Publication archive

Publication archive

GRB 130925A is a peculiar event characterized by an extremely long gamma-ray duration (~7 ks), as well as dramatic flaring in the X-rays for ~20 ks. After this period, its X-ray afterglow shows an atypical soft spectrum with photon index Γ ~ 4, as observed by Swift and Chandra, until ~107 s, when XMM-Newton observations uncover a harder spectral shape with Γ ~ 2.5, commonly observed in gamma-ray burst (GRB) afterglows. We find that two distinct emission components are needed to explain the X-ray observations: a thermal component, which dominates the X-ray emission for several weeks, and a non-thermal component, consistent with a typical afterglow. A forward shock model well describes the broadband (from radio to X-rays) afterglow spectrum at various epochs. It requires an ambient medium with a very low-density wind profile, consistent with that expected from a low-metallicity blue supergiant (BSG). The thermal component has a remarkably constant size and a total energy consistent with those expected by a hot cocoon surrounding the relativistic jet. We argue that the features observed in this GRB (its ultralong duration, the thermal cocoon, and the low-density wind environment) are associated with a low metallicity BSG progenitor and, thus, should characterize the class of ultralong GRBs.
Published: 12 July 2014
X-rays from massive stars are ubiquitous yet not clearly understood. In an XMM-Newton observation devoted to observing the first site of star formation in the ρ Ophiuchi dark cloud, we detect smoothly variable X-ray emission from the B2IV+B2V system of ρ Ophiuchi. We tentatively assign the emission to the primary component. The light curve of the pn camera shows a first phase of low, almost steady rate, then a rise phase of duration of 10 ks, followed by a high rate phase. The variability is seen primarily in the band 1.0−8.0 keV while little variability is detected below 1 keV. The spectral analysis of the three phases reveals the presence of a hot component at 3.0 keV that adds up to two relatively cold components at 0.9 keV and 2.2 keV. We explain the smooth variability with the emergence of an extended active region on the surface of the primary star as being due to its fast rotation (νsin i ~ 315 km s-1). We estimate that the region has a diameter in the range 0.5−0.6 R. The hard X-ray emission and its variability hint at a magnetic origin, as suggested for a few other late-O through early-B type stars. We also discuss an alternative explanation based on the emergence from occultation of a young (5−10 Myr) low mass companion that is bright and hot in X-rays.
Published: 05 July 2014
Reference: CDF-145(A)

This document presents the results of the CDF study performed in 2014, that analysed the feasibility of a joint ESA-ROSCOSMOS Phobos sample return mission. It was performed by an interdisciplinary team composed of specialists from ESA, IKI (RU) and Lavochkin (RU).

Published: 01 July 2014
Almost six months have passed since ESA's Rosetta spacecraft woke up from deep-space hibernation, ready to complete the final leg of its 10-year comet chase. Now, with a gap of less than 200 000 km to close, the comet is firmly in Rosetta's sights.
Published: 26 June 2014
We detect a weak unidentified emission line at E = (3.55-3.57) ± 0.03 keV in a stacked XMM-Newton spectrum of 73 galaxy clusters spanning a redshift range 0.01-0.35. When the full sample is divided into three subsamples (Perseus, Centaurus+Ophiuchus+Coma, and all others), the line is seen at >3-sigma statistical significance in all three independent MOS spectra and the PN "all others" spectrum. It is also detected in the Chandra spectra of the Perseus Cluster. However, it is very weak and located within 50-110 eV of several known lines. The detection is at the limit of the current instrument capabilities. We argue that there should be no atomic transitions in thermal plasma at this energy. An intriguing possibility is the decay of sterile neutrino, a long-sought dark matter particle candidate. Assuming that all dark matter is in sterile neutrinos with ms = 2E = 7.1 keV, our detection corresponds to a neutrino decay rate consistent with previous upper limits. However, based on the cluster masses and distances, the line in Perseus is much brighter than expected in this model, significantly deviating from other subsamples. This appears to be because of an anomalously bright line at E = 3.62 keV in Perseus, which could be an Ar XVII dielectronic recombination line, although its emissivity would have to be 30 times the expected value and physically difficult to understand. Another alternative is the above anomaly in the Ar line combined with the nearby 3.51 keV K line also exceeding expectation by a factor of 10-20. Confirmation with Astro-H will be critical to determine the nature of this new line.
Published: 25 June 2014
Context. The Helix nebula (NGC 7293) is our closest planetary nebulae. Therefore, it is an ideal template for photochemical studies at small spatial scales in planetary nebulae. Aims. We aim to study the spatial distribution of the atomic and the molecular gas, and the structure of the photodissociation region along the western rims of the Helix nebula as seen in the submillimeter range with Herschel. Methods. We used five SPIRE FTS pointing observations to make atomic and molecular spectral maps. We analyzed the molecular gas by modeling the CO rotational lines using a non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (non-LTE) radiative transfer model. Results. For the first time, we have detected extended OH+ emission in a planetary nebula. The spectra towards the Helix nebula also show CO emission lines (from J = 4 to 8), [N ii] at 1461 GHz from ionized gas, and [C i] (3P2-3P1), which together with the OH+ lines trace extended CO photodissociation regions along the rims. The estimated OH+ column density is ~ 1012 - 1013 cm-2. The CH+ (1-0) line was not detected at the sensitivity of our observations. Non-LTE models of the CO excitation were used to constrain the average gas density (n(H2) ~ (1 - 5) × 105 cm-3) and the gas temperature (Tk ~ 20-40 K). Conclusions. The SPIRE spectral-maps suggest that CO arises from dense and shielded clumps in the western rims of the Helix nebula, whereas OH+ and [C i] lines trace the diffuse gas and the UV and X-ray illuminated clump surfaces where molecules reform after CO photodissociation. The [N ii] line traces a more diffuse ionized gas component in the interclump medium.
Published: 18 June 2014
Aims. We report the first detections of OH+ emission in planetary nebulae (PNe). Methods. As part of an imaging and spectroscopy survey of 11 PNe in the far-IR using the PACS and SPIRE instruments aboard the Herschel Space Observatory, we performed a line survey in these PNe over the entire spectral range between 51μm and 672μm to look for new detections. Results. The rotational emission lines of OH+ at 152.99, 290.20, 308.48, and 329.77μm were detected in the spectra of three planetary nebulae: NGC 6445, NGC 6720, and NGC 6781. Excitation temperatures and column densities derived from these lines are in the range of 27-47 K and 2 × 1010 - 4 × 1011 cm-2, respectively. Conclusions. In PNe, the OH+ rotational line emission appears to be produced in the photodissociation region (PDR) in these objects. The emission of OH+ is observed only in PNe with hot central stars (Teff> 100 000 K), suggesting that high-energy photons may play a role in OH+ formation and its line excitation in these objects, as seems to be the case for ultraluminous galaxies.
Published: 18 June 2014
We present the first overview of the Herschel observations of the nearby high-mass star-forming region NGC 7538, taken as part of the Herschel imaging study of OB young stellar objects (HOBYS) Key Programme. These PACS and SPIRE maps cover an approximate area of one square degree at five submillimeter and far-infrared wavebands. We have identified 780 dense sources and classified 224 of those. With the intention of investigating the existence of cold massive starless or class 0-like clumps that would have the potential to form intermediate- to high-mass stars, we further isolate 13 clumps as the most likely candidates for follow-up studies. These 13 clumps have masses in excess of 40 MSun and temperatures below 15 K. They range in size from 0.4 pc to 2.5 pc and have densities between 3 × 103 cm–3 and 4 × 104 cm–3. Spectral energy distributions are then used to characterize their energetics and evolutionary state through a luminosity-mass diagram. NGC 7538 has a highly filamentary structure, previously unseen in the dust continuum of existing submillimeter surveys. We report the most complete imaging to date of a large, evacuated ring of material in NGC 7538 which is bordered by many cool sources.
Published: 21 August 2013
The dust-HI correlation is used to characterize the emission properties of dust in the diffuse interstellar medium (ISM) from far infrared wavelengths to microwave frequencies. The field of this investigation encompasses the part of the southern sky best suited to study the cosmic infrared and microwave backgrounds. We cross-correlate sky maps from Planck, the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), and the diffuse infrared background experiment (DIRBE), at 17 frequencies from 23 to 3000 GHz, with the Parkes survey of the 21 cm line emission of neutral atomic hydrogen, over a contiguous area of 7500 deg2 centred on the southern Galactic pole. We present a general methodology to study the dust-Hi correlation over the sky, including simulations to quantify uncertainties. Our analysis yields four specific results. (1) We map the temperature, submillimetre emissivity, and opacity of the dust per H-atom. The dust temperature is observed to be anti-correlated with the dust emissivity and opacity. We interpret this result as evidence of dust evolution within the diffuse ISM. The mean dust opacity is measured to be (7.1 ± 0.6) × 10-27 cm2 H-1 × (ν/353 GHz)1.53 ± 0.03 for 100 ≤ ν ≤ 353 GHz. This is a reference value to estimate hydrogen column densities from dust emission at submillimetre and millimetre wavelengths. (2) We map the spectral index βmm of dust emission at millimetre wavelengths (defined here as ν ≤ 353 GHz), and find it to be remarkably constant at βmm = 1.51 ± 0.13. We compare it with the far infrared spectral index βFIR derived from greybody fits at higher frequencies, and find a systematic difference, βmm − βFIR = − 0.15, which suggests that the dust spectral energy distribution (SED) flattens at ν ≤ 353 GHz.
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Published: 12 June 2014
We explore the 2013 Planck likelihood function with a high-precision multi-dimensional minimizer (Minuit). This allows a refinement of the ΛCDM best-fit solution with respect to previously-released results, and the construction of frequentist confidence intervals using profile likelihoods. The agreement with the cosmological results from the Bayesian framework is excellent, demonstrating the robustness of the Planck results to the statistical methodology. We investigate the inclusion of neutrino masses, where more significant differences may appear due to the non-Gaussian nature of the posterior mass distribution. By applying the Feldman-Cousins prescription, we again obtain results very similar to those of the Bayesian methodology. However, the profile-likelihood analysis of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) combination (Planck+WP+highL) reveals a minimum well within the unphysical negative-mass region. We show that inclusion of the Planck CMB-lensing information regularizes this issue, and provide a robust frequentist upper limit ∑ mν ≤ 0.26 eV (95% confidence) from the CMB+lensing+BAO data combination.
Published: 12 June 2014
Strong lensing has been employed extensively to obtain accurate mass measurements within the Einstein radius. We here use strong lensing to probe mass distributions beyond the Einstein radius. We consider SL2S J08544-0121, a galaxy group at redshift z = 0.35 with a bimodal light distribution and with a strong lensing system located at one of the two luminosity peaks separated by ~54". The main arc and the counter-image of the strong lensing system are located at ~5" and ~8" from the lens galaxy centre. We find that a simple elliptical isothermal potential cannot satisfactorily reproduce the strong lensing observations. However, with a mass model for the group built from its light-distribution with a smoothing factor s and a mass-to-light ratio M/L, we obtain an accurate reproduction of the observations. We find M/L = 98 ± 27 (i band, solar units, not corrected for evolution) and s = 20" ±  9 (2-sigma confidence level). Moreover, we use weak lensing to independently estimate the mass of the group, and find a consistent M/L in the range 66-146 (1-sigma confidence level). This suggests that light is a good tracer of mass. Interestingly, this also shows that a strong lensing-only analysis (on scales of ~10") can constrain the properties of nearby objects (on scales of ~100"). We characterise the type of perturbed strong lensing system that allows such an analysis: a non dominant strong lensing system used as a test particle to probe the main potential. This kind of analysis needs to be validated with other systems because it could provide a quick way of probing the mass distribution of clusters and groups. This is particularly relevant in the context of forthcoming wide-field surveys, which will yield thousands of strong lenses, some of which perturbed enough to pursue the analysis proposed in this paper.
Published: 25 December 2010
We report on the X-ray observation of a strong lensing selected group, SL2S J08544-0121, with a total mass of 2.4 ± 0.6 × 1014 MSun which revealed a separation of 124 ± 20 kpc between the X-ray emitting collisional gas and the collisionless galaxies and dark matter (DM), traced by strong lensing. This source allows to put an order of magnitude estimate to the upper limit to the interaction cross-section of DM of 10 cm2 g−1. It is the lowest mass object found to date showing a DM–baryons separation, and it reveals that the detection of bullet-like objects is not rare and confined to mergers of massive objects opening the possibility of a statistical detection of DM–baryons separation with future surveys.
Published: 07 June 2014
X-ray emission from stars much more massive than the Sun was discovered only 35 years ago. Such stars drive fast stellar winds where shocks can develop, and it is commonly assumed that the X-rays emerge from the shock-heated plasma. Many massive stars additionally pulsate. However, hitherto it was neither theoretically predicted nor observed that these pulsations would affect their X-ray emission. All X-ray pulsars known so far are associated with degenerate objects, either neutron stars or white dwarfs. Here we report the discovery of pulsating X-rays from a non-degenerate object, the massive B-type star Xi1 CMa. This star is a variable of beta Cep-type and has a strong magnetic field. Our observations with the X-ray Multi-Mirror (XMM-Newton) telescope reveal X-ray pulsations with the same period as the fundamental stellar oscillations. This discovery challenges our understanding of stellar winds from massive stars, their X-ray emission and their magnetism.
Published: 04 June 2014
Anomalous microwave emission (AME) is believed to be due to electric dipole radiation from small spinning dust grains. The aim of this paper is a statistical study of the basic properties of AME regions and the environment in which they emit. We used WMAP and Planck maps, combined with ancillary radio and IR data, to construct a sample of 98 candidate AME sources, assembling SEDs for each source using aperture photometry on 1°-smoothed maps from 0.408 GHz up to 3000 GHz. Each spectrum is fitted with a simple model of free-free, synchrotron (where necessary), cosmic microwave background (CMB), thermal dust, and spinning dust components. We find that 42 of the 98 sources have significant (>5σ) excess emission at frequencies between 20 and 60 GHz. An analysis of the potential contribution of optically thick free-free emission from ultra-compact H II regions, using IR colour criteria, reduces the significant AME sample to 27 regions. The spectrum of the AME is consistent with model spectra of spinning dust. Peak frequencies are in the range 20−35 GHz except for the California nebula (NGC 1499), which appears to have a high spinning dust peak frequency of (50 ± 17) GHz. The AME regions tend to be more spatially extended than regions with little or no AME. The AME intensity is strongly correlated with the sub-millimetre/IR flux densities and comparable to previous AME detections in the literature. AME emissivity, defined as the ratio of AME to dust optical depth, varies by an order of magnitude for the AME regions. The AME regions tend to be associated with cooler dust in the range 14−20 K and an average emissivity index, βd, of +1.8, while the non-AME regions are typically warmer, at 20−27 K. In agreement with previous studies, the AME emissivity appears to decrease with increasing column density.
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Published: 21 May 2014
We report on the first observation of a single hybrid magnetic structure that contains both a pseudostreamer and a double streamer. This structure was originally observed by the SWAP instrument on board the PROBA2 satellite between 2013 May 5 and 10. It consists of a pair of filament channels near the south pole of the Sun. On the western edge of the structure, the magnetic morphology above the filaments is that of a side-by-side double streamer, with open field between the two channels. On the eastern edge, the magnetic morphology is that of a coronal pseudostreamer without the central open field. We investigated this structure with multiple observations and modeling techniques. We describe the topology and dynamic consequences of such a unified structure.
Published: 21 May 2014
This document was submitted by the Athena team in response to the Call for mission concepts for the large-size 'L2' mission opportunity in ESA's Science Programme issued in January 2014. This document is provided for information to the science community.
Published: 02 April 2014
We report on two regularly rotating galaxies at redshift z ~ 2, using high-resolution spectra of the bright [C II] 158 μm emission line from the HIFI instrument on the Herschel Space Observatory. Both SDSS090122.37+181432.3 ("S0901") and SDSSJ120602.09+514229.5 ("the Clone") are strongly lensed and show the double-horned line profile that is typical of rotating gas disks. Using a parametric disk model to fit the emission line profiles, we find that S0901 has a rotation speed of vsin (i) ~ 120 ± 7 km s-1 and a gas velocity dispersion of sigmag < 23 km s-1 (1 sigma). The best-fitting model for the Clone is a rotationally supported disk having vsin (i) ~ 79 ± 11 km s-1 and sigmag 4 km s-1 (1 sigma). However, the Clone is also consistent with a family of dispersion-dominated models having sigmag = 92 ± 20 km s-1. Our results showcase the potential of the [C II] line as a kinematic probe of high-redshift galaxy dynamics: [C II] is bright, accessible to heterodyne receivers with exquisite velocity resolution, and traces dense star-forming interstellar gas. Future [C II] line observations with ALMA would offer the further advantage of spatial resolution, allowing a clearer separation between rotation and velocity dispersion.
Published: 30 April 2014
Galaxy mergers play a key role in the evolution of galaxies and the growth of their central supermassive black holes (SMBHs). A search for (active) SMBH binaries (SMBHBs) at the centers of the merger remnants is currently ongoing. Perhaps the greatest challenge is to identify the inactive SMBHBs, which might be the most abundant, but are also the most difficult to identify. Liu et al. predicted characteristic drops in the light curves of tidal disruption events (TDEs), caused by the presence of a secondary SMBH. Here, we apply that model to the light curve of the optically inactive galaxy SDSS J120136.02+300305.5, which was identified as a candidate TDE with XMM-Newton. We show that the deep dips in its evolving X-ray light curve can be well explained by the presence of a SMBHB at its core. A SMBHB model with a mass of the primary of MBH = 107 Msun, a mass ratio q=0.08, and a semimajor axis ab = 0.6 mpc is in good agreement with the observations. Given that primary mass, introducing an orbital eccentricity is needed, with eb = 0.3. Alternatively, a lower mass primary of MBH = 106 Msun in a circular orbit fits the light curve well. Tight binaries like this one, which have already overcome the "final parsec problem," are prime sources of gravitational wave radiation once the two SMBHs coalesce. Future transient surveys, which will detect TDEs in large numbers, will place tight constraints on the SMBHB fraction in otherwise non-active galaxies.
Published: 23 April 2014
We use Planck HFI data combined with ancillary radio data to study the emissivity index of the interstellar dust emission in the frequency range 100–353 GHz, or 3–0.8 mm, in the Galactic plane. We analyse the region l = 20°–44° and |b| ≤ 4° where the free-free emission can be estimated from radio recombination line data. We fit the spectra at each sky pixel with a modified blackbody model and two opacity spectral indices, βmm and βFIR, below and above 353 GHz, respectively. We find that βmm is smaller than βFIR, and we detect a correlation between this low frequency power-law index and the dust optical depth at 353 GHz, τ353. The opacity spectral index βmm increases from about 1.54 in the more diffuse regions of the Galactic disk, |b| = 3°–4° and τ353 ~ 5 × 10-5, to about 1.66 in the densest regions with an optical depth of more than one order of magnitude higher. We associate this correlation with an evolution of the dust emissivity related to the fraction of molecular gas along the line of sight. This translates into βmm ~ 1.54 for a medium that is mostly atomic and βmm ~ 1.66 when the medium is dominated by molecular gas. We find that both the two-level system model and magnetic dipole emission by ferromagnetic particles can explain the results. These results improve our understanding of the physics of interstellar dust and lead towards a complete model of the dust spectrum of the Milky Way from far-infrared to millimetre wavelengths.
Published: 05 April 2014
The small and active Saturnian moon Enceladus is one of the primary targets of the Cassini mission. We determined the quadrupole gravity field of Enceladus and its hemispherical asymmetry using Doppler data from three spacecraft flybys. Our results indicate the presence of a negative mass anomaly in the south-polar region, largely compensated by a positive subsurface anomaly compatible with the presence of a regional subsurface sea at depths of 30 to 40 kilometers and extending up to south latitudes of about 50°. The estimated values for the largest quadrupole harmonic coefficients (106J2 = 5435.2 ± 34.9, 106C22 = 1549.8 ± 15.6, 1 sigma) and their ratio (J2/C22 = 3.51 ± 0.05) indicate that the body deviates mildly from hydrostatic equilibrium. The moment of inertia is around 0.335MR2, where M is the mass and R is the radius, suggesting a differentiated body with a low-density core.
Published: 04 April 2014
23-Sep-2019 08:53 UT

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