Publication archive

Publication archive

Stars in globular clusters are generally believed to have all formed at the same time, early in the Galaxy's history. 'Blue stragglers' are stars massive enough that they should have evolved into white dwarfs long ago. Two possible mechanisms have been proposed for their formation: mass transfer between binary companions and stellar mergers resulting from direct collisions between two stars. Recently the binary explanation was claimed to be dominant. Here we report that there are two distinct parallel sequences of blue stragglers in M 30. This globular cluster is thought to have undergone 'core collapse', during which both the collision rate and the mass transfer activity in binary systems would have been enhanced. We suggest that the two observed sequences are a consequence of cluster core collapse, with the bluer population arising from direct stellar collisions and the redder one arising from the evolution of close binaries that are probably still experiencing an active phase of mass transfer.
Published: 24 December 2009
The Herzberg II system of O2 has been a known feature of Venus' nightglow since the Venera 9 and 10 orbiters detected its c(0)-X(v") progression more than 3 decades ago. We search for its emission at 400 nm-700 nm in spectra obtained with the VIRTIS instrument on Venus Express. Despite the weakness of the signal, integration over a few hours of limb observations of the planet's upper atmosphere reveals the unambiguous pattern of the progression. The selected data sample mainly the northern latitudes within a few hours of local midnight. The emission is ubiquitous on the nightside of Venus and can be discerned at tangent altitudes from 80 km to 110 km. The average emission vertical profiles of the c(0)-X(v") progression and the O2 a(0)-X(0) band, the latter from simultaneous near-infrared spectra, are quite similar, with their respective peaks occurring within ±1 km of each other. We conclude that the net yield for production of the c(0) state is low, ~1%-2% of the oxygen recombination rate, and that O(3P) and CO2 are the two likely quenchers of the Herzberg II nightglow, although CO cannot be ruled out. We also derive a value of 2.45 × 10-16 cm3 s-1 for the rate constant at which CO2 collisionally quenches the c(0) state. Our VIRTIS spectra show hints of O2 A'(0)-a(v3) emission but no traces of the O (1S-1D) green line at 557.7 nm.
Published: 23 December 2009
This Newsletter is based on inputs from members of ISOC, and edited by Guillaume Bélanger with the help of Suzanne Philipsen.

Contents:

  • Foreword
  • AO-7 Results
  • AO-8 Timetable
  • Science Operations
  • 7th INTEGRAL Workshop
  • Science Highlights
  • Changes at ISOC
  • Contacting ISOC

Published: 22 December 2009
The Kuiper belt is a remnant of the primordial Solar System. Measurements of its size distribution constrain its accretion and collisional history, and the importance of material strength of Kuiper belt objects. Small, sub-kilometre-sized, Kuiper belt objects elude direct detection, but the signature of their occultations of background stars should be detectable. Observations at both optical and X-ray wavelengths claim to have detected such occultations, but their implied abundances are inconsistent with each other and far exceed theoretical expectations. Here we report an analysis of archival data that reveals an occultation by a body with an approximately 500-metre radius at a distance of 45 astronomical units. The probability of this event arising from random statistical fluctuations within our data set is about two per cent. Our survey yields a surface density of Kuiper belt objects with radii exceeding 250 metres of 2.1+4.8-1.7 x 107 deg-2, ruling out inferred surface densities from previous claimed detections by more than 5 sigma. The detection of only one event reveals a deficit of sub-kilometre-sized Kuiper belt objects compared to a population extrapolated from objects with radii exceeding 50 kilometres. This implies that sub-kilometre-sized objects are undergoing collisional erosion, just like debris disks observed around other stars.
Published: 17 December 2009
Whistler mode chorus has been shown to play a role in the process of local acceleration of electrons in the outer Van Allen radiation belt. Most of the quasi-linear and nonlinear theoretical studies assume that the waves propagate parallel to the terrestrial magnetic field. We show a case where this assumption is invalid. We use data from the Cluster spacecraft to characterize propagation and spectral properties of chorus. The recorded high-resolution waveforms show that chorus in the source region can be formed by a succession of discrete wave packets with decreasing frequency that sometimes change into shapeless hiss. These changes occur at the same time in the entire source region. Multicomponent measurements show that waves in both these regimes can be found at large angles to the terrestrial magnetic field. The hiss intervals contain waves propagating less than one tenth of a degree from the resonance cone. In the regime of discrete wave packets the peak of the wave energy density is found at a few degrees from the resonance cone in a broad interval of azimuth angles. The wave intensity increases with the distance from the magnetic field minimum along a given field line, indicating a gradual amplification of chorus in the source region.
Published: 15 December 2009
Reference: SRE-PA/2009/051

This technical review report for the Euclid candidate mission presents the outcome of ESA's internal review of this M-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 to 3 or 4 M-class missions, which will proceed to the definition phase. The main goal of this internal review was to identify the mission's critical issues and associated risks at technical, programmatic and financial level.

Published: 14 December 2009
Thanks to the recent generation of high energy observatories, astrophysics is witnessing a golden age of discovery in the X-ray domain. Current technical evaluation demonstrates that the XMM-Newton spacecraft and its scientific instruments can continue to provide first class X-ray observations far into the next decade. Other missions to be launched soon, like Herschel, Planck, GLAST, as well as new ground-based developments, will open up new challenging opportunities for multi-wavelength and follow-up observations to which XMM-Newton is ideally placed to make a major contribution. This publication is the proceedings of a workshop held to summarise our current knowledge of X-ray astrophysics, discuss some of the major achievements of the past years and identify the fundamental questions still to be addressed. The main focus of the workshop was to identify the scientific topics with the highest scientific importance and impact and the observing programs of maximum long-term value to the entire astronomical community.
Published: 10 December 2009
Commentary on: Jansen F., Lumb D., Altieri B., et al., 2001, A&A, 365, L1; Strüder L., Briel U., Dennerl K., et al., 2001, A&A, 365, L18; Turner M. J. L., Abbey A., Arnaud M., et al., 2001, A&A, 365, L27 The XMM-Newton X-ray observatory (previously known as the X-Ray Multi-Mirror Mission, XMM) was launched on 10 December 1999 by the first commercial Ariane 5 launch into a highly eccentric, 48 h orbit. XMM-Newton has been a key project of the European Space Agency (ESA), defined as a cornerstone mission in ESA's Horizon 2000 program. Nearly ten years after its launch, XMM-Newton operates flawlessly and has become a workhorse at the forefront of X-ray astronomy. The paper by Jansen et al. (2001), written by some of the key people in the project, is the defining post-launch paper for the XMM-Newton observatory, summarizing the key features of the satellite, various parts of the ground segment, software, and calibration. It is the opening article in a series of papers in the same A&A special issue (Vol. 365) that present more details on the instruments, software, and calibration, together with an impressive suite of ``first results' papers from across all fields of X-ray astronomy. The papers by Strüder et al. (2001) and Turner et al. (2001) describe the X-ray imaging cameras onboard (XMM-Newton) in detail.
Published: 10 December 2009
The downstream region of a collisionless quasiparallel shock is structured containing bulk flows with high kinetic energy density from a previously unidentified source. We present Cluster multispacecraft measurements of this type of supermagnetosonic jet as well as of a weak secondary shock front within the sheath, that allow us to propose the following generation mechanism for the jets: The local curvature variations inherent to quasiparallel shocks can create fast, deflected jets accompanied by density variations in the downstream region. If the speed of the jet is super(magneto)sonic in the reference frame of the obstacle, a second shock front forms in the sheath closer to the obstacle. Our results can be applied to collisionless quasiparallel shocks in many plasma environments.
Published: 09 December 2009
Reference: SRE-PA/2009/071/GC

This technical review report for the SPICA candidate mission presents the outcome of ESA's internal review of this M-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 to 3 or 4 M-class missions, which will proceed to the definition phase. The main goal of this internal review was to identify the mission's critical issues and associated risks at technical, programmatic and financial level.

Published: 08 December 2009
In the book "The Cluster Active Archive - Studying the Earth's Space Plasma Environment", Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings, H. Laakso et al. (eds.), ISBN 978-90-481-3498-4 (Print) 978-90-481-3499-1 (Online), Springer, 2010

The Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA) Double Star (DSP) spacecraft, TC-1 and TC-2 were launched in December 2003 and July 2004 into near equatorial and polar orbits respectively. During more than 3 years of operations they have maintained a close phasing with the ESA four-spacecraft mission to produce the first, well coordinated multi-scale measurements, sampling phenomena with five and six spacecraft. In this short paper we give a brief review of the DSP mission and show its joint capability with Cluster by showing examples of use of some early and more recent analysis techniques and their application to (more than) four spacecraft. We highlight a selection of some co-ordinated events, focussing on dayside phenomena, but also with a brief discussion of a tail event. Other reviews in this special issue will deal more completely with coverage of the other regions of the magnetosphere.

Published: 04 December 2009
In the book "The Cluster Active Archive - Studying the Earth's Space Plasma Environment", Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings, H. Laakso et al. (eds.), ISBN 978-90-481-3498-4 (Print) 978-90-481-3499-1 (Online), Springer, 2010

Part of original abstract follows:
At the time of writing, Cluster is approaching 8 years of successful operation and continues to fulfill, if not exceed its scientific objectives. After a nominal mission lifetime of 2 years Cluster currently in its extended mission phase, up to June 2009, with a further extension request submitted for a further 3.5 years. The primary goals of the Cluster mission include three-dimensional studies of small-scale plasma structures and turbulence in the key plasma regions in the Earth's environment: solar wind and bow shock, magnetopause, polar cusps, magnetotail, and auroral zone. During the course of the mission, the relative distance between the four spacecraft is being varied to form a nearly perfect tetrahedral configuration at 100, 250, 600, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 km inter-spacecraft separation targeted to study scientifically interesting regions at different scales. In the last few years, the constellation strategy has moved towards a multi-scale concept, enabling two scale sizes to be investigated at the same time. In these cases, three spacecraft are separated by 10,000 km with the last spacecraft separated from this plane by varying distances from 16 km up to several 1,000 km. In this paper, we provide a brief overview of the mission concept and implementation and highlight a number of Cluster's latest science results, which include: the first observation of three dimensional (3-D) surface waves on the bow shock, the first 3-D analysis of turbulence in the magnetosheath, the discovery of magnetosonic waves accelerating electrons to MeV energies in the radiation belts, along with a number of discoveries involving magnetic reconnection.

Published: 04 December 2009
In the book "The Cluster Active Archive - Studying the Earth's Space Plasma Environment", Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings, H. Laakso et al. (eds.), ISBN 978-90-481-3498-4 (Print) 978-90-481-3499-1 (Online), Springer, 2010

The four-satellite Cluster mission investigates the small-scale structures and physical processes related to interaction between the solar wind and the magnetospheric plasma. The Cluster Active Archive (CAA) (URL: http://caa.estec.esa.int) will contain the entire set of Cluster high-resolution data and other allied products in a standard format and with a complete set of metadata in machine readable format. The total amount of the data files in compressed format is expected to exceed 50 TB. The data archive is publicly accessible and suitable for science use and publication by the world-wide scientific community. The CAA aims to provide user-friendly services for searching and accessing these data and ancillary products. The CAA became operational in February 2006 and as of Summer 2008 has data from most of the Cluster instruments for at least the first 5 years of operations (2001-2005). The coverage and range of products are being continually improved with more than 200 datasets available from each spacecraft, including high-resolution magnetic and electric DC fields and wave spectra; full three-dimensional electron and ion distribution functions from a few eV to hundreds of keV; and various ancillary and browse products to help with spacecraft and event location. The CAA is continuing to extend and improve the online capabilities of the system and the quality of the existing data. It will add new data files for years 2006-2009 and is preparing for the long-term archive with complete coverage after the completion of the Cluster mission.

Published: 04 December 2009
We examine traversals on 20 November 2001 of the equatorial magnetopause boundary layer simultaneously at ~1500 magnetic local time (MLT) by the Geotail spacecraft and at ~1900 MLT by the Cluster spacecraft, which detected rolled-up MHD-scale vortices generated by the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability (KHI) under prolonged northward interplanetary magnetic field conditions. Our purpose is to address the excitation process of the KHI, MHD-scale and ion-scale structures of the vortices, and the formation mechanism of the low-latitude boundary layer (LLBL). The observed KH wavelength (>4 x 104 km) is considerably longer than predicted by the linear theory from the thickness (~1000 km) of the dayside velocity shear layer. Our analyses suggest that the KHI excitation is facilitated by combined effects of the formation of the LLBL presumably through high-latitude magnetopause reconnection and compressional magnetosheath fluctuations on the dayside, and that breakup and/or coalescence of the vortices are beginning around 1900 MLT. Current layers of thickness a few times ion inertia length ~100 km and of magnetic shear ~60° existed at the trailing edges of the vortices. Identified in one such current sheet were signatures of local reconnection: Alfvénic outflow jet within a bifurcated current sheet, nonzero magnetic field component normal to the sheet, and field-aligned beam of accelerated electrons. Because of its incipient nature, however, this reconnection process is unlikely to lead to the observed dusk-flank LLBL. It is thus inferred that the flank LLBL resulted from other mechanisms, namely, diffusion and/or remote reconnection unidentified by Cluster.
Published: 04 December 2009
This report presents an overview of the assessment study phase of the SPICA candidate M-class Cosmic Vision mission.
Published: 02 December 2009
This report presents an overview of the assessment study phase of the Solar Orbiter candidate M-class Cosmic Vision mission. Note: This report has been superseded by the Solar Orbiter definition study report (Red Book), released in July 2011, which is linked from the right-hand menu.
Published: 01 December 2009
This report presents an overview of the assessment study phase of the Marco Polo candidate M-class Cosmic Vision mission.
Published: 02 December 2009
This report presents an overview of the assessment study phase of the Euclid candidate M-class Cosmic Vision mission.
Published: 01 December 2009
This report presents an overview of the assessment study phase of the Cross-Scale candidate M-class Cosmic Vision mission.
Published: 01 December 2009

Executive Summary of the mission study by Thales Alenia Space (Reference: SD-RP-AI-0673).

The scope of this study was to provide technical definition and programmatic assessments of the whole space segment (Spacecraft + Earth Re-entry Capsule + Guidance Navigation & Control and of Touch & Go System + Sampling Acquisition & Transfer System), including development schedule and industrial costs evaluation. This information will support the selection process of the M mission to enter the definition Phase in the first half of 2010.

Published: 01 December 2009
16-Oct-2021 14:45 UT

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