Contact information for all current HEAD Executive Committee members may be found at the end of this newsletter.
Don't forget to vote! All HEAD members received an email ballot with the subject line "AAS HIGH ENERGY ASTROPHYSICS DIVISION (HEAD) 2009 BALLOT : RETURN BY DECEMBER 28, 2009" that was sent on November 5, 2009 by the secretary-treasurer. Please reply to this email before December 28, 2009. At the time of distribution of this newsletter, approximately 23 percent of HEAD members have voted.
The next HEAD meeting will be March 1-4, 2010 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii's Big Island. We have received more than 500 abstracts and anticipate having the program available by approximately January 15, which is the deadline for early registration. The late abstract deadline is January 25. Invited speakers will be posted once the full slate is confirmed (some invitations are still in process). Please remember to book your hotel room ASAP as the conference rate room block will likely run out. Please visit
http://www.confcon.com/head2010/for more information.
A grant application is pending for funds to help with travel costs for early-career
scientists (less than 3 years after PhD) and graduate students. We expect to hear about this very soon and will alert the membership. If you are a student or early-career postdoc and are not sure if you can afford the full cost of the trip, please do go ahead and book your hotel room and make arrangements as we likely will be able to offer some assistance. There will be an application process (a brief justification must be provided).
As a reminder from last time, we anticipate having a special election in January regarding three proposed by-law changes.
These include lengthening the terms of HEAD EC members from 2 years to 3 years, a change from email voting to a more secure web-based voting scheme and removal of some out-dated language concerning 'transferral of abstracts' that is currently present in the bylaws. The AAS council unanimously approved these changes in Pasadena during the Summer 2009 AAS meeting. We will present the bylaw changes at the HEAD business meeting Tuesday, January 5th in Washington, D.C. The special election will occur sometime in late January/early February. Please see the May 2009 newsletter for details concerning the bylaw changes.
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. We have received some feedback concerning also maintaining $10 dues for emeritus members. At this time, the HEAD EC has not changed the dues and will continue to consider our options. Any changes would occur during the 2011 membership year or later. Please see the May 2009 newsletter for a detailed description of HEAD finances.
The times and locations for HEAD events at the January 2010 AAS meeting in Washington, D.C. are given below. Please double-check the program updates for any last-minute room changes.
This year's Rossi prize lecture will be given by Jeffrey McClintock, Ron
Remillard and Charles Bailyn on the topic of "Strong Gravity and the Masses of Stellar Black Holes." It will occur on Wednesday, January 6, 4:30 PM - 5:20 PM (Session 113) in the Marriot Ballroom.
There are two special HEAD sessions at the January 2010 AAS meeting in
Washington, D.C. These are as follows:
The HEAD business meeting will occur on Tuesday, January 5 from 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM, session 212, in Thurgood Marshall West. Please join us to discuss items such as bylaw changes, plans for future meetings, etc.
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.
Those of us who have served on prize selection committees know that the pool of nominees can be surprisingly small, even for prestigious prizes. But this was emphatically NOT the case for the first HEAD Dissertation Prize, which is being awarded to Dr. Brian Metzger for his thesis on "Theoretical Models of Gamma-ray Burst Central Engines." Brian is currently an Einstein Fellow at Princeton and did his Ph.D. at Berkeley under the supervision of Eliot Quataert. Competition for the prize was stiff - not at all an easy decision for the Executive Committee, which serves as the selection committee. Not only did we receive more nominations than we ever imagined, but also we were impressed by the diverse themes of the research and its extremely high quality.
The establishment of a HEAD dissertation prize was my "campaign promise" four years ago when I stood for election. The idea was not only to recognize specific examples of cutting-edge research in high-energy astrophysics, but also to remind the community of the importance of "new blood" to the continued vitality of our field. To these ends, Brian will deliver an invited talk at the 2010 HEAD meeting on the Kona coast of Hawaii (March 1-4, 2010), which I hope many of you are planning to attend. In addition to the 12 "regular" sessions, each anchored by an invited talk followed by several contributed talks selected by the SOC, there will be 9 "special" sessions proposed and organized by members of the community. And of course there will be ample opportunities to network in beautiful surroundings. To accommodate the avalanche (or lava flow?) of exciting new results, we've extended to meeting to four days - we hope you won't mind spending an extra half-day in Hawaii!
Generous sponsorship from NASA and NSF, as well as partners in the aerospace industry, should help to make the meeting more affordable, particularly for early-career scientists. In addition to subsidizing the registration fee for all participants (with a discount for students), we hope to be able to waive registration fees for some grad students and early-career postdocs (see the conference website for details). We are also trying to secure funding for grants to offset the costs of childcare during the meeting - this would be a first for a HEAD meeting!
Report from NASA HQ
The Astrophysics Division is preparing for the Senior Review for its
operating missions that will be held in March 2010. NASA will use the
findings from the Senior Review to 1) Prioritize the operating missions and
projects; 2) Define an implementation approach to achieve astrophysics
strategic objectives; 3) Provide programmatic direction to the missions and
projects concerned for 2011 and 2012; and 4) Issue initial funding
guidelines for 2013 and 2014 (to be revisited in the 2012 Senior Review).
The Senior Review complements the standing working groups and other peer
reviews by conducting an independent, comparative evaluation of missions in
extended operations. The review evaluates proposals for additional funding
to continue operations of missions in extended operations phase.
The 2010 Senior Review will assess the scientific merits of eleven
astrophysics missions - Chandra, GALEX, RXTE, Spitzer, Swift, WISE and WMAP
and the U.S. components of participation in INTEGRAL, Planck, Suzaku, and
XMM-Newton. Performance factors are to include scientific productivity,
technical status, data dissemination, future plans and expectations, and
The deadline for proposals is Feb 8, 2010.
For more information on the process, please visit:
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4. HEAD in the News - Megan Watzke (w/input from Lynn Cominsky)
If there was a common theme in news coverage of high-energy astrophysics in the past six months, it was enormous distance. More specifically, the fleet of telescopes -- including Chandra, Fermi, and Swift - all made remarkable and newsworthy discoveries at some of the earliest epochs of the Universe.
In June, a Chandra press conference featured results on the "coming of age" of galaxies and black holes in Lyman-alpha blobs ( http://www.chandra.harvard.edu/press/09_releases/press_062409.html ). This story was picked up by the New York Times, Associated Press, and a myriad of online sources. A few months later, researchers using Chandra data along with ground-based infrared observations announced the discovery of the most distant galaxy cluster. This cluster, JKCS041, is thought to be some 10.2 billion light years away ( http://www.chandra.harvard.edu/press/09_releases/press_102209.html ).
This fall, both Fermi and Swift received coverage for discoveries in the distant Universe. As part of the press conference covering Fermi's first year of operations ( http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/first_year.html ), scientists announced finding a gamma-ray burst at a distance of 7.3 billion light years. Fermi showed that two photons of different energies from the burst arrived at a mere 0.9 seconds apart, thus providing another victory for Einstein and his theory of relativity. This result was also picked up in the New York Times and elsewhere.
Swift researchers also got into the act with the announcement of another gamma-ray burst that broke all sorts of distance records ( http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/swift/bursts/cosmic_record.html ). This GRB, initially discovered on April 23, 2009, was found at a distance of 13 billion light years away, a mere 600 million years after the Big Bang. NPR, Voice of America, and other outlets carried the story.
Also during this time period, Chandra celebrated its 10th anniversary ( http://www.chandra.harvard.edu/press/09_releases/press_072309.html ). XMM-Newton weighed in the case for intermediate-mass black holes ( http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMZGM1P0WF_index_0.html ). Integral provided detailed observations of the first new soft gamma-ray repeater in ten years ( http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=45022 ). And, Suzaku detected X-ray emitting gas at a galaxy cluster's outskirts ( http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/astro-e2/news/xray_cluster.html ).
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5. Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report - Roger Brissenden (SAO) and
Martin Weisskopf (MSFC)
Chandra passed 10-years of successful science operations in July with
with continued excellent mirror and instrument performance. The
milestone was celebrated with a wide-ranging series of papers at
"Chandra's First Decade of Discovery" Symposium held in Boston,
September 22-25. The Symposium was attended by over three hundred scientists.
In addition all five astronauts that supported the launch including the
Commander Eileen Collins also took part in a very fascinating historical
Chandra experienced one anomaly during this period due to an
unexpected drop in the pressure reading of the momentum unloading
propulsion system (MUPS) tank. After a detailed analysis, the MUPS
thrusters were fired and the test showed that the pressure drop was
entirely due to a faulty pressure transducer and not the more serious
possibility of a leak in the tank.
We turned off a heater located on the Science
Instrument Module to create additional margin in
control of the ACIS focal plane temperature. All long-term
spacecraft subsystem trends continue as projected.
Since May, Chandra's overall observing efficiency has remained close
to optimal. During this reporting period, the mission planning team responded
to one fast-turnaround target of opportunity. The science-data
processing, archiving, and distribution proceeded smoothly, with time
from observation to data release remaining at about a day.
The CXC hosted the first Einstein Fellows Symposium in October with
excellent presentations by 23 current Fellows covering a wide range of
topics in observational and theoretical astrophysics research. These are
on-line and well worth perusing.
The Cycle-11 peer review was held in June and the Cycle-12 call for
proposals is scheduled for 15 December, 2009. As part of this call the
correction for the contamination build-up on the ACIS filters has been
Finally, the Chandra Press Office issued 9 press releases and 15 image
releases since May. For a full listing, please see
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6. XMM-Newton Mission News - Lynne Valencic, Lynn Cominsky and Chip McAuley
The Ninth Call for Proposals for XMM-Newton closed in October 2009; successful
submissions will be announced in December or January. As a result of the last Senior
Review, no funds for successful proposals are available, though a positive result from
the Review this spring may allow for some funding. For more information, please
contact the Chair of the XMM-Newton Users' Group, Craig Sarazin, or the U.S. Project
Scientist, Steve Snowden.
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 October, 2009, over 2500 refereed
papers have been published making use of XMM-Newton. The publication rate
continues to be over 1 paper per day.
The implementation of SAS in Hera continues to progess; those who are interested in
processing their XMM-Newton data via the internet are encouraged to try Hera and
provide feedback to the GOF. More information about Hera can be found at
For more information about XMM-Newton, please visit the US Guest Observer Facility
pages at http://xmm.gsfc.nasa.gov/ .
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7. INTEGRAL Mission News - Christoph Winkler (ESA-ESTEC) and Steve Sturner (NASA GSFC)
The AO-7 observing cycle has begun on 16 October 2009 and will last
until 31 December 2010. The AO-7 observing programme will be based on
a total of 50 approved open time observing proposals. They include 19
key programmes with exposure times above 1 Ms, a maximum of 19 ToO
observations (if trigger criteria are met) and 5 programmes related to
GRB research. As always, the community can also request ToO
observations on new phenomena, i.e. not covered by existing AO-7 ToO
programmes. In addition, 62 data right proposals have been selected
to obtain data rights on sources or sky areas contained in the very
large FOV of the accepted 26 non-ToO observations. See
for more information. The Call for AO-8 observations will be released
in March 2010.
As with previous INTEGRAL AO cycles, NASA has funded US scientists with
successful AO-7 observing proposals via the NASA INTEGRAL Guest Investigator Program.
Thus far in AO-7, 8 US scientists have been funded with additional funding planned
for ToO observations and successful data rights proposals.
On 1st October 2009, ESA's Science Programme Committee has re-
confirmed the extension of the INTEGRAL mission science operations
until 31 December 2012, subject to a review in one year from now.
Some recent scientific highlights since the last report in May 2009
Some of the recent scientific highlights include:
- The 4th IBIS/ISGRI soft gamma-ray survey catalogue containing 331
new sources compared to the 3rd catalogue (A. Bird et al., ApJS
accepted, 2009, arXiv:0910.1704
- The fraction of compton-thick sources in an INTEGRAL
complete AGN sample is estimated to > 24% at low redshifts. (A. Malizia et al.,
MNRAS, accepted, 2009, arXiv:0906.5544
- Detailed high resolution spectroscopy of Al26 emission throughout
the Galaxy (W. Wang et al., A&A 496, 713 (2009), P. Martin et al., A&A
- The peculiar nature of the hard X-ray eclipse in SS433 from
INTEGRAL observations (A. Cherepashchuk et al., MNRAS 397, 479, 2009)
The total number of refereed publications using INTEGRAL scientific
data is 478, with 70 papers in 2009 (up to end of August).
The nature of the Galactic annihilation radiation (R. E. Lingenfelter
et al., Phys. Rev. Let., 103, 031301, 2009), J. C. Higdon et al. ApJ,
698, 350, 2009).
Planning has started to organize the 8th INTEGRAL workshop, 27-30 Sep
2010 in Dublin/Ireland.
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8. Swift Mission News - Stefan Immler (UMd/GSFC), Lynn Cominsky (Sonoma
State), & Neil Gehrels (GSFC)
Swift Celebrates Five Years
There was a very successful workshop on Swift science at The
Pennsylvania State University on November. 18-20, 2009, in celebration of the
fifth anniversary of Swift's 2004 launch . All instruments aboard Swift
continue to operate in good health. As of early November, Swift has observed
526 Gamma-Ray Bursts, 476 of which were discovered by the mission. Other highlights of the past year include a
press conference at AAS on the nature of dark GRBs and a large-scale
ultraviolet image mosaic of M31 which was chosen for APOD (See HEAD in the
Swift Guest Investigator Program
The deadline for submitting scientific/technical proposals
for the Swift Cycle 6 Guest Investigator (GI) program was September. 30. NASA
received 169 proposals for Swift Cycle 6 (a 10% increase compared to the
previous Cycle 5), requesting a total observing time of 16.7 Ms and $4.8M in
funds for 1,244 targets. About 79% of all proposals are non-GRB proposals, 21%
of which are Target of Opportunity proposals. About 25% of all targets are part
of a monitoring campaign, requesting two or more observations of the same
The Peer Review will be held in December to evaluate the
merits of all submitted proposals and choose those that are recommended for
funding and observing time. The accepted targets will shape the science program
for Swift's seventh year. Cycle 6 observations and funding will commence on or
around April 1, 2010, and will last approximately 12 months.
The Swift GI program will continue to solicit proposals in
GRB and non-GRB research during Cycle 7. Among the changes for Cycle 7 are
fewer observing constraints and new opportunities to allow GRB ToOs and
(limited) changes to Swift operations. Details of the Cycle 7 program elements
will be given in NASA's Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences
(ROSES) 2010, to be released in February 2010. The deadline for submitting
Cycle 7 proposals will be September 29, 2010.
10,000 GCN Circulars
The GCN (Gamma-ray bursts Coordinates Network; http://gcn.gsfc.nasa.gov/)
serves the GRB community with automatic Notices, human-generated Circulars and,
since 2006, more in-depth Reports. These communications disseminate information
to about 1,000 subscribers worldwide. On October 8, the GCN system logged its
Swift E/PO News
The popular Newtons Laws poster sets featuring Swift
continue to fly off the shelves at Sonoma State University. Standing-room-only
workshops featuring these posters have been conducted by the Swift Educator
Ambassadors at national and regional science conferences and by SSU E/PO staff.
One new venue this year was the Satellites in Education conference, held in Los
Angeles on August 13–15, 2009. Over 100 pre- and in-service teachers
attended, and the Newtons Laws workshop was very well received. For the first
time in the 22-year history of the conference, astrophysics content was
included, courtesy of the SSU E/PO group representing the Swift, Fermi and
XMM-Newton missions. http://www.sated.org.
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9. RXTE Mission News - Jean Swank, Craig Markwardt, Frank Marshall & Tod Strohmayer (NASA/GSFC)
The Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) will celebrate its 14th launch
anniversary on December 30, 2009. The spacecraft and detectors
continue to perform well, and to produce important scientific results.
RXTE has been carrying out Cycle 13 observations since January 2009,
and Cycle 14 observations will commence at the start of the new year.
Beginning with Cycle 13, RXTE's observing program includes a "Core
Program" of long standing monitoring and target of opportunity
programs and an "Open-time Program" selected by peer review. All RXTE
data from Cycle 13 on now immediately become public, there is no
longer a proprietary program. In August, 82 proposals for the
Open-time Program were received with requests for more than twice the
available observing time. The Cycle 14 review was completed in late
October, and the results will be released in late November.
An RXTE workshop was held as a splinter session following the Fermi
Symposium in Washington, D.C. on November 5, 2009. Short talks from
community members about exciting RXTE science were given. The program
can be seen at http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/xte/workshop.html .
The RXTE Users Group also gathered at this time to discuss the
progress of RXTE's programs, the value of continuing RXTE
observations, and plans to propose to NASA's Senior Review for
Recent months have seen RXTE studies of three new black hole
the identification of two new accreting ms pulsars;
RXTE has also been timing the new magnetar, SGR 0418+5729:
, as well as observing
several new and recurring high-field X-ray pulsars, including;
RXTE has also been
making simultaneous observations with Fermi of the recent flaring
activity in Mrk 421: http://www.astronomerstelegram.org/?read=2292
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10. Suzaku Mission News - Koji Mukai (NASA GSFC)
On June 23, 2009, one of the three operating XIS instruments (XIS0)
was damaged, probably due to a micrometeorite hit. The damage is limited
to about 1/8th of the total imaging area of the CCD near the edge of
the field of view, so the majority of observations (those of point sources
and of small extended sources) are unaffected. Otherwise, both the
spacecraft and the scientific instruments continue to function well.
We are pleased to note that the rate of publication of Suzaku results,
particularly by the US users, has increased markedly. As of this writing,
we count 38 papers dated 2009 in Astrophysical Journal alone that are based
on Suzaku data. This number is comparable to the number of US Suzaku
proposals that are carried out annually. While this is encouraging,
particularly in view of the upcoming NASA Senior Review of its operating
astrophysics missions, we ask Suzaku users the following:
- If you are the PI of a Suzaku proposal or are analyzing archival data,
please complete your data analysis and submit your results to a refereed
journal as quickly as possible (preferably before the end of March 2010),
and notify the US Suzaku GOF when you've done so. Critical measures of the
productivity of a mission include the fraction of data that has led to
publications and the number of publications.
- If you have a Suzaku result that you believe is newsworthy, please
bring it to our attention. GSFC and NASA Headquarters both have capable
press offices eager to publicize exciting scientific findings. Members
of the GOF staff can serve as the interface with the press offices.
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11. Fermi Mission News -
Julie McEnery (GSFC), Chris Shrader (GSFC), Dave Thompson (GSFC), Francis Reddy (GSFC) & Lynn Cominsky (Sonoma State)
Fermi's Fabulous First Year
The conference program is online at http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/symposium/2009.
During the Symposium, conference attendees were treated to a special night at
the Kennedy Center featuring the premiere of "Cosmic Reflection," a new
symphony from composer Nolan Gasser. With accompanying narration written by
Lawrence Krauss and concert sponsor Pierre Schwob and
a video produced by GSFC's Rich Melnick,
this multimedia event was a truly unique and inspiring experience.
Scientific highlights of the first year include the
discovery of two new classes of gamma-ray pulsars – millisecond pulsars
and gamma-ray only pulsars, spatially resolved studies of supernova remnants at
GeV energies, discovery of high energy gamma-ray
emission from starburst galaxies, detection of over 250 gamma-ray bursts with 9
observed above 100 MeV, and important limits on
violations of Lorentz invariance through observations of GRB 090510. Some of
these results were featured in a press conference held at NASA Headquarters on
Oct. 28, 2009. (See HEAD in the News for more information.)
Fermi Guest Investigator Program
The deadline for submitting scientific/technical proposals for the Fermi
Cycle 3 Guest Investigator (GI) program is rapidly approaching. Proposals are being accepted for investigations starting in mid- August 2010 for the third
year of Fermi's science observations. Letters of Intent are due November 16,
2009, and proposals are due February 5, 2010.
Fermi GIs can propose to:
- Analyze GBM or LAT event data from the beginning
of science operations;
- Carry out pointed LAT observations. However,
proposers should be aware that the probable low additional scientific benefit
of such observations will require very strong science justifications.
- Support correlated
observations of gamma-ray sources at other wavelengths that are
directly relevant to Fermi;
- Perform theoretical studies of gamma-ray sources;
- Obtain and analyze data from NRAO and NOAO
facilities in support of Fermi-relevant science through cooperative agreements
between NASA and the national observatories.
For more details, see fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/proposals/
Data Releases and Data Analysis Workshops
The LAT gamma-ray event data from were made public on August
25, 2009. All data from both LAT
and GBM are made available from the Fermi Science Support Center within 72
hours (and usually much more quickly).
Delivery of higher level
data products: LAT light curves for selected sources, GBM occultation lightcurves etc continue as before. For more details see: http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/data/access/
The Science Support Center is planning a sequence of
regional data analysis workshops. Each workshop consists of a one-day hands-on
tutorial session covering basic analysis methods for data obtained by the Fermi
Gamma-Ray Space Telescope. Further information on dates and locations for these
workshops will be announced on the Fermi-news mailing list
( http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/resources/newsletter/ )
Fermi E/PO News
The Fermi first-year skymap was
showcased in Science on a Sphere as part of an educator?s workshop held in
conjunction with the 2009 Fermi Science Symposium. A new video ?Einstein?s
Cosmic Speed Limit? explaining the Lorentz invariance results, and produced by
NASA Goddard, can be seen at the Fermi portal (www.nasa.gov/Fermi) and even
YouTube ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mkKhn53L68).
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12. 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 C/D, or the mission design and development
phase, and preparing for the Mission Critical Design Review (CDR) in early
Fabrication of the science instrument subsystems is underway, with instrument
integration starting in April 2010. Specifically, on the optics,
Goddard is more than halfway done with flight glass production. The multilayer
coating recipe has been finalized and flight optics coating is on
schedule at the Danish Technical University, DTU-Space in Copenhagen,
Denmark. Columbia University, where the optics assembly will take
place, is currently finishing the final test modules to evaluate the
flight assembly protocols and will shortly begin the first flight
For more information about the NuSTAR mission, including details
about the mast, launch vehicle, and detectors, visit
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13. The International X-ray Observatory (IXO) - Michael
The IXO team has been largely occupied with the Decadal (Astro2010)
process since our last report in the HEAD newsletter. We have
responded to two separate 'Requests for Information', and were invited
to make a presentation to the sub-committee on Electromagnetic
Observations from Space at the June 2009 AAS meeting. You can find
this presentation, along with our other presentations and submissions
to the Decadal, on the IXO web site at http://ixo.gsfc.nasa.gov , under the
'resources' link. One item developed for the Decadal which you might
find particularly useful is the 'IXO Quick Reference Guide', which you
can find at: http://ixo.gsfc.nasa.gov/technology/spacecraftQG.html
A hearty THANK YOU to all of those (including many from Europe and
Japan) who helped prepare these important inputs to the Decadal
panels. It truly was a team effort. The equivalent process (the
Cosmic Visions 2015) has begun in Europe, with presentations in Oct
and Dec by European industry partners on the design of the mission. A
concerted science writing effort as part of the input to that process
is expected to start next spring.
As well as supporting the Decadal (and CV) processes, the technology
teams have been hard at work making progress on the technologies need
for IXO! Tests on a limited section of a stack of silicon pore optics
show an improvement in the angular resolution to ~10 arc sec, from the
earlier 17 arc sec. Mandrels used to form the slumped glass mirror
segments have been polished to the ~2 arcsec level, and the best
mirror segments now being made are at the ~10 arcsec level. The
calorimeter team has manufactured the first sets flight-sized 'inner'
(=32x32 pixel, 2 arcmin FOV) arrays and measured 2.7eV resolution on
them, and is investigating several designs to populate the 'outer'
array which will bring the FOV to 5x5 arcmin. Future calorimeter activities
include making refinements to the fabrication process in order to meet
the design goals and increasing the MUX bandwidth to handle the degree
of multiplexing assumed for XMS.
Please visit http://ixo.gsfc.nasa.gov for more
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14. LISA News - Michele Vallisneri (JPL)
Last summer saw more conferences and workshops of relevance to LISA and LISA-related astrophysics. The 8th Edoardo Amaldi
Conference on Gravitational Waves, held in New York City on June 21-26, covered the entire field of gravitational-wave
astronomy, current and future detectors, data analysis, astrophysical sources,
and opportunities for multimessenger astronomy. There were many contributions on LISA and LISA Pathfinder, including a plenary session with eight talks, ~20 parallel-session talks, and ~20 posters on topics ranging from the astrophysics of
LISA sources to LISA Pathfinder technology. Talk slides and posters can be found
The 12th Marcel Grossmann Meeting on theoretical and experimental general relativity was held in Paris on July 12-18. It included several parallel sessions on gravitational-wave sources as well as space- and ground-based detectors. The program and talk slides are at http://www.icra.it/MG/mg12/en
The astro-gr@LISA workshop, held in Barcelona on September 7-11, was the fifth in a successful series that aims at bringing together astrophysicists, cosmologists, relativists, and data analysts to build new collaborations focused on the interpretation of gravitational-wave observations for astronomy and fundamental physics. These workshops have an open format with ample time for interaction; this
year the discussion centered on extreme--mass-ratio inspirals and on the possibility of observing intermediate-mass black holes with LISA. Talk slides and streaming video can be found at http://www.aei.mpg.de/~pau/programme_LISA_Astro-GR@BCN.html
For a long time, removing laser frequency noise from the gravitational-wave signal readout was seen as one of the greatest challenges to the LISA measurement. Earlier this year, an international team of experts released a white paper summarizing the significant progress made in this area (ESA document LISA-JPL-TN-823,
2009; e-mail email@example.com for a copy). The main conclusion of the white paper is that the LISA requirements on laser frequency noise can be met
with orders of magnitude to spare. To achieve this noise reduction, the baseline
plan adopts a combination of three suppression techniques: the prestabilization
of the laser, its further stabilization by locking it to the LISA arm lengths,
and a post-processing technique known as Time Delay Interferometry (TDI).
The LISA interferometry group at JPL has built a testbed to demonstrate TDI experimentally and to develop the LISA phasemeter, the primary LISA science instrument. TDI involves forming linear combinations of phase measurements recorded at specific times, which are determined by the light travel time between the LISA spacecraft. When TDI is implemented correctly, the resulting combinations are free
from both laser and clock frequency fluctuations, yet they preserve the gravitational wave signal. In 2008, the group performed the first experimental demonstration of TDI; recently the testbed reached a sensitivity similar to the total noise budget, and it has demonstrated the suppression of laser frequency noise by
a factor of 10^9, and of clock noise by a factor of 5x10^4.
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15. Astro-H Mission News - Richard Kelley (NASA GSFC)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's
Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science (JAXA/ISAS) is developing a major
new high-energy astrophysics observatory.
Astro-H will build on the Suzaku
observatory to provide broadband, high-resolution spectroscopy and imaging over
the 0.3-600 keV band utilizing four co-aligned instrument operated simultaneously. The mission will have major participation
from NASA and contributions from Canada and Europe. The combination of new sensors and larger x-ray optics will
provide very high sensitivity. For
high-resolution x-ray spectroscopy, the soft x-ray spectrometer (SXS) will
feature an x-ray calorimeter spectrometer and x-ray mirror. The instrument will cover the energy
range 0.3-12 keV and is expected to have an energy resolution better than 5 eV (FWHM)
with a collecting area of over 200 cm2 at 6 keV. The cooling system will have both
cryogenic and mechanical coolers for maximum lifetime (up to five years).
The SXS is a joint collaboration between
NASA/GSFC and ISAS/JAXA, and the NASA participation was selected as an
Explorers Mission of Opportunity in June 2008. The mission is in Phase B now and the NASA portion of the SXS
would enter Phase C/D in the spring of 2010 after a confirmation review. As part of this investigation, a fully
supported guest observer program was also proposed and is under review by NASA.
It is anticipated that the GO
program will be similar to Suzaku
wherein the US community will be able to propose for a large share of the
observing time from all of the instruments.
Other instruments on Astro-H include a soft x-ray imager (SXI) consisting
of a large area CCD camera with 35 arcmin field-of-view. Both the SXS and SXI will have ~ 1
arcmin imaging obtained using high-throughput, low mass x-ray mirrors. A hard x-ray imager (HXI) features focusing
x-ray optics coupled with both double-sided silicon strip
CdTe array. The 12-m focal length
optical system will provide an effective area of ~ 300 cm2 at 30
keV, and high sensitivity from 10-80 keV using multilayer x-ray mirrors with ~
2-4 arcmin imaging.
The soft gamma detector (SGD) is a non-focusing soft gamma-ray
detector with a 10-600 keV energy range and sensitivity at 300 keV that is more
than 10 times higher than the Suzaku
HXD (Hard X-ray Detector). It
outperforms previous soft-gamma-ray instruments in background rejection
capability by adopting a new, narrow-field-of-view Compton telescope.
Astro-H is planned for launch in 2014
aboard a JAXA HII-A rocket. More information
about Astro-H can be found at:
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16. Meetings Calendar
The X-Ray Astronomy Revolution:
The Ongoing Impact of XMM-Newton and Chandra
Royal Astronomical Society, Geological Society Lecture
Theatre, Burlington House, London, UK
8th Jan 2010
Organisers: Mike Watson (Leicester), Dave Alexander (Durham), & Mat
WHAT DRIVES THE GROWTH OF BLACK HOLES?
an international workshop
Durham, England 19-22 April 2010
Description: This workshop will explore the processes that drive accretion onto
supermassive black holes, from the most luminous distant quasars to
more quiescent local systems. Currently there are conflicting
discussions in the literature over which processes are most important,
with different observations or theoretical studies often providing
apparently contradictory results, as well as theorists often
disagreeing with the observers.
One cause of these disagreements may be that we are exploring systems
with a very wide range in black hole mass, Eddington ratio, redshift,
and environment. The workshop aims to clarify the ranges of parameter
space that are probed by different studies, and help understand how
the key physical processes may vary with these parameters.
Pre-registration is now open; those selected for presentations will be
notified by 15 January 2010, when full registration will begin.
Please submit your title/abstract early!
Aspen Summer Workshop on "GeV and TeV Sources in the Milky Way"
Aspen Center for Physics
June 13 - 27, 2010
Organizers: Alice Harding, Stefan Funk, Liz Hays, Roger Romani
The purpose of the workshop is to bring together observers and theorists working in the area of GeV and TeV Galactic sources, an area that has attracted much interest following the launch of the Fermi and AGILE space missions and new results from ground-based gamma-ray telescopes. The focus will be on understanding the physics of the newly discovered properties of high-energy sources, including pulsars, pulsar wind nebulae,supernova remnants, and accreting compact objects. We hope to explore Galactic sources with this new energy window in astrophysics and to synthesize the different but complementary GeV and TeV views , to form a more complete physical picture of these objects . An additionally important topic is how to establish signals of new physics in the galaxy, disentangling the high energy astrophysical processes that must first be understood.
Electronic applications and more information about the Aspen Summer 2010 Program are on the website, www.aspenphys.org . The deadline to apply is January 31, 2010.
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 Física 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:
DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING ABSTRACTS IS FEBRUARY 19, 2010
"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)
Treasurer's report due to AAS office (Kevin Marvel firstname.lastname@example.org
Chair requests rooms for HEAD sessions, Rossi Prize lecture, and
business meeting for January AAS meeting from AAS conference coordinator
(Kelli Gilmore: email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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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: