Publication archive

Publication archive

Rosetta, the first planetary cornerstone mission of the ESA Scientific Programme, was launched on 2 March 2004 on its ten year journey to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In summer 2014, Rosetta will go into orbit around the comet's nucleus, approaching to within a few kilometres of its surface, will deliver a Lander called 'Philae' onto its surface to make in-situ measurements, and will then accompany the comet on its onward journey for about 1.5 years. The launch and the first 1.5 years of flight operations have been very smooth, with the spacecraft, its payload and the ground segment performing almost perfectly, with no major anomalies and all parameters well within specification. All planned mission activities have gone according to schedule, and additional 'bonus' scientific and technological operations were even added to the intense operations schedule of the first few months. Among the mission events to date were the observations of the NASA Deep Impact probe's encounter in July 2005 with comet 9P/Tempel-1, from a 'privileged' position in space just 80 million kilometres away.
Published: 16 August 2005
We have identified three multiply imaged galaxies in Hubble Space Telescope images of the redshift z=0.68 cluster responsible for the large-separation quadruply lensed quasar, SDSS J1004+4112. Spectroscopic redshifts have been secured for two of these systems using the Keck I 10 m telescope. The most distant lensed galaxy, at z=3.332, forms at least four images, and an Einstein ring encompassing 3.1 times more area than the Einstein ring of the lensed QSO images at z=1.74, due to the greater source distance. For a second multiply imaged galaxy, we identify Lyalpha emission at a redshift of z=2.74. The cluster mass profile can be constrained from near the center of the brightest cluster galaxy, where we observe both a radial arc and the fifth image of the lensed quasar, to the Einstein radius of the highest redshift galaxy, ~110 kpc. Our preliminary modeling indicates that the mass approximates an elliptical body, with an average projected logarithmic gradient of ~=-0.5. The system is potentially useful for a direct measurement of world models in a previously untested redshift range. Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS5-26555.
Published: 16 August 2005
The next generation astronomical X-ray telescopes (e.g. XEUS) require extremely large collecting area (10 m²) in combination with good angular resolution (5 arcsec). The existing technologies such as polished glass, nickel electroforming and foil optics would lead to excessively heavy and expensive optics, and/or are not able to produce the required large area or resolution. We have developed an entirely novel technology for producing X-ray optics which results in very light, stiff and modular optics which can be assembled into almost arbitrarily large apertures, and which are perfectly suited for XEUS. The technology makes use of commercially available silicon wafers from the semiconductor industry. The latest generation silicon wafers have a surface roughness that is sufficiently low for X-ray reflection, are planparallel to better than a micrometer, have almost perfect mechanical properties and are considerably cheaper than other high-quality optical materials. The wafers are bent into an accurate cone and assembled to form a light and stiff pore structure with pores of the order of a millimeter. The resulting modules form a small segment of a Wolter-I optic, and are easily assembled into an optic with large collecting area. We present the production principle of these silicon pore optics, the facilities that have been set up to produce these modules and experimental results showing the excellent performance of the first modules that have been produced. With further improvement we expect to be able to match the XEUS requirements for imaging resolution and mass.
Published: 01 January 2004
Producing the next generation of X-ray optics, both for large astrophysics missions and smaller missions such as planetary exploration, requires much lower mass and therefore much thinner mirrors. The use of pore structures allows very thin mirrors in a stiff structure. Over the last few years we have been developing ultra-low mass pore optics based on microchannel plate technology in glass, resulting in square, open-core glass fibres in a concentric geometry. The surface roughness inside the pores can be as low as 0.5 nm due to the extreme stretching of the surface during production. We show how improvements in the production process have led to an improved quality of the fibers and the quality of stacking the fibers in the required geometry. To achieve a higher imaging quality as required for XEUS we have developed in parallel a novel pore optics technology based on silicon wafers. The production process of silicon wafers is extremely optimised by the semiconductor industry, leading to optical qualities that are sufficient for high-resolution X-ray focussing. We have developed the technology to stack these wafers into accurate X-ray optics, set up automated assembly facilities for the production of these stacks and present very promising X-ray test results of 5.3 arcsec HEW from single reflection off such a stack, showing the great potential of this technology for XEUS and other high-resolution low mass X-ray optics.
Published: 01 January 2004
With Photonis and cosine Research BV, ESA has been developing and testing micro pore optics for X-ray imaging. Applications of the technology are foreseen to reduce mass and volume in, for example, a planetary X-ray imager, X-ray timing observatory or high-energy astrophysics. Photonis, a world leader in the design and development of micro pore optics, have developed a technique for manufacturing square channel pores formed from extruded glass fibres. Single square fibres, formed with soluble glass cores, are stacked into a former and redrawn to form multifibres of the required dimension. Radial sectors of an optic are then cut from a block formed by stacking multifibres and fusing them to form a monolithic glass structure. Sectors can be sliced, polished, etched and slumped to form the segment of an optic with specific radius. Two of these sectors will be mounted to form, for example, a Wolter I optic configuration. To improve reflectivity of the channel surfaces coating techniques have also been considered. The results of X-ray tests performed by ESA and cosine Research, using the BESSY-II synchrotron facility four-crystal monochromator beamline of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), on multi-fibres, sectors and slumped sectors will be discussed in this paper. Test measurements determine the X-ray transmission and focussing characteristics as they relate to the overall transmission, X-ray reflectivity of the channel walls, radial alignment of the fibres, slumping radius and fibre position in a fused block. The multifibres and sectors have also been inspected under microscope and SEM to inspect the channel walls and determine the improvements made in fibre stacking.
Published: 12 August 2005
The X-ray Evolving Universe Spectroscopy (XEUS) mission is under study by ESA and JAXA in preparation for inclusion in the ESA long term Science Programme (the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 long-term plan). With very demanding science requirements, missions such as XEUS can only be implemented for acceptable costs, if new technologies and concepts are applied. The identification of the key technologies to be developed is one of the drivers for the early mission design studies, and in the case of XEUS this has led to the development of a novel approach to building X-ray optics for ambitious future high-energy astrophysics missions. XEUS is based on a single focal plane formation flying configuration, building on a novel lightweight X-ray mirror technology. With a 50 m focal length and an effective area of 10 m2 at 1 keV this observatory is optimized for studies of the evolution of the X-ray universe at moderate to high redshifts. This paper describes the current status of the XEUS mission design, the accommodation of the large optics, the corresponding deployment sequence and the associated drivers, in particular regarding the thermal design of the system. The main results were obtained in two Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) studies and other internal activities at ESTEC.
Published: 01 July 2005
The X-ray telescope forms the core of the high energy astrophysics observatory XEUS, currently under study at ESA as a well positioned candidate for its Cosmic Visions 1525 Science Programme, which is presently under formulation. The science requirements of XEUS are particularly demanding, combining a large effective area (10m2 at 1 keV), moderate angular resolution (5" requirement, with a goal of 2"), and a low mass for the optics system. The preferred operational orbit for XEUS is a halo orbit around the Lagrangian Point 2 (L2). Background and costing considerations led to the requirement of a single focal plane location, which in combination with the required broad energy response function, in turn requires a focal length of 50m. The mission design is based on formation flying, with the Mirror Spacecraft (MSC) flying inertially, and the Detector Spacecraft (DSC) actively following the focal point. The ambitious XEUS telescope relies on the novel X-ray technology currently under development in Europe. The X-ray optics technology development activities and status as well as the telescope design in general are addressed.
Published: 11 August 2005
The Xeus mission is designed to explore the X-ray emission from objects in the Universe at high redshifts, and the success of the mission depends critically on the deployment of a 10 square metre class telescope system in a suitable orbit for science observations. The minimisation of the telescope mass and volume becomes of critical importance for such a large facility. We describe developments of novel light weight optics that enable a reduction in mass per unit area of more than an order of magnitude, compared with traditional replication optics technology. With such a large collection area, image confusion limits become a scientific driver as well, demanding arcsecond class resolution. We describe measurements that demonstrate the improvement in resolution that gives very high confidence that these requirements can be met. Some implementation details of the mission are briefly mentioned.
Published: 01 January 2004
If sensitive enough, future missions for nuclear astrophysics will be a great help in the understanding of supernovae explosions. In comparison to coded-mask instruments, both crystal diffraction lenses and grazing angle mirrors offer a possibility to construct a more sensitive instrument to detect gamma-ray lines in supernovae. We report on possible implementations of grazing angle mirrors and simulations carried out to determine the performance. In this study we differentiate between single and multilayer mirrors. Moreover we discuss the possibilities of double reflection implementations.
Published: 22 June 2004
We study the gas mass fraction, f(gas), behavior in the XMM-Newton Omega project. The typical f(gas) shape of high redshift galaxy clusters follows the global shape inferred at low redshift quite well. This result is consistent with the gravitational instability picture leading to self similar structures for both the dark and baryonic matter. However, the mean f(gas) in distant clusters shows some differences to local ones, indicating a departure from strict scaling. This result is consistent with the observed evolution in the luminosity-temperature relation. We quantitatively investigate this departure from scaling laws. Within the local sample we used, a moderate but clear variation of the amplitude of the gas mass fraction with temperature is found, a trend that weakens in the outer regions. These variations do not explain departure from scaling laws of our distant clusters. An important implication of our results is that the gas fraction evolution, a test of the cosmological parameters, can lead to biased values when applied at radii smaller than the virial radius. From our XMM clusters, the apparent gas fraction at the virial radius is consistent with a non-evolving universal value in a high matter density model and not with a concordance.
Published: 19 March 2005
We use XMM-Newton blank-sky and closed-cover background data to explore the background subtraction methods for large extended sources filling the EPIC field of view, such as nearby galaxy clusters, for which local background estimation is difficult. We find that to keep the 0.8-7.0 keV band background modeling uncertainty tolerable, one has to use a much more restrictive filter than that commonly applied. In particular, because flares have highly variable spectra, not all of them are identified by filtering the E>10 keV light curve. We tried using the outer part of the EPIC FOV for monitoring the background in a softer band (1-5 keV). We find that one needs to discard the time periods when either the hard-band or the soft-band rate exceeds the nominal value by more than 20% in order to limit the 90% CL background uncertainty to between 5% at E=4-7 keV and 20% at E=0.8-1 keV, for both MOS and PN. This compares to a 10-30% respective PN uncertainty when only the hard-band light curve is used for filtering, and to a 15-45% PN uncertainty when applying the commonly used 2-3 sigma filtering method. We illustrate our method on a nearby cluster A1795. The above background uncertainties convert into the systematic temperature uncertainties between 1% at r=3-4 arcmin and 20--25% (~1 keV for A1795) at r=10-15 arcmin. For comparison, the commonly applied 2-3 sigma clipping of the hard-band light curve misses a significant amount of flares, rendering the temperatures beyond r=10 arcmin unconstrained. Thus, the background uncertainties do not prohibit the EPIC temperature profile analysis of low-brightness regions, like outer regions of galaxy clusters, provided a conservative flare filtering such as the double filtering method with 20% limits is used.
Published: 17 April 2005
By considering model comet nuclei with a wide range of sizes, prolate ellipsoidal shapes, spin axis orientations, and surface activity patterns, constraints have been placed on the nucleus properties of the primary Rosetta target, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This is done by requiring that the model bodies simultaneously reproduce the empirical nucleus rotational lightcurve, the water production rate as function of time, and non-gravitational changes (per apparition) of the orbital period (Delta P), longitude of perihelion (Delta omega tilde), and longitude of the ascending node (Delta Omega). Two different thermophysical models are used in order to calculate the water production rate and non-gravitational force vector due to nucleus outgassing of the model objects. By requiring that the nominal water production rate measurements are reproduced as well as possible, we find that the semi--major axis of the nucleus is close to 2.5 km, the nucleus axis ratio is approximately 1.4, while the spin axis argument is either 60+/-15 or 240+/-15 degrees. The spin axis obliquity can only be preliminary constrained, indicating retrograde rotation for the first argument value, and prograde rotation for the second suggested spin axis argument. A nucleus bulk density in the range 100-370 kg/m^3 is found for the nominal Delta P, while an upper limit of 500 kg/m^3 can be placed if the uncertainty in Delta P is considered. Both considered thermophysical models yield the same spin axis, size, shape, and density estimates. Alternatively, if calculated water production rates within an envelope around the measured data are considered, it is no longer possible to constrain the size, shape, and spin axis orientation of the nucleus, but an upper limit on the nucleus bulk density of 600 kg/m^3 is suggested.
Published: 02 July 2005
Starting with nearby galaxy clusters like Virgo and Coma, and continuing out to the furthest galaxy clusters for which ISO results have yet been published (z=0.56), we discuss the development of knowledge of the infrared and associated physical properties of galaxy clusters from early IRAS observations, through the "ISO-era" to the present, in order to explore the status of ISO's contribution to this field. Relevant IRAS and ISO programmes are reviewed, addressing both the cluster galaxies and the still-very-limited evidence for an infrared-emitting intra-cluster medium. ISO made important advances in knowledge of both nearby and distant galaxy clusters, such as the discovery of a major cold dust component in Virgo and Coma cluster galaxies, the elaboration of the correlation between dust emission and Hubble-type, and the detection of numerous Luminous Infrared Galaxies (LIRGs) in several distant clusters. These and consequent achievements are underlined and described. We recall that, due to observing time constraints, ISO's coverage of higher-redshift galaxy clusters to the depths required to detect and study statistically significant samples of cluster galaxies over a range of morphological types could not be comprehensive and systematic, and such systematic coverage of distant clusters will be an important achievement of the Spitzer Observatory.
Published: 02 July 2005
The improved performance of cryogenic detectors has drastically enhanced their utilisation range, allowing a number of space-based applications, with particular emphasis on astronomical observations. In this paper we provide an overview of the main applications of cryogenic detectors onboard spacecraft, together with a description of the key technologies and detection techniques used or being considered for space science missions. A summary of the cryogenic instrumentation technologies is also presented. Specific emphasis is given to space based astronomy in the soft X-ray regime, where superconducting tunnel junctions and cryogenic calorimeters offer well identified advantages. Possible instruments for future astrophysics space missions are also discussed, using XEUS (X-ray Evolving Universe Spectroscopy mission, presently proposed by ESA as a post XMM-Newton project) as a reference.
Published: 05 September 2003
The inner magnetosphere's current mapping is one of the key elements for current loop closure inside the entire magnetosphere. A method for directly computing the current is the multi-spacecraft curlometer technique, which is based on the application of Maxwell-Ampère's law. This requires the use of four-point magnetic field high resolution measurements. The FGM experiment on board the four Cluster spacecraft allows, for the first time, an instantaneous calculation of the magnetic field gradients and thus a measurement of the local current density.
Published: 29 July 2005

The closest Wolf-Rayet star, WR 11 in the binary system 2 Velorum, is the only star for which the spectral signature of the 26Al produced in its core is expected to be detectable with current gamma-ray instruments, through the 1.8 MeV decay of that radioactive nucleus.

We present here the current status of both model predictions, from calculations of massive star evolution including rotation of stellar interior, and from data on 2 Velorum obtained by the ESA's gamma-ray satellite INTEGRAL over the first year of its mission.

Published: 26 July 2005
We investigate the nature of the diffuse intracluster ultraviolet light seen in 12 local starburst galaxies, using longslit ultraviolet spectroscopy obtained with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) aboard the Hubble Space Telescope (HST ). We take this faint intracluster light to be the field in each galaxy and compare its spectroscopic signature with Starburst99 evolutionary synthesis models and with neighboring star clusters. Our main result is that the diffuse ultraviolet light in 11 of the 12 starbursts lacks the strong O star wind features that are clearly visible in spectra of luminous clusters in the same galaxies. The difference in stellar features dominating cluster and field spectra indicates that the field light comes primarily from a different stellar population and not from scattering of UV photons originating in the massive clusters.
Published: 21 July 2005
Contents: HST News and Status; ST-ECF Update; Hubble's 15th Anniversary; New Development in aXe; STIS CTE Correction Science Case; MultiDrizzle in the Archive Pipelines.
Published: 16 July 2005
We present ISOPHOT observations at 120 and 200 µm of a 31 × 57 arcmin² region, with optical extinction AV ranging between ~ 0.5 and 11 mag, that encloses the Taurus molecular cloud TMC-2. The far-infrared emission is separated into a warm and a cold component using the ISOPHOT data and IRAS measurements at 60 and 100 µm. This separation is based on the very different morphologies of the 60 and 200 µm emission maps.
Published: 02 June 2005
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