Publication archive

Publication archive

Under a Creative Commons license

We present a 3D orbit viewer application capable of displaying science data. 3DView, a web tool designed by the French Plasma Physics Data Center (CDPP) for the planetology and heliophysics community, has extended functionalities to render space physics data (observations and models alike) in their original 3D context. Time series, vectors, dynamic spectra, celestial body maps, magnetic field or flow lines, 2D cuts in simulation cubes, etc, are among the variety of data representation enabled by 3DView. The direct connection to several large databases, the use of VO standards and the possibility to upload user data makes 3DView a versatile tool able to cover a wide range of space physics contexts. The code is open source and the software is regularly used at Masters Degree level or summer school for pedagogical purposes. The present paper describes the general architecture and all major functionalities, and offers several science cases (simulation rendering, mission preparation, etc.) which can be easily replayed by the interested readers. Future developments are finally outlined.

Published: 31 January 2018
We present the Latmos Hybrid Simulation (LatHyS) database, which is dedicated to the investigations of planetary plasma environment. Simulation results of several planetary objects (Mars, Mercury, Ganymede) are available in an online catalogue. The full description of the simulations and their results is compliant with a data model developped in the framework of the FP7 IMPEx project. The catalogue is interfaced with VO-visualization tools such AMDA, 3DView, TOPCAT, CLweb or the IMPEx portal. Web services ensure the possibilities of accessing and extracting simulated quantities/data. We illustrate the interoperability between the simulation database and VO-tools using a detailed science case that focuses on a three-dimensional representation of the solar wind interaction with the Martian upper atmosphere, combining MAVEN and Mars Express observations and simulation results.
Published: 31 January 2018
The first estimation of the energy cascade rate |εC| of magnetosheath turbulence is obtained using the Cluster and THEMIS spacecraft data and an exact law of compressible isothermal magnetohydrodynamics turbulence. The mean value of |εC| is found to be close to 10-13  J m-3 s-1, at least 2 orders of magnitude larger than its value in the solar wind (~10-16  J m-3 s-1 in the fast wind). Two types of turbulence are evidenced and shown to be dominated either by incompressible Alfvénic or compressible magnetosoniclike fluctuations. Density fluctuations are shown to amplify the cascade rate and its spatial anisotropy in comparison with incompressible Alfvénic turbulence. Furthermore, for compressible magnetosonic fluctuations, large cascade rates are found to lie mostly near the linear kinetic instability of the mirror mode. New empirical power-laws relating |εC| to the turbulent Mach number and to the internal energy are evidenced. These new findings have potential applications in distant astrophysical plasmas that are not accessible to in situ measurements.
Published: 29 January 2018
Context. Parallaxes for 331 classical Cepheids, 31 Type II Cepheids, and 364 RR Lyrae stars in common between Gaia and the Hipparcos and Tycho-2 catalogues are published in Gaia Data Release 1 (DR1) as part of the Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution (TGAS). Aims: In order to test these first parallax measurements of the primary standard candles of the cosmological distance ladder, which involve astrometry collected by Gaia during the initial 14 months of science operation, we compared them with literature estimates and derived new period-luminosity (PL), period-Wesenheit (PW) relations for classical and Type II Cepheids and infrared PL, PL-metallicity (PLZ), and optical luminosity-metallicity (MV-[Fe/H]) relations for the RR Lyrae stars, with zero points based on TGAS. [Remainder of abstract truncated due to character limitations]
Published: 13 December 2017
We use the Gaia data release 1 (DR1) to study the proper motion (PM) fields of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC, SMC). This uses the Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution (TGAS) PMs for 29 Hipparcos stars in the LMC and 8 in the SMC. The LMC PM in the West and North directions is inferred to be ({μ }W,{μ }N) =(-1.872+/- 0.045,0.224+/- 0.054) {mas} {{yr}}-1 , and the SMC PM ({μ }W,{μ }N)=(-0.874+/- 0.066,-1.229 +/- 0.047) {mas} {{yr}}-1 . These results have similar accuracy and agree to within the uncertainties with existing Hubble Space Telescope (HST) PM measurements. Since TGAS uses different methods with different systematics, this provides an external validation of both data sets and their underlying approaches. Residual DR1 systematics may affect the TGAS results, but the HST agreement implies this must be below the random errors. Also in agreement with prior HST studies, the TGAS LMC PM field clearly shows the clockwise rotation of the disk, even though it takes the LMC disk in excess of 108 years to complete one revolution. The implied rotation curve amplitude for young LMC stars is consistent with that inferred from line of sight (LOS) velocity measurements. Comparison of the PM and LOS rotation curves implies a kinematic LMC distance modulus m-M=18.54+/- 0.39, consistent but not yet competitive with photometric methods. These first results from Gaia on the topic of Local Group dynamics provide an indication of how its future data releases will revolutionize this field.
Published: 13 December 2017
Context. The first Gaia data release (DR1) delivered a catalogue of astrometry and photometry for over a billion astronomical sources. Within the panoply of methods used for data exploration, visualisation is often the starting point and even the guiding reference for scientific thought. However, this is a volume of data that cannot be efficiently explored using traditional tools, techniques, and habits. Aims. We aim to provide a global visual exploration service for the Gaia archive, something that is not possible out of the box for most people. The service has two main goals. The first is to provide a software platform for interactive visual exploration of the archive contents, using common personal computers and mobile devices available to most users. The second aim is to produce intelligible and appealing visual representations of the enormous information content of the archive. Methods. The interactive exploration service follows a client-server design. The server runs close to the data, at the archive, and is responsible for hiding as far as possible the complexity and volume of the Gaia data from the client. This is achieved by serving visual detail on demand. Levels of detail are pre-computed using data aggregation and subsampling techniques. For DR1, the client is a web application that provides an interactive multi-panel visualisation workspace as well as a graphical user interface. [Remainder of abstract truncated due to character limitations]
Published: 13 December 2017

Print out and build a paper model of CHEOPS, the CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite.

CHEOPS is a space science mission dedicated to the study of known exoplanets orbiting bright, nearby stars. It will use the technique of ultra-high precision photometry to measure accurate sizes of a large sample of Earth to Neptune-sized planets. By combining the accurate sizes determined by CHEOPS with existing mass measurements, it will be possible to establish the bulk density and composition of the planets; these, together with information on the host stars and the planets' orbits will be used to determine the planets' formation and evolutionary history.

CHEOPS is a small satellite with a total launch mass of approximately 300 kg and dimensions of 1.55m (height) × 1.49m (width, measured from solar array edge to edge) × 1.4m (depth).

The dark colours used in this paper model are representative of the true colours of the various spacecraft components. The paper model's scale is 1:15 when printed on DIN A4 paper.

CHEOPS is a partnership between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Switzerland.

Published: 19 March 2018
The three-dimensional motions of stars in small galaxies beyond our own are minute, yet they are crucial for understanding the nature of gravity and dark matter. Even for the dwarf galaxy Sculptor–one of the best-studied systems, which is inferred to be strongly dark matter dominated–there are conflicting reports on its mean motion around the Milky Way, and the three-dimensional internal motions of its stars have never been measured. Here, we present precise proper motions of Sculptor's stars based on data from the Gaia mission and Hubble Space Telescope. Our measurements show that Sculptor moves around the Milky Way on a high-inclination elongated orbit that takes it much further out than previously thought. For Sculptor's internal velocity dispersions, we find σR = 11.5 ± 4.3 km s−1 and σT = 8.5 ± 3.2 km s-1 along the projected radial and tangential directions. Thus, the stars in our sample move preferentially on radial orbits as quantified by the anisotropy parameter, which we find to be β~0.86+0.12-0.83 at a location beyond the core radius. Taken at face value, this high radial anisotropy requires abandoning conventional models for Sculptor's mass distribution. Our sample is dominated by metal-rich stars and for these we find βMR~0.95+0.04-0.27–a value consistent with multi-component spherical models where Sculptor is embedded in a cuspy dark halo, as might be expected for cold dark matter.
Published: 27 November 2017
We report the detection of ADFS-27, a dusty, starbursting major merger at a redshift of z = 5.655, using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). ADFS-27 was selected from Herschel/Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) and APEX/LABOCA data as an extremely red "870 μm riser" (i.e., S250 μm < S350 μm < S500 μm < S870 μm), demonstrating the utility of this technique to identify some of the highest-redshift dusty galaxies. A scan of the 3 mm atmospheric window with ALMA yields detections of CO(J = 5 → 4) and CO(J = 6 → 5) emission, and a tentative detection of H2O(211 → 202) emission, which provides an unambiguous redshift measurement. The strength of the CO lines implies a large molecular gas reservoir with a mass of Mgas = 2.5 × 1011 (αCO/0.8)(0.39/r51) M, sufficient to maintain its ~2400 M yr-1 starburst for at least ~100 Myr. The 870 μm dust continuum emission is resolved into two components, 1.8 and 2.1 kpc in diameter, separated by 9.0 kpc, with comparable dust luminosities, suggesting an ongoing major merger. The infrared luminosity of LIR≃ 2.4 × 1013 L implies that this system represents a binary hyper-luminous infrared galaxy, the most distant of its kind presently known. This also implies star formation rate surface densities of ΣSFR =730 and 750 M yr-1 kpc², consistent with a binary "maximum starburst." The discovery of this rare system is consistent with a significantly higher space density than previously thought for the most luminous dusty starbursts within the first billion years of cosmic time, easing tensions regarding the space densities of z ~ 6 quasars and massive quiescent galaxies at z ≳ 3.
Published: 13 November 2017
Geophysical data from the Cassini spacecraft imply the presence of a global ocean underneath the ice shell of Enceladus, only a few kilometres below the surface in the South Polar Terrain. Chemical analyses indicate that the ocean is salty and is fed by ongoing hydrothermal activity. In order to explain these observations, an abnormally high heat power (>20 billion watts) is required, as well as a mechanism to focus endogenic activity at the south pole. Here, we show that more than 10 GW of heat can be generated by tidal friction inside the unconsolidated rocky core. Water transport in the tidally heated permeable core results in hot narrow upwellings with temperatures exceeding 363 K, characterized by powerful (1–5 GW) hotspots at the seafloor, particularly at the south pole. The release of heat in narrow regions favours intense interaction between water and rock, and the transport of hydrothermal products from the core to the plume sources. We are thus able to explain the main global characteristics of Enceladus: global ocean, strong dissipation, reduced ice-shell thickness at the south pole and seafloor activity. We predict that this endogenic activity can be sustained for tens of millions to billions of years.
Published: 06 November 2017
Auroral hot spots are observed across the Universe at different scales and mark the coupling between a surrounding plasma environment and an atmosphere. Within our own Solar System, Jupiter possesses the only resolvable example of this large-scale energy transfer. Jupiter's northern X-ray aurora is concentrated into a hot spot, which is located at the most poleward regions of the planet's aurora and pulses either periodically or irregularly. X-ray emission line spectra demonstrate that Jupiter's northern hot spot is produced by high charge-state oxygen, sulfur and/or carbon ions with an energy of tens of MeV that are undergoing charge exchange. Observations instead failed to reveal a similar feature in the south. Here, we report the existence of a persistent southern X-ray hot spot. Surprisingly, this large-scale southern auroral structure behaves independently of its northern counterpart. Using XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray campaigns, performed in May–June 2016 and March 2007, we show that Jupiter's northern and southern spots each exhibit different characteristics, such as different periodic pulsations and uncorrelated changes in brightness. These observations imply that highly energetic, non-conjugate magnetospheric processes sometimes drive the polar regions of Jupiter's dayside magnetosphere. This is in contrast to current models of X-ray generation for Jupiter. Understanding the behaviour and drivers of Jupiter's pair of hot spots is critical to the use of X-rays as diagnostics of the wide range of rapidly rotating celestial bodies that exhibit these auroral phenomena.
Published: 30 October 2017
On 2016 July 03, several instruments onboard ESA's Rosetta spacecraft detected signs of an outburst event on comet 67P, at a heliocentric distance of 3.32 au from the Sun, outbound from perihelion. We here report on the inferred properties of the ejected dust and the surface change at the site of the outburst. The activity coincided with the local sunrise and continued over a time interval of 14–68 min. It left a 10-m-sized icy patch on the surface. The ejected material comprised refractory grains of several hundred microns in size, and sub-micron-sized water ice grains. The high dust mass production rate is incompatible with the free sublimation of crystalline water ice under solar illumination as the only acceleration process. Additional energy stored near the surface must have increased the gas density. We suggest a pressurized sub-surface gas reservoir, or the crystallization of amorphous water ice as possible causes.
Published: 26 October 2017

Document reference: CDF-175(C)

This document is the assessment study report for GaiaNIR (Gaia Near Infra-Red), which was one of the proposals received in response to the 2016 Call for New Science Ideas in ESA's Science Programme. Three mission concepts were selected as a result of this call, and GaiaNIR was one of them.

The GaiaNIR proposal encompasses:

  • Enlarging the astrometric achievement of Gaia to the astronomical sources which are only visible in Near Infra-Red
  • Maintaining the accuracy of the Gaia optical reference frame
  • Improving the star parallax and proper motion accuracy by revisiting the astronomical sources a number of years after Gaia.
The report has been prepared by the ESA Concurrent Design Facility (CDF).

Corrigendum:
This document was updated on 8 June 2018, with minor edits made to page 249 according to the final version of the document. The concerned lines are indicated by a blue band on the side of that page.

Published: 24 October 2017
The equatorial middle atmospheres of the Earth, Jupiter and Saturn all exhibit a remarkably similar phenomenon–a vertical, cyclic pattern of alternating temperatures and zonal (east–west) wind regimes that propagate slowly downwards with a well-defined multi-year period. Earth's quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) (observed in the lower stratospheric winds with an average period of 28 months) is one of the most regular, repeatable cycles exhibited by our climate system, and yet recent work has shown that this regularity can be disrupted by events occurring far away from the equatorial region, an example of a phenomenon known as atmospheric teleconnection. Here, we reveal that Saturn's equatorial quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO) (with an ~15-year period) can also be dramatically perturbed. An intense springtime storm erupted at Saturn's northern mid-latitudes in December 2010, spawning a gigantic hot vortex in the stratosphere at 40° N that persisted for three years. Far from the storm, the Cassini temperature measurements showed a dramatic ~10 K cooling in the 0.5–5 mbar range across the entire equatorial region, disrupting the regular QPO pattern and significantly altering the middle-atmospheric wind structure, suggesting an injection of westward momentum into the equatorial wind system from waves generated by the northern storm. Hence, as on Earth, meteorological activity at mid-latitudes can have a profound effect on the regular atmospheric cycles in Saturn's tropics, demonstrating that waves can provide horizontal teleconnections between the phenomena shaping the middle atmospheres of giant planets.
Published: 24 October 2017
We present UBVRI and CT1T2 photometry for 15 catalogued open clusters of relative high brightness and compact appearance. From these unprecedented photometric data sets, covering wavelengths from the blue up to the near-infrared, we performed a thorough assessment of their reality as stellar aggregates. We statistically assigned to each observed star within the object region a probability of being a fiducial feature of that field in terms of its local luminosity function, colour distribution and stellar density. Likewise, we used accurate parallaxes and proper motions measured by the Gaia satellite to help our decision on the open cluster reality. 10 catalogued aggregates did not show any hint of being real physical systems; three of them had been assumed to be open clusters in previous studies, though. On the other hand, we estimated reliable fundamental parameters for the remaining five studied objects, which were confirmed as real open clusters. They resulted to be clusters distributed in a wide age range, 8.0 ≤ log (t yr1) ≤ 9.4, of solar metal content and placed between 2.0 and 5.5 kpc from the Sun. Their ages and metallicities are in agreement with the presently known picture of the spatial distribution of open clusters in the Galactic disc.
Published: 23 September 2017
We observed six He-clump stars of the intermediate-age stellar cluster Gaia1 with the MIKE/Magellan spectrograph. A possible extra-galactic origin of this cluster, recently discovered thanks to the first data release of the ESA Gaia mission, has been suggested, based on its orbital parameters. Abundances for Fe, α, proton- and neutron-capture elements have been obtained. We find no evidence of intrinsic abundance spreads. The iron abundance is solar ([FeI/H] = + 0.00 ± 0.01; σ = 0.03 dex). All the other abundance ratios are generally solar-scaled, similar to the Galactic thin disk and open cluster stars of similar metallicity. The chemical composition of Gaia1 does not support an extra-galactic origin for this stellar cluster, which can be considered as a standard Galactic open cluster.
Published: 23 September 2017
We confirm the reality of the recently discovered Milky Way stellar cluster Gaia 1 using spectra acquired with the HERMES and AAOmega spectrographs of the Anglo-Australian Telescope. This cluster had been previously undiscovered due to its close angular proximity to Sirius, the brightest star in the sky at visual wavelengths. Our observations identified 41 cluster members, and yielded an overall metallicity of [Fe/H]=−0.13±0.13 and barycentric radial velocity of vr = 58.30 ± 0.22 km s−1. These kinematics provide a dynamical mass estimate of 12.9+4.6−3.9×103M⊙ . Isochrone fits to Gaia, 2MASS, and Pan-STARRS1 photometry indicate that Gaia 1 is an intermediate age (∼3 Gyr) stellar cluster. Combining the spatial and kinematic data we calculate Gaia 1 has a circular orbit with a radius of about 12 kpc, but with a large out of plane motion: zmax=1.1+0.4−0.3  kpc. Clusters with such orbits are unlikely to survive long due to the number of plane passages they would experience.
Published: 23 September 2017
We present the results of the very first search for faint Milky Way satellites in the Gaia data. Using stellar positions only, we are able to re-discover objects detected in much deeper data as recently as the last couple of years. While we do not identify new prominent ultrafaint dwarf galaxies, we report the discovery of two new star clusters, Gaia 1 and Gaia 2. Gaia 1 is particularly curious, as it is a massive (2.2 × 104 M⊙), large (∼9 pc) and nearby (4.6 kpc) cluster, situated 10 arcmin away from the brightest star on the sky, Sirius! Even though this satellite is detected at significance in excess of 10, it was missed by previous sky surveys. We conclude that Gaia possesses powerful and unique capabilities for satellite detection, thanks to its unrivalled angular resolution and highly efficient object classification.
Published: 23 September 2017
Asteroids are primitive Solar System bodies that evolve both collisionally and through disruptions arising from rapid rotation. These processes can lead to the formation of binary asteroids and to the release of dust, both directly and, in some cases, through uncovering frozen volatiles. In a subset of the asteroids called main-belt comets, the sublimation of excavated volatiles causes transient comet-like activity. Torques exerted by sublimation measurably influence the spin rates of active comets and might lead to the splitting of bilobate comet nuclei. The kilometre-sized main-belt asteroid 288P (300163) showed activity for several months around its perihelion 2011 (ref. 11), suspected to be sustained by the sublimation of water ice and supported by rapid rotation, while at least one component rotates slowly with a period of 16 hours (ref. 14). The object 288P is part of a young family of at least 11 asteroids that formed from a precursor about 10 kilometres in diameter during a shattering collision 7.5 million years ago. Here we report that 288P is a binary main-belt comet. It is different from the known asteroid binaries in its combination of wide separation, near-equal component size, high eccentricity and comet-like activity. The observations also provide strong support for sublimation as the driver of activity in 288P and show that sublimation torques may play an important part in binary orbit evolution.
Published: 22 September 2017
26-Oct-2021 16:13 UT

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