Newsletter No. 82, May 2003
  1. Notes from the Editor - Matthew Baring
  2. Leon Van Speybroeck (1935 - 2002) - Josh Grindlay
  3. 2003 Bruno Rossi Prize Winners - Ilana Harrus
  4. Third Schramm Prize Awarded to Cowen and Irion - Ilana Harrus
  5. HEAD in the News - Ilana Harrus, Christopher Wanjek and Megan Watzke
  6. News from NASA Headquarters - Paul Hertz
  7. Chandra Fellows Named - Nancy Evans
  8. RHESSI Mission News - David Smith
  9. INTEGRAL Mission News - Chris Winkler
  10. Swift Mission News - Phil Plait and Christopher Wanjek
  11. XMM-Newton Mission News - Ilana Harrus and Phil Plait
  12. RXTE News - Padi Boyd, et al.
  13. GLAST Mission News - Phil Plait and Christopher Wanjek
  14. Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report - Roger Brissenden and Martin Weisskopf
  15. GUSBAD Catalog of Gamma-Ray Bursts Available Online - Maarten Schmidt
  16. Meeting Announcements:




from the Editor - Matthew Baring, HEAD Secretary-Treasurer, headsec@aas.org, 713-348-2983

HEAD only delivers the table-of-contents for HEADNEWS into your mailbox. The newsletter itself can be found online at http://www.aas.org/head/headnews/headnews.may03.html.

The next HEAD Division meeting is to be held in Fall 2004, probably in early September in New Orleans. Negotiations are currently ongoing to finalize the dates and the site. This conference will assume the normal HEAD meeting format, and will include invited and contributed talks, poster sessions, and afternoon/evening workshops as in recent HEAD meetings. Stay tuned for more information in the Fall; updates will be emailed to the membership as well as posted on the HEAD web site: http://www.aas.org/head/.

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2. Leon Van Speybroeck (1935 - 2002) - Josh Grindlay, HEAD Chair

The High Energy Astrophysics community was saddened by the news that the 2002 Bruno Rossi prize winner, Leon Van Speybroeck, passed away on December 25, 2002, prior to the Seattle AAS Meeting. At the AAS Meeting on January 8, 2003, after a brief tribute to Leon's accomplishments and moment of remembrance, the Rossi Prize certificate was presented by HEAD Chair Josh Grindlay to Leon's son David Van Speybroeck and daughter Elaine Van Speybroeck Carmichael. At Leon's request, Harvey Tananbaum then delivered the Rossi Prize session invited talk which Leon had largely prepared. Harvey included a rich assortment of Chandra images, with commentary, and concluded with some wonderful pictures of Leon at several of his milestone moments: from the early days at AS&E, to his pivotal role in the mirrors for the Einstein X-ray Observatory, to his final masterpiece, the exquisite mirrors for the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

A summary of Leon's life and accomplishments can be found at http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/advisories/03_advisories/press_010203.html, and a full obituary will be published in an upcoming issue of the BAAS.

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3. 2003 Bruno Rossi Prize Winners - Ilana Harrus, HEAD Press Officer

Three scientists have won this year's Bruno Rossi Prize, awarded by the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society, for their groundbreaking work on identifying magnetars, exotic stars with magnetic fields powerful enough to strip clean a credit card 100,000 miles away.

Sharing the award are Robert Duncan and Christopher Thompson, who predicted the existence of magnetars and coined the name, and Chryssa Kouveliotou, who provided the first observational evidence.

Duncan is an astrophysicist at the University of Texas, Austin. Thompson is at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. Together they laid the theoretical groundwork for the magnetar as early as 1992. The magnetar, they theorized, would be a rapidly spinning neutron star with a magnetic field over a hundred trillion times stronger that the Sun's and Earth's magnetic field. A neutron star is the compact, core remains of a star once larger than the Sun that exploded in a supernova event.

Kouveliotou works for the National Space Science and Technology Center at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Using NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer and the Japanese Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics, she and her colleagues found that a neutron star they were studying was slowing down at precisely the rate required for a magnetic field of 800 trillion Gauss -- on the order of what Duncan and Thompson predicted. The Earth's magnetic field is about half a Gauss.

Kouveliotou has since identified several more magnetars, also characterized as Soft Gamma-ray Repeaters because they release pulses of gamma rays. Scientists have also found that Anomalous X-ray Pulsars, releasing pulses of X rays, are magnetars. The crushing magnetic fields -- slowing the star's spin and causing the surface to periodical crack -- are thought to be the cause of a magnetar's unusual pattern of radiation.

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4. Third Schramm Prize Awarded to Cowen and Irion - Ilana Harrus, HEAD Press Officer

The 3rd David N. Schramm award was given to Ron Cowen for his article "Jet Astronomy" published in Science News (November 9, 2002) and Robert Irion for his article "Ashes to Ashes" published in Science (September 27, 2002). Both authors were recognized for their work and their commitment to make High Energy Astrophysics understandable to the general public. The prize was presented to the two winners at the meeting banquet by Josh Grindlay, Chair of the HEAD Executive Committee. The photographs (courtesy of George Chartas, Penn State University) of the award ceremony (and of the banquet) are available at: http://lheawww.gsfc.nasa.gov/users/imh/HEAD2003/Pictures/Banquet.

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5. HEAD in the News (November 2002 - April 2003) - Ilana Harrus, HEAD Press Officer, Christopher Wanjek, Structure and Evolution of the Universe Senior Science Writer, and Megan Watzke, Chandra Press Officer

Members of the High Energy Astrophysics Division kept up their productivity, and the press took notice. Even in these troubled times filled with images of the war and SARS, the press coverage of High-Energy Astrophysics has been good. The last six months have seen the successful launch of Integral and Galex, not mentioning SIRTF and CHIPS here. WMAP announced the spectacular results of their first year of data. Chandra and XMM-Newton continue to deliver impressive results, and RXTE continues to teach us a lesson in longevity. Below is a list of some of the results that received press attention.

To keep us abreast of media coverage of HEAD science, if you appeared somewhere in the news (in your local paper or on the BBC), please send an email message to Ilana Harrus, HEAD Press Officer, with the subject line: HEAD IN THE NEWS. Please provide some details on the media (newspaper/radio/TV/Web), the research article that was covered, and the journal in which it was published (Nature, Science, ApJL, ApJ, etc.)

There is also an effort to post all the press releases that are linked to NASA's SEU (Structure and Evolution of the Universe) theme (which has about an 80% overlap with HEAD) at http://universe.nasa.gov/press/ and that we will appreciate if you let us know if your institution put out a press release that could be posted there. SEU has a new science writer, Richard Todaro, whom HEAD scientists might meet and talk to some day as he looks for new press release material.

Various Items in the News:

April 14, 2003: X-rays found from a Lightweight Brown Dwarf Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory: scientists have detected X-rays from a low mass brown dwarf in a multiple star system, which is as young as 12 million years old. This discovery is an important piece in an increasingly complex picture of how brown dwarfs, and perhaps the very massive planets around other stars, evolve. The result, published in the April 10th issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters, got reported by United Press International, Astronomy, Scientific American and various websites. The lead author on the paper is Yohko Tsuboi of Chuo University in Tokyo. Press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_041403.html

April 10, 2003: HETE Helps Link Gamma-Ray Burst and Supernova: Scientists have discovered that one of the brightest and closest gamma-ray bursts on record is also a supernova. Scientists obtained the first direct evidence linking these two types of explosions, both triggered by the death of a massive star. The burst was detected by HETE. Thomas Matheson (Center for Astrophysics) and his colleagues Peter Garnavich (Notre Dame) and Krzysztof Stanek also from the CfA immediately obtained optical observations of the gamma-ray burst afterglow with the MMT and spotted the telltale signs of a supernova. The result attracted considerable press coverage and was reported by CNN, the BBC, The London Times, The Pravda, and many other media outlets worldwide. More on the burst: http://space.mit.edu/HETE/Bursts/GRB030329/ Press release: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/h03-135.htm

March 25, 2003: Chandra Sees Shape of Universe During Formative, Adolescent Years: Scientists using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have taken a snapshot of the adolescent universe from about five billion years ago when the familiar web-like structure of galaxy chains and voids first emerged. Yuxuan Yang, a doctorate candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the first author of the paper, presented his result at a press conference on March 25, 2003 at the HEAD meeting in Mt. Tremblant. The paper was published in the March issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters and was reported on space.com and a couple of various space-related websites. Photos of the press conference: http://lheawww.gsfc.nasa.gov/users/imh/HEAD2003/Pictures/Press-conferences/PC3/ Press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_032503b.html

March 25, 2003: Doomed Matter Near Black Hole Gets Second Lease on Life: Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton satellite, scientists at Penn State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found evidence of high-speed winds blowing away copious amounts of gas from the cores of two quasar galaxies, which are thought to be powered by black holes. The result, presented by George Chartas (Penn State University) at a press conference at the HEAD meeting, became the biggest news story of the meeting. This XMM-Newton/Chandra result was picked up by the BBC, UPI, Montreal Gazette, Astronomy, Science, Science News, Scientific American, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist, Space.com, Physics Web, the University Wire and many more outlets worldwide. Photos of the press conference: http://lheawww.gsfc.nasa.gov/users/imh/HEAD2003/Pictures/Press-conferences/PC3/ Press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_032503.html

March 24, 2003: New Class of Hot-Tempered Black Holes Bucks Trends: NASA scientists have found two smoking-gun features of an intermediate-mass black hole that suggest these newly identified objects are fundamentally different from other types of black holes, running hotter than expected. Intermediate-mass black holes do not appear to suck in matter the same way as their larger and smaller cousins do. The results were presented at a press conference at the HEAD meeting by first author Tod Strohmayer (NASA/GSFC) and appeared in Astronomy, Science, Science News, Scientific American, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist, and Montreal Gazette and several websites including space.com. Photos of the press conference: http://lheawww.gsfc.nasa.gov/users/imh/HEAD2003/Pictures/Press-conferences/PC1/ Press release:

March 24, 2003: Cool X-Ray Disk Points to a New Type of Black Hole: A team led by Dr. Jon Miller of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) zeroed in on gas very close to two suspected "intermediate-mass" black holes -- material that would soon take that final plunge. Using the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton satellite, the scientists precisely measured the temperature of this gas and obtained the most accurate mass measurement of the black hole systems to date. The results were presented at a press conference at the HEAD meeting in conjunction to the result by Strohmayer et al. It got a similar coverage and appeared in Astronomy, Science, Science News, Scientific American, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist, and Montreal Gazette and several websites including space.com. Photos of the press conference: http://lheawww.gsfc.nasa.gov/users/imh/HEAD2003/Pictures/Press-conferences/PC1/ Press release: http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/press/pr0309.html

March 24, 2003: Cosmic Forensics Confirms Gamma-Ray Burst and Supernova Connection: Scientists used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to confirm that a gamma-ray burst was connected to the death of a massive star. This result is an important step in understanding the origin of gamma-ray bursts, the most violent events in the present-day Universe. The findings were described in Astronomy, Science and several websites. Photos of the press conference: http://lheawww.gsfc.nasa.gov/users/imh/HEAD2003/Pictures/Press-conferences/PC2/ Press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_032403.html

March 19, 2003: Race to Gamma-Ray Burst reveals Gigantic Explosion, Death and Birth: Scientists arriving on the scene of a gamma-ray burst, just moments after the explosion, have witnessed the death of a gigantic star and the birth of something monstrous in its place, quite possibly a brand-new, spinning black hole. The burst observation, featured in the March 20 issue of Nature, is the most detailed to date. The observation confirms gamma-ray bursts announce the demise of the most massive stars in the universe, a theory called the "collapsar model." NASA's High-Energy Transient Explorer (HETE), ground-based robotic telescopes, and fast-thinking researchers around the globe, made the timely observation possible. The findings were presented in a Space Science Update and attracted much attention even though the war was imminent. The news was covered by the three major wire services (Reuters, AP and UPI) along with Knight-Ridder, MSNBC, Voice of America, Scientific American and a multitude of newspapers in Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia. Press release: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/2003/0319hete.html

February 27, 2003: A Cocoon Found Inside the Black Widow's Web NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory image of the mysterious "Black Widow" pulsar reveals the first direct evidence of an elongated cocoon of high-energy particles. This discovery shows that this billion-year-old rejuvenated pulsar is an extremely efficient generator of a high-speed flow of matter. The paper, authored by Benjamin Stappers of the Dutch Organization for Research in Astronomy (ASTRON), appeared in the Feb. 28, 2003, issue of Science magazine. The result was covered by the LA Times, the Orange County Register and several media outlets worldwide including the Sunday Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia), ABC Online (Australia), and BBC.com. Press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_022703.html

February 25, 2003: Australian-based CANGAROO Telescope Finds Halo of Gamma Rays: In an observation of galaxy NGC 253, a team led by Dr. Chie Itoh of Ibaraki University in Japan, have, for the first time, detected gamma rays of very high energy from a galaxy similar in size to our own. These gamma rays are likely created by cosmic rays, subatomic particles moving close to light speed. The observation, the team says, provides compelling evidence that the primary source of cosmic rays in the Universe, a long-standing mystery, are star explosions. The results were published in the February 20, 2003, issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters and were picked up by Astronomy magazine and many astronomy websites (Cosmiverse, space.com, Spaceflight Now). Press release: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/03-19.htm

February 25, 2003: Different Causes for Two Types of Gamma-Ray Bursts: In an analysis of nearly 2,000 bursts, a team of researchers from Europe and Penn State University uncovered new discrepancies in the light patterns in bursts lasting less the two seconds and in bursts lasting longer than two seconds. Lajos Balazs of Konkoly Observatory in Budapest says that these results, published in the April issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics, supports the idea "that the two show a different physical behavior". The results were featured on NPR's radio program "Star Date". It also got picked up by ABC Australia, Cosmiverse, Science letter and Astronomy magazine. Press release: http://universe.nasa.gov/press/2003/030220a.html

February 13, 2003: Neutrinos from Neutron Stars: Neutron stars may be sources of neutrinos and one South Pole neutrino catcher called IceCube may be the first to detect these neutron star neutrinos, according to a team led by Luis Anchordoqui of Northeastern University in Boston. The paper, published in the May issue of the Astrophysical Journal, was picked up by Mercury Magazine, and several web sites (Cosmiverse, Spaceflight Now...) Press release: http://universe.nasa.gov/press/2003/030213a.html

February 11, 2003: First Results from WMAP: The first results (and the first image of the infant Universe) were released in a Space Science Update. The WMAP team found that the big bang and Inflation theories continue to ring true. The contents of the universe include 4 percent atoms (ordinary matter), 23 percent of an unknown type of dark matter, and 73 percent of a mysterious dark energy. The new measurements even shed light on the nature of the dark energy, which acts as a sort of an anti-gravity. As expected the coverage of this results was tremendous. These results were covered by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other newspapers. It was also featured in Time, Newsweek and on network news. All of astronomy and science oriented magazines (Astronomy, Sky and Telescope, Science, Science News, Scientific American...) covered the news. Press release: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/h03-064.htm

January 6, 2003: Milky Way Monster Stars in Cosmic Reality Show: The longest X-ray look yet at the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way's center has given astronomers unprecedented access to its life and times. The new data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed that our galaxy's central black hole is a frequent bad actor, prone to numerous outbursts and occasional large explosions. The result were presented at a press conference during the AAS meeting in Seattle and was picked up by several wires services (Agence France Presse, UPI, Associated Press) and numerous media outlets: the New York Times, Newday (New York), Dallas Morning News, Boston Herald, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Washington Post, The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), Edmonton Journal,Toronto Star, The Herald (Glasgow), Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia). Press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_010603.html

December 18, 2002: Discovery of Giant X-Ray Disk Sheds Light on Elliptical Galaxies: A group of astronomers lead by Thomas Statler, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Ohio University, has discovered the largest disk of hot, X-ray emitting gas ever observed in the universe: At 90,000 light years in diameter, it's about 100,000 times the size of any comparable object. The disk, spinning through a distant galaxy, is more than just an interstellar oddity, the researchers say. The object could offer new information about the way certain galaxies form and evolve. The result was published in the December 20 issue of the Astrophysical Journal and was picked up by the wire service UPI and the Cincinnati Enquirer. Press release: http://www.ohiou.edu/researchnews/science/xray_disk.html

December 18, 2002: Young Star Cluster Found Aglow With Mysterious X-ray Clouds: A mysterious cloud of high-energy electrons enveloping a young cluster of stars has been discovered by astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. These extremely high-energy particles could cause dramatic changes in the chemistry of the disks that will eventually form planets around stars in the cluster. The result was published in the December 1 issue of Astrophysical Journal and was reported on websites all over the worlds (Spaceflight.com, terra.com.uy, astronet.pl... ). Press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/02_releases/press_121802.html

December 10, 2002: Chandra Reveals Pileup on Cosmic Speedway: Lobes of unexpectedly hot gas speeding away from a black hole in our galaxy have been discovered by a team of scientists from the University of Amsterdam and the National Institute for Space Research (SRON) in Utrecht, The Netherlands. The high temperature and the distance of the lobes from the black hole indicate that violent collisions are occurring between clumps of gas expelled from the vicinity of the black hole. Simone Migliari of the University of Amsterdam is the lead author on a paper published in the September 6, 2002 issue of Science magazine. The result was reported by the Boston Herald. Press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/02_releases/press_121102.html

We also note the following:

  • Sky & Telescope (March 2003) - Feature article by Ivan Semeniuk on cosmic rays called "Astronomy's Phantom Foul Balls: Ultrahigh-Energy Cosmic Rays;"
  • Scientific American (February 2003) - Cover page article on Magnetars, written by Rossi prize winners Chryssa Kouveliotou, Robert C. Duncan and Christopher Thompson;
  • Boston Globe (12/31/02) - Feature story on Chandra and its contribution to dark matter studies (cover story of Health and Science section);
  • Washington Times (12/26/02) - Feature story on Chandra;
  • National Geographic (12/01/02) - Feature article on Chandra;
  • Scientific American (December 2002) - Feature article on gamma-ray bursts. "The Brightest explosions in the Universe" by Neil Gehrels, Luigi Piro and Peter J. T. Leonard;
  • Sky & Telescope (November 2002) - Feature article "Anatomy of a supernova" by Stephen Maurer and Andrew Howell.

Partial List of Links for HEAD Press Coverage/Images:

We'd like to be as complete as possible, so if you know of any HEAD related press release not mentioned here, please let Ilana Harrus, HEAD Press Officer know.

May 21, 2003: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_052103.html

May 20, 2003: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/05/20_puzzle.shtml

May 8, 2003: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/stephan/index.html

April 28, 2003: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/k03-33.htm

April 24, 2003: http://universe.nasa.gov/press/2003/030424a.html

April 23, 2003: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/cenajet/index.html

April 22, 2003: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/h03-148.htm

April 14, 2003: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_041403.html

April 10, 2003: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/h03-135.htm, http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/04/10_skinny.shtml, http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/03/030410.grb.shtml

April 7, 2003: http://universe.nasa.gov/press/2003/030407a.html

April 4, 2003: http://www.ras.org.uk/html/press/pn0329ras.html

April 3, 2003: http://www.ras.org.uk/html/press/pn0327ras.html, http://universe.nasa.gov/press/2003/030403a.html

April 1, 2003: http://www.ras.org.uk/html/press/pn0311ras.html, http://www.ras.org.uk/html/press/pn0317ras.html, http://www.ras.org.uk/html/press/pn0325ras.html

March 31, 2003: http://www.ras.org.uk/html/press/pn0309ras.html, http://www.ras.org.uk/html/press/pn0318ras.html, http://www.ras.org.uk/html/press/pn0313ras.html, http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/h03-126.htm

March 25, 2003: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/03-34.htm, http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_041403.html, http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_032503.html

March 24, 2003: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/03-33.htm, http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_032403.html, http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/press/pr0309.html

March 19, 2003: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/h03-107.htm

March 13, 2003: http://www.aoc.nrao.edu/epo/pr/2003/pulsaremission/

March 12, 2003: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/deml71/index.html

March 10, 2003: http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/press/pr0308.html

February 27, 2003: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_022703.html

February 25, 2003: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/03-19.htm

February 20, 2003: http://universe.nasa.gov/press/2003/030220a.html

February 19, 2003: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/ngc3079/index.html

February 16, 2003: http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/03/030216.rays.shtml

February 13, 2003: http://universe.nasa.gov/press/2003/030213a.html

February 12, 2003: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/h03-064.htm, http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/ngc346/index.html

February 10, 2003: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/n03-011.htm

January 22, 2003: http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/press/pr0304.html

January 22, 2003: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/1154/index.html

January 16, 2003: http://www1.umn.edu/urelate/newsservice/aurora.html

January 8, 2003: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/03-03.htm

January 7, 2003: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/03-04.htm

January 6, 2003: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_010603.html

January 3, 2003: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/03-01.htm

December 23, 2002: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2002/h02-257.htm

December 18, 2002: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/02_releases/press_121802.html, http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/02_releases/press_121802_n1700.html

December 11, 2002: http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/ESA3TT7708D_index_0.html

December 10, 2002: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/02_releases/press_121102.html

November 26, 2002: http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/02/021126.flash.shtml

In addition, there are several Chandra Image Releases:

May 8, 2003: Object: Stephan's Quintet http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/stephan/index.html

April 23, 2003: Object: M87 jet http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/cenajet/index.html

March 12, 2003: Object: DEM L71 http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/deml71/index.html

February 19, 2003: Object: NGC 3079 http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/ngc3079/index.html

February 12, 2003: Object: NGC 346 http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/ngc346/index.html

January 22, 2003: Object: M83 http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/1154/index.html

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6. News from NASA Headquarters - Paul Hertz, NASA Headquarters.

The Beyond Einstein Initiative

In the last Newsletter, the proposed Beyond Einstein Program was described (http://www.aas.org/head/headnews/headnews.nov02.html#4; see also http://universe.nasa.gov). Since November 2002, the Beyond Einstein program has been incorporated into the Space Science Strategy, and the Beyond Einstein science goals have been included in the 2003 NASA Strategic Plan.

The President's Budget Proposal for FY04 contains approval for Beyond Einstein as a new initiative for NASA. The proposed FY04 budget supports:

  • - Development of LISA as a NASA-ESA joint mission leading toward launch in 2011.
  • - Development of Constellation-X leading toward launches in 2013 and 2014.
  • - Development of the first Einstein Probe beginning in 2007.
The success of LISA and Con-X depend on the Congress passing a budget for NASA later this year that includes the Beyond Einstein initiative.

In anticipation of beginning the Einstein Probes later this decade, NASA has issued an amendment to the ROSS-03 NRA calling for proposals to conduct mission concept studies for Einstein Probes (http://research.hq.nasa.gov/code_s/nra/current/NRA-03-OSS-01/amend1.html). Proposals are due June 13. NASA expects to select approximately three studies for each Einstein Probe. The mission concept studies will provide NASA with the information required to establish a program plan for implementing the Einstein Probes, including identifying necessary technology development that is required prior to implementation. The President's proposed budget would support a first launch in the 2013-2015 period, depending on the Probe.

To get Beyond Einstein off to a good start, NASA conducted an independent Technology Readiness and Implementation Plan (TRIP) review of both LISA and Con-X. The TRIP review panel gave both projects generally good marks for their plans; it also identified a number of areas where the project plans can be improved to decrease risk and improve the likelihood of a successful and on time mission. Both projects are incorporating the TRIP review panel's findings as they update their plans in preparation for beginning development.

When the FY04 NASA budget, including the Beyond Einstein initiative, is passed, LISA and Con-X will become approved NASA projects. The highest priority SEU missions in the SEU Roadmap and the Decadal Survey will be on their way to reality.

Mission News

The first half of 2003 has been a busy time for NASA astrophysics missions.

  • - CHIPS was successfully launched on January 12, 2003. CHIPS is operating nominally and science observations are being obtained with both instruments. http://chips.ssl.berkeley.edu/
  • - GALEX was successfully launched on April 28, 2003. In orbit commissioning is proceeding nominally for GALEX. http://www.galex.caltech.edu/
  • - Imperfections were found in the SIRTF launch vehicle, so the launch of NASA's fourth and final Great Observatory has been delayed to August 7, 2003, or later. http://sirtf.caltech.edu/
  • - Gravity Probe B was delayed beyond the approved April 2003 launch date. NASA undertook two in-depth reviews of GP-B, one for the science motivation and one for the technical plan to complete the mission. Following the reviews, GP-B was approved to proceed toward a November 20, 2003, launch conditional on successfully passing a number of test milestones. http://einstein.stanford.edu/
  • - Swift is continuing with integration and testing of the observatory, leading towards an anticipated launch in late 2003/early 2004. http://swift.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Explorer News

In March, NASA completed the evaluation of Phase A Concept Study Reports for the current round of MIDEX missions. THEMIS, a mission that uses a constellation of 5 small spacecraft to study the energetic substorms in the Earth's magnetosphere that lead to aurorae, was approved to begin Phase B. A NASA contribution to ESA's EUSO mission was approved and is awaiting the go-ahead decision by ESA. WISE, an all sky infrared survey with a small cryogenic telescope, will continue in Phase A for another year. http://spacescience.nasa.gov/codesr/midex/

On May 2, NASA received 36 proposals in response to the SMEX AO. These proposals will be evaluated over the summer. A decision is expected in October selecting 4 missions to conduct Phase A concept studies. http://explorer.larc.nasa.gov/explorer/smexacq.html

NASA expects to release the next MIDEX AO no earlier than April 2004.

Upcoming Proposal Opportunities

NASA space science research opportunities are listed at http://research.hq.nasa.gov/code_s/code_s.cfm. Anticipated research opportunities and proposal deadlines for 2003 in astrophysics include:

  • Jun 13, 2003 :: Einstein Probe Mission Concept Studies
  • Jul 11, 2003 :: Astrophysics Data Program
  • Jul 11, 2003 :: Long Term Space Astrophysics Program
  • Jul 16, 2003 :: Astrophysics Theory Program
  • TBD :: SIRTF Cycle 1
  • Sep 19, 2003 :: FUSE Cycle 5
  • Sep 12, 2003 :: RXTE Cycle 9
  • Dec 01, 2003 :: Swift Cycle 1

The NASA Office of Space Science provides electronic notification of all research opportunity solicitations. If you are not already signed up (and over 5,000 people are), you may sign up at http://research.hq.nasa.gov/code_s/listserv.cfm.

Headquarters Personnel Changes

NASA Headquarters welcomes Alan Smale. Alan is a familiar face to all RXTE observers having managed the RXTE GOF at GSFC for the life of the mission. More recently, Alan was leading the planning for the Swift GOF. Alan joins Headquarters as a Program Executive for Mission Operations and Data Analysis (MO&DA); Alan will have principal responsibility for high energy astrophysics missions.

Nick White has completed his six month detail at NASA Headquarters and has returned to his real job as Chief of the Lab for High Energy Astrophysics at GSFC. While at Headquarters, Nick played a key role in the TRIP reviews of LISA and Con-X, the Einstein Probes solicitation, and several Space Science Updates (including the MAP Update, which made front pages around the world). Those of us at Headquarters appreciate the significant contributions that Nick made to the current and future SEU and HEA programs at NASA.

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7. Chandra Fellows Named - Nancy Evans

The Chandra X-ray Center is pleased to announce the new Chandra Fellows for 2003:

  • Taotao Fang from MIT will be a Fellow at Berkeley
  • Sebastian Heinz from Colorado will be a Fellow at MIT
  • Peter Jonker from Amsterdam will be a Fellow at CfA
  • Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz from Cambridge will be a Fellow at Inst. for Advanced Study
  • Mateusz Ruszkowski from Cambridge will be a Fellow at Colorado

The competition for 2004 Fellows will be held this fall, with proposals due in mid-November. The announcment of opportunity (AO) giving the details of the program will be updated in the summer. However, the previous AO is available from: http://cxc.harvard.edu/fellows/. The Annual Chandra Fellows Symposium will be held Oct. 8, 2003 at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where interested people can hear what the Chandra Fellows have been doing. Further details can be found from the website above.

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8. RHESSI Mission News - David M. Smith, U. C. Berkeley

The Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) continues to thrive in low Earth orbit as it approaches its 500th day of operation. Solar and non-solar results are appearing in the literature at an accelerating pace. We remind the community that all RHESSI data are public, that they can learn how to analyze RHESSI data by starting at the RHESSI data center (http://rhessidatacenter.ssl.berkeley.edu), and that they are welcome to contact David Smith (dsmith@ssl.berkeley.edu) for information on what projects are currently underway. Details of the RHESSI instrument and mission appeared in the May 2002 HEAD newsletter.

There will be sessions on RHESSI solar flare results at the meeting of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society June 16-20 at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD. Many of these flare results are being prepared for a special upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters, which will feature papers on the GOES X4.8-class flare of July 23, 2002. This event has provided very exciting imaging and spectroscopic results on both bremsstrahlung from accelerated electrons and line emission resulting from interactions of accelerated ions. Analysis is currently under way by scientists all over the world of flare events from this, the biggest one of the mission so far, down to microflares that occur every few minutes.

Two exciting non-solar results were recently published. In a letter to Nature (May 22; volume 423, page 415), Wayne Coburn and Steven Boggs of the University of California, Berkeley report that the gamma-rays in a gamma-ray burst on December 6, 2002, were almost completely linearly polarized. This result, obtained using Compton scattering beween the germanium detectors in RHESSI's rotating array, is the first measurement of gamma-ray polarization in any cosmic source. In their letter, Coburn and Boggs explain how this result strongly constrains models of emission in a burst.

RHESSI's observation of radioactive aluminum from the central regions of the Galaxy has also recently been published, in the Astrophysical Journal Letters (volume 589, page 415). The gamma-ray line at 1809 keV was found to have a width of 2.03 (+0.78, -1.21) keV, consistent with the expectation from Galactic rotation and inconsistent with the broad line width reported by Naya et al. in 1996 (Nature, volume 384, page 44).

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9. INTEGRAL Mission News - Chris Winkler, INTEGRAL Project Scientist

The spacecraft is working nominally. The downlink telemetry will be increased by 20%, which will become effective towards end of May. Recent improvement within the NASA/Goldstone DSS ground station communications significantly reduced the number of small telemetry gaps which disturbed to some extent the downloading of histograms in the past.

As reported during the HEAD meeting in Mt. Tremblant, the instruments SPI, IBIS and OMC instruments are operating nominally. Due to anode losses within the microstrip detector during the early mission phase, one of two JEM-X units is currently being operated with reduced high voltage. The AO-1 programme is running on schedule. Targets observed so far are listed in the attachment. A significant part of the guaranteed time programme was spent on the deep exposure of the Galactic Central Radian. Up to now INTEGRAL has reported the detection of 10 new IGR sources in various IAUC's and ATEL's. As shown for IGR J16318-4848 by Revnivtsev et al (astro-ph/0303274, 12 Mar 2003), (at least some of) these sources, characterized by strong absorption below 4 keV may be representatives of a previously unknown population of highly absorbed galactic hard X-ray sources, embedded in a dense envelope.

Six GRB's in the FOV have been observed - a frequency consistent with pre-launch estimates-; during the last one (GRB 030501) the automatic burst alert system IBAS at the ISDC released an automatic alert only 10 seconds after burst trigger (3 arcmin error radius) to alert follow-up observations.

SPI presented the first, preliminary, results on the diffuse line emission analysis at the last Integral Science Working Team meeting (early April). The 511 keV diffuse emission from the Galactic Center is detected and is being mapped. The 1.8 MeV 26Al line emission was detected from the Cygnus region and from the Galactic Center. The line width is narrow and the flux is consistent with earlier COMPTEL results.

The first version of the INTEGRAL scientific analysis software was made public on April 2, 2003. The INTEGRAL Science Working Team considered the data quality as good enough to commence with the data distribution to the Guest Observers. ISDC has completed the scientific pipeline processing of the first open time data and the data are ready for shipment to the Observers.

Preparations for the AO-2 cycle (starting end of 2003) are in full swing. AO-2 release is 15 July with proposals due on 01 September 2003. Note that AO-1 proposals of grade A (only), which have (due to the AO-1 oversubscription) not been scheduled during AO-1, will automatically be transferred to AO-2, i.e. no re-proposal necessary. Scheduling information including current AO-1 schedule, executed observations, and future schedules can be found at http://astro.estec.esa.nl/integral_webapps/index.jsp.

The first circular announcing the 5th INTEGRAL workshop (16-20 Feb 2004, Munich, Germany) has been distributed. Please consult http://astro.esa.int/Integral/integ_workshop5.html for further information. Abstracts are due 01 November 2003.

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10. Swift Mission News - Phil Plait (Sonoma State) and Christopher Wanjek (NASA/GSFC)

The Ultraviolet and Optical Telescope (UVOT) and the X-ray Telescope (XRT) have been integrated onto the Swift spacecraft. The third main instrument, the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT), is undergoing environmental testing. The spacecraft and all instruments are currently at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The Swift Science Team Meeting took place at Penn State on April 28-29, 2003. The mission focus has turned from building the instruments to preparing for launch and data analysis. Launch is scheduled for December 2003. At the meeting, the team addressed launch operation tasks. FTOOLS, the software package, will be available a month before launch. The group discussed policy on publication and authorship of science results based on Swift data. With the expected wealth of data, the Swift mission will adopt a "burst advocate" system. Members of the Swift team will be assigned a gamma-ray burst, and it will be that person's job to keep track of the burst, making sure that all the data is properly and clearly indexed for future analysis.

Penn State is the site for mission operations. The first set of ops consoles has now been installed at the Mission Operations Center (MOC).

Swift E/PO News:

The combined Swift/GLAST booth appeared at five national education and scientific conferences in 2003. Thousands of Swift educational materials have been distributed at the booth, including nearly 300 of the GEMS guide "The Invisible Universe, from Radio Waves to Gamma Rays" which was recently completed. The GEMS guide was also demonstrated at the American Association of Physics Teachers meeting in Austin, Texas by Sonoma State University (SSU) E/PO team members Sarah Silva and Tim Graves.

The Italian E/PO team has assembled five scale models of Swift which will be used for educational demonstrations. They have also developed a model which is built out of paper; the templates are distributed via CD. The SSU team has developed a series of three posters outlining Newton's Three Laws of Motion. Each poster has activities on the back, which were created to complement each other as an overall unit, whether in science or math. For the May 2003 AAS meeting, SSU has created a Swift E/PO poster outlining the major E/PO efforts of the Swift project.

Four annually televised news segments about Swift and GRBs were produced and aired by "What's in the News", a news program aired in middle schools and seen by over 5 million students yearly. SSU astronomer Philip Plait was also interviewed about Swift and the bright gamma-ray burst GRB 030329 as part of a yearly summary of science for the show.

The Swift Educator Ambassadors Rob Sparks and Rae McEntyre have been busy, presenting Swift materials at five separate educator meetings, including the National Congress on Aviation and Space Education, in Cincinnati, Ohio. David Beier, a high school teacher in Kansas City, Missouri, is our "unofficial" Swift EA. He has also given several workshops at which he has presented Swift materials. We are glad to have his help!

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11. XMM-Newton Mission News - Ilana Harrus, XMM Press Officer, and Phil Plait (Sonoma State)

XMM-Newton Operations:

With about 300 refereed articles published since its launch, XMM-Newton continues to play a major role in the quiet revolution of X-ray astronomy.

The satellite is performing flawlessly and the data are flowing. The latest users group meeting presentations are on line at http://xmm.vilspa.esa.es/external/xmm_user_support/usersgroup/20030331/presentations.shtml The reader will find there information concerning the new calibration update for the EPIC MOS and PN. The RGS background has been characterized and spectrum files are available for data analysis. They can be accessed at the XMM-Newton website: http://xmm.vilspa.esa.es/external/xmm_sw_cal/calib/index.shtml

On April 7, 2003, the XMM-Newton SSC released one of the largest catalogues of celestial X-ray sources ever made. The result of over a year's observations by the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton space telescope, the new Serendipitous Source Catalogue locates tens of thousands of previously unknown X-ray emitting stars and galaxies. This vast catalogue will be a major resource for future research in high-energy astrophysics, for example allowing astronomers to study large numbers of galaxies with huge black holes in their centers.

In association with the catalogue itself, various data products are also available (images, exposure maps, sensitivity maps, extracts from archival catalogues and databases ...). The catalogue is available in several forms and from several servers:

Access to the catalogue is also mirrored at:

AO3 was a success with more than 700 proposals submitted (705 to be precise). The review will occur in June and the results will be announced in July.

XMM-Newton E/PO News:

The website for XMM-Newton has undergone several major changes, including a move from UC Santa Barbara to Sonoma State University (SSU). It has also had many updates: the mission, observatory, and instrument pages have all been rewritten, an image gallery has been added, and the news section revamped.

The E/PO group at SSU has also contracted with Project CLEA (Contemporary Laboratory Experiences in Astronomy; http://www.gettysburg.edu/academics/physics/clea/CLEAhome.html) to create an interactive computer lab exercise, in which students will use real XMM-Newton data of a supernova remnant to analyze physical characteristics of the nebula.

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12. Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer News - Padi Boyd, Keith Jahoda, Craig Markwardt, Gail Rohrbach, Evan Smith, Tod Strohmayer, and Jean Swank, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) has now begun its 8th observing cycle and continues to perform well. Operations of all instruments remain stable. Exciting science results continue to be generated both from new observations as well as from the extensive public archive. On January 12, 2002 RXTE reached an impressive milestone---its 100,000th obsID since the beginning of the guest observer program. Fittingly, observation 100,000 belongs to no single PI, but is part of an ongoing series of background pointings, the data from which are immediately made public. RXTE continues to support multi-wavelength efforts, as well as coordinated observing with the imaging and high spectral resolution capabilities of Chandra and XMM/Newton. Through AO7 RXTE has carried out about 4.2 Msec of coordinated observing time with these missions. Through AO8 RXTE also plans to have a total of about 2 Msec of observing time coordinated with INTEGRAL. The recent HEAD meeting at Mt. Tremblant featured a number of new, exciting results from RXTE observations. A few snapshots of some of these highlights follows.

Science Highlights:

RXTE observations continue to provide new insights into the formation and properties of millisecond pulsars. In October, 2002, a new outburst of the first known accreting millisecond pulsar, SAX J1808.4-3658, was discovered in Craig Markwardt's (UMD/GSFC) RXTE/PCA scans of the Galactic center region. This discovery triggered an extensive set of RXTE observations of the outburst. In the subsequent observations 4 thermonuclear bursts were observed, all of which are powerful photospheric radius expansion bursts. Rudy Wijnands (St. Andrews), Deepto Chakrabarty (MIT), and their collaborators found that these bursts show oscillations at the 401 Hz spin frequency, detected both during the rise of the burst and after photospheric "touchdown". These observations provide the final proof that oscillations seen during thermonuclear X-ray bursts result from spin modulation of the X-ray burst flux. In addition to the detection of burst oscillations in SAX J1808.4-3658, these observations also revealed a pair of kHz quasiperiodic oscillations (QPO) with a frequency separation equal to 1/2 the known spin frequency. This provides additional evidence that the kHz QPO phenomena has knowledge of the neutron star spin frequency. Many of these results were first presented at the recent HEAD meeting in Mt. Tremblant. Further details will be forthcoming in a pair of Letters to Nature, so stay tuned.

RXTE continued its success in searching for new transient, millisecond pulsars. In February, 2003 the 4th accreting millisecond X-ray pulsar, designated XTE J1807-294, was discovered by Craig Markwardt (UMD/GSFC) in Galactic Bulge monitoring observations with the PCA. The accreting neutron star has a 190.6 Hz spin frequency and the orbital period is just a tad over 40 minutes, making it the shortest period system of any of the known accreting millisecond pulsars. The mass function of 1.5 x 10-7 Suns indicates that the companion is an extremely low mass degenerate helium dwarf. For example, the minimum companion mass is a scant 7 Jupiters! There now seems little doubt that the Galactic bulge harbors a class of faint, short duration neutron star transients, many of which contain rapidly spinning neutron stars, and are likely the progenitors of at least some of the millisecond radio pulsars.

In related work on accreting neutron star binaries, Wenfei Yu (Amsterdam) and his colleagues reported the discovery with HEXTE of bright, hard X-ray flares prior to the soft X-ray outbursts in the soft X-ray transient Aql X-1. The hard flares were seen in the > 15 keV flux and were more than a factor of 3 stronger than the hard flux seen at other times during the outbursts. The X-ray spectrum and timing behavior during these flares is very similar to low/hard state properties seen during the early rise of outbursts in black hole binaries, and provides a strong indication that similar phenemona are at work. Details can be found in the May 20, 2003 ApJ Letters (589, L33).

RXTE also made a contribution to new work on the timing properties of extragalactic ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs). Tod Strohmayer and Richard Mushotzky (both NASA/GSFC) first used the XMM observatory to study the hard X-ray timing behavior of a ULX in the starburst galaxy M82. They discovered a 54 mHz QPO in the > 2 keV flux in the EPIC CCDs, the first such finding in an extragalactic ULX. They then went to the RXTE archive and examined data obtained in a monitoring campaign with RXTE in AO2. They found evidence for 50 - 100 mHz QPOs in several of the RXTE observations of M82, confirming that the M82 ULX has QPOs and also suggesting the QPO frequency can vary. The authors suggest that the presence of QPOs as well as evidence for a broad Fe K line in the XMM spectrum argues against strong beaming in the source, and thus supports the idea that the object may be an intermediate mass black hole. This result, as well as that of Jon Miller (SAO) and his collaborators on the temperature of accretion disks in several ULXs, were featured at a press briefing in Mt. Tremblant. Details of this work can be found in the March 20, 2003 ApJ Letters (586, L61).

RXTE observations continue to illucidate the relationship between soft Gamma-ray repeaters (SGRs) and the class of anomalous X-ray pulsars (AXPs). Vicky Kaspi (McGill) and her collaborators recently discovered a major outburst of SGR-like bursts from the AXP 1E 2259+586. They observed over 80 bursts in a 14 ksec observation. The bursts have durations from 2 ms to 3 seconds and are very similar to short SGR bursts. They also observed changes in the pulsed and persistent source emission correlated with the outburst, behaviors which have also been documented in SGRs. In addition to the burst a glitch followed by a large increase in the spin down rate was also observed. These observations provide strong evidence that SGRs and AXPs can be unified in the context of the magnetar model. Further details can be found in the May 10, 2003 ApJ Letters (588, L93).

In the last year RXTE has found several active transient black hole candidates which are recurrences of transients known from earlier missions. For 4U 1543-47 (IAUC 7920), the outburst was the 4th appearrance, its 10 year waiting time in line with the previous intervals. GX339-4 had an outburst reaching the very high state for the first time since the Ginga observed outburst 15 years before (IAUC 7912), although it had a weak outburst (0.25 versus 1 Crab) in 1998. Currently XTE J1746-322 = IGR J17464-3213 = H1743-322 remains active after 70 days, in the first recurrence of H1743-322 since HEAO 1 observed it 25 years ago (ATELs #132-133, 136-142, & 146). SLX 1747-361 is also active again (ATEL # 143), for at least the 3rd time during the era of X-ray astronomy. XTE J1550-564 was identified as active again in INTEGRAL observations (ATEL 125 and IAUC 8100), and a series of RXTE observations were carried out that identified the low hard state properties. In ATEL #135, Jon Miller (SAO) reports on QPO and spectra). The short recurrence time of 4U 1630-47 continues to present variations on its behavior. Bright pulsar transients are more rare. X1901+031 recurred 32 years after the Uhuru detection and this time revealed 2.8s pulsations. There has been one black hole candidate transient not known before. XTE J1720-318 (IAUCs 8050, 8054, 8056) reached a flux of 1/2 the Crab. A coordinated RXTE TOO observation with XMM was carried out in February, 2003. During this period INTEGRAL has been observing the Galactic center and plane and identifying 10-100 keV transients. RXTE has made short observations of several of these.

Observing Cycle 8 News:

Despite sharing the X-ray astronomy stage with newer, higher profile missions such as Chandra and XMM-Newton, RXTE has proven more popular than ever, with a total of 188 proposals submitted in response to the AO8 announcement of opportunity. This is a 10% increase above Cycle 7 submissions. RXTE is also proving popular with a new crowd---about 10% of submitted proposals came from first-time RXTE PIs. The RXTE Cycle 8 Peer Review took place in Baltimore in early February 2003. Reviewers from around the country met to discuss, dissect and deliberate. The complete list of accepted targets can be found at: http://rxte.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/xte/timeline/cycle8_targets.html.

RXTE Data Analysis and Calibration News:

A new version of the HEAsoft FTOOLS package, version 5.2, is now available. The package includes several improvements for RXTE data analysis, including new and improved PCA response matrices, a new energy-to-channel file, and an updated PCABACKEST which operates on the latest combined background model files. The barycenter correction script FAXBARY has been released with a bug correction. The new PCA background models and tools work much better for PCU0, however they still produce slightly discontinuous results during the time period near the loss of the propane layer. PCABACKEST now supports the new Combined Models (CM), and its output files contain documentation in the header stating which background models were used. A revised Epoch 5 PCA "CM" combined background model has been generated which includes data through March 2003. It is currently being tested, and should be available on the RXTE web page soon.

XTEFILT has been updated to produce a new derived quantity necessary for the Combined Models. This requires the addition of some new AppIDs to the XTEFILT AppID list; the new list appears in the fhelp for XTEFILT. An updated PCA response matrix is planned for the FTOOLS 5.3 release in early Fall, 2003. Consult the PCA Digest page for instructions on using the new tools, as well as the latest information on the new models and additional details about PCA background issues. See the PCA Digest (rxte.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/xte/pca_news.html) for useful links and summary information.

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13. GLAST Mission News - Phil Plait (Sonoma State) and Christopher Wanjek (NASA/GSFC)

The GLAST team held a science working group "sit down" meeting in February. In April, the GLAST team made several presentations at the American Physical Society meeting in Philadelphia, and the Veritas Workshop at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.

In May, the GLAST team held two successful reviews: the spacecraft PDR was held in Phoenix, Ariz., and the LAT CDR/CD-3 was held at SLAC. The mission PDR is scheduled for the week of June 3 at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Development of FTOOLS-based analysis software is on schedule.


The Sonoma State University (SSU) team has released an educator's guidebook called "Active Galaxies". The guidebook contains three activities which use active galaxies as an engagement to teach grade 9-12 students standards-based concepts in math and science. The guidebook also comes with a beautifully illustrated poster which shows an artist's conception (based on current theories) of how an active galaxy nucleus appears from different viewing angles and distances, and compares them with images of real galaxies. 5000 guidebooks and posters will be printed and distributed at educator workshops across the United States and Canada.

Since November 2002, the five GLAST Educator Ambassadors (EAs) have presented GLAST materials to approximately 500 teachers and 2000 students at 13 different educator conferences and schools. EA Daryl Taylor was also the subject of an NSTA article entitled "Light, Camera, Action: Hollywood Science" (http://www.nsta.org/main/news/stories/nsta_story.php?news_story_ID=48098) discussing scientific errors and misconceptions in movies. Daryl also won two prestigious awards: both the Northeast/International Regional and the National Internet Educator of the Year. He was recognized for his outstanding work in presenting fun and entertaining science lesson plans to teachers via meetings and his website (http://www.darylscience.com). The TOPS "Far Out Math!" Guide, which teaches about logarithms using GLAST and GLAST science, was presented by Philip Plait and Daryl Taylor in March 2003 at the Philadelphia meeting of National Science Teacher Association, and by the Lynn Cominsky and GLAST EA Michiel Ford in April 2003 at the San Antonio, Texas meeting of the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics.

The SSU Robotic Telescope System (RTS) is seeing quite a bit of progress. The telescope mount was aligned, and tests show the pointing to be well within specifications. The CCD has been mounted on the telescope, and the first few test images have been obtained. The archive for the GLAST Telescope Network is also being tested. An agreement has been reached with the California Academy of Sciences to locate the RTS at their Hume Observatory, a dark site less than an hour's drive from the University. Construction on the dome is expected to begin in early summer.

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14. Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report - Roger Brissenden, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and Martin Weisskopf, NASA MSFC.

Chandra is approaching its 4th year of operation in July and the spacecraft and science instruments continue to operate exceptionally well.

Operational highlights during the last six months have included the completion in February of the Spring Eclipse season with nominal power and thermal performance, the completion of two Aspect Camera Dark Current calibration measurements conducted autonomously from the daily load, and the start of a series of adjustments to lower the operating temperature of the Aspect Camera CCD. The Aspect Camera CCD temperature change is being made to mitigate the increasing number of warm pixels caused by accumulated radiation damage as the mission proceeds.

The Operations teams encountered two anomalies during the last 6 months. The first relates to the thruster performance of the Momentum Unloading Propulsion System used to unload momentum built up as spacecraft orbits the earth. During a momentum unload in December the performance of one of the thrusters decreased during the unload and resulting in a longer than expected firing sequence duration. The thruster passed a state of health check and has been used for 3 unloads since December. The first two unloads were made under similar conditions (e.g., thermal) as in December and showed a similar fall off in performance, however the third was made at a cooler starting temperature and performance was nominal. Consequently, the on-going fault-tree analysis will focus on the thermal aspects of the system. So far there have been no operational impacts from the degraded performance.

A second anomaly was detected in April when the current from one of the gyroscopes began exhibiting elevated and noisy behavior. While the current levels are not yet high enough to impact performance, given the observed increasing trend since launch, the Flight team has begun preparations for a swap to the redundant set of gyros, in the event it is needed. The noisy behavior has continued intermittently over the past 2 months, and the team is monitoring the data carefully.

The observatory science schedule was halted 4 times since November due to high solar activity resulting in an overall average observing efficiency of 68% during the last 6 months. The last 3 of the events occurred as Chandra approached the radiation belts and were thought to be due to an active coronal stream "puffing up" the belts. The mission planning team has taken steps to add an additional pad-time prior to belt entry in order to avoid unwanted schedule interruptions. The Science and Mission operations teams responded very efficiently to 4 fast turn-around Targets of Opportunity, one of which was a 24-hour request.

Both the ACIS and HRC focal plane instruments have continued to operate well overall and work has continued on the characterization of the continuous degradation in the ACIS detection efficiency at low-energies. Monitoring has indicated that the contaminant is non-uniform, being thicker near the edges of the filters. This is expected since the edges are colder due to direct contact with the detector housing structure. Grating spectra have identified the presence of Fluorine, and this indicates that the Braycote lubricant is one of the major contaminants. Studies to date give optimistic evidence that at least half of this could be "baked" off by raising the filter temperature to +18 deg C, and we are studying the operational implications for executing such a procedure. Meanwhile we have instituted regular calibration observations to track the change in contamination levels with time. We supplied our best prediction for the absorption as of May 2004 for use by the community in preparing their Cycle 5 observing proposals.

The processing, archiving and distribution of data have continued smoothly with the average time from target observation to data distribution to user remaining about a week. The Chandra archive has grown to ~2TB (compressed) and continues to grow at ~0.5TB/year (this is expected to increase with a planned reprocessing later this year). Following the availability of an ftp interface to the archive last September, a mirror ftp site has been established at the ASI Science Data Center (ASDC) in Frascati, Italy, to support more efficient access to Chandra data from within Europe. The Data Systems team release a new version of the data system in December to support Cycle 5 and released a web-based version of ChaRT that interfaces with the Chandra ray-tracing system, SAOSAC. Also released in December was a web version of the archive browser, webCHaSer.

Observations for Cycle 4 are well underway with the transition to cycle 5 on track for the November timeframe. The cycle 5 Call for Proposals was issued on 13 December and 788 proposals were submitted by the March 14 deadline. The Peer Review is scheduled for June 24-26 in Boston.

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15. GUSBAD Catalog of Gamma-Ray Bursts Available Online - Maarten Schmidt, California Institute of Technology

The GUSBAD catalog is based on BATSE DISCLA data at a time resolution of 1024 msec for the full Compton Gamma Ray Observatory mission from April, 1991 till May, 2000. Selection of candidates for the GUSBAD catalog required an excess of 5 sigma over background in two of the BATSE detectors over the energy range 50-300 keV. The catalog contains 2204 gamma-ray bursts, including 589 bursts not listed in the Current Batse Burst Catalog. The GUSBAD catalog is uniform in the sense that the detection criterion is the same throughout and that all properties given in the catalog are available for every burst. The detection and the derivation of the properties listed in the catalog were mostly carried out automatically, making the catalog especially suitable for statistical work and simulations, such as used in the evaluation of V/Vmax. The catalog is available online at http://www.astro.caltech.edu/~mxs/grb/GUSBAD/

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16. Meeting Announcements

2003 Gamma-Ray Burst Conference (8-12 September 2003, Santa Fe, NM, USA)
In honor of the 30th anniversary of the discovery of gamma-ray bursts by Klebesadel, Strong and Olsen, the 2003 Gamma Ray Burst conference will be hosted by Los Alamos National Laboratory. It will take place in Santa Fe, New Mexico (USA), at the Hilton of Santa Fe from 8-12 September. Topics to be covered will include gamma-ray burst observations and theory, such as prompt emission, afterglows, progenitors, cosmological probes, and instrumentation. The program will included invited and contributed talks as well as posters. More information and the registration form are at http://grb2003.lanl.gov. The deadline for early registration is June 15. Abstracts will be accepted until July 21.

Four Years of Chandra Observations: A Tribute to Riccardo Giacconi (16-18, September @ Huntsville, AL, USA)
The Chandra X-ray Observatory Program will sponsor a 3-day symposium, "Four Years of Chandra Observations: A Tribute to Riccardo Giacconi," beginning Tuesday, September 16, 2003, through Thursday, September 18, 2003. Full information about the symposium, including abstract submission and lodging, is available at: http://eodd.msfc.nasa.gov/chandra/ The Symposium will focus on current results from Chandra but is open to the full sweep of high energy astrophysics. The emphasis at the meeting will be high energy astrophysics science - not mission (or future) planning. There will be no parallel sessions. Abstracts for oral talks and poster papers are due by August 1, 2003. The final program will be posted on the Symposium Web site by September 15, 2003, with abstracts to be available at the meeting.

5th INTEGRAL workshop (16-20 February, 2004, Munich, Germany)
The first circular announcing the 5th INTEGRAL workshop (16-20 Feb 2004, Munich, Germany) has been distributed. Please consult http://astro.esa.int/Integral/integ_workshop5.html for further information. Abstracts are due 01 November 2003.

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HEADNEWS, the electronic newsletter of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society, is issued twice yearly by the HEAD Secretary-Treasurer. The HEAD Executive Committee Members are:

    Comments, questions, or feedback to headsec@aas.org, Updated June 3, 2003