HEAD High Energy Astrophysics Division

HEADNEWS: THE ELECTRONIC NEWSLETTER OF THE HIGH ENERGY ASTROPHYSICS DIVISION OF THE AAS



    IN THIS ISSUE:

Newsletter No. 94, May 2009
  1. Notes from the Editor- Ann Hornschemeier
  2. David Band (1957-2009)
  3. Congressional Visits Day - Julia Lee & Dieter Hartmann
  4. News from NASA Headquarters - Ilana Harrus
  5. HEAD in the News -Megan Watzke
  6. Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report - Roger Brissenden and Martin Weisskopf
  7. XMM-Newton Mission News - Lynne Valencic, Lynn Cominsky and Chip McAuley
  8. INTEGRAL Mission News- Peter Kretschmar
  9. RHESSI Mission News - David Smith
  10. Swift Mission News - Stefan Immler , Lynn Cominsky, & Neil Gehrels
  11. RXTE Mission News - Jean Swank, Craig Markwardt, Frank Marshall & Tod Strohmayer
  12. Suzaku Mission News - Koji Mukai
  13. Fermi Mission News - Francis Reddy et al.
  14. NuSTAR Mission News - Daniel Stern and Fiona Harrison
  15. IXO Mission News - Michael Garcia
  16. LISA Mission News - Michele Vallisneri
  17. Meetings Calendar
Notes

 

from the Editor - Ann Hornschemeier, HEAD Secretary-Treasurer, headsec@xraydeep.org, 301-204-2653

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 http://www.aas.org/head/headnews/headnews.may09.html.

Contact information for all current HEAD Executive Committee members may be found at the end of this newsletter.

The next HEAD meeting will be March 1-4, 2010 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii's Big Island. Details are becoming available at the Conference Connection website: http://www.confcon.com/head2010/. Please send suggestions for invited speakers to HEAD EC members ASAP as we will choose the invited speakers during the summer. Please remember that there is a new HEAD dissertation prize which will be awarded for the first time at the 2010 HEAD meeting. Those who have received their degrees within 3 years prior to the HEAD meeting date, in this case since March 1, 2007, are eligible for the prize.

Here is a reminder about upcoming HEAD deadlines (all submissions are via email):

  • October 1, 2009: Schramm Prize applications due to HEAD press officer Megan Watzke
  • October 1, 2009: HEAD 2010 Meeting Special Session proposals due to HEAD secretary
  • October 15, 2009: Rossi Prize Nominations due to HEAD secretary
  • October 15, 2009: HEAD Dissertation Prize nominations due to HEAD secretary
The HEAD Executive Committee is considering a few changes. These include a possible increase in dues, a possible lengthening of the terms of HEAD EC members from 2 years to 3 years, and a change from email voting to a more secure web-based voting scheme. The term length and voting change both are bylaw changes that must go through a formal process of notification of the membership and the AAS council. We are now soliciting input from members regarding all these changes. Please notify your HEAD EC members with your perspectives on these issues.

POSSIBLE INCREASE IN HEAD DUES

It has been several years since the last increase in dues from $8 to $10 and the HEAD EC is considering an increase from $10 to $20 while retaining the dues for junior AAS members at $10. The reason the HEAD EC is considering the dues increase is to shore up the HEAD financial reserves for awarding prizes.

Here is a detailed breakdown: HEAD has had $30K--$45K in its accounts the last few years (currently we have $45.4K as of April 2009). HEAD's money is invested as part of the overall AAS financial reserves in a conservative manner. The AAS, as a non-profit, seeks to operate within 4% of its financial reserves. The HEAD annual expenses are for the Rossi prize ($1500 + ~$300 for a certificate), the Schramm prize ($1000 + ~$200 for a certificate), the dissertation prize ($670 + $200 for a certificate). For the Schramm and dissertation prizes, we assume the prize is awarded every 18 months at the time of the HEAD meeting and have prorated the $1500 and $1000 prize amount accordingly. There are also some nominal expenses for HEAD EC meetings each year ($500). This total is approximately $4.4K for HEAD expenses each year. Thus, it is advisable for HEAD to have financial reserves of $110K.

The HEAD EC is thus working on a strategy to increase the financial reserves to guarantee we will be able to support the HEAD prizes. For comparison, the AAS Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS), which is just slightly larger than HEAD (~960 full members + 500 division-only members versus the ~950 members in HEAD), carries a financial reserve of $200K. The HEAD EC is considering a number of possible strategies, likely to be implemented in a multifaceted approach. These include a possible dues increase (already mentioned) as well as a possible 'Campaign for HEAD Prizes' in the 2010 membership statement so that tax-deductible contributions may be made for the HEAD prizes. We are also looking at strategies whereby highly successful HEAD meetings may bring funds back to HEAD for the HEAD prizes. The HEAD Executive committee welcomes your comments on all these prospective changes.

HEAD Bylaw Changes

Three changes are being proposed to the bylaws. These bylaw changes must first be approved by the AAS council at its meeting in June 2009, then discussed at the HEAD annual business meeting in January 2010, and finally put to a vote of the entire HEAD membership in January 2010 after that discussion.

  1. Removing the email requirement for HEAD voting
    • CURRENT STATUS: Currently HEAD voting is done by email to the HEAD Secretary-Treasurer. The secretary checks these emails and determines the outcome.
    • PROBLEM: This method does not provide a secret ballot, is not particularly secure, and is cumbersome for the secretary-treasurer.
    • SOLUTION: We wish to change the language of the by-laws to read "voting by electronic means". This will enable HEAD to use the AAS website for voting (a secure site that provides a secret ballot vote) but also allows for future voting technologies besides web voting.
  2. Removing the outdated "transferral of abstracts" text
    • CURRENT STATUS: There is language in the HEAD bylaws stating that 5 days after a HEAD meeting, the HEAD secretary-treasurer will transfer the abstracts to the AAS.
    • PROBLEM: The abstracts are handled by the AAS and no such transfer is required. This text is outdated.
    • SOLUTION: Remove this text from the bylaws
  3. Extend HEAD Executive Committee terms to 3 years
    • CURRENT STATUS: The HEAD committee members who are not officers serve for 2 years.
    • PROBLEM: By the time HEAD EC members are "trained", they are rotating off the committee. HEAD meetings occur every 1.5-2 years so committee members serve during only one HEAD division meeting. For comparison, terms for DPS and Council members are 3 years, not 2.
    • SOLUTION: Extend the terms to 3 years. To preserve the current size of the HEAD committee, we will elect 2 new members each year instead of 3. In anticipation of the January bylaw change, the 3 new members who will be elected in December will be initially invited to serve 2-year terms to be extended to 3-year terms after the bylaw change is adopted (all candidates will be apprised of the likely changes).

    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.

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    2. David Band (1957-2009)

    David L. Band, of Potomac Maryland, died on March 16, 2009 succumbing to a long battle with spinal cord cancer. His death at the age of 52 came as a shock to his many friends and colleagues in the physics and astronomy community. David showed an early interest and exceptional aptitude for physics, leading to his acceptance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as an undergraduate student in 1975. After graduating from MIT with an undergraduate degree in Physics, David continued as a graduate student in Physics at Harvard. His emerging interest in Astrophysics led him to the Astronomy Department at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), where he did his dissertation work with Prof. Jonathan Grindlay. His Ph.D. (Physics) thesis in 1985 entitled "Non-thermal Radiation Mechanisms and Processes in SS433 and Active Galactic Nuclei" was "pioneering work on the physics of jets arising from black holes and models for their emission, including self-absorption, which previewed much to come, and even David's own later work on Gamma-ray Bursts", according to Josh Grindlay who remained a personal friend and colleague of David's. Following graduate school, David held postdoctoral positions at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, the University of California at Berkeley and the Center for Astronomy and Space Sciences at the University of California San Diego where he worked on the BATSE experiment that was part of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO), launched in 1991. BATSE had as its main objective the study of cosmic gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and made significant advances in this area of research. David became a world-renowned figure in the emerging field of GRB studies. He is best known for his widely-used analytic form of gamma-ray burst spectra known as the "Band Function". At a recent GRB conference in Huntsville Alabama, a young gamma-ray astronomer noticed his conference name tag and asked if he was really the person for whom the Band function is named. In fact David did much more, by providing important analysis of the GRB data which refuted previous claims for line features in their spectra and their distributions with respect to galaxies, which in part laid the foundation for their 1997 discovery as cosmologically distant objects.

    After the CGRO mission ended, David moved to the Los Alamos National Laboratory where he worked mainly on classified research but continued to work on GRB energetics and spectra. When NASA planned two new follow-up missions to CGRO, the Swift and Fermi observatories, David seized an opportunity in 2001 to join the staff of the Fermi Science Support Center at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt Maryland. He was hired as the lead scientist for user support functions and to help to define and implement planning for the 2008 launch of the Fermi spacecraft. He brought a high level of energy and enthusiasm to the job, becoming in many ways the heart and soul of that organization. Neil Gehrels, the Goddard Astroparticle Physics Division Director and a Fermi deputy project scientist notes that "David was the perfect person for community support, with this outgoing personality and deep knowledge of astrophysics". David also became an important member of the Fermi science team; despite his failing health, he actively contributed to the first Fermi gamma-ray burst publication as well as making important contributions to the burst detection and data analysis techniques. He was also involved with planning the EXIST mission, a candidate for a future NASA mission. He will be greatly missed by his many friends and colleagues within the Fermi mission and the high-energy astrophysics community.

    David is survived by his wife Debra, his sons Zvi and Gabriel, his brother Jonathan and his parents, Arnold and Ora. Contributions in David's memory may be made to Magen David Adom (link to http://www.afmda.org/ ) the American Cancer Society (link to http://www.cancer.org/docroot/home/index.asp ) , Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah in Potomac, Maryland (link to http://bethsholom.org/ ) , or the JSSA Home Hospice Association (link to http://www.jssa.org/services/senior/hospice ). A memorial service for David will be held at NASA/Goddard on July 10, 2009.

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    3. Congressional Visits Day - Julia Lee (Harvard) & Dieter Hartmann (Clemson)

    The Science Engineering and Technology annual congressional visit took place this year on April 28-29, in which the AAS took part with several members of the HEAD executive committee in attendance. This event came on the heels of the exciting April 27 speech given by President Obama at the National Academy of Sciences promising renewed commitment to science and technology. The two-day agenda for the congressional visit itself was separated into a day-1 briefing at the AAAS by Kei Koizumi (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy), Michael Holland (Program Examiner for the Energy Branch Office of Management and Budget), various staff members of the House Science and Technology Committee (Louis Finkel and Dan Byers), and Legislative Director Eric Werwa of the Office of Representative Michael Honda (CA). Because the President's budget had not been released, there was limited information that these speakers were able to share. For the AAS and HEAD contingent, there were additional briefings by Eileen Friel of the NSF and Jon Morse at NASA HQ. It would seem that the NSF budget is healthy but does that translate to a healthy astrophysics budget? NASA's is not, and it still awaits confirmation of new leadership; the NSF is still in recruitment mode for head of astrophysics. Day-2 consisted of a joint morning breakfast accompanied by speeches from several senators, followed by individual meetings with Senate and House staffers/representatives/senators from one's constituent state, and for some of us more fortunate, a meeting with Dr. Richard M. Obermann, staff director of the House subcommittee on space and aeronautics of the Committee on Science and Technology, and a true friend to our profession. For the most part, it was felt by most that legislators and staff were eager to hear from the community.

    Dry agenda details aside, some of the staffers were quite negative about the importance of the NASA mission as evidenced by the quote "NASA isn't sexy anymore", made in a day-1 briefing to a large and diverse group. While it is encouraging that science has regained a prominent role in the aspirations of the Nation and the President's agenda, we have to ask ourselves, in light of the opinions expressed by some staffers on this hill visit, whether NASA and Astrophysics will even feature as a minor player in the collective consciousness of the hill -- our opinion: at best, maybe. According to these writers' perception, we seem to have fallen from the golden heights of the post-Apollo years to the modern day cautionary tale. So, while we still have friends on the hill, what message should we take away from this surprisingly negative perception, despite the overall positive message of the President's renewed interest in science and technology? Was this negativity the opinion of a minority of policy makers or is it something we should really start paying attention to as a community? The answer may be somewhere in the middle, with a strong slant towards the latter. While the new mantra is appropriately focused on energy and the climate, we should take care that astrophysics does not become dark (i.e. invisible) matter in the thoughts of those who would control our collective financial fate.

    We thank Marcos Huerta (Bahcall Public Policy Fellow) and Kevin Marvel (AAS Executive Officer) for arranging and organizing this important opportunity. We strongly encourage the Astrophysics community to 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. It is only too clear that more involvement, and constant reminders are needed.

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    4. News from NASA Headquarters - Ilana Harrus

    Report from NASA HQ Astrophysics Division

    A. RXTE keeps going

    The President's fiscal year 2010 budget request for NASA's Astrophysics Division proposes to continue operating the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) for another year. RXTE will proceed with another cycle of investigations, including valuable complementary observations to other missions such as the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Operations beyond FY 2010 will be subject to the prioritizations of the 2010 Senior Review of operating missions.

    B. President's budget announced

    NASA released Thursday the $18.69 billion President's budget request for fiscal year 2010. The budget request represents an increase of $903.6 million, or 5 percent, above funding provided in the fiscal year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act. The Astrophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) will receive a total of about $1.12 billion. This funding will allow continuation of major thrusts within the Astrophysics Division, including development of JWST and Explorer missions such as NuSTAR and ASTRO-H, operation of the existing suite of Astrophysics observatories, and the Research and Analysis Program.

    C. Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES)

    A new edition of the ROSES NRA was released in February 2009. It contains all of the information relevant to upcoming proposal deadlines. Up-to-date information on proposal deadlines can be accessed at: http://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/

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    5. HEAD in the News - Megan Watzke (w/input from Lynn Cominsky)

    November 2008-April 2009

    In the past six months, Chandra, Fermi, and Swift all continued to generate significant news coverage. The following stories helped keep high-energy astrophysics in the public eye during this period.

    In December, NASA held a phone-based press conference to announce Chandra's latest contribution to the study of dark energy: http://www.chandra.harvard.edu/press/08_releases/press_121608.html This led to articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist, and many other prominent outlets.

    At the January AAS meeting in Long Beach, Fermi's discovery of a new class of gamma-ray only pulsar was featured in a press conference. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/dozen_pulsars.html

    Also in Long Beach, two complementary, but separate Chandra results on Cas A were released. These included the first-ever 3D flythrough of a supernova remnant and the dramatic changes in Cas A over Chandra's lifetime:

    http://www.chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2009/casa/ http://www.chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2009/casa2/

    In February, a Fermi discovery of the "most extreme" gamma-ray burst ever seen was announced: B http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/high_grb.html

    Also during this month, Chandra participated in the release of the Great Observatory image unveiling for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA). This composite image of M101 was distributed to dozens of museums and science centers around the country and created a lot of local news coverage: http://www.chandra.harvard.edu/press/09_releases/press_021009.html

    On April 3rd and 4th, Swift, Fermi, Hinode, and Chandra all participated in the "Around the World with 80 Telescopes" webcast, which was part of the "100 Hours of Astronomy" program for IYA. Interestingly, Chandra's released image for the webcast, PSR B1509-58, became a hit in the blogosphere because of the "hand-like" structure seen in the pulsar wind nebula: http://www.chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2009/b1509/ This led to the story later getting picked up by CNN, msnbc.com, and other mainstream media.

    A major newsmaker from Swift came at the end of April with the announcement of the most distant gamma-ray burst yet detected at a redshift of 8.2: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/swift/bursts/cosmic_record.html This story was covered by NPR, the New York Times, and many other major outlets, helping to end this half-year of high-energy news with a bang.

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    6. Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report - Roger Brissenden (SAO) and Martin Weisskopf (MSFC)

    Chandra continued successful science operations during the last six months. In July the mission will reach the 10-year milestone, with mirror and instrument performance essentially unchanged from the first year of the mission. The symposium "Chandra's First Decade of Discovery" (Boston, 2009 September 22-25) will celebrate Chandra's science. Please register for the Science Symposium and the associated Calibration workshop at http://cxc.harvard.edu/symposium_2009/ .

    Chandra experienced no anomalies during this period; all long-term subsystem trends continued as projected. The spacecraft passed through the winter eclipse season in December with expected power and thermal performance. Due to the mild and extended solar minimum, Chandra has suffered no radiation shut-down since 2006 December.

    The Flight team uploaded 3 flight software patches to mitigate effects of long-term warming of the spacecraft. The first patch updated the on-board telescope secondary thermal database to treat a new contingency case associated with eclipses. The second enabled use of the HRC anti-coincidence shield as an auxiliary radiation monitor, in response to continued thermal degradation of the EPHIN radiation detector. The third modified a power-system parameter to avoid the eclipse flag from inadvertently toggling while the spacecraft is in sunlight. These steps will allow Chandra to continue operating safely and with high science efficiency.

    The ACIS experienced a Front-End-Processor (FEP) reset, impacting one observation, attributed to a single-event upset (SEU) like those previously encountered. The CXC updated ACIS flight software to address a number of issues, such as avoiding Back-End Processor (BEP) telemetry-packet loss under certain timing conditions and precluding a BEP reset on FEP power-down.

    Since November, Chandra's overall observing efficiency has remained close to optimal. During this period, the mission planning team responded to two fast-turnaround targets of opportunity. The science-data processing, archiving, and distribution proceeded smoothly, with time from observation to data release remaining at about a day. In March the CXC issued the first full release of the Chandra Source Catalog, available at http://cxc.harvard.edu/csc/

    The CXC received 668 Chandra Cycle-11 proposals by the March-17 deadline, plus 43 GTO proposals: This is a slight increase over Cycle 10. Cycle-11 observing time is over-subscribed by a factor of about five. The peer review will occur in Boston in June. Finally, the Chandra Press Office issued 10 press releases and 15 image releases since November. For a full listing, please see http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/ .

    We look forward to seeing you at "Chandra's First Decade of Discovery" Symposium in September!

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    7. XMM-Newton Mission News - Lynne Valencic, Lynn Cominsky and Chip McAuley

    The Eighth Call for Proposals for XMM-Newton closed in October 2008; successful submissions were announced on December 17, 2008. The Budget Process has begun, as the deadline was March 20, and results are expected by June 2009. Accepted proposals may be found online at http://xmm.esac.esa.int/external/xmm_news/otac_results/index.shtml . It is anticipated about 30% of category C targets will be scheduled.

    The XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre is organizing a workshop for May 18-20, 2009, in Madrid, Spain, entitled "Supersoft X-ray Sources - New Developments". The goal of the workshop will be to review the current status of observational and theoretical research on supersoft X-ray sources and identify the most important unresolved problems. More information regarding the meeting location and accommodations, as well as the submitted abstracts, may be found here: http://xmm.esac.esa.int/external/xmm_science/workshops/2009_science/.

    The fourth International Astronomical Consortium for High Energy Calibration (IACHEC) meeting took place in Japan during April 27-29, 2009. The results of investigations into the cross-calibrations of XMM-Newton, Chandra, and Suzaku were discussed; the presentations are available in pdf format at http://www.iachec.org/meetings/2009/. The presentations from the XMM-Newton Users Group Meeting, which took place May 6-7, 2009 and focus on instrument calibration and software, are also available at http://xmm.esac.esa.int/external/xmm_user_support/usersgroup/20090506/index.shtml.

    The number of publications using XMM-Newton data continues to increase, as does the rate at which they are published. As of the end of March, 2009, over 2300 refereed papers have been published making use of XMM-Newton; 444 of these came over the past year. The publication rate from April 2008 through March 2009 averaged a remarkable 111 papers per quarter -- this compares very well with previous years (2004-2006: 81 papers per quarter; 2006-March 2008: 100 papers per quarter). XMM-Newton's Educator Ambassadors continue to bring the satellite and its data into the classrooms by presenting workshops using XMM-Newton educational materials. Recent workshops were held at the NSTA National Conference in New Orleans, LA, and at the Independence Public Library in Kansas, as part of the "Visions of the Universe" NASA-sponsored exhibit.

    For more information about XMM-Newton, please visit the US Guest Observer Facility pages at http://xmm.gsfc.nasa.gov/ .

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    8. INTEGRAL Mission News - Peter Kretschmar (ESA-ESAC)

    The spacecraft and payload continue to operate nominally with one exception: on 19 February 2009 detector #5 of the SPI instrument failed for unknown reasons. Besides a reduction in the effective area of SPI, this loss has no major effect. The latest SPI annealing took place successfully from 20 April to 10 May 2009.

    The call for observing proposals in the AO-7 cycle was closed on 20 February with 76 proposals received. Under the new scheme recommended by the IUG all non-TOO proposals are open for sharing via data-rights proposals under certain conditions. The call for these proposals opens on 25 May with proposals due by 3 July. See http://integral.esac.esa.int for more information.

    AO-6 observations continue routinely. TOO observations were done on the blazar PKS 1510-089 following a flare as reported by FERMI and on the magnetar 1E 1547.0-5408, which showed SGR-like bursts. The latter was followed by the whole family of high-energy observatories and first results are appearing in the literature.

    Some of the recent scientific highlights include:

    • The detection of rapidly varying polarization in the 200-800 keV band for the bright GRB 041219A by D. Goetz et al. (ApJL 695, L208).
    • A deep study of the galactic micro-quasar 1E 1740.7-2942 (Bouchet et al., ApJ 693, 1871) unveiling the high-energy continuum of the low/hard state up to ~600 keV.
    • The detailed study of the hard X-ray eclipse in SS433 (Cherepashchuk et al., MNRAS accepted, arXiv:0904.3419)

    The total number of refereed publications using INTEGRAL scientific data is 449, with 41 papers in 2009 (up to end of March).

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    9. RHESSI Mission News - David Smith, UCSC

    The Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) awaits the delayed emergence of the new Solar Maximum before attempting a second anneal of its germanium detectors. It continues to study the quiet Sun at hard x-ray energies (above 3 keV) and to function as an omnidirectional detector in the 50 keV to 20 MeV range, despite reduced sensitivity due to radiation damage. Interested readers are referred to the ongoing series of RHESSI nuggets ( http://sprg.ssl.berkeley.edu/~tohban/wiki/index.php/RHESSI_Science_Nuggets ) for recent results and ideas on solar and non-solar topics. The 100th nugget, recently published, describes the origin and history of the mission.

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    10. Swift Mission News - Stefan Immler (UMd/GSFC), Lynn Cominsky (Sonoma State), & Neil Gehrels (GSFC)

    All instruments on board Swift continue to operate in good health. As of early May, Swift has observed 467 Gamma-Ray Bursts of which 426 were discovered by Swift. The TOO requests have greatly increased over the past months as a results of the communities strong interest in using Swift's multi-wavelength and fast response capabilities.

    The deadline for submitting Notice of Intents for the Swift Cycle 6 Guest Investigator program is September 16 and the deadline for submitting Cycle 6 science proposals is October 28, 2009. As during previous cycles, observing time will be made available to scientists at U.S. and non-U.S. institutions to study persistent and transient astrophysical sources in Cycle 6. In addition, funds will be made available to U.S. scientists for theoretical GRB investigations that will advance the mission return of Swift and to conduct correlative GRB observations at other wavelengths. Details of the Cycle 6 program elements are given in NASA's Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) 2009 and on the Swift web site ( http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/swift/swiftsc.html ).

    Swift Detects the Most Distant Known Object in the Universe

    On April 23, 2009, the Burst Alert Telescope on board Swift triggered on a ~10 sec duration burst with an X-ray but no optical counterpart. Rapid ground-based IR follow-up observations of GRB 090423 measured a redshift of z=8.2, which makes this burst the most distant known object in the universe, arising from an exploding star more than 13 billion light years away. The previous record holder was a burst at z=6.7 that was seen by Swift in September 2008. GRB 090423 is almost 200 million light years further away and occurred when the universe was only about 630 million years old.

    EPO News about Swift

    Swift Educator Ambassadors are supporting the International Year of Astronomy by conducting workshops in conjunction with the "Visions of the Universe" exhibit, which is appearing at 40 different libraries located in primarily rural areas. This exhibit, and special NASA-funded workshops, is bringing the excitement of astronomy into regions that usually do not see NASA personnel. One recent workshop was featured in a local newspaper from Marion Indiana.

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    11. RXTE Mission News - Jean Swank, Craig Markwardt, Frank Marshall & Tod Strohmayer (NASA/GSFC)

    The RXTE team is delighted to announce that the RXTE mission has been extended for another year (Oct. 2009 - Sept. 2010). Observing proposals will be solicited for RXTE Cycle 14, for observations in 2010. It is expected that proposals will be due in late summer 2009. More information will be announced on the RXTE web site and the 'xtenews' mailing list once plans are finalized.

    The RXTE PCA team is finalizing a new version of the PCA response matrix. This release will contain a new version of PCARMF (version 11.6), as well as updated calibration files available from CALDB. The new release will especially improve spectral fits for PCA data taken after the year 2002, thanks largely to a revised energy to channel gain calibration conducted by Nikolai Shaposhnikov. The new gain calibration allows spectral fitting down to 2.5 keV reliably during the PCA mission. It is expected that the software will be released this summer, together with a report on the new results, available from the RXTE PCA Digest page http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/xte/pca_news.html ).

    RXTE continues to discover new sources and new source behaviors. Watts reports the discovery of oscillations for the first time in a thermonuclear burst from the millisecond X-ray pulsar HETE J1900.1-2455, at a frequency just below the known pulsar frequency of 377 Hz (ATEL #2004). The new INTEGRAL source IGR J19294+1816 was found to have pulsations at 12.4 seconds (ATEL #2002). Leahy et al. (2009) report constraints on the equation of state of the millisecond X-ray pulsar XTE J1814+338 based on pulse shape fitting, which are consistent with a stiff equation of state for nuclear matter. The ASM light curve of 4U 1210-64 reveals a significant modulation at a period 6.7 days, which is suggestive of its orbital period (ATEL #1861).

    The HESS and Fermi LAT collaboration report on joint optical-TeV observations of the blazar PKS 2155-304, including RXTE monitoring in the X-ray band (2009). The observations revealed a correlation between X-ray flux and very high energy spectral index, but an unexpected lack of correlation between X-ray and very high energy gamma-ray fluxes, which is at odds with the usual synchrotron self Compton emission models. After a five year monitoring campaign using RXTE and optical data, Breedt et al. (2009) found correlated X-ray and optical emission from the Seyfert galaxy Markarian 79. On short time scales the optical emission is consistent with reprocessing of the X-ray emission in an optically thick accretion disk.

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    12. Suzaku Mission News - Koji Mukai (NASA GSFC)

    Suzaku began observing AO-4 targets in April, selected from proposals submitted to JAXA, NASA, and ESA. PIs of proposals submitted to NASA have now received individual evaluations, and successful US PIs now have the opportunity to apply for funding. However, due to a substantial decrease in available funds, NASA HQ does not intend to fund proposals with only priority C targets in this round.

    The international Suzaku project has approved the initiation of 4 Key Projects on highly magnetic neutron stars, the Galactic bulge X-ray emission, Kepler's supernova remnant, and on the relativistic Fe K line in AGN. The project has committed 2 Ms of observing time during the AO-4 period, and the respective PIs will be invited to argue for the continuation of these projects in early 2010, in competition with new Key Project proposals that may be submitted.

    The third Suzaku special issue of Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan is now in print, and Suzaku papers are appearing in other peer-reviewed journals in increasing numbers. We have now added bibliographic links from the "suzamaster" table in Browse to the ADS, and from the ADS to the Suzaku sequence that the paper is based on. If you find mistakes or omissions, please contact the Suzaku GOF.

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    13. Fermi Mission News - Julie McEnery (GSFC), Lynn Cominsky (Sonoma State), Logan Hill (Sonoma State), Francis Reddy (GSFC), Chris Shrader (GSFC), Dave Thompson (GSFC)

    The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has now been surveying the gamma-ray sky for more than six months, and operations continue to be smooth.

    Some early science highlights:

    • A dozen new gamma-ray pulsars were announced at the January AAS meeting, including seven millisecond pulsars and a number of pulsars discovered in blind searches of the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) gamma-ray data. See http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/dozen_pulsars.html for more information.
    • The most extreme gamma-ray burst in terms of total energy was detected by both the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) and LAT instruments on Fermi. ( http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/high_grb.html ).
    • The project has implemented Autonomous Repoint Requests (ARR) for particularly bright bursts. About a dozen repoints have been carried out, and two of those led to LAT detections of high-energy emission from bursts.
    • In preparation for the Cycle 2 Guest Investigator submission, the Fermi LAT team released its Bright Source List and an accompanying paper on the Active Galactic Nuclei that comprise over half the gamma-ray sources in the list. The information about these 205 bright sources is available from the Fermi Science Support Center (FSSC), at http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/data/access/lat/bright_src_list/

    Some notes from the Fermi Science Support Center:

    • Fermi public results available through the FSSC, http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/, or through the HEASARC are being expanded to include LAT fluxes from fainter flaring sources. Such sources will be added to the list of monitored sources so that all LAT observations of these sources will be included.
    • The FSSC web page ( http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/resources/multi/reporting/ ) on which observers at other wavelengths can report planned observations of potential gamma-ray sources is being used for mission planning, in order to avoid scheduling calibrations or other activities during multiwavelength observations.
    • Guest Investigator proposals received in response to the Fermi Cycle-2 NRA have been assigned to anonymous peer-review committees for evaluation. The Cycle-2 peer review will take place in late May. The results of that review will be announced in June.
    • All level-1 LAT data products will be released through the FSSC in mid-August to early-September 2009. The science analysis software and associated documentation is already available for assessment purposes through the FSSC web site.

    The Fermi Project has a new Project Scientist, Julie McEnery (Goddard). Steve Ritz is moving from Goddard to the University of California, Santa Cruz. With sorrow we report the passing of David Band, a key member of the FSSC. David's role in the development of gamma-ray burst astrophysics will be remembered every time a gamma-ray burst spectrum is modeled with a Band Function. Fermi helped fund the production of seven From Earth To The Universe (FETTU) museum quality free-standing displays, which were designed by the NASA Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) group at Sonoma State University. The displays are now making their way around the San Francisco Bay Area at various colleges, museums, and public events in celebration of the International Year of Astronomy. This has been in addition to the E/PO's regular workshops, lectures, and other normal Fermi-related outreach.

    Important upcoming Fermi mission activities (exact dates to be announced):

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    14. NuSTAR Mission News - Daniel Stern (JPL) & Fiona Harrison (Caltech)

    NuSTAR, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, is a NASA Small Explorer (SMEX) mission which will do targeted observations in the 6 to 79 keV hard X-ray window. As the first focusing hard X-ray telescope on-orbit, NuSTAR will have more than 100 times the sensitivity of any previous mission at these energies.

    NuSTAR continues to be on track for launch in August 2011. The project is now in Phase B, or the definition phase, and preparing for the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) in early June. The Key Decision Point C (KDP-C), or confirmation review, will be in early August.

    As of February, the NuSTAR launch system has been announced. NuSTAR will launch into a low Earth orbit on a Pegasus XL rocket, built by Orbital Space Corporation, from Kwajelein Atoll. Kwajalein, which is in the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific, is the world's largest coral atoll and will allow NuSTAR to have a near-equatorial (6 degree inclination) orbit. This orbit will minimize passage through the South Atlantic Anomaly, thus minimizing the radioactive background for NuSTAR.

    Preliminary response files for simulating NuSTAR observations will be available to the community through the HEASARC after the PDR.

    For more information about the NuSTAR mission, visit http://www.nustar.caltech.edu.

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    15. The International X-ray Observatory (IXO) - Michael Garcia

    Approximately 200 members of the IXO Science team braved cold and icy weather at the end of January in Boston to discuss the IXO science case. The presentations were largely based on the White Papers which were submitted to the Decadal ASTRO2010 Science Frontier Panels on Feb 15 2009. These White Papers can be found on the newly re-vamped IXO web site at http://ixo.gsfc.nasa.gov/resources/presentations/ (scroll down to February 2009). Presentations from the January Boston meeting can also be found on this site (scroll down to January 2009). Approximately 100 Boston area astronomers enjoyed much more pleasant weather in order to attend an Astro2010 Town Hall meeting hosted in part by the local IXO team. The minutes from this Town Hall will shortly appear on the Astro2010 web site.

    Also in support of the Decadal process, the IXO team submitted a response to the Request for Information from the panels. This document briefly discusses the IXO science as described in the White Papers, and also discusses the mission implementation and technical readiness. It too can be seen on the IXO web site.

    Members of the core IXO science team have made a concerted effort to give colloquia on the IXO at Universities and Research Centers this spring. If you are interested in such a colloquium, please contact the author of this article and we will endeavor to please! We have a set of slides for the one hour talk which are available for the asking, should you want or need them.

    Please visit http://ixo.gsfc.nasa.gov for more information.

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    16. LISA News - Michele Vallisneri (JPL)

    The last few months saw several conferences and workshops of particular relevance to LISA and LISA-related astrophysics. The American Physical Society meeting, held in Denver on May 2-5, covered a wide swath of gravitational-wave astronomy, with several dozen papers on theoretical and experimental topics spanning the entire gravitational wave spectrum. There were over a dozen LISA-specific contributions, including a standing-room only contributed session on LISA, three invited talks on LISA science and technology, as well as several other invited talks that discussed aspects of LISA-related physics and astrophysics.

    The Intermediate Mass Black Hole (IMBH) workshop held at the University of California, Irvine, on April 1-3, 2009, spotlighted some of the exciting developments in the field. The search for IMBHs is ongoing, via direct evidence from electromagnetic signatures of accretion onto IMBHs, and indirect comparisons of the observed structure of globular clusters with numerical simulations of cluster dynamics with or without an IMBH. At the same time, the workshop emphasized the variety of open questions, ranging from IMBH formation channels to the role of IMBHs in early cosmological history to the possible rates of IMBH coalescences in galaxy mergers. LISA's ability to detect gravitational waves from binary inspirals involving intermediate-mass black holes was highlighted as a unique probe for exploring some of these questions. Slides for the workshop talks can be seen at http://www.physics.uci.edu/IMBH/agenda.html .

    The Mar 30-Apr 1 conference on the "Observational Signatures of Black Hole Mergers" at the Space Telescope Science Institute brought together a diverse group of observational and theoretical researchers to discuss recent observations of candidate black-hole merger systems, as well as future opportunities for both space- and ground-based observations. LISA observational capabilities featured prominently in many talks, for which streaming video is available at http://www.stsci.edu/institute/itsd/information/streaming/archive/OSBHM2009 .

    The fourth round of "mock LISA data challenges" (a community-wide program to demonstrate and develop LISA data-analysis capabilities) was completed at the end of April. The latest challenge included signals from chirping Galactic binaries, spinning black holes, extreme--mass-ratio inspirals (EMRIs), cosmic-string bursts, and cosmological stochastic backgrounds. The response from the community (17 entries) was very strong: although evaluation is in progress, it is already clear that there are very good entries in every source category. For instance, multiple groups did a very good job detecting and recovering parameters for all spinning black hole binaries; several groups tackled the EMRIs, which were recovered for signal-to-noise ratios as low as 19 (quite below the conservative threshold of 30 usually assumed in the literature). A wide variety of techniques was applied to the challenge, including Markov Chain Monte Carlo, nested sampling, and genetic algorithms. A full report will be presented at the Amaldi Conference on gravitational waves June, when the data sets for the next challenge will also be released. For full details and references, see the official challenge site, http://astrogravs.nasa.gov/docs/mldc .

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    17. Meetings Calendar


    12th Marcel Grossmann Meeting on General Relativity:
    APT3: OBSERVATIONS FROM HIGH ENERGY ASTROPHYSICS SATELLITES
    Chairs: E. Pian (Trieste/Italy) & Norbert S. Schulz (MIT/USA)
    Paris - July 12 - 14, 2009
    http://space.mit.edu/home/nss/mg12.html

    Description: APT3 summarizes recent results from high energy astrophysics observations with the main focus on space based satellites and observatories. The session primarily highlights observations from missions such as CHANDRA, XMM-Newton, Suzaku, Swift, FERMI, and Integral which are related to science involving strong gravity environments as found near neutron stars and black holes but also gravity environments on large scales such as clusters of galaxies. The session also includes science programs proposed for future missions.


    TeV Particle Astrophysics 09 conference
    July 13-17, 2009
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    Menlo Park, California
    Abstract deadline: June 15, 2009

    Particle astrophysics is now a busy intersection between particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology. In 2009, the Large Hadron Collider will begin taking data and start its exploration of the TeV scale and physics beyond the Standard Model. The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (FGST) launched in June 2008, and it will have passed its one year anniversary by the time of the conference. Many results have already been reported, and there will be considerably more by the time of the conference. We expect more interesting results from Pamela and ATIC. In addition, ground-based gamma ray telescopes including HESS, MAGIC, VERITAS, MILAGRO and ARGO have been observing gamma-rays at the TeV scale and higher with unprecedented accuracy for years. We also expect new exciting results from Auger. Neutrino experiments such as Antares and IceCube are starting to run at similar and higher energies. Underground experiments that focus on dark matter direct detection, neutrino mass measurement, and gravitational wave detection, are all making rapid progress. This conference aims to understand what we can learn from the present and upcoming observational results from both the LHC and a broad range of astrophysical searches. It will provide an occasion for theorists and experimentalists to discuss the latest and upcoming results in these fields, to consider new strategies, technologies and collaborative efforts to address some of the most pressing questions in physics today, including the nature of dark matter and the origin of cosmic rays.

    The website is active and has detailed information.
    http://www-conf.slac.stanford.edu/tevpa09/ .


    NIJMEGEN09, 3rd International Summer School on Astroparticle Physics
    Place: Hotel Val Monte, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
    Dates: 19-28 August 2009
    http://nijmegen09.hef.kun.nl/

    Brief announcement: The 3rd International Summer School on Astroparticle Physics (NIJMEGEN09) is intended for graduate students and postdocs working (or starting to work) in this new interdisciplinary research domain emerging at the interface of physics and astronomy. The School will provide a fairly comprehensive coverage of modern theoretical and observational developments in astroparticle physics. Topics include: Cosmology, Cosmic Microwave Background, Gravitational Waves, Neutrinos, Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays, Dark Matter, and Dark Energy. Lectures are given in the morning while the afternoons are reserved for a special training project aimed at acquiring skills in presenting, defending and reviewing modern research proposals in astroparticle physics. The programme includes social activities and two evening lectures, presented by the distinguished scientists Gerard 't Hooft and Heino Falcke. Participation is limited to about 75 students. The working language is English. The deadline for registration is July 1st, 2009.


    Chandra Calibration Review
    21 Sep 2009, Boston, MA
    http://cxc.harvard.edu/ccr/

    The Chandra Calibration Review is held in order to disseminate and advance our understanding of the performance and capabilities of the Chandra X-ray Observatory. It is intended to share the Chandra teams' knowledge of the detectors, gratings, mirrors, and aspect system with the community while encouraging participation and feedback in the process of calibrating the observatory. Abstracts are solicited on various aspects related to Chandra calibration. This year it will be held in conjunction with Chandra's First Decade of Discovery event.


    Chandra's First Decade of Discovery
    21-25 September, 2009
    Seaport Hotel, Boston Massachusetts

    This will be the fifth in a series highlighting unique imaging and spectroscopic results from NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory. This event will highlight key science results from the first ten years of operation of the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The focus will be on results which have had the largest impact of Astrophysics, including: The Cosmic Evolution of AGN, AGN outflows, evolutionary processes in galaxy cluster, our understanding of normal galaxies including our own Galactic center. More locally, high resolution studies of compact objects, supernova remnants and star forming regions have lead to changes in our understanding of the stellar life cycle. We will also cover recent results from the XMM-Newton, Suzaku, Swift, INTEGRAL, RXTE and AGILE missions, as well as related theoretical results.

    The Symposium will include invited talks plus oral and poster contributions. The number of slots for oral presentations is limited. However, we will highlight the Posters via long breaks, with coffee and refreshments in the Poster rooms. Also, there will be an opening reception Monday evening, and a Poster viewing session Tuesday evening, both with food and drinks.

    Important Dates:
    Abstracts Requesting an Oral Presentation: 10 July
    Final Abstract Deadline: 21 August
    Hotel Reservation Deadline: 21 August
    Registration Closes: 4 September
    The most current information on the Chandra Decade meeting can be found on the web site http://cxc.harvard.edu/ChandraDecade/index.html .


    Recent Advances in Cosmology
    (21-25 September 2009, Potsdam, Germany).
    Abstract and registration deadlines: 30 June 2009.
    Websites:
    http://www.astro.uni-bonn.de/agcosmo
    http://www.aip.de/AG2009/COS.html

    Cosmology is one of the most active fields of astronomy. It inspires scientists in the neighboring fields as well as the general public. In the last decade, the discovery of cosmic acceleration (and thus the need for dark energy) fostered the attention of many scientists on this branch of astrophysics. Recent progress in studying the large-scale structure of the universe and the physics of the intergalactic medium is strongly driven by the advent of multi-object spectrographs on large aperture telescopes. Advances in cosmology in general will also build on wide-field imaging, as put in place in major upcoming surveys, as well as new space telescopes, covering the electromagnetic spectrum from radio to X-rays, gamma-rays and more messengers.

    In the International Year of Astronomy and with Planck having delivered first data by then, it is timely to hold a splinter meeting at the AG-Tagung on the recent progress and future perspectives in cosmology from observations, simulations and theory.


    Nonlinear Processes in Astrophysical Plasmas: Particle Acceleration,
    Magnetic Field Amplification, and Radiation Signatures (Conference)
    September 28 -- October 2, 2009
    KITP, Santa Barbara
    http://www.kitp.ucsb.edu/activities/auto/?id=975

    Particle acceleration in shocks is the cornerstone of our interpretation of many nonthermal astrophysical sources. Due to the intrinsic plasma nonlinearities, the acceleration process and its associated phenomena, such as the generation of magnetic fields, are notoriously difficult to unravel. However, the influx of new data and the development of new numerical and analytical tools make it an opportune time to reconsider the progress. This conference will address recent achievements and challenges in understanding nonlinear phenomena associated with astrophysical plasmas. The subjects will include:

    • Particle acceleration in astrophysical shocks, and the nonlinear feedback of particle acceleration on shock structure and evolution.
    • Processes leading to the amplification and generation of magnetic fields.
    • Results and methods of simulation of nonlinear plasma phenomena, including kinetic, hybrid, MHD and test-particle approaches.
    • Observational inferences and consequences of nonlinear plasma behavior, including supernova remnants, pulsar winds, AGNs, cluster shocks and Gamma-ray bursts.
    • Recent results from high-energy missions and telescopes.

    (This is a conference associated with the KITP program on Particle Acceleration in Astrophysical Plasmas)


    THE BRIGHT GAMMA-RAY SKY
    29 September - 1 October, 2009
    Frascati (Italy), ASDC-ESRIN

    The Workshop is aimed at providing an overview of the most relevant recent discoveries in gamma-ray astrophysics, with particular emphasis on the current gamma-ray missions (AGILE and FERMI) and on the related radio, optical, X-ray and TeV observations of cosmic sources. We will focus also on how to strengthen the multifrequency response to alerts originating from the gamma-ray experiments.

    Talks will cover several topics including:
    * High energy properties and modelling of AGNs with emphasis on the brightest gamma-ray blazars;
    * Our Galaxy: high-resolution gamma-ray observations and diffuse emission;
    * Pulsars and pulsar wind nebulae;
    * Microquasars, Galactic compact objects and unidentified transients;
    * Colliding Wind Binaries;
    * GRBs;
    * Terrestrial Gamma-Ray Flashes.

    A special session will be devoted to the discussion of current and future multifrequency programs for the AGILE and FERMI missions. http://agile.asdc.asi.it/
    http://agile.iasf-roma.inaf.it/


    Cosmic Chemical Evolution
    October 5-7, 2009
    St. Michael's, MD

    The Xenia team would like to invite you to participate in a workshop on "Cosmic Chemical Evolution: Probing Abundances and Structure Evolution from the dark ages to the present", October 5-7, 2009 at quaint St. Michael's, (http://www.stmichaelsmd.org/ ). The meeting will focus mainly on the use of Gamma Ray Bursts and Galaxy Clusters as probes of the structure of the Cosmic Web, from the epoch of the first stars and galaxies, throughout the era of cluster formation to the cosmic filaments in the present era. In addition the workshop will address a wide variety of topics of chemodynamics with emphasis on galactic evolution, feedback processes, Supernova Remnants, as well as on searches for light dark matter and counterparts for gravitational waves.

    We have reserved a block of 60 rooms at Harbourtowne Resort and Conference Center ( http://www.harbourtowne.com/ ) until roughly one month prior to the meeting at a package deal. All participants will be required to make their own reservations. More information on the meeting will appear by the end of May at the Xenia mission URL ( http://sms.msfc.nasa.gov/xenia/ ).

    For the Xenia team
    C. Kouveliotou
    D. Hartmann


    The Galactic Center: A Window to the Nuclear Environment of Galaxies
    (October 19-23, 2009, Shanghai, China)

    In the present Universe, the majority of supermassive black holes in galactic nuclei are in a low-luminosity state. Understanding the physical nature of this state and its connection to the nuclear environment is central to the study of galaxy structure and evolution. The Galactic Center Workshop 2009 will be devoted to the presentation and discussion of recent observational and theoretical results on low- luminosity galactic nuclei. In particular, the center of the Milky Way will be emphasized to give a close-up view of such a nucleus, resolving structures from scales of hundreds of parsecs down to a few milliparsecs, and thus to explore the implications for our understanding of other galactic nuclei. Developments in the study of low-luminosity galactic nuclei in nearby galaxies will also be highlighted to provide complementary perspectives -- global and relatively unobscured -- which are particularly important for investigating the relationship between nuclear activity and the galactic "eco-system".

    The workshop is aimed to address a range of scientific topics related to SMBHs and galactic nuclear environment:
    * PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL PROCESSES IN THE CENTRAL MOLECULAR ZONE
    * STAR FORMATION IN CIRCUMNUCLEAR REGIONS
    * STELLAR DYNAMICS IN THE PRESENCE OF THE GALACTIC BLACK HOLE
    * THE SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLE: ACCRETION, SPIN AND STRONG GRAVITY
    * HIGH-ENERGY DIAGNOSTICS OF GALACTIC NUCLEAR ACTIVITY
    * SMBH AND STELLAR FEEDBACK ON THE NUCLEAR ENVIRONMENT

    In addition, we propose to have daily discussions/mini-debates to focus on persistent issues facing GC studies and to raise new challenging questions. The preliminary plan is to solicit and post a set of issues to be discussed and debated so that interested individuals can get prepared.

    The conference will be held at the Good Hope Hotel, which is close to the headquarters of the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory. It is located in one of the major commercial centers of Shanghai, so there are various restaurants and bars nearby. The workshop will cover 5 days, October 19-23, with a 4.5 full-day science program. A half-day tour (Wed 21 afternoon) will be arranged to the small ancient town of Zhu-Jia-Jiao in the suburb of Shanghai and to visit the Bund. The banquet will be held that evening on a tour boat on the Huang-Pu river, with sightseeing after the banquet along the Bund.

    More information is available on the workshop website, http://www.shao.ac.cn/gc2009/


    First Fermi Symposium,
    Location: Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.,
    Dates: 2-5 November, 2009.
    Web site: http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/symposium/2009/

    The 2009 Fermi Symposium is dedicated to results and prospects for scientific exploration of the Universe with the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and related studies. The symposium comes shortly after the Fermi data release, offering an opportunity for the astrophysical community to share in the excitement of discoveries being made with the Fermi instruments. 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. The meeting will be held in downtown Washington, D.C,. near the U.S. Capitol Building.


    "5 Years of Swift"
    18.-20. November 2009
    The Atherton Hotel
    State College, Pennsylvania

    The idea of this meeting is to bring together scientists who have worked with Swift data in the last 5 years to talk about science results and discuss strategies for the future. Swift has become one of NASA's most successful mission. Although Swift's primary task still is to observe Gamma-Ray Bursts, it is one of the most versatile missions ever flown. With its multiwavelength and fast scheduling capacity it is ideal for multiwavelengths and/or monitoring programs. Because of this it has been used for AGN, supernovae, variable stars, transients, comets, etc. Swift has observed the closest objects (comets) and with GRB 050904 and 080913B some of the most distant objects in the Universe. By 2009 we will also have new opportunities for Swift with increasing capacities in the GeV and TeV energy ranges with FERMI, AGILE VERITAS, MAGIC and HESS, and by gravitational wave detectors such as LIGO, VIRGO and GEO.

    We will have a mixture of invited talks and contributed talks and posters aiming for roughly 100-120 participants. We will send out further announcements including webpages about this meeting in the future.


    High-resolution X-ray spectroscopy: past, present and future
    Utrecht, the Netherlands
    March 15-17, 2010

    The 10th anniversary of the three currently active X-ray spectrometers on XMM-Newton and Chandra is taken as an opportunity to organize for 2010, at the historic main university 'Academy Building' in Utrecht, an international conference highlighting the state of the art and future prospects of high-resolution astrophysical X-ray spectroscopy. The first announcement will be made around July 1st, 2009, with an abstract deadline in November. Stay tuned to the conference web site: http://www.sron.nl/xray2010/


    Annual HEAD Schedule

    January 20

    Treasurer's report due to AAS office (Kevin Marvel marvel@aas.org)

    June 15

    Chair requests rooms for HEAD sessions, Rossi Prize lecture, and business meeting for January AAS meeting from AAS conference coordinator (Kelli Gilmore: gilmore@aas.org)

    July 1

    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 tinch@aas.org)

    August 1

    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).

    September 15

    Secretary-Treasurer sends email to division members requesting nominations for Rossi prize.

    October 15

    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 division members.

    October 15

    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.

    November 10

    Chair sends annual report to AAS Secretary for discussion at January AAS council meeting. Also to Secretary-Treasurer for next HEAD newsletter.

    December 1

    Chair prepares agenda for January HEAD business meeting and sends to Executive Committee.

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    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:




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