Publication archive

Publication archive

Reference: SRE-PA/2011.079

This document describes the proposed model payload of MarcoPolo-R, a sample return mission to a near-Earth asteroid (NEA), which is currently under assessment as a candidate mission in ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Plan.

Published: 04 November 2011
X-ray absorption line spectroscopy has recently shown evidence for previously unknown Ultra-fast Outflows (UFOs) in radio-quiet active galactic nuclei (AGNs). These have been detected essentially through blueshifted Fe XXV/XXVI K-shell transitions. In the previous paper of this series we defined UFOs as those highly ionized absorbers with an outflow velocity higher than 10,000 km/s and assessed the statistical significance of the associated blueshifted absorption lines in a large sample of 42 local radio-quiet AGNs observed with XMM-Newton. The present paper is an extension of that work. First, we report a detailed curve of growth analysis of the main Fe XXV/XXVI transitions in photoionized plasmas. Then, we estimate an average spectral energy distribution for the sample sources and directly model the Fe K absorbers in the XMM-Newton spectra with the detailed Xstar photoionization code. We confirm that the frequency of sources in the radio-quiet sample showing UFOs is >35 per cent and that the majority of the Fe K absorbers are indeed associated with UFOs. The outflow velocity distribution spans from ~10,000 km/s (~0.03c) up to ~100,000 km/s (~0.3c), with a peak and mean value of ~42,000 km/s (~0.14c). The ionization parameter is very high and in the range log xi~3-6 erg s-1 cm, with a mean value of log xi~4.2 erg s-1 cm. The associated column densities are also large, in the range NH~1022-1024 cm-2, with a mean value of NH~1023 cm-2. We discuss and estimate how selection effects, such as those related to the limited instrumental sensitivity at energies above 7 keV, may hamper the detection of even higher velocities and higher ionization absorbers.
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Published: 03 November 2011
Clay minerals, recently discovered to be widespread in Mars's Noachian terrains, indicate long-duration interaction between water and rock over 3.7 billion years ago. Analysis of how they formed should indicate what environmental conditions prevailed on early Mars. If clays formed near the surface by weathering, as is common on Earth, their presence would indicate past surface conditions warmer and wetter than at present. However, available data instead indicate substantial Martian clay formation by hydrothermal groundwater circulation and a Noachian rock record dominated by evidence of subsurface waters. Cold, arid conditions with only transient surface water may have characterized Mars's surface for over 4 billion years, since the early-Noachian period, and the longest-duration aqueous, potentially habitable environments may have been in the subsurface.
Published: 03 November 2011

Made available online 25 August 2011

To date, ozone has only been identified in the atmospheres of Earth and Mars. This study reports the first detection of ozone in the atmosphere of Venus by the SPICAV ultraviolet instrument onboard the Venus Express spacecraft. Venusian ozone is characterized by a vertically confined and horizontally variable layer residing in the thermosphere at a mean altitude of 100 km, with local concentrations of the order of 107-108 molecules cm-3. The observed ozone concentrations are consistent with values expected for a chlorine-catalyzed destruction scheme, indicating that the key chemical reactions operating in Earth's upper stratosphere may also operate on Venus.

Published: 01 November 2011
Asteroid 21 Lutetia was approached by the Rosetta spacecraft on 10 July 2010. The additional Doppler shift of the spacecraft radio signals imposed by 21 Lutetia's gravitational perturbation on the flyby trajectory were used to determine the mass of the asteroid. Calibrating and correcting for all Doppler contributions not associated with Lutetia, a least-squares fit to the residual frequency observations from 4 hours before to 6 hours after closest approach yields a mass of (1.700 ± 0.017) × 1018 kilograms. Using the volume model of Lutetia determined by the Rosetta Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS) camera, the bulk density, an important parameter for clues to its composition and interior, is (3.4 ± 0.3) × 103 kilograms per cubic meter.
Published: 29 October 2011
The Visible, InfraRed, and Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) on Rosetta obtained hyperspectral images, spectral reflectance maps, and temperature maps of the asteroid 21 Lutetia. No absorption features, of either silicates or hydrated minerals, have been detected across the observed area in the spectral range from 0.4 to 3.5 micrometers. The surface temperature reaches a maximum value of 245 kelvin and correlates well with topographic features. The thermal inertia is in the range from 20 to 30 joules meter-2 kelvin-1 second-0.5, comparable to a lunarlike powdery regolith. Spectral signatures of surface alteration, resulting from space weathering, seem to be missing. Lutetia is likely a remnant of the primordial planetesimal population, unaltered by differentiation processes and composed of chondritic materials of enstatitic or carbonaceous origin, dominated by iron-poor minerals that have not suffered aqueous alteration.
Published: 29 October 2011
Images obtained by the Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS) cameras onboard the Rosetta spacecraft reveal that asteroid 21 Lutetia has a complex geology and one of the highest asteroid densities measured so far, 3.4 ± 0.3 grams per cubic centimeter. The north pole region is covered by a thick layer of regolith, which is seen to flow in major landslides associated with albedo variation. Its geologically complex surface, ancient surface age, and high density suggest that Lutetia is most likely a primordial planetesimal. This contrasts with smaller asteroids visited by previous spacecraft, which are probably shattered bodies, fragments of larger parents, or reaccumulated rubble piles.
Published: 29 October 2011
More than half a century after the discovery of Pi2 pulsations, Pi2 research is still vigorous and evolving. Especially in the last decade, new results have provided supporting evidence for some Pi2 models, challenged earlier interpretations, and led to entirely new models. We have gone beyond the inner magnetosphere and have explored the outer magnetosphere, where Pi2 pulsations have been observed in unexpected places. The new Pi2 models cover virtually all magnetotail regions and their coupling, from the reconnection site via the lobes and plasma sheet to the ionosphere. In addition to understanding the Pi2 phenomenon in itself, it has also been important to study Pi2 pulsations in their role as transient manifestations of the coupling between the magnetosphere and the ionosphere. The transient Pi2 is an integral part of the substorm phenomenon, especially during substorm onset. Key questions about the workings of magnetospheric substorms are still awaiting answers, and research on Pi2 pulsations can help with those answers. Furthermore, the role of Pi2 pulsations in association with other dynamic magnetospheric modes has been explored in the last decade. Thus, the application of Pi2 research has expanded over the years, assuring that Pi2 research will remain active in this decade and beyond. Here we review recent advances, which have given us a new understanding of Pi2 pulsations generated at various places in the magnetosphere during different magnetospheric modes. We review seven Pi2 models found in the literature and show how they are supported by observations from spacecraft and ground observatories as well as numerical simulations. The models have different degrees of maturity; while some enjoy wide acceptance, others are still speculative.
Published: 22 October 2011
Icy bodies may have delivered the oceans to the early Earth, yet little is known about water in the ice-dominated regions of extrasolar planet-forming disks. The Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared on board the Herschel Space Observatory has detected emission lines from both spin isomers of cold water vapor from the disk around the young star TW Hydrae. This water vapor likely originates from ice-coated solids near the disk surface, hinting at a water ice reservoir equivalent to several thousand Earth Oceans in mass. The water's ortho-to-para ratio falls well below that of solar system comets, suggesting that comets contain heterogeneous ice mixtures collected across the entire solar nebula during the early stages of planetary birth.
Published: 22 October 2011
A refined cascade model for kinetic turbulence in weakly collisional astrophysical plasmas is presented that includes both the transition between weak and strong turbulence and the effect of nonlocal interactions on the nonlinear transfer of energy. The model describes the transition between weak and strong MHD turbulence and the complementary transition from strong kinetic Alfven wave (KAW) turbulence to weak dissipating KAW turbulence, a new regime of weak turbulence in which the effects of shearing by large scale motions and kinetic dissipation play an important role. The inclusion of the effect of nonlocal motions on the nonlinear energy cascade rate in the dissipation range, specifically the shearing by large-scale motions, is proposed to explain the nearly power-law energy spectra observed in the dissipation range of both kinetic numerical simulations and solar wind observations.
Published: 19 October 2011
Recent progress in understanding the physics of magnetic reconnection is conveniently summarized in terms of a phase diagram which organizes the essential dynamics for a wide variety of applications in heliophysics, laboratory, and astrophysics. The two key dimensionless parameters are the Lundquist number and the macrosopic system size in units of the ion sound gyroradius. In addition to the conventional single X-line collisional and collisionless phases, multiple X-line reconnection phases arise due to the presence of the plasmoid instability either in collisional and collisionless current sheets. In particular, there exists a unique phase termed "multiple X-line hybrid phase" where a hierarchy of collisional islands or plasmoids is terminated by a collisionless current sheet, resulting in a rapid coupling between the macroscopic and kinetic scales and a mixture of collisional and collisionless dynamics. The new phases involving multiple X-lines and collisionless physics may be important for the emerging applications of magnetic reconnection to accelerate charged particles beyond their thermal speeds. A large number of heliophysical and astrophysical plasmas are surveyed and grouped in the phase diagram: Earths magnetosphere, solar plasmas (chromosphere, corona, wind, and tachocline), galactic plasmas (molecular clouds, interstellar media, accretion disks and their coronae, Crab nebula, Sgr A*, gamma ray bursts, and magnetars), and extragalactic plasmas (active galactic nuclei disks and their coronae, galaxy clusters, radio lobes, and extragalactic jets). Significance of laboratory experiments, including a next generation reconnection experiment, is also discussed.
Published: 19 October 2011

Published online on 5 October 2011.

For decades, the source of Earth's volatiles, especially water with a deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio (D/H) of (1.558±0.001)×10-4, has been a subject of debate. The similarity of Earth's bulk composition to that of meteorites known as enstatite chondrites suggests a dry proto-Earth with subsequent delivery of volatiles via local accretion or impacts of asteroids or comets. Previous measurements in six comets from the Oort cloud yielded a mean D/H ratio of (2.96±0.25)×10-4. The D/H value in carbonaceous chondrites, (1.4±0.1)×10-4, together with dynamical simulations, led to models in which asteroids were the main source of Earth's water, with <10 per cent being delivered by comets. Here we report that the D/H ratio in the Jupiter-family comet 103P/Hartley 2, which originated in the Kuiper belt, is (1.61±0.24)×10-4. This result substantially expands the reservoir of Earth ocean-like water to include some comets, and is consistent with the emerging picture of a complex dynamical evolution of the early Solar System.

Published: 14 October 2011

Summary of the study performed at ESA's Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) into the M-class mission Large Observatory for X-ray Timing (LOFT).

Contents of the presentation:

  • Introduction
  • Study logic
  • Requirements
  • Baseline design for a launch with Vega
    1. Main trade-offs
    2. System and subsystem overview
    3. System budgets
    4. Risk, cost, and programmatics
  • Design assessment for a launch with Soyuz
  • Payload aspects
  • Conclusions
  • Open issues

Published: 08 October 2011
We analyze light curves from the LYRA irradiance experiment on board PROBA2 during the flare of 2010 February 8. We see both long- and short-period oscillations during the flare. The long-period oscillation is interpreted in terms of standing slow sausage modes; the short-period oscillation is thought to be a standing fast sausage mode. The simultaneous presence of two oscillation modes in the same flaring structure allows for new coronal seismological applications. The periods are used to find seismological estimates of the plasma- beta and the density contrast of the flaring loop. Also the wave mode number is estimated from the observed periods.
Published: 04 October 2011
Published online on 2 Sept 2011.
Two main modes of star formation are know to control the growth of galaxies: a relatively steady one in disk-like galaxies, defining a tight star formation rate (SFR)-stellar mass sequence, and a starburst mode in outliers to such a sequence which is generally interpreted as driven by merging. Such starburst galaxies are rare but have much higher SFRs, and it is of interest to establish the relative importance of these two modes. PACS/Herschel observations over the whole COSMOS and GOODS-South fields, in conjunction with previous optical/near-IR data, have allowed us to accurately quantify for the first time the relative contribution of the two modes to the global SFR density in the redshift interval 1.5 < z < 2.5, i.e., at the cosmic peak of the star formation activity. The logarithmic distributions of galaxy SFRs at fixed stellar mass are well described by Gaussians, with starburst galaxies representing only a relatively minor deviation that becomes apparent for SFRs more than 4 times higher than on the main sequence. Such starburst galaxies represent only 2% of mass-selected star forming galaxies and account for only 10% of the cosmic SFR density at z~2. Only when limited to SFR> 1000MSun/yr, off-sequence sources significantly contribute to the SFR density (46±20%). We conclude that merger-driven starbursts play a relatively minor role for the formation of stars in galaxies, whereas they may represent a critical phase towards the quenching of star formation and morphological transformation in galaxies.
Published: 02 September 2011

Astro-ph preprint submitted on 30 September 2011.

The Hipparcos satellite was launched in 1989. It was the first, and remains to date the only, attempt at performing large-scale astrometric measurements from space. Hipparcos marked a fundamentally new approach to the field of astrometry, revolutionising our knowledge of the positions, distances, and space motions of the stars in the solar neighbourhood. In this retrospective, I look back at the processes which led to the mission's acceptance, provide a short summary of the underlying measurement principles and the experiment's scientific achievements, and a conclude with a brief summary of its principal legacy - the Gaia mission.

Published as: "EAS Tycho Brahe prize lecture 2011", The Astronomy and Astrophysics Review, Volume 19, Issue 1, December 2011, Article 45.

Published: 01 October 2011
The vertical distribution of water vapor is key to the study of Mars' hydrological cycle. To date, it has been explored mainly through global climate models because of a lack of direct measurements. However, these models assume the absence of supersaturation in the atmosphere of Mars. Here, we report observations made using the SPICAM (Spectroscopy for the Investigation of the Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Mars) instrument onboard Mars Express that provide evidence of the frequent presence of water vapor in excess of saturation, by an amount far surpassing that encountered in Earth's atmosphere. This result contradicts the widespread assumption that atmospheric water on Mars cannot exist in a supersaturated state, directly affecting our long-term representation of water transport, accumulation, escape, and chemistry on a global scale.
Published: 30 September 2011
Reference: ESA/SRE(2011)12

This report, the so-called Red Book, describes the outcome of the mission definition study (Phase A) for the Euclid mission.

Published: 30 September 2011
A striking feature of the atmosphere of Titan is that no heavy noble gases other than argon were detected by the Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer aboard the Huygens probe during its descent to Titan's surface in 2005 January. Here we provide an explanation of the mysterious absence or rarity of these noble gases in Titan's atmosphere: the thermodynamic conditions prevailing at the surface-atmosphere interface of the satellite allow the formation of multiple guest clathrates that preferentially store some species, including all heavy noble gases, over others. The clean water ice needed for the formation of these clathrates could be delivered by successive episodes of cryovolcanic lavas that have been hypothesized to regularly cover the surface of Titan. The formation of clathrates in the porous lavas and their propensity for trapping Ar, Kr, and Xe would progressively remove these species from the atmosphere of Titan over the course of its history. In some circumstances, a global clathrate crust with an average thickness not exceeding a few meters could be sufficient on Titan for a complete removal of the heavy noble gases from the atmosphere.
Published: 20 September 2011
We present the deepest 100 to 500 micron far-infrared observations obtained with the Herschel Space Observatory as part of the GOODS-Herschel key program, and examine the infrared (IR) 3-500 micron spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of galaxies at 0 < z < 2.5, supplemented by a local reference sample from IRAS, ISO, Spitzer and AKARI data. We determine the projected star formation densities of local galaxies from their radio and mid-IR continuum sizes. We find that the ratio of total IR luminosity to rest-frame 8 micron luminosity, IR8 (=LtotIR/L8), follows a Gaussian distribution centered on IR8=4 (sigma=1.6) and defines an IR main sequence for star-forming galaxies independent of redshift and luminosity. Outliers from this main sequence produce a tail skewed toward higher values of IR8. This minority population (<20%) is shown to consist of starbursts with compact projected star formation densities. IR8 can be used to separate galaxies with normal and extended modes of star formation from compact starbursts with high-IR8, high projected IR surface brightness (SigmaIR>3×1010 LSunkpc-2) and a high specific star formation rate (i.e., starbursts). The rest-frame, UV-2700 Angstrom size of these distant starbursts is typically half that of main sequence galaxies, supporting the correlation between star formation density and starburst activity that is measured for the local sample.
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Published: 14 September 2011
15-Jul-2020 07:11 UT

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