HEAD Business Meeting, January 1998
business meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division was held on January 8, 1998,
at the Washington, DC AAS meeting. Presiding over the meeting was the outgoing chair, Neil
Alan Marscher gave the secretary-treasurer's report. The balance in HEAD accounts is
about $30,000. There are over 600 members of HEAD, but because the membership list is
still being updated to take into account former members who no longer pay dues, the exact
number is not yet known. The main difficulty is that the list provided by the AAS is not
alphabetically sorted and is not completely in ASCII format. The e-mail list is constantly
being updated, but at any given time e-mail does not work for about 20 members because of
changes in their addresses. The HEAD web page has been updated.
The newly elected HEAD officers are: Alice Harding, vice-chair, and executive committee
members Arthur Davidsen, Alan Guth, and Richard Lingenfelter.
The report of the new chair was given by Gordon Garmire. The 1998 Rossi Prize will be
awarded to the BeppoSAX Team (represented by Livio Scarsi) and Dr. Jan van Paradijs for
the discovery of the X-ray and optical afterglow of gamma-ray bursts, making possible the
solution to the 30 year old problem of fixing the distanes to the gamma-ray burst sources.
The timing of the 1999 HEAD divisional meeting will be after the scheduled AXAF launch
such that, if everything goes according to schedule, some early scientific results can be
reported. Hawaii is being considered for the site of the divisional meeting in 2000.
Alan Bunner (NASA Headquarters) presented the NASA report. AXAF has a 2.5-month slip in
the launch schedule (now January 1999) because of various problems with the software and
check of the spacecraft at TRW. This also causes budgetary problems. AXAF can only fly on
a Columbia spcae shuttle, which is also needed for other high-priority NASA flights, so
the schedule is not highly flexible. AXAF has only modest reserves in its budget, and
non-AXAF funds would likely come from other astrophysics areas.
The NASA strategic plan is: US component to FIRST, GLAST, Constellation (HTXS) -
multiple spacecraft, other radio astronomy, cosmic-ray physics, etc. projects. NASA
Administrator Dan Goldin seems to support high-energy astrophysics. NASA hopes to have
$15M in FY99 and $20M in FY00 for technology development for GLAST and HTXS. In addition
to the upcoming MIDEX, UNEX, and SMEX NRA's to be released, there will be an annual
omnibus NRA for many programs, with multiple due dates. BOLT (Broad-band Observatory for
the Localization of Transients) is a back-up SMEX program, although with low probability
CGRO data will become public 3 months after the observation takes place. Prospects for
augmenting MO&DA funds are uncertain: planning for this has been inadequate. Bunner
will try to get this augmented, but expects this to be difficult. There will be a
high-energy astrophysics senior review in summer 1998.
Martin Turner reported on X-ray astronomy in Europe. The future X-ray mission proposed
after XMM is Xeus, which would be a 10-meter diameter X-ray telescope that would be
long-term (10-20 years).
Lynn Cominsky, the HEAD press officer (Assistant press officer of the AAS), reported on
the considerable press coverage of the HEAD divisional meeting in Estes Park in November
The meeting was adjourned
HEAD Executive Committee Meeting, January 1998
The executive committee meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division was held on
January 8, 1998, at the Washington, DC AAS meeting. Present were Neil Gehrels, Gordon
Garmire, Martin Elvis, Alan Marscher, Jill Bechtold, Nicholas White, Dan McCammon, David
Burrows, Lynn Cominsky, John Vallerga (meeting organizer) and Robert Milkey (AAS Executive
It was decided to pay the travel expenses of the Rossi Prize winner to attend the AAS
meeting where the prize is awarded.
In an effort to promote membership in HEAD, there was a suggestion to cross-correlate
the list of HEAD divisional meeting attendees with the HEAD membership list and also to
scan the list of AAS members for astronomers who are known to work in high-energy
astrophysics but are not currently members of HEAD. The secretary-treasurer will pursue
this after the electronic AAS membership directory is completed and placed on the AAS Web
The date of the next HEAD meeting was set for April 1999 (so as to be after the
scheduled launch of AXAF) and the site was chosen to be Charleston, South Carolina. John
Vallerga will work on details. The need to reduce the number of oral papers was discussed,
with the suggestion that there could be sessions of 1-minute summaries of poster papers.
It was decided to hold the workshops in parallel on one morning during the meeting. Bob
Milkey suggested that a HEAD section be added to the subsequent AAS Newsletter summarizing
the HEAD divisional meeting. The abstracts will be published by the AAS, which will add
$30 to the registration fee.
Several topics were proposed for the HEAD sessions at the January 1999 AAS meeting in
Austin, Texas. The decision on the topics will be made at the June 1998 executive
committee meeting in San Diego.
Nick White discussed the need to develop "sellable" themes to promote
NASA's "Structure and Evolution of the Universe" initiative, which encompasses
most of NASA's high-energy astrophysics effort. A suggestion was made to do this by
calling attention to the "great mysteries of the universe" addressed by this
As part of the advertising for Rossi Prize nominations, the suggestion was made to
for the secretary-treasurer to send e-mail to the executive committee members in September
listing the past nominees.
The next executive committee meeting will be on June 8 at the San Diego AAS
The meeting was adjourned.