representing the Swift mission have continued to present teacher workshops focusing on the telescope, its science, and using Swift materials like the Gamma Ray Burst Educator Unit. Swift has supported the From Earth to the Universe exhibit around the bay area, which has continued on into 2010. The 2010 February Special "Eposode" for Epo's Chronicles featured Swift and will be included in the 2011 Epo's Chronicles Calendar.
Back to Top
11. Suzaku Mission News - Koji Mukai (NASA GSFC)
In the 2010 NASA Senior Review of operating missions, Suzaku was ranked
7th out of 11 missions under consideration. More importantly, the Senior
Review panel recommended the continued US participation in this mission
through FY2014, including a modest level of guest observer funding. We
thank the Suzaku Users' Group, led by the chair, Jon Miller of University
of Michigan, as well as the wider Suzaku user community, who made it
possible to submit a strong proposal to the Senior Review.
The Suzaku satellite and its instruments continue to perform well
in general, with the following minor issues. Of the 3 operational
X-ray Imaging Spectrometers, XIS1 has developed a bright and persistent
spot during day-earth (but not night-earth) observations on 2009
December 18, presumably due to a pin hole in the optical blocking filter.
This does not impact most science observations, although those of low
surface brightness, soft diffuse emission may be affected. The details
are under study. As for the Hard X-ray Detector, the continued
increase of noise events, due to the accumulation of radiation damage,
has forced the HXD team to raise the low-energy threshold of the PIN
detector three times in the recent months (on 2010 January 17, February 1,
and April 3). These changes define new "epochs", 7-9. Although all
observations are processed appropriately, response matrices are different
for different epochs, and it is the user's responsibility to select the
correct one. Response files for epochs 7-9 will be released within
the next several months.
The HXD team has updated the gain calibration of the GSO detector and
released updated software, new calibration files, and a new set of
background files. With this update, GSO data are better calibrated in
general, and in the 50-70 keV range in particular. For more details, see
The GOF has released version 3.2 of the data reduction guide, bringing
it up to date except that it does not fully reflect the new GSO
calibration. We plan another update of the guide, once we have
accumulated sufficient experiences processing and analyzing the newly
recalibrated GSO data.
Observations of AO-5 targets began at the end of March. The target list
includes the continuation of 4 Key Projects initiated in AO-4 (3 of them
to completion), as well as one new Key Project, on the outskirts of the
Perseus cluster of galaxies. The Stage 2 (budget) proposals from PIs of
successful US AO-5 proposals have been received by NASA, and the decision
is expected in a couple of months. The actual funding will begin sometime
early in the next fiscal year that begins on 2010 October 1.
Back to Top
12. Fermi Mission News -
Julie McEnery (GSFC), Chris Shrader (GSFC), Dave Thompson (GSFC), Liz Hays (GSFC) & Lynn Cominsky (Sonoma State)
The first Fermi LAT catalog (1FGL) contains 1451 sources, by far the largest catalog of high-energy gamma-ray sources yet produced. The catalog, released in January 2010, is available through the Fermi Science Support Center, at http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/data/access/lat/1yr_catalog/. About half the sources are associated positionally, mostly with blazers (~600) and pulsars (~60), many additional smaller classes of high energy gamma-ray emitters are emerging – globular clusters, pulsar wind nebulae, supernova remnants, starbursts, narrow line Seyferts and X-ray binaries with several being new to high energy gamma-ray astrophysics. Intriguingly, the second-largest set is sources having no obvious associations with members of known gamma-ray source classes, showing the potential for future discoveries.
We triggered our first Fermi TOO at the beginning of April to get deeper observations of 3C454.3 which had flared brightly. The target region received a factor of 3-4 increase in exposure, with a penalty that a large region of the sky received no exposure.
The LAT team made a significant update to the configuration of their onboard transient search software. This is expected to more than double the rate of prompt detections of LAT gamma-ray bursts and will provide rapid localizations of these bursts (0.1-0.5 deg) to the community via GCN.
The GBM team added a new onboard trigger tuned to finding Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes -- intense millisecond flashes of gamma-rays and high energy particles from thunderstorms.
Fermi Guest Investigator Program
The Fermi Cycle 3 Guest Investigator (GI) program attracted nearly 200 proposals. The stage-I scientific evaluation process has been completed, leading to the selection of 77 new guest investigations. Results have been announced at http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/proposals/cycle3/AcceptedPrograms.pdf.
Data and Software Releases
Flaring activity from LAT sources has been announced through 80 Astronomer's Telegrams (ATels) since the beginning of the mission. Weekly (http://fermisky.blogspot.com/) and daily (http://fermisky-daily.blogspot.com/) blogs describe current activity in the gamma-ray sky.
The GBM team has released a software package for the analysis of GBM data on GRBs and other transients. The RMFIT tool will create lightcurves, fit backgrounds, and fit single or multiple spectra for NaI and BGO detectors. It also provides burst fluences and spectral evolution visualization tools, and has a number of additional useful capabilities.
While RMFIT is not a part of the standard Science Tools package, you can find it on the user-contributed software page at: http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/data/analysis/user/
In addition, the GBM team has provided a very useful tutorial at http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/data/analysis/user/vc_rmfit_tutorial.pdf
The Third Fermi Symposium
This will be held in Rome, Italy from May 9-12. Further information will be posted to the symposium webpage: http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/symposium/2011/
Fermi E/PO News
Fermi has been highlighted in Epo's Chronicles 2010 Special Episodes for March, and will be a part of the 2011 Epo's Chronicles Calendar. (http://eposchronicles.org) The Fermi Race Card Game has recently been showcased at the Northern California Boy Scouts of America Centennial Anniversary Jamboree and Expanding Your Horizons (for eighth grade girls).
Back to Top
13. NuSTAR Mission News - Daniel Stern (JPL) & Fiona Harrison (Caltech)
NuSTAR, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, is a NASA Small
Explorer (SMEX) mission which will provide the first focused
observations in the 6 to 79 keV hard X-ray window. In part due to
launch scheduling conflicts with larger missions such as MSL, Juno,
and GRAIL, the NuSTAR launch was recently moved to February 2012.
Significant flight hardware is now being built. NuSTAR will fly
two optical units, each with 133 layers of grazing incidence optics.
Goddard has completed slumping all glass segments out thru layer
90, with the final glass slumping to be completed in late October.
The multilayer coating recipe has been finalized and flight optics
coating is on schedule at the Danish Technical University, DTU-Space
in Copenhagen, Denmark. The first optical unit, being assembled
at Columbia University, is more than 65% complete and will be
finished at the end of July. The final optic will be completed in
early January 2011.
For more information about the NuSTAR mission, visit
Back to Top
14. The International X-ray Observatory (IXO) - Michael
There was an IXO Science meeting in Paris at the end of April.
The presentations from the meeting can be found at:
The main topics of the meeting were recent results and preparations for the ESA Cosmic Visions 2015-2025 (CV2015) process, with an emphasis on synergies between IXO and other future observatories. The science, technology and programmatic input is collected into a 'Yellow Book' which is the submission to the CV2015 process. The science section draws from the white papers and 'Requests for Information' (RFIs) that were written for the Astro2010 process, and also includes new information. This section is in draft form and will continue to be developed over the next few months. The technology section will be based largely on the two parallel industry studies that ESA is currently carrying out. Final report from the CV2015-2025 process is expected about June 2011.
Upcoming events include a series of IXO presentations at the SPIE meeting, 'Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation 2010' which will take place in San Diego the end of June 2010. Talks will cover the overall observatory, instrumentation (including the expected background), optics, mission operations, and other topics. As usual, these talks will be available on the IXO website ixo.gsfc.nasa.gov
Technology development efforts are continuing, with progress on both optics technologies (slumped glass and silicon pore optics). X-ray pencil beam tests of the SPO optics are now finding 9'' HEW/PSF (two reflections) for small stacks of plates mounted in a flight-like mirror module. As a reference, in 2007 similar tests measured 17'' HEW/PSF. Upgrades to the Bessy-II and MPE/Panter X-ray test facilities are underway to accommodate the 20m focal length of the IXO optics, and will allow full beam test in the fall of 2010. X-ray test of the slumped glass optics found 16'' HEW/PSF in 2008, and optical metrology is now measuring 6.5'' HEW/PSF. These optics will be tested in the GSFC X-ray test facility before the end of 2010. A separate study of slumped glass optics is underway at MPE (Germany) and Brera (Italy) which would use connecting/reinforcing ribs to assemble mirror modules, similar to the NuStar method. The IXO Telescope Working Group will hold its next meetings in June (Brera) and December (Prague)to assess progress and to review and update the technology development plans for both types of optics.
The XMS team is fabricating 32x32 pixel demo arrays, with the correct pitch and close to the 40x40 extent needed for the inner high resolution array for the XMS. Preparations are continuing for a 3-column x 32-row multiplexing readout demonstration of such an array.
Back to Top
15. LISA News - Michele Vallisneri (JPL)
LISA Pathfinder, the second of the European Space Agency's Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology (SMART), is a dedicated technology demonstrator for LISA. LISA Pathfinder will test the critical technologies required for the detection of low-frequency gravitational waves from space; it will carry two payloads, the European-provided LISA Technology Package, and the NASA/JPL Disturbance Reduction System. The LISA Pathfinder project is well into Phase C/D, having successfully passed Critical Design Reviews for both the payload and system. At this time, most flight-hardware units have been delivered, and system testing is underway for the payload and the drag-free and attitude control system, using the real-time hardware-in-the-loop testbed. The integrated-systems testing of the spacecraft bus has also begun. Tests will continue over the next two years, with launch scheduled for mid 2012 onboard the new European small launcher, VEGA. For more information: http://www.rssd.esa.int/index.php?project=LISAPATHFINDER
The 8th bi-annual International LISA Symposium will be held at Stanford University from June 28 to July 2, 2010. The scientific program includes plenary and parallel sessions on LISA-related gravitational-wave astronomy and astrophysics; on LISA and LISA Pathfinder technology and data analysis; and on other space-based gravity programs, as well as ground-based gravitational-wave detectors. The program features 49 invited talks, and 94 abstracts have been submitted for contributed talks and posters. On Tue June 29, Prof. Bernard Schutz will deliver a public multimedia presentation on "Gravitational Waves: listening to the True Music of the Spheres." For more information: http://www.stanford.edu/group/lisasymposium
Back to Top
16. Meetings Calendar
38th COSPAR Scientific Assembly
Bremen (Germany), 18-25 July 2010
PROBING THE HIGH REDSHIFT UNIVERSE
This is a 2-day event held during the week of the COSPAR Scientific
Assembly, which will be held in Bremen, Germany, from 18 to 25 July 2010.
This session brings together researchers who use GRBs, quasars, and LAEs
as tools for probing the epoch of reionization. The session will also
gauge direction of future research with coming and proposed facilities,
such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), Low Frequency Array
(LOFAR), Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), Atacama Large Millimeter Array
(ALMA), International X-ray Observatory (IXO), Joint Astrophysics
Nascent Universe Satellite (JANUS), Xenia, and Energetic X-ray Imaging
Survey Telescope (EXIST).
A preliminary list of solicited speakers includes:
Xavier Barcons (Inst de FŪsica de Cantabria, Spain),
Andrew Blain (Caltech, USA),
Josh Bloom (UC Berkeley, USA),
Volker Bromm (UTA, USA),
Sergio Campana (OAB, Italy),
Xiaohui Fan (UA, USA),
Andrea Ferrara (SISSA, Italy),
Masanori Iye (NAOJ, Japan),
Simon Lilly (ETH Hoenggerberg, Switzerland),
Sangeeta Malhotra (ASU, USA),
Nial Tanvir (Univ Leicester, UK),
Stuart Wyithe (Univ of Melbourne, Australia),
Naoki Yoshida (Nagoya Univ, Japan)
Information concerning this event can be found on the web at:
Registrations, abstract submission and other logistic information can
be found at:
"THE RESTLESS GAMMA-RAY UNIVERSE"
8th INTEGRAL Workshop
27 - 30 September 2010
Description: The 8th INTEGRAL workshop " THE RESTLESS GAMMA-RAY UNIVERSE " will
take place at the Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland from 27 to 30
September 2010. The main goal of this workshop is to present and to
discuss (via invited and contributed talks and posters) latest results
obtained in the field of high energy astrophysics using the
International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory INTEGRAL, as well as
results from related observations from other ground- and space-based
high energy observatories.
Contributions to the workshop shall cover the following scientific
- X-ray binaries (IGR sources, black holes, neutron stars, white dwarfs)
- Isolated neutron stars (gamma-ray pulsars, magnetars)
- Nucleosynthesis (SNe and SNRs), gamma-ray lines, diffuse line and
- Massive black holes in AGNs, elliptical galaxies, nucleus of the Galaxy
- Surveys, source populations and unidentified sources
- Cosmic background radiation
- Gamma-ray bursts
- Coordinated observations with other ground- and space-based
observatories (e.g. XMM, Chandra, RXTE, SWIFT, Suzaku, AGILE, FERMI,
- Science data processing and analysis (posters only)
- Future instruments and missions (posters only)
NASA Laboratory Astrophysics Workshop
25-28 October 2010
The Astrophysics Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is
sponsoring its fourth Laboratory Astrophysics Workshop (LAW). The
purpose of this approximately quadrennial workshop is to provide a forum
within which the scientific community can review the current state of
knowledge in the field of Laboratory Astrophysics, assess the critical
data needs of NASA's current and future space astrophysics missions, and
identify the challenges and opportunities facing the field as we begin a
new decade. The complete charge for the workshop can be downloaded at
LAW 2010 will feature general invited review talks from prominent data
users and from scientists actively involved with NASA's current and
future space astrophysics missions to provide an overview of the data
needs in their current programs. Selected contributed talks from
recognized data providers in each discipline will accompany the invited
review talks. A poster session will be organized for participating
groups/laboratories. Breakout sessions will take place at the end of
these sessions. Specific recommendations will be established by each
working group. These will be forwarded to the SOC to be included in the
White Paper requested in the NASA charge to the workshop. The White
Paper will be reviewed by an independent group of experts before
submission to NASA.
The workshop is hosted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the
Southeast Laboratory Astrophysics Community. Further information can be
found at: http://www.physics.unlv.edu/labastro/. Additional
information and details will soon follow.
If you did not receive this email directly and would like to be added to
the distribution list, please email email@example.com.
On behalf of the Science and Local Organizing Committees
Daniel Wolf Savin, Chair SOC (firstname.lastname@example.org)
David Schultz, Chair LOC (email@example.com)
Non-thermal phenomena in colliding galaxy clusters
15-18 November 2010
Contact: C. Ferrari, firstname.lastname@example.org
The workshop will address a wide range of phenomena related to
non-thermal particles and magnetic fields in and around galaxy
clusters. These sites provide a unique laboratory for studying the
physics of dilute plasmas. Recent years have seen rapid progress in
this field, as radio, X-ray and gamma-ray telescopes are providing
unprecedented new details and constraints on the properties of the
intracluster relativistic plasma and its interplay with the thermal
The nature and origin of non-thermal particles and magnetic fields in
cosmological large-scale structures are still not fully understood.
The most spectacular non-thermal phenomena appear to be related to
collisions between galaxy clusters that free enormous amounts of
energy. Addressing this connection is one of the main goals of the
workshop. Other topics will include non-thermal components in more
relaxed clusters and large-scale filaments. We will also discuss
recent progress in theoretical and numerical work that attempts to
model the origin and evolution of relativistic particles and magnetic
The workshop will bring together observers and theorists in order to
develop the latest ideas and models for the cluster non-thermal
components, and to devise strategies for future observations with the
next generation of telescopes, such as the Low-frequency Array
(LOFAR), which will be conducting its first observations. The
workshop will help to foster collaborations and introduce young
scientists to the community.
On-line registration is not yet available. Please visit the conference web page soon.
Due to venue constraints, we have to limit the number of participants
25th Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics
6-10 December 2010
The symposium will feature new developments in the range of topics generally
associated with this long-running symposium: the universe and its contents, including quasars and pulsars, X-ray sources and black holes, radiation
both electromagnetic and gravitational, etc.
Chair of SOC: Felix Aharonia, Co-chair: Virginia Trimble
Third International Fermi Symposium
9-12 May 2011
The 2011 Fermi Symposium is dedicated to results and prospects for scientific exploration of the Universe with the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and related studies. Topics include: blazars and other active galactic nuclei, pulsars, gamma-ray bursts, supernova remnants, diffuse gamma radiation, unidentified gamma-ray sources, and searches for dark matter.
Back to Top
On June 22, 2010, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is releasing two draft solicitations for community review and comment: the Draft Explorer 2010 Announcement of Opportunity (AO) and the Draft Explorer 2010 Missions of Opportunity (MO) Program Element Appendix (PEA) for the Stand Alone Missions of Opportunity Notice (SALMON) AO. Upon the release date, the full text of the both draft solicitations will be available at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/.
The Explorer Program conducts Principal Investigator (PI)-led space science investigations relevant to SMD's astrophysics and heliophysics programs. Explorer investigations must address NASA's goals to advance the understanding of the Sun and its effects on Earth and the Solar System and/or to discover the origin, structure, evolution, and destiny of the Universe and search for Earth-like planets.
Participation is open to all categories of organizations or institutions, U.S. or non-U.S., including educational, industrial, and not-for-profit institutions, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs), NASA Centers, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and other Government agencies.
NASA will hold an Explorer Program Workshop (including a Potential Bidders Conference) on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 in the Washington, DC area to provide an overview of the Draft Explorer 2010 AO and the Draft Explorer 2010 MO PEA and to address any questions. Information about the Conference will be made available on the Explorer Program Acquisition website at http://explorers.larc.nasa.gov/EX/.
The comment period for the Draft Explorer 2010 AO and the Draft Explorer 2010 MO PEA ends on July 16, 2010.
The issuance of the Draft Explorer 2010 AO does not obligate NASA to issue the Explorer 2010 AO and solicit proposals. The issuance of the Draft Explorer 2010 MO PEA does not obligate NASA to issue an Explorer 2010 MO PEA and solicit proposals. Any costs incurred by prospective investigators in preparing submissions in response to any of these draft solicitations are incurred completely at the submitter's own risk.
Comments may be addressed in writing or by e-mail to the Explorer Program Acquisition Scientist: Dr. Barbara L. Giles, Ref.: Explorer EX AO, Heliophysics Division, Mail Suite 3R15, Science Mission Directorate, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, DC 20546-0001, E-mail: HQ-Explorers@mail.nasa.gov (subject line to read "Explorer EX AO"). Responses to all inquiries will be answered by e-mail and also posted weekly at the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) location of the Explorer Program Acquisition website at http://explorers.larc.nasa.gov/EX/; anonymity of persons/institutions who submit questions will be preserved.
Back to Top
Treasurer's report due to AAS office (Kevin Marvel email@example.com)
Chair requests rooms for HEAD sessions, Rossi Prize lecture, and
business meeting for January AAS meeting from AAS conference coordinator
(Laronda Boyce: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chair sends call for nominations of candidates for officers and call for
Rossi Prize nominations to AAS newsletter editor for inclusion in AAS
newsletter (Crystal Tinch email@example.com)
Deadline for vice-chair to provide details of HEAD sessions for January
meeting to AAS conference coordinator (Kelli Gilmore). Needed - names
of speakers; preliminary titles of talks; names for sessions or
descriptions. Suggest names of session chairs to AAS Secretary (John Graham).
Secretary-Treasurer sends email to division members requesting nominations
for Rossi prize.
Deadline for nominations of new officers from Nominating Committee (and
nominations presented by petitions from members) to be sent by chair to
Secretary-Treasurer for including in November newsletter and voting by
Deadline for nominations for Rossi Prize. Chair sends all nominating
letters and selected supporting material to Executive Committee members
and begins collecting and recirculating comments
November - December
Election of new officers. Secretary-Treasurer conveys results to all
candidates and AAS Executive Officer.
Chair sends annual report to AAS Secretary for discussion at
January AAS council meeting. Also to Secretary-Treasurer for
next HEAD newsletter.
Chair prepares agenda for January HEAD business meeting and sends
to Executive Committee.
Back to Top
HEADNEWS, the electronic newsletter of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society, is issued twice yearly by the HEAD Secretary-Treasurer. The HEAD Executive Committee Members are: