Publication archive

Publication archive

The SWAP telescope (Sun Watcher using Active Pixel System detector and Image Processing) is an instrument launched on 2nd November 2009 on-board the ESA PROBA2 technological mission. SWAP is a space weather sentinel from a low Earth orbit, providing images at 174 nm of the solar corona. The instrument concept has been adapted to the PROBA2 mini-satellite requirements (compactness, low power electronics and a-thermal opto-mechanical system). It also takes advantage of the platform pointing agility, on-board processor, Packetwire interface and autonomous operations. The key component of SWAP is a radiation resistant CMOS-APS detector combined with onboard compression and data prioritization. SWAP has been developed and qualified at the Centre Spatial de Liege (CSL) and calibrated at the PTBBessy facility. After launch, SWAP has provided its first images on 14th November 2009 and started its nominal, scientific phase in February 2010, after 3 months of platform and payload commissioning. This paper summarizes the latest SWAP developments and qualifications, and presents the first light results.
Published: 02 June 2010
SWAP (Sun Watcher using Active Pixel system detector and image processing) is a solar imager in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) that has been selected to fly in 2007 on the PROBA 2 technological platform, an ESA program. SWAP will use an off-axis Ritchey Chrétien telescope equipped with an EUV enhanced active pixel sensor detector (coated APS). This type of detector has advantages that promise to be very profitable for solar EUV imaging. SWAP will provide solar coronal images at a 1-min cadence in a bandpass centered on 17.5 nm. Observations with this specific wavelength allow detecting phenomena, such as solar flares or EIT-waves, associated with the early phase of coronal mass ejections. Image processing software will be developed that automatically detects these phenomena and sends out space weather warnings. Together with its sister instrument LYRA, also onboard PROBA 2, SWAP will serve as a high performance solar monitoring tool to be used in operational space weather forecasting. The SWAP data will complement the solar observations provided by instruments like SOHO-EIT, and STEREO-SECCHI.
Published: 02 May 2008

Aims. LYRA, the Large Yield Radiometer, is a vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) solar radiometer, planned to be launched in November 2009 on the European Space Agency PROBA2, the Project for On-Board Autonomy spacecraft.

Methods. The instrument was radiometrically calibrated in the radiometry laboratory of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) at the Berlin Electron Storage ring for SYnchroton radiation (BESSY II). The calibration was done using monochromatized synchrotron radiation at PTBs VUV and soft X-ray radiometry beamlines using reference detectors calibrated with the help of an electrical substitution radiometer as the primary detector standard.

Results. A total relative uncertainty of the radiometric calibration of the LYRA instrument between 1% and 11% was achieved. LYRA will provide irradiance data of the Sun in four UV passbands and with high temporal resolution down to 10 ms. The present state of the LYRA pre-flight calibration is presented as well as the expected instrument performance.

Published: 04 November 2009

We review the formalism and applications of the halo-based description of non-linear gravitational clustering. In this approach, all mass is associated with virialized dark matter halos; models of the number and spatial distribution of the halos, and the distribution of dark matter within each halo, are used to provide estimates of how the statistical properties of large scale density and velocity fields evolve as a result of non-linear gravitational clustering. We first describe the model, and demonstrate its accuracy by comparing its predictions with exact results from numerical simulations of non-linear gravitational clustering. We then present several astrophysical applications of the halo model: these include models of the spatial distribution of galaxies, the non-linear velocity, momentum and pressure fields, descriptions of weak gravitational lensing, and estimates of secondary contributions to temperature fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background.

Published: 16 February 2011
The extragalactic background light at far-infrared wavelengths comes from optically faint, dusty, star-forming galaxies in the Universe with star formation rates of a few hundred solar masses per year. These faint, submillimetre galaxies are challenging to study individually because of the relatively poor spatial resolution of far-infrared telescopes. Instead, their average properties can be studied using statistics such as the angular power spectrum of the background intensity variations. A previous attempt at measuring this power spectrum resulted in the suggestion that the clustering amplitude is below the level computed with a simple ansatz based on a halo model. Here we report excess clustering over the linear prediction at arcminute angular scales in the power spectrum of brightness fluctuations at 250, 350 and 500 Œm. From this excess, we find that submillimetre galaxies are located in dark matter haloes with a minimum mass, Mmin, such that log10[Mmin/Msolar] = 11.5 (+0.7-0.2) at 350 µm, where Msolar is the solar mass. This minimum dark matter halo mass corresponds to the most efficient mass scale for star formation in the Universe, and is lower than that predicted by semi-analytical models for galaxy formation.
Published: 16 February 2011
In 2007 during the declining phase of the solar cycle the energetic upstream ion events occurred mainly after a corotating interaction region passed the Earth's magnetosphere. We study the relation between these upstream events observed from about 70 to 1750 RE away from the Earth and observations in the vicinity of the terrestrial bow shock (up to 30 RE). For this purpose, simultaneous measurements of energetic ions from STEREO A and STEREO B (far upstream region) and from Cluster and Geotail (near the bow shock) are used. In all cases the energetic ions far upstream are associated with the upstream ion events near the bow shock. The upstream events are observed simultaneously mainly when the magnetic field is pointing along the line joining those satellites in the far upstream region with those near the terrestrial bow shock. The upstream events near the bow shock often coincide with sunward directed electron bursts, increased AE index (>200 nT), nonexponential proton spectra, and most important the presence of O+ ions, all of which imply at least partly a magnetospheric origin. In ~57% of cases the upstream ion events near the bow shock are associated with electron bursts and/or with the presence of O+, and ~40% of the latter events are associated with electron bursts at STEREO A. Although we present strong evidence that the events are partially of magnetospheric origin, we do not exclude the presence of the ions accelerated at the bow shock.
Published: 11 February 2011
We examine Cluster observations of a so-called magnetosphere crater FTE, employing data from five instruments (FGM, CIS, EDI, EFW, and WHISPER), some at the highest resolution. The aim of doing this is to deepen our understanding of the reconnection nature of these events by applying recent advances in the theory of collisionless reconnection and in detailed observational work. Our data support the hypothesis of a stratified structure with regions which we show to be spatial structures. We support the bulge-like topology of the core region (R3) made up of plasma jetting transverse to reconnected field lines. We document encounters with a magnetic separatrix as a thin layer embedded in the region (R2) just outside the bulge, where the speed of the protons flowing approximately parallel to the field maximizes: (1) short (fraction of a sec) bursts of enhanced electric field strengths (up to <30 mV/m) and (2) electrons flowing against the field toward the X line at approximately the same time as the bursts of intense electric fields. R2 also contains a density decrease concomitant with an enhanced magnetic field strength. At its interface with the core region, R3, electric field activity ceases abruptly. The accelerated plasma flow profile has a catenary shape consisting of beams parallel to the field in R2 close to the R2/R3 boundary and slower jets moving across the magnetic field within the bulge region. We detail commonalities our observations of crater FTEs have with reconnection structures in other scenarios. We suggest that in view of these properties and their frequency of occurrence, crater FTEs are ideal places to study processes at the separatrices, key regions in magnetic reconnection. This is a good preparation for the MMS mission.
Published: 08 February 2011
Supermassive black holes are now thought to lie at the heart of every giant galaxy with a spheroidal component, including our own Milky Way. The birth and growth of the first 'seed' black holes in the earlier Universe, however, is observationally unconstrained and we are only beginning to piece together a scenario for their subsequent evolution. Here we report that the nearby dwarf starburst galaxy Henize 2-10 contains a compact radio source at the dynamical centre of the galaxy that is spatially coincident with a hard X-ray source. From these observations, we conclude that Henize 2-10 harbours an actively accreting central black hole with a mass of approximately one million solar masses. This nearby dwarf galaxy, simultaneously hosting a massive black hole and an extreme burst of star formation, is analogous in many ways to galaxies in the infant Universe during the early stages of black-hole growth and galaxy mass assembly. Our results confirm that nearby star-forming dwarf galaxies can indeed form massive black holes, and that by implication so can their primordial counterparts. Moreover, the lack of a substantial spheroidal component in Henize 2-10 indicates that supermassive black-hole growth may precede the build-up of galaxy spheroids.
Published: 03 February 2011
Reference: ESA/SRE(2011)3

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 LISA.

Published: 03 February 2011
Reference: ESA/SRE(2011)2

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 IXO.

Published: 03 February 2011
Reference: ESA/SRE(2011)1

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 EJSM-Laplace.

Published: 03 February 2011
Aurora, commonly seen in the polar sky, is a ubiquitous phenomenon occurring on Earth and other solar system planets. The colorful emissions are caused by high-energy beams of electrons hitting the upper atmosphere, after being accelerated by quasi-static electric fields at altitudes around one Earth radius, or by wave electric fields. Although the aurora was studied by many past satellite missions, Cluster is first to explore the acceleration region with multi-probes, enabling open issues on its nature to be resolved. Here, Cluster data from the upper and lower parts of this region are used to determine the altitude distribution of the acceleration potential above the Aurora Borealis, and to address its stability in space and time. The derived acceleration potential consists of two broad Ushaped potentials in the upper parts of the acceleration region, and a narrower S-shaped potential structure located below, and is stable on a five minute time scale. The results demonstrate that the spatial scale of the electric field is much smaller than the current width in the lower parts, but almost equal in the upper parts of the acceleration region Revealing of these features was possible only by combining data from the two spacecraft.
Published: 01 February 2011
Magnetic reconnection in magnetized plasmas represents a change in magnetic field topology and is associated with a concomitant energization of charged particles that results from a conversion of magnetic energy into particle energy. In Earths magnetosphere this process is associated with the entry of the solar wind into the magnetosphere and with the initiation of auroral substorms. Using data from the THEMIS mission, together with global and test particle simulations, we demonstrate that electrons are energized in two distinct regions: a low-energy population (less than or equal to a few kiloelectronvolts) that arises in a diffusion region where particles are demagnetized and the magnetic topology changes, and a high-energy component (approaching 100 keV) that results from betatron acceleration within dipolarization fronts that sweep towards the inner magnetosphere far from the diffusion region. Thus, the observed particle energization is associated with both magnetic reconnection and with betatron acceleration associated with macroscopic flows.
Published: 30 January 2011
Reference: SRE-PA/2011.002/

This technical review report for the LISA candidate mission presents the outcome of an ESA internal review of this L-class candidate mission in the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 plan. The review was concluded at the end of the mission assessment phase and carried out in frame of the down-selection for L-class missions to proceed to the definition phase. The review focused on the technical and programmatic elements of the mission.

Published: 29 January 2011
In this investigation we introduce and discuss quantitative parameters of a thin current sheet embedded in the background plasma sheet. We use Cluster statistics and empirical models, as well as self-consistent simulations, to understand the formation and development of embedded current sheets, in particular in the course of substorms. Data and theory show that the embedded sheet thickness is of the order of a proton larmor radius, a constraint equivalent to magnetic flux conservation. The embedded sheet can be essentially described by two dimensionless parameters B0/Bext and F0/Fext. B0 is the magnetic field at the embedded sheet boundary, Bext is the field at the boundary of the background plasma sheet, and F0 and Fext are magnetic flux values. During the growth phase current density in embedded sheet and B0 increase, while thickness decreases. Sheets with the most intense currents (large B0) are observed after onset. The self-consistent anisotropic sheet model, including both electron and proton currents and combined with the Harris-type background shows that when the proton-scale embedded sheet becomes sufficiently thin, an electron-scale current sheet can appear inside it due to enhanced electron curvature drift.
Published: 28 January 2011
Reference: SRE-PA/2011.003/MNCE

This technical review report for the EJSM-Laplace candidate mission presents the outcome of an ESA internal review of this L-class candidate mission in the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 plan. The review was concluded at the end of the mission assessment phase and carried out in frame of the down-selection for L-class missions to proceed to the definition phase. The review focused on the technical and programmatic elements of the mission.

Published: 27 January 2011
Searches for very-high-redshift galaxies over the past decade have yielded a large sample of more than 6000 galaxies existing just 900-2000 million years (Myr) after the Big Bang (redshifts 6>z>3). The Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF09) data have yielded the first reliable detections of z~8 galaxies that, together with reports of a gamma-ray burst at z~8.2, constitute the earliest objects reliably reported to date. Observations of z~7-8 galaxies suggest substantial star formation at z>9-10. Here we use the full two-year HUDF09 data to conduct an ultra-deep search for z~10 galaxies in the heart of the reionization epoch, only 500 Myr after the Big Bang. Not only do we find one possible z ~10 galaxy candidate, but we show that, regardless of source detections, the star formation rate density is much smaller (~10%) at this time than it is just ~200 Myr later at z~8. This demonstrates how rapid galaxy build-up was at z~10, as galaxies increased in both luminosity density and volume density from z~10 to z~8. The 100-200 Myr before z~10 is clearly a crucial phase in the assembly of the earliest galaxies.
Published: 26 January 2011
Using three-dimensional MHD simulations of magnetic reconnection in the magnetotail, we investigate the fate of earthward bursty bulk flows (BBFs). The flow bursts are identified as entropy-depleted magnetic flux tubes ("bubbles") generated by the severance of a plasmoid via magnetic reconnection. The onset of fast reconnection coincides closely with a drastic entropy reduction at the onset of lobe reconnection. The fact that, in the simulation, the Alfvén speed does not change significantly at this time suggests that the destabilization of ballooning/interchange modes is important in driving faster reconnection as well as in providing cross-tail structure. In the initial phase, the BBFs are associated with earthward propagating dipolarization fronts. When the flow is stopped nearer to Earth, the region of dipolarization expands both azimuthally and tailward. Tailward flows are found to be associated with a rebound of the earthward flow and with reversed vortices on the outside of the flow. Earthward and tailward flows are also associated with expansion and contraction of the near plasma sheet. All of these features are consistent with recent satellite observations by Cluster and the Time History of Events and their Macroscopic Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) mission.
Published: 22 January 2011
Using the SPICAV-UV spectrometer aboard Venus Express in nadir mode, we were able to derive spectral radiance factors in the middle atmosphere of Venus in the 170-320 nm range at a spectral resolution of R ~ 200 during 2006 and 2007 in the northern hemisphere. By comparison with a radiative transfer model of the upper atmosphere of Venus, we could derive column abundance above the visible cloud top for SO2 using its spectral absorption bands near 280 and 220 nm. SO2 column densities show large temporal and spatial variations on a horizontal scale of a few hundred kilometers. Typical SO2 column densities at low latitudes (up to 50°N) were found between 5 and 50 micron-atm, whereas in the northern polar region SO2 content was usually below 5 micron-atm. The observed latitudinal variations follow closely the cloud top altitude derived by SPICAV-IR and are thought to be of dynamical origin. Also, a sudden increase of SO2 column density in the whole northern hemisphere has been observed in early 2007, possibly related to a convective episode advecting some deep SO2 into the upper atmosphere.
Published: 15 January 2011
Reference: SRE-PA/2010/104

This technical review report for the IXO candidate mission presents the outcome of an ESA internal review of this L-class candidate mission in the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 plan. The review was concluded at the end of the mission assessment phase and carried out in frame of the down-selection for L-class missions to proceed to the definition phase. The review focused on the technical and programmatic elements of the mission.

Published: 14 January 2011
25-Jul-2024 01:27 UT

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