ELECTRONIC NEWSLETTER OF
THE HIGH ENERGY ASTROPHYSICS DIVISION OF THE AAS
Newsletter No. 71 November 1997
- Notes from the Editor
- NASA Request for Information on Exciting New Results
- Meeting of Interest: 3rd Integral Workshop
- Notes from NASA Headquarters
- AXAF NRA Release: Proposal due date Feb. 2, 1998
- Procurement Notice for the Constellation-X Mission
- Press Coverage of the Nov. 97 HEAD Meeting in Estes
1. Notes from the Editor
(Alan Marscher, HEAD Secretary-Treasurer, firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: 617-353-5029)
I have just received my 1998 AAS Membership Directory, so I am in the process of
checking mail addresses and e-mail addresses for accuracy. This process should be
completed by next week. If it appears that the Newsletter has been forwarded from an old
address, please let me know your current address. If you receive a hard-copy of this
newsletter, it means that I do not have an e-mail address for you. In this case, if
you do in fact have an e-mail address, please send me e-mail so that I can update your
Earlier today (5 Dec. 1997) I sent out a ballot to elect HEAD officers. If you
receive this newsletter but have not yet received a ballot, it means that either I updated
your e-mail address after I sent the ballot or the connection to your computer was down
and the e-mail was lost in electronic never-neverland. If this is the case, please e-mail
me and I will send you the ballot.
The HEAD Web site is at http://bu-ast.bu.edu/~head.
We also have an e-mail exploder for announcements of general interest to HEAD members. If
you have an item that you would like to announce in this way or in the semiannual
newsletter, please send the announcement to me via e-mail and I will publish it in the
next newsletter or, if more urgent, send it out via e-mail to the HEAD e-mail list.
Please note the following schedule of HEAD activities at the January 1998 AAS meeting
in Washington, D.C.
HEAD Activities on January 8
8:30 - 9:20 Rossi Prize presentation and lecture
10:00 - 11:30 Gamma Ray Burst HEAD session of oral talks
1:00 - 1:55 HEAD business meeting (open to public)
2:00 - 3:30 Dark Matter HEAD session of oral talks
4:00 - 5:30 HEAD Executive Committee meeting
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2. NASA Request for Information on Exciting New
At September's meeting of the Astrophysics Working Group, Guenter Riegler gave a
presentation on MO&DA activities. One of the items he mentioned was a request for
information on exciting science developments. Guenter prepares a monthly summary for Wes
Huntress (NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Science), based on inputs he's received
from the community. He says there is a perception that, with the exception of HST, there
is "little new emerging" from astrophysics, because he gets virtually no
feedback about astrophysics mission results. He gets lots of stuff from the planetary
folks and the sun-earth connection people, so that dominates his reports.
There is a danger that this perception at HQ could lead to loss of future missions or
loss of funding for current ones. I'm quite sure that this impression is erroneous and
that ASCA, ROSAT, CGRO and RXTE are doing lots of interesting science. Please help by
forwarding highlights of your exciting science results to Guenter (email@example.com) on a regular basis.
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3. Meeting of Interest
3rd INTEGRAL Workshop `THE EXTREME UNIVERSE'
14 - 18 September 1998
San Domenico Palace Hotel
Point of contact:
Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale,
C.P. 67, 00044 Frascati (Roma), Italy
The International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory INTEGRAL is ESA's
gamma-ray mission (in collaboration with Russia and NASA) of the long term
space science programme `Horizon 2000'.
INTEGRAL - using high-resolution gamma-ray spectroscopy, coded aperture fine imaging
with concurrent X-ray and optical source monitoring - will be launched in April 2001. The
observatory will be operated for two to possibly five years. The majority of observing
time will be given to the scientific user community through a single peer review process.
The main goals of this 3rd INTEGRAL workshop `The Extreme Universe' will be to discuss
recent progress in hard X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy on compact objects and to put these
results in a broader perspective of astrophysics in general. Furthermore this workshop
will provide the opportunity to also discuss latest scientific results compatible with all
INTEGRAL scientific objectives.
The status of the INTEGRAL mission, instruments and plans for the observing programme
with INTEGRAL will also be presented.
This third INTEGRAL workshop builds upon the results of the earlier ones held in 1993
1st INTEGRAL workshop `The Multi-Wavelength Approach to Gamma-Ray Astronomy'
Les Diablerets, Switzerland, 1993.
Proceedings: ApJ Suppl.Ser. Vol. 92, Number 2, pp. 325 - 698 (June 1994).
2nd INTEGRAL workshop `The Transparent Universe' St Malo, France, 1996.
Proceedings: ESA SP-382 (March 1997)
It is planned to cover the following topics by invited papers, contributed papers and
(1) Compact variable sources (Black hole candidates, neutron stars, Novae and
Supernovae, superluminal and radio jet sources)
(2) Nucleosynthesis and diffuse gamma-ray emission
(3) AGN, Seyfert galaxies and Blazars
(4) Normal galaxies and clusters of galaxies
(5) Surveys and high energy background radiation
(6) Gamma-ray bursts and soft gamma-ray repeaters
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4. Notes from NASA Headquarters
from Alan Bunner & Paul Hertz
Looking Forward Toward New Missions 1997 has been a productive year for establishing a
strategic plan for NASA's Office of Space Science (available from the OSS homepage by
The Space Science Enterprise Strategic Plan will be presented at a special session
(session 30) of the upcoming AAS meeting in Washington.
The new strategic plan includes two new missions for high energy astrophysics: the
Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST; http://www-glast.stanford.edu),
a high energy gamma-ray mission devoted to following up the discoveries of EGRET, and the
Constellation X-ray Mission (formerly the High Throughput X-ray Spectroscopy mission; (http://constellation.gsfc.nasa.gov), a
broad-band high-throughput x-ray astronomy mission for high resolution spectroscopy.
However, while these missions may be in the strategic plan, they are not in the NASA
budget. It will take all our ingenuity and a formidable effort in public outreach over the
next two years to capture the imagination of the decision makers at NASA, the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB), and Congress.
An important part of this outreach effort is the public appearance of our science
results in the press. The newspaper and television stories that came out of the Estes Park
HEAD meeting were gratifying. We would like particularly to applaud Lynn Cominsky for her
extraordinary efforts as HEAD press officer. If you have a scientific result from a NASA
program, we encourage you to consider a press release from your home institution and,
perhaps, NASA. In the near future, we plan to distribute a quick primer on bringing your
results to the attention of the media. In the mean time, we suggest you start by
contacting the public affairs office at your home institution and the relevant NASA
project or program scientist for your research. You may also contact Paul Hertz at NASA
The other track on our road map to the future is the path of technological advances
needed to achieve a readiness level for GLAST and Constellation sufficient to obtain a
"new start" for development in the NASA budget. 1997 has been a difficult year
to secure a start for a substantial technology funds. We expect some new funds to be
available in 1998, but are still uncertain of the amount. When the funds become available,
we will be soliciting competitive proposals for this advanced technology development work.
The work will be very specifically directed towards key GLAST and Constellation
requirements. At the time of release, the solicitations will be posted at http://procurement.nasa.gov/eps/gsfc/class.html.
To compliment facility class missions like GLAST and Constellation, NASA will continue
to select smaller missions through the Explorer program. Two opportunities will be
available in the near future. The UNEX (university class explorer) Announcement of
Opportunity will be released at the end of December and will solicit the first two UNEX
missions, with proposals due 90 days later. A proposers' conference will be held in
Washington during January (see the AO for exact details). The next two MIDEX (medium class
explorer) missions will be solicited in an upcoming AO. A draft of the MIDEX AO should be
available by mid-December, and the actual AO should be released by late February. Further
out, NASA expects to solicit two more SMEX (small explorer) missions in 1999. The Explorer
AO's, as well as NRA's and AO's for other opportunities from the Office of Space Science,
may always be found by choosing "Research Opportunities" from the menu on the
OSS homepage (http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/oss).
(Mailing address: Code SA, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546)
Paul Hertz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Code SR, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546-0001
Voice: 202-358-0351 FAX: 202-358-3097
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5. AXAF NRA Release
NASA and the AXAF Science Center are pleased to announce
the release of the Cycle 1 AXAF NRA on Oct. 31st 1997.
The proposal deadline is 2 Feb. 1998, 5pm EST
The primary user interface is the ASC WWW page: http://asc.harvard.edu
Hard copies of the NRA and other documents are available on request from the AXAF
Science Center. These requests, along with any other questions/comments, can be submitted
using the "Contact ASC User Support" button on our WWW page or by email to
ADDENDUM (12/3/97): The planned launch date of late August 1998 may slip by a few
months as spacecraft integration and testing are proceeding slower than was expected.
There is no plan to change the due date (2/2/98) for Cycle 1 AXAF proposals. Watch the ASC
web page for the latest news on AXAF.
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6. Procurement Notice for the Constellation-X
The Constellation X-ray Mission (formerly HTXS) is a Next Generation X-ray Observatory
dedicated to observations at high spectral resolution, providing as much as a factor of
100 increase in sensitivity over currently planned high resolution X-ray spectroscopy
missions. Constellation-X was selected as a new mission to be proposed for a FY2004 new
start at the Space Science Enterprise Strategic Planning Workshop held in Breckenridge in
May 1997. Constellation-X is the X-ray equivalent of the Keck Telescope and will mark the
start of a new era when high resolution X-ray spectra will be obtained for all classes of
X-ray sources over a wide range of luminosity and distance. With its increased
capabilities, Constellation-X will address many fundamental astrophysics questions such as
the origin and distribution of the elements from carbon to zinc; the formation and
evolution of clusters of galaxies; the validity of general relativity in the strong
gravity limit; the evolution of supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei; the
details of supernova explosions and their aftermath; and the mechanisms involved in the
heating of stellar coronae and driving of stellar winds.
The Constellation-X is currently in a pre-Phase A study and NASA's Goddard Space Flight
Center (GSFC) is directing the study effort. The Constellation-X program office, part of
GSFC's Mission Development Office, is responsible for the development of the mission
including feasibility and architecture studies, technology development and out reach. The
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is a key partner with GSFC in the development of the
Constellation X-ray Mission.
The technology development for the Constellation-X Hard X-ray Telescope, CCD/Grating or
equivalent, and X-ray Calorimeter or equivalent will be competed through an NRA to be
released in December 1997. Proposals will be due 45 days after the NRA release. The
competition will be open to universities, industry, and government labs.
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7. Press Coverage of the HEAD Meeting in Estes Park
Lynn Cominsky, HEAD Press Officer
Interest by the media in the results presented at the recent HEAD meeting in Estes
Park, CO reached new heights this year. We featured two stories - the discovery of a
gamma-ray halo at energies greater than 1 GeV using the EGRET experiment on board CGRO,
and evidence for relativistic "frame dragging" in timing data from both neutron
stars and black hole candidates using the RXTE. The first media event was held on Tuesday,
November 4, and featured David Dixon (UC Riverside), Don Kniffen (Hampden-Sydney College
and GSFC) and Dieter Hartmann (Clemson University). Dixon's images of the halo and the
press release can be found at http://tigre.ucr.edu/halo/halo.html.
The story was covered in a front page article in the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe,
CNN on line, BBC radio, Science News and many other outlets through the AP wire service.
Stories are still expected in at least Discover and Sky and Telescope magazines.
The second press conference was held on Thursday, November 6, and featured Luigi Stella
(Astronomical Observatory of Rome), Wei Cui (MIT), Mike Nowak (JILA) and Fred Lamb
(University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). This story made the front pages of USA Today,
the San Jose Mercury News and the Los Angeles Times, as well as receiving prominent
coverage in the Washington Post, the Dallas Morning News, the Boston Globe and several
Italian newspapers. The presenters were interviewed by BBC, CBS radio, German, Canadian
and Italian national radio, and appeared on NPR's Science Friday. On-line coverage
included CNN on-line, MSNBC, Science Now and ABCnews.com. CNN sent a crew to tape
interviews with the presenters, which resulted in a news spot entitled ``Timewarp",
and which used some of the animation that was generated by NASA/GSFC in support of the
media event. Magazine coverage has thus far included Science, Science news, US News and
World Report, and the Economist, with more articles expected in the future. The scientific
papers which led to this press conference have both been accepted by the Astrophysical
Journal (Letters), and are both available through http://xxx.lanl.gov.
The Stella and Vietri paper is astro-ph/9709085 and the paper by Cui, Zhang and Chen is
My thanks to all the participants in the press conferences, to the press officers at UC
Riverside and MIT, and to the support staff from the Conference Connection and Eureka who
made it all possible. Please bring any future press-worthy results to my attention for
either HEAD meetings, or for AAS meetings, as I will be assisting the AAS press officer
(Steve Maran) in getting the word out about exciting high-energy results. I can help you
in writing press releases, as well as in communicating your results to interested people
at NASA Headquarters (such as Guenter Riegler, see the earlier article.) It is easiest to
reach me through e-mail to: email@example.com.
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HEADNEWS, the electronic newsletter of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of
the American Astronomical Society, is issued by the Secretary-Treasurer, at the Department
of Astronomy, Boston University, 725 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215. The HEAD
Executive Committee Members are:
Neil Gehrels, Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Gordon Garmire, Vice-Chair (email@example.com)
Jill Bechtold (firstname.lastname@example.org)
David Burrows (email@example.com)
Martin Elvis, Past Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alan Marscher, Secretary-Treasurer (email@example.com)
Dan McCammon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chip Meegan (email@example.com)
Nick White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Paula Szkody (email@example.com)
The HEAD press officer is Lynn Cominsky (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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