ESA Science & Technology - Publication Archive
L1 Mission Reformulation, ATHENA
This report summarises the findings of the ESA review on the reformulation of IXO, the International X-ray Observatory (L class mission candidate of the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme), into the new mission concept named ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics).
The review, completed at the end of the reformulation exercise, establishes the overall feasibility and credibility of the L1 mission candidate reformulated concept - for both platform and payload - for a launch in 2022, and an ESA cost at completion of 850 MEuro (e.c. 2010).
Using the results of a previous X-ray photo-ionization modelling of blue-shifted Fe K absorption lines on a sample of 42 local radio-quiet AGNs observed with XMM-Newton, in this letter we estimate the location and energetics of the associated ultra-fast outflows (UFOs). Due to significant uncertainties, we are essentially able to place only lower/upper limits. On average, their location is in the interval ~0.0003-0.03pc (~102-104 rs) from the central black hole, consistent with what is expected for accretion disk winds/outflows. The mass outflow rates are constrained between ~0.01-1 M_Sun/yr, corresponding to >5-10% of the accretion rates. The average lower-upper limits on the mechanical power are log(EK_dot)~42.6-44.6 erg/s. However, the minimum possible value of the ratio between the mechanical power and bolometric luminosity is constrained to be comparable or higher than the minimum required by simulations of feedback induced by winds/outflows. Therefore, this work demonstrates that UFOs are indeed capable to provide a significant contribution to the AGN cosmological feedback, in agreement with theoretical expectations and the recent observation of interactions between AGN outflows and the interstellar medium in several Seyferts galaxies.
This issue of Icarus presents papers on the planet Venus based principally on presentations at two international conferences during the summer of 2010. Under the sponsorship of the European Space Agency, the International Venus Conference (Aussois, France, 20-26 June 2010) focused on the results from the Venus Express Mission. Venus Express is expected to continue operations through December 2014 and beyond. The second conference, "Venus Our Closest Earth-like Planet: From Surface to Thermosphere - How does it work?", was sponsored by the Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG) chartered by NASA in Madison, Wisconsin (29 August-1 September, 2010). The work presented at these conferences illustrates the resurgence in Venus research since the arrival at Venus of the European Space Agency's Venus Express orbiter in April 2006. The issue also includes papers that were inspired by JAXA's launch of Venus Climate Orbiter (also known as Akatsuki) in May 2010.
The papers reflect the international interest in Venus and cover many different aspects of the planet, ranging from interior and surface to the upper atmosphere, with many results focusing on the coupling between different layers.
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We present in situ Cassini Radio Plasma Wave Science observations in the vicinity of Enceladus and in the E ring of Saturn that indicate the presence of dusty plasma. The four flybys of Enceladus in 2008 revealed the following cold plasma characteristics: (1) there is a large plasma density (both ions and electrons) within the Enceladus plume region, (2) no plasma wake effect behind Enceladus was detected, (3) electron densities are generally much lower than the ion densities in the E ring (ne/ni < 0.5) as well as in the plume (ne/ni < 0.01), and (4) the average bulk ion drift speed is significantly less than the corotation speed and is instead close to the Keplerian speed. These signatures result from half or more of the electrons being attached to dust grains and by the interaction between the surrounding cold plasma and the predominantly negatively charged submicrometer-sized dust grains. The dust and plasma properties estimated from the observations clearly show that the dust-plasma interaction is collective. This strong dust-plasma coupling appears not only in the Enceladus plume but also in the Enceladus torus, typically from about 20 RE (~5000 km) north and about 60 RE (~15,000 km) south of Enceladus. We also suggest that the dust-plasma interaction in the E ring is the cause of the planetary spin-modulated dynamics of Saturn's magnetosphere at large.
Methods. The star zeta Puppis was observed 18 times by XMM-Newton, totaling 1 Ms in exposure. This provides the highest quality high-resolution X-ray spectrum of a massive star to date, as well as a perfect dataset for studying X-ray variability in an "archetype" object.
Results. This first paper reports on the data reduction of this unique dataset and provides a few preliminary results. On the one hand, analysis of EPIC low-resolution spectra shows the star to have a remarkably stable X-ray emission from one observation to the next. On the other hand, fitting by a wind model of individual line profiles recorded by RGS confirms the wavelength dependence of the line morphology.
Made available online 29 November 2011, before print publication
We report on a new Be/X-ray pulsar binary located in the Wing of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). The strong pulsed X-ray source was discovered with the Chandra and XMM-Newton X-ray observatories. The X-ray pulse period of 1062 s is consistently determined from both Chandra and XMM-Newton observations, revealing one of the slowest rotating X-ray pulsars known in the SMC. The optical counterpart of the X-ray source is the emission-line star 2dFS 3831. Its B0-0.5(III)e+ spectral type is determined from VLT-FLAMES and 2dF optical spectroscopy, establishing the system as a Be/X-ray binary (Be-XRB). The hard X-ray spectrum is well fitted by a power law with additional thermal and blackbody components, the latter reminiscent of persistent Be-XRBs. This system is the first evidence of a recent supernova in the low-density surroundings of NGC 602. We detect a shell nebula around 2dFS 3831 in Ha and [O III] images and conclude that it is most likely a supernova remnant. If it is linked to the supernova explosion that created this new X-ray pulsar, its kinematic age of (2-4) × 104 yr provides a constraint on the age of the pulsar.
The NGO (New Gravitational wave Observatory) concept results from the reformulation of the LISA mission into a European-led mission.
This report, the so-called Yellow Book, contains the results of ESA's assessment study (Phase 0/A) of the candidate L-class Cosmic Vision mission NGO.
The JUICE (JUpiter ICy moon Explorer) concept results from the reformulation of the EJSM-Laplace mission into a European-led mission.
This report, the so-called Yellow Book, contains the results of ESA's assessment study (Phase 0/A) of the candidate L-class Cosmic Vision mission JUICE.
The ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) concept results from the reformulation of the IXO mission into a European-led mission.
This report, the so-called Yellow Book, contains the results of ESA's assessment study (Phase 0/A) of the candidate L-class Cosmic Vision mission ATHENA.