ESA Science & Technology - Publication Archive
Dynamical studies of superbubbles and Wolf-Rayet ring nebulae show discrepancies from the standard adiabatic model for windblown bubbles. We therefore study the physical properties and kinematics of three candidate bubbles blown by single O stars to evaluate whether these discrepancies are also found in these simpler objects. Our sample candidates are N44 F, N44 J, and N44 M, in the outskirts of the H II complex N44 in the Large Magellanic Cloud. We have obtained ground-based and Hubble Space Telescope emission-line images and high-dispersion echelle spectra for these objects. From the Halpha luminosities and the [O III]/Halpha ratios of these nebulae, we estimate the spectral types of the ionizing stars to be O7 V, O9.5 V, and O9.5 V for N44 F, N44 J, and N44 M, respectively. We find that the observed expansion velocity of 12 kms-1 for N44 F is consistent with the stellar wind luminosity expected from the central ionizing star, as predicted by the standard bubble model. The observed upper limits for the expansion velocities of N44 J and N44 M are also compatible with the expected values, within the uncertainties. We also report the discovery in N44 F of strongly defined dust columns, similar to those seen in the Eagle Nebula. The photoevaporation of these dense dust features may be kinematically important and may actually govern the evolution of the shell. The inclusion of photoevaporation processes may thus undermine the apparent agreement between the observed bubble dynamics and the simple adiabatic models.
Published: 24 August 2002
During the ESA Leonids 2001 campaign to Australia spectroscopic measurements have been performed. Intensified video cameras mounted with spectral gratings produced more than 100 spectral video sequences (25 interlaced frames per second) with a dispersion of 1.66 nm/pixel in the first order. The spectral response and the dispersion have been determined in the laboratory. We show first results of a fireball spectrum and its trail. The differences and similarities between both spectra will be described. A sequence of spectra along the fireball trajectory is shown and the appearance of main meteor components over time/altitude is discussed. A comparison with previous work on meteor video spectroscopy, Abe (2000) and J. Borovicka et al. (1999), is done.
Published: 02 May 2002
This article is based on a talk given in November 2001 by Dr. G. Paschmann to Pro ISSI
Published: 02 May 2002
Whistler waves are an intrinsic feature of the oblique quasiperpendicular collisionless shock waves. For supercritical shock waves, the ramp region, where an abrupt increase of the magnetic field occurs, can be treated as a nonlinear whistler wave of large amplitude. In addition, oblique shock waves can possess a linear whistler precursor. There exist two critical Mach numbers related to the whistler components of the shock wave, the first is known as a whistler critical Mach number and the second can be referred to as a nonlinear whistler critical Mach number. When the whistler critical Much number is exceeded, a stationary linear wave train cannot stand ahead of the ramp. Above the nonlinear whistler critical Mach number, the stationary nonlinear wave train cannot exist anymore within the shock front. This happens when the nonlinear wave steepening cannot be balanced by the effects of the dispersion and dissipation. In this case nonlinear wave train becomes unstable with respect to overturning. In the present paper it is shown that the nonlinear whistler critical Mach number corresponds to the transition between stationary and nonstationary dynamical behavior of the shock wave. The results of the computer simulations making use of the 1D full particle electromagnetic code demonstrate that the transition to the nonstationarity of the shock front structure is always accompanied by the disappearance of the whistler wave train within the shock front. Using the two-fluid MHD equations, the structure of nonlinear whistler waves in plasmas with finite beta is investigated and the nonlinear whistler critical Mach number is determined. It is suggested a new more general proof of the criteria for small amplitude linear precursor or wake wave trains to exist.
Published: 16 April 2002
We present magnetospheric observations of very large amplitude global scale ULF waves, from 9 and 10 December 2000 when the upstream solar wind speed exceeded 600 km/s. We characterise these ULF waves using ground-based magnetometer, radar and optical instrumentation on both the dawn and dusk flanks; we find evidence to support the hypothesis that discrete frequency field line resonances (FLRs) were being driven by magnetospheric waveguide modes. During the early part of this interval, Cluster was on an outbound pass from the northern dusk side magnetospheric lobe into the magnetosheath, local-time conjugate to the Canadian sector. In situ magnetic fluctuations, observed by Cluster FGM, show evidence of quasi-periodic motion of the magnetosheath boundary layer with the same period as the ULF waves seen on the ground. Our observations represent the first simultaneous magnetometer, radar and optical observations of the characteristics of FLRs, and confirm the potential importance of ULF waves for magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling, particularly via the generation and modulation of electron precipitation into the ionosphere. The in situ Cluster measurements support the hypothesis that, during intervals of fast solar wind speed, the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability (KHI) can excite magnetospheric waveguide modes which bathe the flank magnetosphere with discrete frequency ULF wave power and drive large amplitude FLRs.
Published: 16 April 2002
Solitary waves have, for the first time, been identified in 3D electric field data at the subsolar, equatorial magnetopause. These nonlinear, bipolar electric field pulses parallel to the magnetic field occur both as individual spikes and as trains of spikes. The solitary waves have amplitudes up to ~25 mV/m, and velocities from ~150 km/s to >2000 km/s, with scale sizes the order of a kilometer (comparable to the Debye length). Almost all the observed solitary waves are positive potential structures with potentials of ~0.1 to 5 Volts. They are often associated with very large amplitude waves in either or both the electric and magnetic fields. Although most of the observed signatures are consistent with an electron hole mode, the events with very low velocities and the few negative potential structures may be indicative of a second type of solitary wave in the magnetopause current layer. The solitary waves may be an important source of dissipation and diffusion at the magnetopause.
Published: 13 March 2002
The bright night-time aurorae that are visible to the unaided eye are caused by electrons accelerated towards Earth by an upward-pointing electric field. On adjacent geomagnetic field lines the reverse process occurs: a downward-pointing electric field accelerates electrons away from Earth. Such magnetic-field-aligned electric fields in the collisionless plasma above the auroral ionosphere have been predicted, but how they could be maintained is still a matter for debate. The spatial and temporal behaviour of the electric fields — a knowledge of which is crucial to an understanding of their nature — cannot be resolved uniquely by single satellite measurements. Here we report on the first observations by a formation of identically instrumented satellites crossing a beam of upward-accelerated electrons. The structure of the electric potential accelerating the beam grew in magnitude and width for about 200 s, accompanied by a widening of the downward-current sheet, with the total current remaining constant. The 200-s timescale suggests that the evacuation of the electrons from the ionosphere contributes to the formation of the downward-pointing magnetic-field-aligned electric fields. This evolution implies a growing load in the downward leg of the current circuit, which may affect the visible discrete aurorae.
Published: 13 December 2001
In this report we present the first results from the Cluster wideband plasma wave investigation. The four Cluster spacecraft were successfully placed in closely spaced, high-inclination eccentric orbits around the Earth during two separate launches in July and August 2000. Each spacecraft includes a wideband plasma wave instrument designed to provide high-resolution electric and magnetic field wave-forms via both stored data and direct downlinks to the NASA Deep Space Network.
Published: 01 December 2001
This article is based on a talk about climate research given by Dr. Jürg Beer to the Pro ISSI
Published: 01 November 2001
The Whisper instrument yields two data sets: (i) the electron density determined via the relaxation sounder, and (ii) the spectrum of natural plasma emissions in the frequency band 2-80 kHz. Both data sets allow for the three-dimensional exploration of the magnetosphere by the Cluster mission. The total electron density can be derived unambiguously by the sounder in most magnetospheric regions, provided it is in the range of 0.25 to 80 cm-3. The natural emissions already observed by earlier spacecraft are fairly well measured by the Whisper instrument, thanks to the digital technology which largely overcomes the limited telemetry allocation. The natural emissions are usually related to the plasma frequency, as identified by the sounder, and the combination of an active sounding operation and a passive survey operation provides a time resolution for the total density determination of 2.2 s in normal telemetry mode and 0.3 s in burst mode telemetry, respectively. Recorded on board the four spacecraft, the Whisper density data set forms a reference for other techniques measuring the electron population. We give examples of Whisper density data used to derive the vector gradient, and estimate the drift velocity of density structures. Wave observations are also of crucial interest for studying small-scale structures, as demonstrated in an example in the fore-shock region. Early results from the Whisper instrument are very encouraging, and demonstrate that the four-point Cluster measurements indeed bring a unique and completely novel view of the regions explored.
Published: 16 October 2001
In November 1993, the International Rosetta Mission was approved as a Cornerstone Mission within ESA's Horizons 2000 science programme. Since then, scientists and engineers from all over Europe and the United States have been combining their talents to build an orbiter and a lander for this unique expedition to unravel the secrets of a mysterious mini ice world - a comet.
Table of contents:
- Rosetta: Europe's comet chaser
- Life and survival in deep space
- The cosmic billiard ball
- The long trek
- Rendezvous with a comet
- Debris of the Solar System: asteroids Otawara and Siwa
- Debris of the Solar System: comet 46P/Wirtanen
- The Rosetta Orbiter
- Science from the Orbiter
- The Rosetta Lander
- Long-distance communication
- Rosetta overview
Note: a more recent Rosetta mission brochure (ESA BR-321) is available here.
Published: 16 September 2001
Massive stars are expected to produce wind-blown bubbles in the interstellar medium; however, ring nebulae, suggesting the existence of bubbles, are rarely seen around main-sequence O stars. To search for wind-blown bubbles around main-sequence O stars, we have obtained high-resolution Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 images and high-dispersion echelle spectra of two pristine H II regions, N11B and N180B, in the Large Magellanic Cloud. These H II regions are ionized by OB associations that still contain O3 stars, suggesting that the H II regions are young and have not hosted any supernova explosions. Our observations show that wind-blown bubbles in these H II regions can be detected kinematically, but not morphologically, because their expansion velocities are comparable to or only slightly higher than the isothermal sound velocity in the H II regions. Bubbles are detected around concentrations of massive stars, individual O stars, and even an evolved red supergiant (a fossil bubble). Comparisons between the observed bubble dynamics and model predictions show a large discrepancy (1-2 orders of magnitude) between the stellar wind luminosity derived from bubble observations and models and that derived from observations of stellar winds. The number and distribution of bubbles in N11B differ from those in N180B, which can be explained by the difference in the richness of stellar content between these two H II regions. Most of the bubbles observed in N11B and N180B show a blister structure, indicating that the stars were formed on the surfaces of dense clouds. Numerous small dust clouds, similar to Bok globules or elephant trunks, are detected in these H II regions, and at least one of them hosts on-going star formation.
Published: 16 August 2001
EDI measures the drift velocity of artificially injected electron beams. From this drift velocity, the perpendicular electric field and the local magnetic field gradients can be deduced when employing different electron energies. The technique requires the injection of two electron beams at right angles to the magnetic field and the search for those directions within the plane that return the beams to their associated detectors after one or more gyrations. The drift velocity is then derived from the directions of the two beams and/or from the difference in their times-of-flight, measured via amplitude-modulation and coding of the emitted electron beams and correlation with the signal from the returning electrons. After careful adjustment of the control parameters, the beam recognition algorithms, and the onboard magnetometer calibrations during the commissioning phase, EDI is providing excellent data over a wide range of conditions. In this paper, we present first results in a variety of regions ranging from the polar cap, across the magnetopause, and well into the magnetosheath.
Published: 16 July 2001
Tests of hypotheses based on Higher Order Statistics (HOS) are reviewed in the particular context of the identification of non-linear processes in space plasma. The time series under study are associated with the measurement of electric or/and magnetic field components, or/and counting rates of articles. The basic principles of HOS techniques are reviewed. A general and unified procedure is suggested in order to construct statistical tests: (1) for detecting a non-gaussian or transient signal in a gaussian or non gaussian noise, (2) testing a stochastic time series for non-gaussianity (including non-linearity), (3) studying non-linear wave-wave interactions by using the kth-order coherency function. Asymptotic theory of estimates of the kth-order spectra is implemented in a digital signal processing framework. The effectiveness of the signal detection algorithms is demonstrated through computer simulations. Examples of application on the analysis of satellite data are given.
Published: 27 June 2001
On 14 January 2001, the four Cluster spacecraft passed through the northern magnetospheric mantle in close conjunction to the EISCAT Svalbard Radar (ESR) and approached the post-noon dayside magnetopause over Greenland between 13:00 and 14:00 UT. During that interval, a sudden reorganisation of the high-latitude dayside convection pattern accurred after 13:20 UT, most likely caused by a direction change of the Solar wind magnetic field. The result was an eastward and poleward directed flow-channel, as monitored by the SuperDARN radar network and also by arrays of ground-based magnetometers in Canada, Greenland and Scandinavia.
Published: 27 September 2007
Published: 02 May 2001
This article is based on a talk given by Professor Klaus Pretzl to the Pro ISSI.
Published: 02 April 2001
Magnetic reconnection has a crucial role in a variety of plasma environments in providing a mechanism for the fast release of stored magnetic energy. During reconnection the plasma forms a 'magnetic nozzle', like the nozzle of a hose, and the rate is controlled by how fast plasma can flow out of the nozzle. But the traditional picture of reconnection has been unable to explain satisfactorily the short timescales associated with the energy release, because the flow is mediated by heavy ions with a slow resultant velocity. Recent theoretical work has suggested that the energy release is instead mediated by electrons in waves called 'whistlers', which move much faster for a given perturbation of the magnetic field because of their smaller mass. Moreover, the whistler velocity and associated plasma velocity both increase as the 'nozzle' becomes narrower. A narrower nozzle therefore no longer reduces the total plasma flow-the outflow is independent of the size of the nozzle. Here we report observations demonstrating that reconnection in the magnetosphere is driven by whistlers, in good agreement with the theoretical predictions
Published: 30 March 2001
We discuss the detector requirements for future X-ray astrophysics missions and present preliminary results from our compound semiconductor program designed to produce X-ray detectors with high spatial and spectral resolution across the energy range 1 keV to 200 keV. Several prototype detectors have been fabricated from monocrystalline TlBr and tested at hard X-ray wavelengths in our laboratories and at the ESRF synchrotron research facility. Energy resolutions of 1.6 keV (fwhm) at 5.9 keV and 2.6 keV (fwhm) at 26 keV have been achieved, although we find that performance is highly variable due to polarisation effects. The resolution function is dominated by high leakage current at all energies. From pulse height measurements of Am241 as a function of detector bias, we derive the electron mobility-lifetime product at -2 °C to be (2.9±0.2) x 10-4 cm² V-1. This is about an order of magnitude higher than previously reported values.
Published: 01 February 2001
The XMM-OM instrument extends the spectral coverage of the XMM-Newton observatory into the ultraviolet and optical range. It provides imaging and time-resolved data on targets simultaneously with observations in the EPIC and RGS. It also has the ability to track stars in its field of view, thus providing an improved post-facto aspect solution for the spacecraft. An overview of the XMM-OM and its operation is given, together with current information on the performance of the instrument.
Published: 05 January 2001
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