Publication archive

Publication archive

Plumes, forming at the plasmapause and released outwards, constitute a well-established mode for plasmaspheric material release to the Earth's magnetosphere. They are associated to active periods and the related electric field change. In 1992, Lemaire and Shunk proposed the existence of an additional mode for plasmaspheric material release to the Earth's magnetosphere: a plasmaspheric wind, steadily transporting cold plasmaspheric plasma outwards across the geomagnetic field lines, even during prolonged periods of quiet geomagnetic conditions. This has been proposed on a theoretical basis. Direct detection of this wind has, however, eluded observation in the past. Analysis of ion measurements, acquired in the outer plasmasphere by the CIS experiment onboard the four Cluster spacecraft, provide now an experimental confirmation of the plasmaspheric wind. This wind has been systematically detected in the outer plasmasphere during quiet and moderately active conditions, and calculations show that it could provide a substantial contribution to the magnetospheric plasma populations outside the Earth's plasmasphere. Similar winds should also exist on other planets, or astrophysical objects, quickly rotating and having an atmosphere and a magnetic field.
Published: 03 July 2013
The mechanism that produces energetic electrons during magnetic reconnection is poorly understood. This is a fundamental process responsible for stellar flares, substorms, and disruptions in fusion experiments. Observations in the solar chromosphere and the Earth's magnetosphere indicate significant electron acceleration during reconnection, whereas in the solar wind, energetic electrons are absent. Here we show that energetic electron acceleration is caused by unsteady reconnection. In the Earth's magnetosphere and the solar chromosphere, reconnection is unsteady, so energetic electrons are produced; in the solar wind, reconnection is steady, so energetic electrons are absent. The acceleration mechanism is quasi-adiabatic: betatron and Fermi acceleration in outflow jets are two processes contributing to electron energization during unsteady reconnection. The localized betatron acceleration in the outflow is responsible for at least half of the energy gain for the peak observed fluxes.
Published: 26 June 2013
eLISA is a space mission designed to measure gravitational radiation over a frequency range of 0.1-100 mHz (European Space Agency LISA Assessment Study Report 2011). It uses laser interferometry to measure changes of order 10 pm per square root Hertz in the separation of inertial test masses housed in spacecraft separated by 1 million km. LISA Pathfinder (LPF) is a technology demonstrator mission that will test the key eLISA technologies of inertial test masses monitored by laser interferometry in a drag-free spacecraft. The optical bench that provides the interferometry for LPF must meet a number of stringent requirements: the optical path must be stable at the few per square root Hertz level; it must direct the optical beams onto the inertial masses with an accuracy of better than ±25 µm, and it must be robust enough not only to survive launch vibrations but to achieve full performance after launch. In this paper we describe the construction and testing of the flight optical bench for LISA Pathfinder that meets all the design requirements.
Published: 26 June 2013
We use a temperature map of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) obtained using the South Pole Telescope at 150 GHz to construct a map of the gravitational convergence to z ~ 1100, revealing the fluctuations in the projected mass density. This map shows individual features that are significant at the ~4 sigma level, providing the first image of CMB lensing convergence. We cross-correlate this map with Herschel/SPIRE maps covering 90 deg² at wavelengths of 500, 350, and 250 micron. We show that these submillimeter (submm) wavelength maps are strongly correlated with the lensing convergence map, with detection significances in each of the three submm bands ranging from 6.7 sigma to 8.8 sigma. We fit the measurement of the cross power spectrum assuming a simple constant bias model and infer bias factors of b = 1.3-1.8, with a statistical uncertainty of 15%, depending on the assumed model for the redshift distribution of the dusty galaxies that are contributing to the Herschel/SPIRE maps.
Published: 20 June 2013
We present an analysis of Planck satellite data on the Coma cluster observed via the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect. Thanks to its great sensitivity, Planck is able, for the first time, to detect SZ emission up to r ≈ 3 × R500. We test previously proposed spherically symmetric models for the pressure distribution in clusters against the azimuthally averaged data. In particular, we find that the Arnaud et al. (2010, A&A, 517, A92) "universal" pressure profile does not fit Coma, and that their pressure profile for merging systems provides a reasonable fit to the data only at r < R500; by r = 2 × R500 it underestimates the observed y profile by a factor of ≃2. This may indicate that at these larger radii either: i) the cluster SZ emission is contaminated by unresolved SZ sources along the line of sight; or ii) the pressure profile of Coma is higher at r > R500 than the mean pressure profile predicted by the simulations used to constrain the models. The Planck image shows significant local steepening of the y profile in two regions about half a degree to the west and to the south-east of the cluster centre. These features are consistent with the presence of shock fronts at these radii, and indeed the western feature was previously noticed in the ROSAT PSPC mosaic as well as in the radio. Using Plancky profiles extracted from corresponding sectors we find pressure jumps of 4.9-0.2+0.4 and 5.0-0.1+1.3 in the west and south-east, respectively. Assuming Rankine-Hugoniot pressure jump conditions, we deduce that the shock waves should propagate with Mach number Mw = 2.03-0.04+0.09 and Mse = 2.05-0.02+0.25 in the west and south-east, respectively. Finally, we find that the y and radio-synchrotron signals are quasi-linearly correlated on Mpc scales, with small intrinsic scatter.
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Published: 19 June 2013
Using precise full-sky observations from Planck, and applying several methods of component separation, we identify and characterise the emission from the Galactic "haze" at microwave wavelengths. The haze is a distinct component of diffuse Galactic emission, roughly centered on the Galactic centre, and extends to | b | ~ 35−50° in Galactic latitude and | l | ~ 15−20° in longitude. By combining the Planck data with observations from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, we were able to determine the spectrum of this emission to high accuracy, unhindered by the strong systematic biases present in previous analyses. The derived spectrum is consistent with power-law emission with a spectral index of −2.56 ± 0.05, thus excluding free-free emission as the source and instead favouring hard-spectrum synchrotron radiation from an electron population with a spectrum (number density per energy) dN/dE ∝ E-2.1. At Galactic latitudes | b | < 30°, the microwave haze morphology is consistent with that of the Fermi gamma-ray "haze" or "bubbles", while at b ~ −50° we have identified an edge in the microwave haze that is spatially coincident with the edge in the gamma-ray bubbles. Taken together, this indicates that we have a multi-wavelength view of a distinct component of our Galaxy. Given both the very hard spectrum and the extended nature of the emission, it is highly unlikely that the haze electrons result from supernova shocks in the Galactic disk. Instead, a new astrophysical mechanism for cosmic-ray acceleration in the inner Galaxy is implied.
Published: 19 June 2013
Context. The [C II] 158 um line is an important tool for understanding the life cycle of interstellar matter. Ionized carbon is present in a variety of phases of the interstellar medium (ISM), including the diffuse ionized medium, warm and cold atomic clouds, clouds in transition from atomic to molecular, and dense and warm photon dominated regions (PDRs). Aims. Velocity-resolved observations of [C II] are the most powerful technique available to disentangle the emission produced by these components. These observations can also be used to trace CO-dark H2 gas and determine the total mass of the ISM. Methods. The Galactic Observations of Terahertz C+ (GOT C+) project surveys the [C II] 158 um line over the entire Galactic disk with velocity-resolved observations using the Herschel/HIFI instrument. We present the first longitude-velocity maps of the [C II] emission for Galactic latitudes b = 0°, ±0.5°, and ±1.0°. We combine these maps with those of HI, 12CO, and 13CO to separate the different phases of the ISM and study their properties and distribution in the Galactic plane. Results. [C II] emission is mostly associated with spiral arms, mainly emerging from Galactocentric distances between 4 and 10 kpc. It traces the envelopes of evolved clouds as well as clouds that are in the transition between atomic and molecular. We estimate that most of the observed [C II] emission is produced by dense photon dominated regions (~47%), with smaller contributions from CO- dark H2 gas (~28%), cold atomic gas (~21%), and ionized gas (~4%). Atomic gas inside the Solar radius is mostly in the form of cold neutral medium (CNM), while the warm neutral medium (WNM) gas dominates the outer galaxy. The average fraction of CNM relative to total atomic gas is ~43%.

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Published: 12 June 2013
In this paper, we analyze the strong unidentified emission near 3.28 micron in Titan's upper daytime atmosphere recently discovered by Dinelli et al. We have studied it by using the NASA Ames PAH IR Spectroscopic Database. The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), after absorbing UV solar radiation, are able to emit strongly near 3.3 micron. By using current models for the redistribution of the absorbed UV energy, we have explained the observed spectral feature and have derived the vertical distribution of PAHs abundances in Titan's upper atmosphere. PAHs have been found to be present in large concentrations, about 2-3×104 particles cm-3. The identified PAHs have 9-96 carbons, with a concentration-weighted average of 34 carbons. The mean mass is ~430 amu; the mean area is about 0.53 nm2; they are formed by 10-11 rings on average, and about one-third of them contain nitrogen atoms. Recently, benzene together with light aromatic species as well as small concentrations of heavy positive and negative ions have been detected in Titan's upper atmosphere. We suggest that the large concentrations of PAHs found here are the neutral counterpart of those positive and negative ions, which hence supports the theory that the origin of Titan main haze layer is located in the upper atmosphere.
Published: 06 June 2013
We have analyzed limb daytime observations of Titan's upper atmosphere at 3.3 micron, acquired by the visual-infrared mapping spectrometer (VIMS) on Cassini. They were previously studied by García-Comas et al. (2011) to derive CH4 densities. Here, we report an unidentified emission peaking around 3.28 micron, hidden under the methane R branch. This emission is very strong, with intensity comparable to the CH4 bands located in the same spectral region. It presents a maximum at about 950 km and extends from 600 km up to 1250 km. It is definitely pumped by solar radiation since it vanishes at night. Our analysis shows that neither methane nor the major hydrocarbon compounds already discovered in Titan's upper atmosphere are responsible for it. We have discarded many other potential candidates and suggest that the unidentified emission might be caused by aromatic compounds.
Published: 30 April 2013
In press; The accepted manuscript is available online as of 1 June 2013.


Published: 02 May 2013
We here reassess the global distribution of several key mineral species using the entire OMEGA/Mars Express VIS-NIR imaging spectrometer data set, acquired from orbit insertion in January 2004 to August 2010. Thirty-two pixels per degree global maps of ferric oxides, pyroxenes and olivines have been derived. A significant filtering process was applied in order to exclude data acquired with unfavorable observation geometries or partial surface coverage with water and CO2 frosts. Because of strong atmospheric variations over the 3.6 Martian years of observations primarily due to the interannual variability of the aerosol opacity, a new filter based on the atmospheric dust opacity calibrated by the Mars Exploration Rovers measurements has also been implemented. The Fe3+ absorption features are present everywhere on the surface, with a variety of intensities indicating distinct formation processes. The pyroxene-bearing regions are localized in low albedo regions, while the bright regions are spectrally comparable to anhydrous nanophase ferric oxides. The expanded data set increases by a factor of about 2, the number of olivine detections reported in previous OMEGA-based studies. Olivine is mainly detected in three types of areas over the Martian surface: discontinuous patches on the terraces of the three main basins; smooth inter-crater plains and smooth crater floors throughout the southern highlands; and crater sand dunes, crater ejectas and extended bedrock exposures in the northern plains. Olivine is also detected in the low albedo pyroxene-bearing dunes surrounding the northern polar cap.
Published: 21 September 2012
We present the distribution of olivine on Mars, derived from spectral parameters based on the 1 µm olivine absorption band. The olivine can be defined with respect to two spectral end-members: type 1 corresponds to olivine with low iron content and/or small grain size and/or small abundance, and type 2, which corresponds to olivine with higher iron content and/or larger grain size and/or larger abundance. The spatial and statistical analysis of the global olivine distribution points out five major geological settings where olivine is detected: (1) Early Hesperian olivine-bearing smooth crater floors and flat intercrater plains throughout the southern highlands; (2) olivine deposits around the three main basins Argyre, Hellas, and Isidis; (3) olivine in intercrater dunes, crater ejecta, or extended deposits in the northern plains; (4) olivine associated with outcrops and sand in the floor of Valles Marineris; and (5) olivine-bearing butte outcrops in the vicinity of Hellas. The geological context, the age, and the composition of the olivine detections associated with these five major geological settings are detailed. Their origin and the implication of their occurrence on the composition of the Martian mantle and crust, as well as on the evolution of Mars volcanism are discussed.
Published: 20 February 2013
The surface of Mars has preserved the record of early environments in which its basaltic crust was altered by liquid water. These aqueous environments have survived in the form of hydrological morphologies and alteration minerals, including clays and hydrated salts. Because these minerals probe on Earth aqueous environments compatible with biotic activity, understanding their formation processes on Mars is of great exobiological relevance and also offers insight into Earth's now erased ancient water environments. Using remote sensing, we conducted a large-scale investigation of the distribution, composition, age, and geomorphic settings of hydrous minerals on Mars, providing a sharpened global view of the early aqueous environments and their evolution with time. Aqueous alteration seems to have produced clays on a planetary scale but these are found to be restricted to the oldest observable terrains on Mars (~4 Gyr). However, very diverse aqueous environments have also been found which suggest widespread, complex aqueous settings from the surface to kilometric depths, and spanning over 1 Gyr. By building a robust statistical sample of detections, the global trends inferred here attempt to provide a broad view of our current understanding of hydrous minerals on Mars and provide context for more localized, in-depth analyses. Collectively, these trends suggest that at least transient conditions have existed on Mars which may have been favorable for pre-biotic to biotic activity.
Published: 25 April 2013
The International Rosetta Mission is set for a rendezvous with Comet 67 P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. On its 10 year journey to the comet, the spacecraft will also perform a fly-by of the two asteroids Stein and Lutetia in 2008 and 2010, respectively. The mission goal is to study the origin of comets, the relationship between cometary and interstellar material and its implications with regard to the origin of the Solar System. Measurements will be performed that shed light into the development of cometary activity and the processes in the surface layer of the nucleus and the inner coma. The Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System (MIDAS) instrument is an essential element of Rosetta's scientific payload. It will provide 3D images and statistical parameters of pristine cometary particles in the nm-µm range from Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. According to cometary dust models and experience gained from the Giotto and Vega missions to 1P/Halley, there appears to be an abundance of particles in this size range, which also covers the building blocks of pristine interplanetary dust particles. The dust collector of MIDAS will point at the comet and collect particles drifting outwards from the nucleus surface. MIDAS is based on an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), a type of scanning microprobe able to image small structures in 3D. AFM images provide morphological and statistical information on the dust population, including texture, shape, size and flux. Although the AFM uses proven laboratory technology, MIDAS is its first such application in space. This paper describes the scientific objectives and background, the technical implementation and the capabilities of MIDAS as they stand after the commissioning of the flight instrument, and the implications for cometary measurements.
Published: 01 February 2007
In this paper we present a detailed study of the structures and morphologies of a sample of 1188 massive galaxies with Mstar>10^10Msun between redshifts z=1-3 within the Ultra Deep Survey (UDS) region of the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS) field. Using this sample we determine how galaxy structure and morphology evolve with time. We visually classify our sample into disks, ellipticals and peculiar systems and correct for redshift effects on our classifications through simulations. We find evolution in the fractions of galaxies at a given visual classification as a function of redshift. The peculiar population is dominant at z>2 with a substantial spheroid population, and a negligible disk population. We compute the transition redshift, ztrans, where the combined fraction of spheroids and disks is equal to that of peculiar galaxies, as ztrans=1.86+/-0.62 for galaxies in our stellar mass range. We find that this changes as a function of stellar mass, with Hubble-type systems becoming dominant at higher redshifts for higher mass galaxies (ztrans=2.22+/-0.82), than for the lower mass galaxies (ztrans=1.73+/-0.57). Higher mass galaxies become morphologically settled before their lower mass counterparts, a form of morphological downsizing. We furthermore compare our visual classifications with Sersic index, the concentration, asymmetry and clumpiness (CAS) parameters, star formation rate and rest frame U-B colour. We find links between the colour of a galaxy, its star formation rate and how extended or peculiar it appears. Finally, we discuss the negligible z>2 disk fraction based on visual morphologies and speculate that this is an effect of forming disks appearing peculiar through processes such as violent disk instabilities or mergers. We conclude that to properly define high redshift morphology a new and more exact classification scheme is needed.
Published: 25 May 2013
We report on the long-term X-ray monitoring of the outburst decay of the low magnetic field magnetar SGR 0418+5729 using all the available X-ray data obtained with RXTE, Swift, Chandra, and XMM-Newton observations from the discovery of the source in 2009 June up to 2012 August. The timing analysis allowed us to obtain the first measurement of the period derivative of SGR 0418+5729: Pdot= 4(1) × 10-15 s s-1, significant at a ~3.5 sigma confidence level. This leads to a surface dipolar magnetic field of Bdip ~ 6 × 1012 G. This measurement confirms SGR 0418+5729 as the lowest magnetic field magnetar. Following the flux and spectral evolution from the beginning of the outburst up to ~1200 days, we observe a gradual cooling of the tiny hot spot responsible for the X-ray emission, from a temperature of ~0.9 to 0.3 keV. Simultaneously, the X-ray flux decreased by about three orders of magnitude: from about 1.4 × 10-11 to 1.2 × 10-14 erg s-1 cm-2. Deep radio, millimeter, optical, and gamma-ray observations did not detect the source counterpart, implying stringent limits on its multi-band emission, as well as constraints on the presence of a fossil disk. By modeling the magneto-thermal secular evolution of SGR 0418+5729, we infer a realistic age of ~550 kyr, and a dipolar magnetic field at birth of ~1014 G. The outburst characteristics suggest the presence of a thin twisted bundle with a small heated spot at its base. The bundle untwisted in the first few months following the outburst, while the hot spot decreases in temperature and size. We estimate the outburst rate of low magnetic field magnetars to be about one per year per galaxy, and we briefly discuss the consequences of such a result in several other astrophysical contexts.
Published: 25 May 2013
We have been able to compare with astrometric precision AstroDrizzle processed images of NGC 6720 (the Ring Nebula) made using two cameras on the Hubble Space Telescope. The time difference of the observations was 12.925 yrs. This large time-base allowed determination of tangential velocities of features within this classic planetary nebula. Individual features were measured in [N II] images as were the dark knots seen in silhouette against background nebular [O III] emission. An image magnification and matching technique was also used to test the accuracy of the usual assumption of homologous expansion. We found that homologous expansion does apply, but the rate of expansion is greater along the major axis of the nebula, which is intrinsically larger than the minor axis.
We find that the dark knots expand more slowly that the nebular gas, that the distance to the nebula is 720 pc +/- 30 per cent, and the dynamic age of the Ring Nebula is about 4000 yrs. The dynamic age is in agreement with the position of the central star on theoretical curves for stars collapsing from the peak of the Asymptotic Giant Branch to being white dwarfs.
Published: 19 April 2013
We have performed a detailed analysis of the electron temperature and density in the Ring Nebula using the calibrated Hubble Space Telescope WFC3 images described in the preceding paper. The electron temperature (Te) determined from [N II] and [O III] rises slightly and monotonically toward the central star. The observed equivalent width (EW) in the central region indicates that Te rises as high as 13,000 K. In contrast, the low EWs in the outer regions are largely due to scattered diffuse Galactic radiation by dust. The images allowed determination of unprecedented small-scale variations in Te. These variations indicate that the mean square area temperature fluctuations are significantly higher than expected from simple photoionization. The power producing these fluctuations occurs at scales of less than 3.5×1015 cm. This scale length provides a strong restriction on the mechanism causing the large t2 values observed.
Published: 28 February 2013
We have performed a detailed analysis of the Ring Nebula (NGC 6720) using Hubble Space Telescope WFC3 images and derived a new three-dimensional model. Existing high spectral resolution spectra played an important supplementary role in our modeling. It is shown that the Main Ring of the nebula is an ionization-bounded irregular non-symmetric disk with a central cavity and perpendicular extended lobes pointed almost toward the observer. The faint outer halos are determined to be fossil radiation, i.e., radiation from gas ionized in an earlier stage of the nebula when it was not ionization bounded. The narrowband WFC3 filters that isolate some of the emission lines are affected by broadening on their short wavelength side and all the filters were calibrated using ground-based spectra. The filter calibration results are presented in an appendix.
Published: 28 February 2013
Stellar archaeology shows that massive elliptical galaxies formed rapidly about ten billion years ago with star-formation rates of above several hundred solar masses per year. Their progenitors are probably the submillimetre bright galaxies at redshifts z greater than 2. Although the mean molecular gas mass (5x1010 solar masses) of the submillimetre bright galaxies can explain the formation of typical elliptical galaxies, it is inadequate to form elliptical galaxies that already have stellar masses above 2x1011 solar masses at z~2. Here we report multi-wavelength high-resolution observations of a rare merger of two massive submillimetre bright galaxies at z=2.3. The system is seen to be forming stars at a rate of 2,000 solar masses per year. The star-formation efficiency is an order of magnitude greater than that of normal galaxies, so the gas reservoir will be exhausted and star formation will be quenched in only around 200 million years. At a projected separation of 19 kiloparsecs, the two massive starbursts are about to merge and form a passive elliptical galaxy with a stellar mass of about 4x1011 solar masses. We conclude that gas-rich major galaxy mergers with intense star formation can form the most massive elliptical galaxies by z~1.5.
Published: 23 May 2013
26-Sep-2020 02:40 UT

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