Publication archive

Publication archive

Without a source of new gas, our Galaxy would exhaust its supply of gas through the formation of stars. Ionized gas clouds observed at high velocity may be a reservoir of such gas, but their distances are key for placing them in the galactic halo and unraveling their role. We have used the Hubble Space Telescope to blindly search for ionized high-velocity clouds (iHVCs) in the foreground of galactic stars. We show that iHVCs with 90 < |vLSR| <~ 170 kilometers per second (where vLSR is the velocity in the local standard of rest frame) are within one galactic radius of the Sun and have enough mass to maintain star formation, whereas iHVCs with |vLSR| >~ 170 kilometers per second are at larger distances. These may be the next wave of infalling material.
Published: 18 November 2011
Outflowing winds of multiphase plasma have been proposed to regulate the buildup of galaxies, but key aspects of these outflows have not been probed with observations. By using ultraviolet absorption spectroscopy, we show that 'warm-hot' plasma at 105.5 Kelvin contains 10 to 150 times more mass than the cold gas in a post-starburst galaxy wind. This wind extends to distances > 68 kiloparsecs, and at least some portion of it will escape. Moreover, the kinematical correlation of the cold and warm-hot phases indicates that the warm-hot plasma is related to the interaction of the cold matter with a hotter (unseen) phase at >>106 Kelvin. Such multiphase winds can remove substantial masses and alter the evolution of post-starburst galaxies.
Published: 18 November 2011
The circumgalactic medium (CGM) is fed by galaxy outflows and accretion of intergalactic gas, but its mass, heavy element enrichment, and relation to galaxy properties are poorly constrained by observations. In a survey of the outskirts of 42 galaxies with the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph onboard the Hubble Space Telescope, we detected ubiquitous, large (150-kiloparsec) halos of ionized oxygen surrounding star-forming galaxies; we found much less ionized oxygen around galaxies with little or no star formation. This ionized CGM contains a substantial mass of heavy elements and gas, perhaps far exceeding the reservoirs of gas in the galaxies themselves. Our data indicate that it is a basic component of nearly all star-forming galaxies that is removed or transformed during the quenching of star formation and the transition to passive evolution.
Published: 18 November 2011
We present Cassini magnetic field observations from the only two close flybys (16DI and 129DI) of Saturn's icy satellite Dione which have been carried out so far. Data from 16DI show a weak field perturbation in the upstream region, indicative of a tenuous atmosphere around the satellite. By applying an analytical model of the perturbations caused by subalfvénic atmosphere-magnetosphere interactions, we demonstrate that an atmospheric column density of approximately 1x1017 m-2 would be able to sustain the observed field signature. Magnetic field data from 16DI also contain hints that Dione's gas envelope might possess a slight asymmetry between the Saturn-facing and the Saturn-averted hemisphere. The detection of a thin atmosphere at Dione might be correlated to the occurrence of a transient radiation belt near the moon's L-shell at the time of the 16DI flyby, as reported by Roussos et al. (2008b). On the other hand, magnetic field observations from the subsequent downstream encounter 129DI show no clear evidence of an atmosphere, probably due to the flyby trajectory being unsuitable for the detection of the associated perturbations.
Published: 13 August 2011
Summary of the study performed at ESA's Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) into the M-class candidate mission MarcoPolo-R.
Published: 08 November 2011
Presentation of the preliminary mission design for MarcoPolo-R, based on the mission study performed at ESA's Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) in October and November 2011. This document has been superseded by the MarcoPolo-R CDF study - External Final Presentation.
Published: 07 November 2011

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.
- The remainder of the abstract is truncated -
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
12-Apr-2024 16:33 UT

ShortUrl Portlet

Shortcut URL