Publication archive

Publication archive

In the 1970s, NASA and ESA took up the idea of a space-based telescope. Funding began to flow in 1977. Later, it was decided to name the telescope after Edwin Hubble. Although the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was downsized later to a 2.4 m primary mirror diameter from the initial 3 m, the project started to attract significant attention from astronomers.
Published: 02 May 2004
We review the results obtained with the Galactic center campaigns of the BeppoSAX Wide Field X-ray Cameras (WFCs). This pertains to the study of luminous low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs). When pointed at the Galactic center, the WFC field of view contains more than half of the Galactic LMXB population. The results exemplify the excellent WFC capability to detect brief X-ray transients. Firstly, the WFCs expanded the known population of Galactic thermonuclear X-ray bursters by 50%. At least half of all LMXBs are now established to burst and, thus, to contain a neutron star as compact accretor rather than a black hole candidate. We provide a complete list of all 76 currently known bursters, including the new case 1RXS J170854.4-321857. Secondly, the WFCs have uncovered a population of weak transients with peak luminosities up to ~10^37 erg/s and durations from days to weeks. One is the first accretion-powered millisecond pulsar SAX J1808.4-3658. Thirdly, the WFCs contributed considerably towards establishing that nearly all (12 out of 13) luminous low-mass X-ray binaries in Galactic globular clusters contain neutron stars rather than black holes. Thus, the neutron star to black hole ratio in clusters differs from that in the Galactic disk at a marginal confidence level of 97%.
Published: 02 May 2004
We report the first high-energy survey catalog obtained with the IBIS gamma-ray imager on board INTEGRAL. The analysis has been performed on the first-year Core Program ISGRI data comprising both Galactic Plane Scan and Galactic Centre Deep Exposure pointings for a total exposure time exceeding 5 Ms. This initial survey has revealed the presence of ~120 sources detected with the unprecedented sensitivity of ~1 mcrab in the energy range 20-100 keV. Each source is located to an accuracy between 1' and 3', depending on its brightness. The outstanding IBIS capability to locate soft gamma-ray emitters has allowed us to identify most of the detected sources with already known Galactic X-ray binary systems, while 28 of the objects are of unknown nature.
Published: 21 May 2004
An overview on the current status of the SMART-1 mission as of 13 May 2004.
Published: 14 May 2004
We report the results of extensive high-energy observations of the X-ray transient and black hole candidate XTE J1720-318 performed with INTEGRAL, XMM-Newton, and RXTE.
Published: 15 May 2004
On April 18, 2002, the Cluster spacecraft were outbound in the northern hemisphere over the pole and entered the cusp. A cusp-like region was observed consecutively three times from 1620 to 1830 UT by all four Cluster Spacecraft although the solar wind dynamic pressure was small and stable. All three cusp encounters were characterized by turbulent magnetic fields, high density plasma and stagnant plasma flow. The cusp region identifications were further confirmed by the clock angle criterion. All three cusps were found to be associated with clear signatures of energetic ions, high He/H and O/H ratios obtained by the RAPID instrument. The observed triple cusps may be either explained as a funnel-shaped cusp trifurcated or swiveled into a complicated geometry in space or as a cusp which shifted back and forth three times in a two hour interval. Observational evidence shows that the observed triple cusps were a temporal sequence rather than a spatial effect. We suggest further that the solar wind azimuthal flow was the controlling factor of the cusp position and was stronger factor than the IMF BY/BZ components. The importance of the solar wind azimuthal and north/south flow as a dynamic driver of the cusp, and even the whole magnetosphere has been more or less neglected or underestimated.
Published: 15 May 2004
The first simultaneous measurements of discrete chorus emissions on multiple spacecraft, realized in the context of the Cluster mission, revealed a rather unexpected frequency difference of around 1 kHz between nearly identical discrete elements observed on different spacecraft [Gurnett et al., 2001 ]. This frequency difference is interpreted herein as a natural outcome of the dependence of the whistler-mode refractive index on the wave normal angle between the wave vector k and the static magnetic field B0 and the rapid motion of highly localized source region(s) of chorus of 400 km to 1700 km in extent along the field line, but only less than 100 km transverse to the magnetic field, and moving at speeds of 20,000 km/s to 25,000 km/s. Wave packets emanating from the localized regions propagate to two spacecraft at different wave normal angles, and are observed at different frequencies due to the differential Doppler shift between the two spacecraft. These differences in frequency, as well as the different times of arrival of the similar emissions at the different spacecraft, provide a unique opportunity to estimate the source characteristics, using a model involving rapidly moving sources traveling at speeds comparable to the parallel resonant velocity of counterstreaming electrons moving along the Earth's magnetic field lines. We report the determination of chorus emission source region motion for two different cases observed during 20002001, where these differences in frequency were readily observable due to the relatively large separation of the Cluster spacecraft. We also report a case in 2002 where the spacecraft separations were smaller, so that these frequency differences were not as evident but nevertheless measurable. In general, our results provide the first experimental evidence that the sources that generate the discrete chorus emissions are in rapid motion.
Published: 15 May 2004
INTEGRAL is performing very well and we have witnessed a number of key events in the recent months which will be addressed in more detail here. Consequently this issue of the ISOC Newsletter is a bit longer than usual.
Published: 01 April 2004
Published: 16 May 2004
Authors: Bernard H. Foing, Chief Scientist
G. Racca, A. Marini and SMART-1 Project team
M. Grande, J. Huovelin, J.L. Josset, H. Keller, A. Nathues, D. Koschny, M. Almeida, J. Zender and SMART-1 Science & Technology team

The status and first results of ESA's SMART-1 mission were presented at the 1st General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union on 26 April 2004. The presentation covered:

  • SMART-1 Technology Mission: Solar Electric Propulsion to the Moon
  • Payload Technology and Science objectives
  • Lunar and planetary science with SMART-1
  • Performances, Status and first results data integration
  • SMART-1 Contribution to preparing Future Planetary exploration

Contact: Bernard H. Foing, Chief Scientist, ESTEC/SCI-SR, ESA Science Directorate,

Published: 27 April 2004
We present Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 and deep ground-based images of the Red Rectangle (RR), a bipolar proto-planetary nebula associated with the post-AGB binary system HD 44179. The high-resolution HST images reveal complex new structures, many of them unique to this object. The RR nebula is dominated by a discontinuous "bicone,'' whose bright, sharp linear edges give the nebula an overall X-shaped appearance. The edges of the bicone are connected by a remarkable series of linear features elongated perpendicular to the radius vector, giving the object a ladder-like structure. The "rungs'' of the ladder structure show a quasi-periodic spacing, suggesting that they have arisen from discrete episodes of mass loss from the central star, separated by a few hundred years. The total timescale over which mass has been shed into the visible nebula is of order 14 000 yr. Outside the X-shaped bicone, parabolas curl inward, resembling wineglasses, which terminate on the bicone edges in large, limb-brightened vortices. The central object is bisected by a dark band, indicating that the star is not seen directly but is instead obscured by a surrounding opaque dust disk.
Published: 16 April 2004
We present a search for rings or arcs in the haloes of planetary nebulae (PNe). We discovered such structures in eight PNe, tripling the sample of PNe with known rings. This shows that, contrary to what was believed to date, the occurrence of mass loss fluctuations with timescales of 102-10³ yrs at the end of the asymptotic giant branch phase (AGB) is common. We estimate a lower limit of the occurrence rate of rings in PN haloes to be ~35%. Using these new detections and the cases previously known, we discuss the statistical properties of ring systems in PNe haloes. We estimate that the mass modulation producing the rings takes place during the last 10 000 or 20 000 yrs of AGB evolution. In PNe, the spacing between rings ranges from <0.01 pc to 0.06 pc, significantly larger than those seen in proto-PNe. This, together with the finding of a possible positive correlation of spacing with the post-AGB age of the nebulae, suggests that the spacing of the rings increases with time. These properties, as well as the modest surface brightness amplitudes of rings, are consistent with the predictions of the dust-driven wind instability model explored by Meijerink et al., but do not immediately exclude other proposed models.
Published: 16 April 2004
Measurements of a spacecraft floating potential, on the four Cluster spacecraft, are used as a proxy for electron plasma density to study, for the first time, the macroscopic density transition scale at 98crossings of the quasiperpendicular terrestrial bow shock. A timing analysis gives shock speeds and normals; the shock speed is used to convert the temporal measurement to a spatial one. A hyperbolic tangent function is fitted to each density transition, which captures the main shock transition, but not overshoot or undershoot nor foot features. We find that, at a low Mach number M, the density transition is consistent with both ion inertial scales c/ωpi and convected gyroradii vsh,nci,2, while at M ≥ 4-5 only the convected gyroradius is the preferred scale for the shock density transition and takes the value L ≈ 0.4vsh,nci,2.
Published: 31 December 2003
The Milky Way is known to be an abundant source of gamma-ray photons, now determined to be mainly diffuse in nature and resulting from interstellar processes. In the soft gamma-ray domain, point sources are expected to dominate, but the lack of sensitive high-resolution observations did not allow for a clear estimate of the contribution from such sources. Even the best imaging experiment revealed only a few point sources, accounting for about 50% of the total Galactic flux. Theoretical studies were unable to explain the remaining intense diffuse emission. Investigating the origin of the soft gamma-rays is therefore necessary to determine the dominant particle acceleration processes and to gain insights into the physical and chemical equilibrium of the interstellar medium. Here we report observations in the soft gamma-ray domain that reveal numerous compact sources. We show that these sources account for the entirety of the Milky Way's emission in soft gamma-rays, leaving at most a minor role for diffuse processes.
Published: 18 March 2004

A paper originally presented by EADS Astrium at the 54th IAC in Bremen in September 2003.

On 28 January 2003, EADS Astrium officially signed the Venus Express contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) worth 82.4 million Euros for the design and development of the spacecraft. This will be the first European spacecraft to visit the planet Venus. Venus Express is scheduled for launch from the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in November 2005. It will be launched by a Soyuz-Fregat rocket and put immediately into its transfer orbit to Venus.

Published: 02 August 2003
Gaia in 2003, a status report prepared by the Gaia Project Scientist, summarises the status of the Gaia project at the end of 2003, describes the progress achieved in 2003, and summarises the major ongoing and planned activities.
Published: 25 May 2004
Since ten years ASTRIUM has developed sintered Silicon Carbide (SiC) technology for space applications. Its unique thermo-mechanical properties, associated with its polishing capability, make SiC an ideal material for building ultra-stable lightweight space based telescopes or mirrors. SiC is a cost effective alternative to Beryllium and the ultra-lighweighted ULE. In complement to the material manufacturing process, ASTRIUM has developed several assembly techniques (bolting, brazing, bonding) for manufacturing large and complex SiC assemblies. This technology is now perfectly mature and mastered. SiC is baselined for most of the telescopes that are developed by ASTRIUM. SiC has been identified as the most suitable material for manufacturing very large crygenic telescopes. In this paper we present the development of a 3.5m-diameter telescope for the Herschel Mission. Herschel's main goal is to study how the first stars and galaxies were formed and evolved. The Herschel Space telescope, using silicon carbide technology will be the largest space imagery telescope ever launched. The Herschel telescope will weight 300 kg rather than the 1.5 tons required with standard technology. The Herschel telescope is to be delivered in 2005 for a launch planned for 2007.
Published: 01 March 2003
Four transits of the planet orbiting the star HD209458 were observed with the STIS spectrograph on board HST. The wavelength domain (1180-1710A) includes HI as well as CI, CII, CIV, NV, OI, SI, SiII, SiIII and SiIV lines. During the transits, absorptions are detected in HI, OI and CII (5+/-2%, 13+/-4.5% and 7.5+/-3.5%, respectively). No absorptions are detected for other lines. The 5% mean absorption over the whole HI Lyman alpha line is consistent with the previous detection at higher resolution (Vidal-Madjar et al. 2003). The absorption depths in OI and CII show that oxygen and carbon are present in the extended upper atmosphere of HD209458b. These species must be carried out up to the Roche lobe and beyond, most likely in a state of hydrodynamic escape.
Published: 02 February 2004
We investigate intense whistler-mode chorus emissions which occurred during the geomagnetic storm on 31 March 2001. We use multipoint measurements obtained by the Cluster spacecraft in the premidnight equatorial region outside the plasmasphere at a radial distance of 4 Earth radii (L = 4.0 - 4.2). Observed spatio-temporal variations of the direction of the Poynting flux manifest a consistent pattern: the central position of the chorus source fluctuates at time scales of minutes within 1000-2000 km of the geomagnetic equator. We demonstrate that estimates of the electromagnetic planarity can be used to characterize the extent of the source, obtaining a range of 3000-5000 km. Discrete wave packets of chorus are observed to rise in frequency between 0.13 and 0.5 of the local electron cyclotron frequency, at a rate up to 20 kHz/s, having the maximum peak amplitudes of <20 mV/m. We observe a fine structure of subpackets with large amplitudes embedded in the interior of the wave packets. This fine structure has a typical delay of a few milliseconds between the two neighboring maxima of the wave amplitude. Longer delays occur with a decreasing probability density.
Published: 21 January 2004
Mariner 10 has been the only spacecraft to visit the innermost planet Mercury. Its three flybys, more than 25 years ago, yielded the first view of this little-understood world. With advances in spacecraft technology and a growing realization of how important Mercury is to our understanding of the solar system and its formation, two missions are now in development for more intensive Mercury exploration. The first is the MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) mission, competitively selected under the NASA Discovery Program, that will send a spacecraft to fly by Mercury in 2007 and 2008 and to orbit Mercury for one Earth year beginning in April 2009. The second is the more comprehensive BepiColombo mission, consisting of three elements: the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), and the Mercury Surface Element (MSE). Still in final definition stage, BepiColombo is a partnership between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS). With one or two launches (depending upon the final mission architecture) BepiColombo will use solar electric propulsion to send two orbiters (MPO from ESA and MMO from ISAS) and a lander (MSE) to Mercury as early as 2011. The BepiColombo orbiters, in orbits complementary to that of MESSENGER, will extend geochemical, spectral, and photometric mapping of the planet. With its factor-of-ten larger downlink, BepiColombo will complete the intensive study of Mercury begun with the exploration by MESSENGER. Synergistic strategies of exploration will enable efficient use of BepiColombo resources in a more detailed study of the planet than can be accomplished by MESSENGER alone. - Remainder of abstract is truncated -
Published: 20 January 2004
28-Sep-2020 19:23 UT

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