HEADNEWS: THE ELECTRONIC NEWSLETTER OF THE HIGH ENERGY
ASTROPHYSICS DIVISION OF THE AAS
IN THIS ISSUE:
Newsletter No. 97, November 2010
- Notes from the Editor-
- New HEAD Webmaster
Sought! – Ann Hornschemeier
- News from NASA
Headquarters - Ilana Harrus
- HEAD in the News
- Chandra X-ray
Observatory Operations Report - Roger Brissenden
and Martin Weisskopf
Mission News - Lynne Valencic and Lynn Cominsky
- RHESSI Mission News – David Smith
Mission News- Christoph Winkler and Steve Sturner
- Swift Mission News - Stefan Immler, Lynn Cominsky,
& Neil Gehrels
- RXTE Mission News - Padi
Boyd, Tod Strohmayer,
Craig Markwardt and Gail Rohrbach
- Suzaku Mission News - Koji Mukai
- Fermi Mission
News - Julie McEnery et al.
- NuSTAR Mission News - Daniel Stern and Fiona
- Astro-H Mission News – Richard Kelley
- GEMS Mission News
– Jean Swank
- IXO Mission News - Michael Garcia
- LISA Mission News
- Michele Vallisneri
1. Notes from
the Editor – Ann Hornschemeier
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.nov10.html.
As you will see,
your executive committee has made some changes this year. Please join us for our new, hopefully
more enjoyable, way of doing things!
HEAD ELECTION 2010 (ONLY A FEW DAYS LEFT)
We are in the
midst of our first-ever electronic website-based election. At the time of newsletter
distribution, approximately 36% of HEAD members have voted. This breaks all previous
records, but don’t stop now! Spare yourself from the reminder emails and
visit www.aas.org/vote today. The last day to vote is December 2,
We would like to
acknowledge several very thoughtful responses on why some people do not vote
in HEAD elections and pledge to include an option to abstain in the
future. As ever,
your constructive feedback is welcome (email@example.com). We changed away from email voting in
the first place due to a well-written objection by a HEAD member concerning
confidentiality. We agreed and we made the changes!
HEAD SPECIAL SESSIONS IN SEATTLE (JANUARY 2011)
Margaritas Tuesday night!
That’s right, we are trying an experiment this year with
the HEAD business meeting, which will be held on Tuesday evening (session
237, HEAD Business Meeting, 5:30PM room 6A). We will have margaritas and nachos for a HEAD happy
hour. The first ~40 or so HEAD
members will get a free drink ticket.
The rest of you can purchase a margarita (there will be free
Please join us for our new, hopefully more enjoyable, way to do things
like announce the next Rossi prize winner.
Processes in Star Formation, Monday: Please join us in Ballroom 6A at 10AM
on Monday for Session 104 to learn about X-ray irradiation of protoplanetary disks, simulations of accretion and
outflows in young stars, and other topics.
Insights into High Energy Phenomena, Tuesday: Join
us in rooms 611/612 on Tuesday at 2PM to learn about radio afterglows from GRBs, using the VLBA to image blazars
and other topics.
(Wednesday), Exploring the Very High Energy Sky with H.E.S.S.: The Rossi lecture this year will be session #330 on Wednesday at
4:30PM in Ballroom 6AB delivered by our prize winners Werner Hofmann, Heinz Voelk, and Felix Aharonian.
HEAD 2011 (DEADLINES IN FEBRUARY)
We are now less
than a year away from our next HEAD meeting, September 7-10, 2011 in Newport,
RI. Nominations for the dissertation
prize are due February 15, 2011 (the winner will give an invited lecture in
Newport). Special session
proposals are also due February 15, 2011. Both should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org See recent emails and the
website for more details.
REMEMBER TO RENEW YOUR AAS MEMBERSHIP
It is renewal season for the American Astronomical Society. Please remember to get your
renewal in as soon as possible. Your HEAD dues (currently $15 for full members and $10 for
junior and emeritus members) support the Rossi, Schramm and dissertation prizes. As a reminder
we are on a path to achieving $120K in reserves for our prizes within approximately five years.
Your dues help ensure the funds are there for our prizes!
We thank you for your support and please do renew
Reminder about HEAD Email Addresses:
All HEAD members must maintain an
up-to-date email address with the AAS to ensure that society email (including
ballots for elections) reaches them. To change your email address with the
AAS please visit http://www.aas.org and
follow the member log-in links.
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2. New HEAD
Webmaster Sought! – Ann Hornschemeier
Can you help
maintain the HEAD Web pages?
HEAD is seeking a new volunteer Webmaster to look after the content of the HEAD
Web pages. The AAS is moving to a new content management system (Drupal) and the AAS IT staff will be doing more of the
technical work. The HEAD Webmaster will mostly need to work within the system
managing the pages via the content management portal and will be able to be
trained (for free!) by the AAS staff in using Drupal. Thus the new HEAD Webmaster
should not have to worry so much about the machinery of the HEAD
webpage. If you have questions
about volunteering to be the next HEAD Webmaster, send an e-mail to Ann Hornschemeier (Ann.Hornschemeier@xraydeep.org)
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3. News from NASA Headquarters - Ilana Harrus
The division keeps
changing and evolving. Here are the latest personnel changes:
J. D. (Dan) Blackwood,
JWST Program Executive, has left HQ and is now the Assistant Director of the
Flight Projects Directorate at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). The newly appointed JWST Program
Executive is John Gagosian. Mr. Gagosian
was the Associate Chief of the Mission Engineering & Systems Analysis
Division at GSFC.
Dr. Rita Sambruna is the new Physics of the Cosmos (PCOS) program
scientist. She is replacing Dr. Michael Salomon who left NASA to join DOE.
Dr. Sambruna is an expert in high-energy
observations and interpretation of Active Galactic Nuclei (jets and
radio-loud sources). She was, until her appointment at HQ, acting Chief of
the Science Proposal Support Office at GSFC.
Dr. David Leisawitz is returning to GSFC following a detail
assignment as the Division's Acting Assistant Director for Policy and
Planning. He will resume his responsibilities as WISE Mission Scientist,
Chief of the Science Proposal Support Office, and PI of the Wide-field
Imaging Interferometry APRA project.
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4. HEAD in the News - Megan Watzke (HEAD Press Secretary) and Lynn Cominsky
astrophysics was well represented in media coverage during the past six
months. Chandra, Fermi, and
Swift all had significant stories that captured journalists’ – and the public’s – attention. Swift witnessed the brightest blast of X-rays ever detected
outside the Milky Way on June 21st.
Researchers later announced that a Swift survey had helped astronomers
solve a decades-old mystery about why a small percentage of black holes emit
vast amounts of energy. Chandra
made news with stories about what black holes do (4C+00.58) and what they are
like (M82), along with interesting behavior by normal stars (BP Piscium) and those on the extreme end (SGR
0418+5729). Fermi had several
interesting results including those gamma rays detected from a nova (V407 Cyg). And,
just before this newsletter was sent out, a press conference was held to
announce the discovery of huge bubble-like structures above and below the
Galactic Center that received coverage in the New York Times and other
prestigious outlets. Links to
all of these stories and others can be found below in chronological
May 26: Object:
BAT Hard X-ray Survey Headline: “NASA’s Swift Finds ‘Smoking Gun’ of Black
Hole Activation” http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2010/may/HQ_10-119_Smokin_Swift.html
July 14: Object:
GRB 100621A Headline: “Record-Breaking X-ray Blast Briefly Blinds Space
July 21: Object:
4C+00.58 Headline: “Black Hole Jerked Around Twice” http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/10_releases/press_072110.html
Object: Antennae Headline: “A Galactic Spectacle” http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2010/antennae/
Object: V407 Cyg Headline: “Fermi Detects
‘Shocking’ Surprise from Supernova’s Little Cousin” http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/shocking-nova.html
Object: M82 Headline: “Galactic Volcano in Action” http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/10_releases/press_081810.html
Object: BP Piscium Headline: “Chandra Finds
Evidence for Stellar Cannibalism” http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2010/bppsc/
Object: SGR 0418+5729 Headline: “What Lies Beneath? Magnetar
Enigma Deepens” http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2010/sgr0418/
Object: Milky Way Headline: “NASA’s Fermi Telescope Finds Giant Structure in
our Galaxy” http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/new-structure.html
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X-ray Observatory Report - Roger Brissenden
(SAO) and Martin Weisskopf (MSFC)
Chandra has now
carried out more than 11 years of successful science operations.
Moreover, Chandra's overall observing efficiency has remained close to
optimal and the amount of available observing time is gradually
increasing. This increase is
determined largely by the need to put the instruments in safe-hold while
Chandra passes through Earth's radiation belts, is gradually increasing as
the orbit evolves and reduces the time in the belts. Science data processing,
archiving, and distribution proceeded smoothly, with time from observation to
data release remaining at about a day.
We are modifying on-board and ground-based procedures to adapt to increasing
operational constraints and heightened solar activity. These actions will
increase spacecraft safety margins while continuing to ensure instrument safing during periods of elevated solar radiation. In
addition, in many cases, it will speed up the return to observing following
periods of solar activity and hence add to the available observing
The annual Einstein Fellowship Symposium was held at the Center for
Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA, on October 19-20. 27 Fellows presented their
research results to an enthusiastic audience.
The Peer Review of Chandra observing and research proposals, held in June,
selected 232 proposals from 681 submitted.
The Chandra X-Ray Center held the workshop "Accretion Processes in
X-rays: From White Dwarfs to Quasars" on 13-15 July in Cambridge, MA.
Over 100 scientists attended, with 45 talks on an unusually wide range of
topics, from newly-forming stars to X-ray binaries and supermassive
black holes, all linked by the intriguing physics of accretion.
The Chandra Press Office issued 6 press releases and 8 image releases in the
period May through October. A complete listing is available at http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/.
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XMM-Newton Mission News - Lynne Valencic and
The Tenth Call
for Proposals for XMM-Newton closed in October 2010; successful
submissions will be announced in December. As a result of the
last Senior Review,
some funds will be available for successful proposals.
For more information, please
contact the U.S. Project Scientist, Dr. Steve Snowden.
implementation of SAS in Hera continues to progress. Over the summer, the
where Hera resides were virtualized, resulting in numerous tasks being
temporarily broken. These problems have been fixed for EPIC
tasks, and users
interested in processing their XMM-Newton data over the
internet are encouraged to try
Hera and provide
feedback to the GOF. More information about Hera can be found at
Science Operations Centre held a workshop for May 24-26 on Ultra-
Sources and Middle Weight Black Holes in Madrid, Spain. The goal of
the workshop was to explore the physical nature of
ultra-luminous X-ray sources and
models for their formation, accretion, and evolution.
Posters and lecture slides may be
viewed online at
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Mission News – David Smith (UCSC)
The Reuven Ramaty High Energy
Spectroscopic Imager continues in good form after a detector anneal earlier
this year. All nine germanium
detectors are working well as the solar cycle picks up and belatedly
approaches the new maximum.
Those wishing to use RHESSI's detectors,
which are unshielded and can see the whole sky above ~100 keV,
for non-solar science should contact David Smith (email@example.com) for help in
optimizing their analysis. All
RHESSI data are publicly available within about 3 days of acquisition, with
no proprietary period. New
RHESSI science topics, mostly solar, are presented periodically at the RHESSI
Science Nuggets page at a level suitable for non-specialists to enjoy: http://sprg.ssl.berkeley.edu/~tohban/wiki/index.php/RHESSI_Science_Nuggets
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INTEGRAL Mission News - Christoph Winkler
(ESA-ESTEC) and Steve Sturner (NASA GSFC)
mission is currently approved by ESA for science operations until 31 December
2012. A request for the extension of mission operations until 31 December
2014 is currently being evaluated by ESA's advisory
structure. A decision will be announced in November 2010.
participated in the Mission Extension Operations Review, held in
ESOC/Darmstadt (Germany) on 01 July 2010. The Board concluded that the
technical and performance status and prospects for INTEGRAL are very good and
that all mission elements are stable and trouble free with sufficient
consumables and life-limiting items to allow operations beyond 31 December
2014, i.e., beyond the end of the requested extension. The Board noted the
combined operational concept for XMM-Newton and INTEGRAL that has allowed a
significant cost reduction without impacting the science performance.
observing cycle will continue until 31 December 2010. The 2nd Call for AO-8
cycle observations - this time
for Data Rights proposals for targets associated with approved AO-8 observing
programs - was released on 30 August. By the deadline of 08 October, 60
proposals were received, asking for more than 450 targets and/or extended
regions in the field of view of AO-8 observations, starting 01 Jan 2011.
The 8th INTEGRAL
workshop in Dublin (27-30 Sep 2010) attracted more than 190 scientists
including many young PhD students. Proceedings will be available on-line via
the web-sites of "Proceedings of Science" http://pos.sissa.it/ towards the end of 2010.
The US INTEGRAL
Guest Observer Facility has been transferred to the HEASARC. It will continue to aid US scientists
and maintain the US mirror to the INTEGRAL public data archive. No guest investigator funds will be
available from NASA for US scientists for AO-8 and beyond. The HEASARC archive has recently been
updated to include the recently reprocessed revision 3 data.
scientific highlights since the last report (May 2010) include:
et al. Swift follow-up of 13 INTEGRAL sources, arXiv:1003.3741
Coe, M.J. et
al. INTEGRAL deep observations of the Small Magellanic
Terrier, R. et
al. Fading hard X-ray emission from the Galactic Centre molecular cloud Sgr B2, ApJ 719, 143, 2010,
Krivonos, R. et al.
INTEGRAL/IBIS 7-year All-Sky Hard X-Ray Survey. Part I: Image Reconstruction,
Leyder, J.C. et al. Hard
X-ray identification of Eta Carinae and steadiness
close to periastron, arXiv:1008.5366
Diehl, R. et
al. Radioactive 26Al from the Scorpius-Centaurus
C. et al. When A Standard Candle Flickers, arXiv:1010.2679
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Mission News - Stefan Immler (UMd/GSFC), Lynn Cominsky
(Sonoma State), & Neil Gehrels (GSFC)
Swift discovered the brightest Gamma-Ray Burst ever seen in X-rays on June 21, 2010. At its peak
brightness, 143,000 X-ray photons were recorded per second with the X-Ray
Telescope on board Swift, which is more that 14 times brighter than the
brightest persistent X-ray source in the sky.
finds 'Smoking Gun' of Black Hole Activation
Data from an ongoing hard X-ray survey by Swift have
helped astronomers solve a decades-long mystery about why a small percentage
of black holes emit vast amounts of energy. The Swift Burst Alert Telescope
(BAT) Hard X-ray Survey is the largest, most sensitive and complete census of
the sky at these energies. The survey, which is sensitive to AGN as far as
650 million light-years away, uncovered dozens of previously unrecognized
systems. About a quarter of the BAT galaxies are in mergers or close galaxy
pairs, leading to merger-triggered AGN formation.
Swift Guest Investigator Program
The deadline for
submitting scientific/technical proposals for the Swift Cycle 7 Guest
Investigator (GI) program was September 29. NASA received 182 proposals for
Swift Cycle 7 (an 8% increase compared to the previous Cycle 6), requesting a
total observing time of 17.3 Ms and $4.9M in funds for 1,111 targets. About
78% of all proposals are non-GRB proposals, 22% of which are Target of
Opportunity proposals. About 37% of all targets are part of a monitoring campaign,
requesting two or more observations of the same target.
The Swift Cycle 7 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 eighth
year. Cycle 7 observations and funding will commence on or around April 1,
2011, and will last approximately 12 months.
Swift E/PO News
Ambassadors learned about particle physics, as well as trying out new
Swift-related educational activities, and shared their work at the bi-annual
Educator Ambassador (EA) training, July 26-30, 2010 at Sonoma State
University. Now in its tenth year, the Astrophysics EA program has directly
trained over 50,000 teachers nationwide. Materials presented at the training
can be downloaded through: http://epo.sonoma.edu/ea/training.php. A presentation about the EA program
was given by SSU Global Telescope Network Director Dr. Kevin McLin, at the 122nd Annual Meeting of the Astronomical
Society of the Pacific, “Earth and Space Science: Making Connections In
Education and Public Outreach: A Symposium for Those Working in EPO."
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10. RXTE Mission News - Padi Boyd, Tod Strohmayer, Craig Markwardt and
in its fifteenth year, the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) continues to
produce unique and exciting science results in spite of substantial reduction
of resources. Its ability to probe accretion processes near compact objects
on timescales from milliseconds to decades results in a nearly constant
scientific output of three papers in refereed journals each week.
RXTE now operates through a combination of a fixed "Core
Program" that monitors objects of broad interest, and an "Open Time
Program" chosen from proposals submitted by the international community.
The proposal deadline for Cycle 15 was September 16th. We were delighted
to receive 100 proposals--- a 16% increase over Cycle 14, and a strong signal
that RXTE data continues to be relevant in this era of numerous operating
missions, and even with no analysis funding nor exclusive data rights. Four
panels are currently reviewing the proposals to choose the strongest possible
program for the next year. The results should be made public by the end of
the year under Timelines & Status at the RXTE homepage http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/xte/xtegof.html.
Recent Science Highlights:
On October 10th, INTEGRAL detected a hard X-ray transient burster near the unusual globular cluster Terzan 5. RXTE, Chandra and Swift quickly joined in
observing this new system. RXTE observations showed strong coherent
pulsations with a frequency of 11 Hz, and an orbital period of 21.25 hours.
The system is still being observed, with current results finding unique
behavior for a pulsar. See the Astronomer's Telegram at http://www.astronomerstelegram.org/?read=2958
and other earlier telegrams referenced within.
April, RXTE observations of the new accreting ~518 Hz millisecond pulsar
SwiftJ1749.4-2807 revealed three eclipses by the companion---the first
detection of X-ray eclipses in such a system. Pulse period variations also
revealed the orbit. This system should allow a precise neutron star mass
measurement once the companion star is identified. The "Shapiro"
delay due to general relativity yields a companion mass no greater than 2.2
solar masses. See the Astrophysical
Journal letter from June 23, 2010 for more details at http://iopscience.iop.org/2041-8205/717/2/L149/fulltext
The press release is available at
RXTE observations are elucidating the energetics
of relativistic jet production in the black hole binary XTE J1550-564. Multiwavelength observations have recently revealed that,
at times, most of the X-rays observed from the system arise from the jet
emanating from the black hole. This work is discussed in the Monthly Notices
of the Royal Astronomical Society's July 2010 issue, available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16547.x/full
The press release can be seen at http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/black-hole-jets.html
RXTE Data Analysis News: The PCA team is developing a new
version of the background models.
In the future, the PCA team plans to recommend using the
"VLE" model for most applications, even for faint sources.
Internal versions of a new model have been created, which update
the coverage through 2010. Observers wishing to help test these may
Download and install the latest software release, HEASOFT 6.10 (Sept. 28,
2010), to make sure your software is up to date.
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11. Suzaku Mission News - Koji Mukai
The Suzaku satellite and its instruments continue to perform
well in general. One notable exception is the stability of attitude
control. Since 2009 Dec 18, the
attitude stability in the detector X direction deteriorated by a factor of 2
on average, and the difference from observation to observation also
increased. For observations
taken between 2009 Dec 18 and 2010 Jun 15, the attitude file does not (and
cannot) reflect this increased level of wobble. The operations team took countermeasures so that, while
the wobble persists, the attitude solution for observations taken since 2010
Jun 15 is once again accurate.
The impact of
this issue on the data quality depends on several factors, including the
actual degree of wobble for the particular observation, and the location of
the source on the detector plane.
The count rates of point sources observed at the "HXD
nominal" pointing position would exhibit an artificial variability due
to differential vignetting, while this is expected
to be negligible for sources observed at the XIS nominal pointing position.
The cross-normalization factors among the XIS instruments may also deviate
more from 1.0 for HXD nominal observations taken since 2009 Dec 18. HXD nominal observations with a
window option are the worst affected, since the fraction of the flux falling
on the window varies significantly for XIS1.
Given this, we
no longer recommend the use of the HXD nominal pointing position. HXD nominal pointing will be used
only if a user understands the above drawbacks but presents a compelling
reason to disregard these risks.
details, please consult Suzaku memos 2010-04,
2010-05, and 2010-06 available at: http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/suzaku/analysis/suzakumemos.html
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Mission News - Julie McEnery (GSFC), Chris Shrader (GSFC), Dave Thompson (GSFC), Liz Hays (GSFC)
& Lynn Cominsky (Sonoma State)
Gamma-ray Space Telescope is now in its third year of science operations,
with all systems operating nominally.
highlights from recent months:
high-energy gamma rays from the nova V407 Cyg,
after its discovery by Japanese amateur astronomers Koichi Nishiyama and Fujio Kabashima. Swift also followed up on this discovery. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/shocking-nova.html
Area Telescope resolved high-energy gamma rays from an extended region around
the active galaxy Centaurus A http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/smokestack-plumes.html
Analysis of the
Fermi LAT data has revealed huge bubble-like structures of diffuse radiation
above and below the Galactic Center region. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/new-structure.html
Multiwavelength campaigns and monitoring programs continue to be an
important part of Fermi science activity. Information about support programs can be found at http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/observations/multi/programs.html
about planned campaigns can be reported to the Fermi Project at http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/observations/multi/reporting/
Fermi Guest Investigator Program
The Fermi Cycle
4 Guest Investigator (GI) proposals will be due on January 21, 2011. Several
changes to the program are planned for Cycle 4. A joint Fermi-Suzaku program has been implemented through an agreement with
the Suzaku project. Through this program Suzaku observing time can be awarded to successful
proposers to the Fermi Guest Investigator Program. Another change is the
possibility to propose for projects of two years duration. Please refer to
the Fermi amendment to the 2010 ROSES NRA for details on these opportunities.
Data and Software Releases
A new version of
the Fermi Science Tools can be found at http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/data/analysis/software/
from LAT sources has been announced through more than 100 Astronomer's
Telegrams (ATels) since the beginning of the mission.
and daily (http://fermisky-daily.blogspot.com/)
blogs describe current activity in the gamma-ray sky.
GRB 2010 Meeting
Swift, Fermi co-sponsored the 2010 meeting on Gamma-ray Bursts, held in
Annapolis, MD from Nov. 1-4. A press briefing on 11/3 at the meeting included
reports of observational evidence for magnetars in
GRB-systems, and studies of hyperenergetic GRB
The Third Fermi Symposium
will be held in Rome, Italy, from May 9-12. Further information can be found
at the symposium webpage: http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/symposium/2011/
Fermi Summer School
A summer school
focused on Fermi science and data analysis is planned for 2011. http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/summerschool/2011/
Fermi E/PO News
a booth at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo, held in Washington,
DC on October 23-24, 2010. The booth featured Fermi scientists explaining
parts of the Large Area Telescope, as well as educators from Sonoma State University,
who did interactive activities about black holes and active galaxies. Alkina, the space creature from Epo’s
Chronicles (a weekly webcomic, http://eposchronicles.com) also made an
appearance at the booth, and posed for photos, including one with NASA
Administrator Charles Bolden.
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13. NuSTAR Mission News - Daniel Stern (JPL) &
Fiona Harrison (Caltech)
NuSTAR, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, is a
NASA Small Explorer (SMEX) mission which will
provide the first focused observations in the 5 to 80 keV
hard X-ray window. NuSTAR is on track for its scheduled Pegasus launch from
Kwajalein Atoll in February 2012.
All primary flight hardware has either been built or will be completed
in the next three months. The
spacecraft structure is built and spacecraft integration and testing are
underway. The first optics
module was completed at Columbia University's Nevis Laboratory on August 5th
and is currently undergoing testing.
The focal plane and electronics will be delivered in December 2010,
and the final optic modules will be completed in early 2011. The instrument will then undergo
integration and testing at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, followed by integration
of the instrument with the spacecraft in Spring 2011 at Orbital Sciences
Corporation in Dulles, Virginia.
On the science front, a draft mission plan has been prepared for
scheduling, and the science team is currently refining and optimizing the observation
plan for the baseline two years of NuSTAR
operations. For more information
about the NuSTAR mission, visit http://www.nustar.caltech.edu.
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14. Astro-H – Richard Kelley (NASA GSFC)
The Astro-H Mission has completed several important
milestones this year. The Soft X-Ray Spectrometer (SXS), being developed
jointly by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and Japan Aerospace Exploration
Agency's Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science (JAXA/ISAS), completed
its preliminary design review (PDR) and was subsequently confirmed by NASA
Headquarters. In addition, NASA Headquarters has approved a joint
GSFC/MSFC proposal to provide the mirror for the Soft X-ray Imager
instrument, as well as funding for a US guest investigator program.
National observing time allocations are still to be finalized with JAXA and
will be reported at a later time.
The full Astro-H mission has also passed a PDR in
Japan and is now in the engineering model development phase.
Engineering model components are under development in the US (x-ray
calorimeter focal plane, components of the cooling system, and x-ray optics)
and will be delivered to JAXA in 2011. The launch of Astro-H is planned for February 2014.
Several comprehensive papers on Astro-H covering
the scientific goals and instrument capabilities were presented at the SPIE
Conference "Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2010: Ultraviolet to
Gamma Ray", held June 2010, San Diego,
California, USA. Proc. SPIE, Vol. 7732, (2010).
More information about Astro-H can be found at:
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Mission News – Jean Swank (NASA GSFC)
The Gravity and
Extreme Magnetism SMEX (GEMS)
was selected in June 2009 to be launched no earlier than April 2014. GEMS has been in an early development
phase for the past year, building engineering models of the polarimeters to be at the foci of the foil mirrors and of
the boom that would deploy the mirrors of the telescopes to reduce the risk
of development. Models of the polarimeters are
being used to explore possible variations in their design. During this
initial phase the GEMS core team has been developing requirements and putting agreements in place for partners on the mission,
including Orbital Sciences for the spacecraft bus and the mission operations,
ATK for the telescope boom, and
the University of Iowa for a student collaboration and polarimeter
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The International X-ray Observatory (IXO) - Michael Garcia (CfA)
Astro2010/Decadal report specifically recognizes "IXO’s
high scientific importance" as a "powerful X-ray telescope that
will transform our understanding of hot gas associated with stars and
galaxies in all evolutionary stages" and also states that IXO is
"central to many of the science questions identified by this
survey." The report recommends IXO for robust technology development
funding this decade and also states that NASA should "determine an appropriate
path forward to realize IXO as soon as possible" if IXO is selected by
ESA as the first L-class mission.
The team has
been continuing work on the input for the ESA CV2015 process. The IXO science and technologies are
described in the Yellow Book, which will be in final form by
mid-November. The team made
initial presentations to the CV2015 technical review teams in early October,
and will make a science presentation along with the other candidate L-class
missions (EJSM/Laplace and LISA) in early Feb 2011. The selection of which L-class missions will be carried
forward is expected in June 2011.
progress has been made with both the XMS calorimeter and the mirrors, the
enabling technologies identified by the IXO team to the Decadal. The XMS team has fabricated and
tested some of the first 4-pixel ‘hydra’ devices that would populate the
outer 2 arcmin to 5 arcmin
of the XMS array. These devices
use one thermister to read out 4 X-ray absorbers,
and have been built to the size required for IXO. These first devices are within a factor of two of the
required energy resolution, and changes to the manufacturing procedure have
been identified that should yield improved resolution.
The mirror teams
also continue to make progress on both the silicon pore optics (SPO) in
Europe and the segmented glass optics (SGO) in the US. Since last newsletter the SPO team
has now measured 7.5 arcsec HPD in an x-ray test of
a stack of 4 plates. This
compares to 9 arcsec at last report. SGOs are
now being produced using newly polished slumping mandrels that reduce the
error contribution from the mandrels to 2 arcsec
(from 7 arsec for the original Con-X mandrels), so
the optics are expected to be amongst the best yet produced. Optical metrology of these SGO
predicts an x-ray HPD of ~5.5 arcsec (down from 6.5
arcsec) and the best segments should yield 4.5 arcsec HPD (for two reflections). These are the
contributions only from the segments themselves and do not include the
mounting and alignment errors, but a pair of these SGO were recently aligned
and mounted in a test fixture and then tested in the GSFC x-ray beam
line. Analysis to determine the
actual x-ray HPD is underway.
Back to Top
17. LISA News - Michele Vallisneri
The U.S. National
Research Council "astro2010" decadal report, released on August 13,
2010, gave LISA a high priority among large space projects, after the
wide-field near-infrared telescope WFIRST, and after the ongoing Explorer
program of small and medium-sized missions. The report praised LISA as
"a gravity wave observatory that would open an entirely new window in
the universe", whose "recommendation and prioritization reflect its
compelling science case and the relative level of technical readiness"
compared to other opportunities. According to the panel, LISA's
observations of signals from massive black-hole binaries will directly
contribute to two of the three key science objectives outlined in the report:
"Cosmic Dawn" (searching for the first stars, galaxies, and black
holes), and "Physics of the Universe" (understanding scientific
principles, and specifically testing the current understanding of general
relativity). The report further emphasizes LISA's
potential for discovery, stating that "it would
be unprecedented in the history of astronomy if the gravitational radiation
window being opened up by LISA does not reveal new, enigmatic sources."
The report can be accessed at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/BPA/BPA_049810.
The European Space
Agency is currently evaluating three "Large" mission concepts (the
Jupiter orbiter EJSM/Laplace, the X-ray observatory IXO/XEUS, and LISA) as
candidates for a 2020 launch opportunity within ESA's
Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 plan. These missions are all nearing completion of
their Assessment Phase. The first evaluation activities focused on
technological and programmatic maturity; scientific evaluations will begin in
early 2011. In May 2011, the Advisory Structure to the ESA Science Program
will issue a recommendation on which of the three should move on to
Definition Phase activities; ESA's Science Program
Committee will then decide on the matter in June 2011. For more information
The 8th International
LISA Symposium was held on the SLAC campus of Stanford University from June
28 to July 2, 2010, and was attended by 301 participants from 16 countries,
more than half of them students and young researchers. The scientific program
included 50 invited talks, 37 contributed talks, and 83 posters. LISA-related
sessions focused on the mission, science objectives and perspectives, on
demonstrated LISA technology and possible enhancements, on data-analysis
development, and more. Several sessions emphasized the depth and breadth of
technology and data-analysis efforts for the upcoming LISA Pathfinder, the
LISA technology demonstrator scheduled to launch by 2013. Other sessions
covered galactic astrophysics, numerical relativity, and cosmology, as well
as status reports from ground detectors, and the history, prospects, and
technology of other space missions to measure gravitational waves and test
gravitation. Complete information can be found on the Symposium website, http://www.stanford.edu/group/lisasymposium.
Back to Top
Meetings Calendar (Chronological Order)
25th Texas Symposium on Relativistic
Heidelberg, Germany, 6-10 December
mix of plenary talks, parallel workshops, and posters will cover a wide range
of topics from high energy astrophysics and cosmology, including recent X,
gamma, and cosmic ray results; active galaxies; weak and strong lensing; gravitational radiation and neutrino sources and
detectors; and particle astrophysics.
The prize talks of the 2009 and 2010 winners of the Young
Astrophysicist's Prize of IUPAP (Thomas Schweizer
and Poonam Chandra) will receive their medals and
speak. There is still time to
submit abstracts, and proceedings will be published.
GRAVITATIONAL-WAVE PHYSICS AND
26-29 January 2011
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
registration: Monday, 20 December 2010
Abstract submission: Friday, 7 January 2011
Hotel special workshop rate: Tuesday, 9 January 2011
Registration: Sunday, 16 January 2011
PURPOSE: To bring together experts in
gravitational waves, astronomy and
computational astrophysics to address open questions in gravitational-wave
Indirect and Direct Detection of Dark
6-12 February 2011
Aspen Center for Physics
It is an exciting time for dark matter. Direct and indirect searches have
yielded very interesting constraints on the nature of dark matter. In
addition, tantalizing signals from both space- and ground-based experiments
(e.g. PAMELA, WMAP, Integral, Fermi, DAMA/LIBRA, and CoGeNT)
could be interpreted as a signal of dark matter annihilation/decay or
interaction. While these results might provide crucial information about the
nature of dark matter, the resolution of these claims requires better
understanding of the astrophysical and instrumental backgrounds. Improved
results from current and upcoming direct and indirect searches will continue
to shed light on these puzzles.
The aim of this workshop is to bring together experimentalists and theorists
to share knowledge on astrophysical backgrounds, the most recent experimental
results, and the latest theoretical work at a time of great opportunity and
change in the field of dark matter."
IAU Symposium 279
Death of Massive Stars: Supernovae
& Gamma-Ray Bursts
April 2011- 22 April 2011
E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
International Fermi Symposium
9-12 May 2011
The 2011 Fermi
Symposium is dedicated to results and prospects for scientific exploration of
the Universe with the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and related studies.
Topics include: blazars and other active galactic
nuclei, pulsars, gamma-ray bursts, supernova remnants, diffuse gamma
radiation, unidentified gamma-ray sources, and searches for dark matter.
Twelve Years of Science with Chandra:
in a Meeting at the May 2011 AAS
May 22-26, 2011
Next year the Chandra Community plans to hold a
Meeting "Twelve Years of Science with Chandra" as a Meeting (MiM) in conjunction with the AAS's
summer meeting in Boston at the end of May, 2011. This MiM
will be a continuation of a series of independent and highly successful Chandra
Symposia that have been held every two years since the launch of the Chandra
X-Ray Observatory. These were organized by the Chandra X-Ray Center in
Collaboration with the Chandra Project at Marshall Space Flight Center. This
meeting will be accessible to the broad AAS membership, which may not be able
to attend more specialized X-ray astronomy related conferences. The MiM
will be comprised of six sessions with two overview talks each and
approximately two contributed oral talks selected by the MiM
Science Organizing Committee from submitted abstracts.
gamma-ray summer school
May 31 - June 10, 2010 (2 weeks)
• Small scale: 25-30 students
• University of Delaware Conference Center in Lewes, Delaware
– Housing, 2/3 meals, and meeting rooms onsite
– Keep cost affordable for students
• Cover a range of Fermi-related topics
– Support from FSSC, LAT, and GBM
– Small core of instructors to lead projects in key science areas
throughout the school
– Additional speakers giving lectures on science and analysis
Structure in Clusters and Groups of Galaxies in the
July 12-14, 2011
Hosted by the Chandra X-ray Center
DoubleTree Guest Suites, Boston, MA
400 Soldier's Field Road
32nd International Cosmic Ray Conference,
August 11-18, 2011,
The 32nd International Cosmic Ray Conference(ICRC2011)
hosted and organized by the Institute of High Energy Physics, the Chinese
Academy of Sciences will be held in Beijing from August 11 to August 18,
"The 32nd ICRC will be conducted in accordance with IUPAP principles as
stated in the IUPAP resolution passed by the General Assembly in 2008. In
particular, no bona fide scientist will be excluded from participation on the
grounds of national origin, nationality, or political considerations
unrelated to science."
Following the tradition of past International Cosmic Ray Conferences, the
ICRC2011 will deal with a broad range of topics, covering cosmic ray physics,
neutrino and gamma-ray astronomy , solar physics and
SANTORINI meeting on Magnetars
August 22-25, 2011
University of Crete in Heraklion is organizing a
meeting in the Greek island of Santorini in August
22 – 25, 2011 on the “Magnetar Family”. The focus
of the meeting is magnetars and their common
properties or links with Gamma-Ray Bursts, in particular the short variety,
and with rotationally powered pulsars. Given the latest observational results
associating magnetars with low-magnetic field
pulsars, we feel that the magnetar family has
possibly expanded to include many more members!
However, there are many meetings on associated subjects already
announced in 2011, so we would like to poll the community on whether they
plan to attend, so that we can set up (reasonable) registration fees and
accommodation. Please respond to the email address below stating (1) your
name and (2) whether or not you are going to attend [(A)= I definitely plan
to attend and (B)=I may attend] at your earliest convenience and no later
than November 29, 2010. Please send your emails to
SZX HUNTSVILLE 2011:
Cosmology with X-ray and Sunyaev-Zeldovich
Effect Observations of Galaxy Clusters
SEPT. 19 - 22, 2011
List of Topics:
- Advances in ground-based and space-borne
observations of the SZE
- Cosmology with galaxy clusters (evolution of
mass function, power spectrum, baryons fraction)
- Theoretical/numerical progress of modeling of
galaxy clusters and their impact on cosmology
- The unique contributions to cosmology of joint
X-ray/SZE (scaling relations, gas fraction, mass measurements and
agreement with lensing measurements, ICM
thermal properties in cluster outskirts)
- The future of X-ray
and SZE surveys
Inquiries can be
made to Max Bonamente at email@example.com.
Note: Students and recent graduates will
have their registration fee waived.
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: