Newsletter No. 91, Nov 2007
  1. Notes from the Editor- Christine Jones
  2. News from NASA Headquarters - Lou Kaluzienski
  3. HEAD in the News - Megan Watzke
  4. Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report - Roger Brissenden and Martin Weisskopf
  5. XMM-Newton Mission News - Randall Smith
  6. INTEGRAL Mission News- Christoph Winkler
  7. RHESSI Mission News - David Smith
  8. Swift Mission News - Padi Boyd, Lynn Cominsky, Neil Gehrels
  9. RXTE News - Padi Boyd, Keith Jahoda, Gail Rohrbach, Evan Smith, Jean Swank, Craig Markwardt, Tod Strohmayer
  10. Suzaku Mission News - Koji Mukai and Ilana Harrus
  11. GLAST Mission News - Steven Ritz, Lynn Cominsky and Robert Naeye
  12. NUSTAR - Daniel Stern and Fiona Harrison
  13. Constellation-X News - Mike Garcia for Con X team
  14. LISA News - Tom Prince and Bonny Schumaker
  15. Calendar


from the Editor - Christine Jones, HEAD Secretary-Treasurer, headsec@cfa.harvard.edu, 617-495-7137

HEAD only delivers the table-of-contents for HEADNEWS and notes from the Editor into your mailbox. The newsletter itself can be found online at http://www.aas.org/head/headnews/headnews.nov07.html.

Those of you who go online for either the newsletter or other information at the AAS-HEAD site (http://www.aas.org/head/) will find that the HEAD pages have a new look to them. The need to update the look as well as the organization of the HEAD pages was driven primarily by Ilana Harrus, while the actual changes were designed and implemented by Gary Galstian. If you have compliments on the new look of the web pages, please send those to Gary (ggalstian@cfa.harvard.edu). And, as usual, if you have complaints, send those to me!

January will be a time of transition on the HEAD Executive Committee. Mitch Begelman will become the HEAD Chair for the next two years and Steve Murry will be the Past Chair. Roger Blandford will end the six years he has spent on the Executive Committee (as Vice-chair, Chair and Past chair). Roger has been an important voice for High Energy both on and off the committee and his wisdom on the committee will be missed. As they end their terms in January, I'd like to thank the committee members Chris Reynolds, Roger Romani and Julie McEnery. HEAD also had a recent transition from Press Officer from long serving Ilana Harrus to Megan Watzke. Much thanks to Ilana and a warm welcome to Megan. I'll also be ending my term as HEAD secretary-treasurer, a role I have enjoyed for the last three years due in large part to the support of the other members of the committee and to being part of the planning for two HEAD meetings. Thanks to John Vallerga, Trish Dobson, and Judy Johnson for their hard work in getting the HEAD2006 and HEAD2008 meetings organized.

Ballots for the HEAD election of a vice-chair, a secretary-treasurer, and three new members of the Executive Committee, along with several changes to the HEAD bylaws have been emailed to HEAD members. Please return those ballots to me by January 3, 2008.

The next HEAD Division meeting will be held in Los Angelos from March 31-April 3, 2008 at the Omni Hotel. Once again John Vallerga and the Eureka Scientific team will be organizing the meeting. Abstracts are due January 18, 2008 to be published in B.A.A.S. The meeting Website (http://www.confcon.com/head2008/) is now open for abstract submission. Please contact Trish Dobson (info@confcon.com) for any help with your logistical needs and/or any questions regarding this meeting.

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2. News from NASA Headquarters - Lou Kaluzienski

Report from NASA HQ Astrophysics Division



1.  Visiting Scientist Openings available

In anticipation of the upcoming departure of several of the Division.s Visiting Scientists (hired through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act, hence their other designation, .IPA.s.), the Astrophysics Division has prepared the following announcement to the astronomical community:

.NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is seeking up to five experienced scientists to fill visiting scientist positions within the Astrophysics Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.  These positions are normally filled for two years, extendible to six years, by individuals on leave from their home institution.  Positions are available in the following science areas: 1) physics of the cosmos (exploring the fundamental physics of the universe and the extremes of space-time); 2) cosmic origins (the origins and evolution of stars, galaxies, and cosmic structure); and 3) exo-planet exploration (the search for and characterization of extra-solar planetary systems and potentially habitable environments around other stars).

Visiting scientists participate in the planning, development and management of NASA missions and in the management of the astrophysics grants program.  They serve as Discipline Scientists to develop research solicitations, conduct scientific peer reviews, and recommend highly rated proposals for selection, serve as Program Scientists for NASA space missions, and participate in the selection of Explorer missions.  Visiting scientists play a leadership role in developing budgets, program plans, designing and participating in E/PO activities, and long range strategic plans to define the future NASA astrophysics program.  They can make a difference in the execution of the overall SMD science mission and are expected to demonstrate a high degree of initiative in doing so.

Applicants must have a Ph.D. or equivalent in astronomy or physics plus relevant experience in instrumental, observational and/or theoretical research.  Applicants should be familiar with the U.S. grants programs and possess an ability to communicate effectively with the scientific community, educators, and the media.  Positions are available beginning March 2008, though the starting date is negotiable.  Expressions of interest should be forwarded to Sheila Gorham, Suite 3W39, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, DC  20546; sgorham@nasa.gov; 202-358-0032..

In the area of High Energy Astrophysics, the terms of both Rick Harnden and Wilt Sanders will expire in August 2008.  Wilt is currently investigating the possibility of extending his appointment for an additional term, while Rick plans to take a well-deserved retirement following the launch of GLAST.  Individuals potentially interested in applying for an IPA position should respond to the above advertisement.  Questions concerning assignments in support of the HEA discipline may be directed to Wilt, Rick, or Lou Kaluzienski at:

Rick Harnden:  frank.r.harnden@nasa.gov;   (202) 358 - 3809

Wilt Sanders:   wilton.t.sanders@nasa.gov ;  (202) 358 -1319

Lou Kaluzienski:   louis.j.kaluzienski@nasa.gov ;  (202) 358 . 0365

2.  Upcoming/pending solicitations

As many of you are aware, there are several open NASA solicitations of interest to the HEA community :

Strategic Mission Concept Studies        

Proposals due:  20 November 2007

Selection tentatively anticipated ~ May 2008


Proposals due:  15 January 2008

Selection target date:  May 2008

Senior Review of Operating Missions
Proposals due: 12 March 2008
Senior Review: 22 . 25 April 2008
The following Astrophysics Division missions will be invited to participate: Chandra, Spitzer, GALEX, INTEGRAL, RXTE, Suzaku, Swift, WMAP, XMM-Newton.


Proposals due:  Late March 2008    

Peer Review:  June 2008    

Selection planned for August/September 2008

3.  Astrophysics Division Archival Review

NASA SMD is reassessing the manner in which the Astrophysics archives are reviewed and funded, in the context of the Senior Review process.  To this end, a new Archival Senior Review peer process will be initiated in late Spring 2008. This takes into consideration that the scientific community is moving to a more integrated approach to the research and analysis of scientific questions; the use of diverse datasets in multiple wavelength regimes to perform said analyses; the growing accessibility of NASA data assets on the Web; and, the community.s and the general public.s expectations to find these data on the Web.  SMD understands that archiving, while essential, is not the final be all and end all: to make these datasets a living asset; one must curate and develop the concept of archival science centers, as opposed to the current model of the more rudimentary data archives (.spinning bits.).  The first Astrophysics Division Archival Senior Review under this paradigm will be held May 13-15, 2008, with the proposals due in to HQ in the early to mid-April 2008 timeframe.

4.  NuSTAR .Re-start.


On September 18, 2007, Dr. Alan Stern announced the .re-start. of the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) SMEX mission, initially selected for a Phase A Concept Study in 2004.  Dr. Fiona Harrison of Caltech is the Principal Investigator for the mission which will be managed by JPL.  The baseline plan includes launch on a Pegasus XL from NASA.s Kennedy Space Center in mid-August 2011. 

5.  Spektrum-Roentgen-Gamma

A totally reconfigured Spektr-RG mission has been initiated by the Russian Space Agency.  The mission PI is Dr. Rashid Sunyaev who heads a consortium of international partners.  The present nominal science payload includes the following instruments:

extended Roentgen Survey with an Imaging Telescope Array (e-ROSITA):  Germany

Astronomical Roentgen Telescope X-ray Concentrator (ART-XC): Russia

Lobster-eye Wide-Field Telescope (LWFT):  UK, et al.

Spektr-RG X-ray Calorimeter (SXC):  Netherlands, Japan, US, Germany

The US contribution to the mission consists of the flight-spare microcalorimeter array developed for Astro-E2 and is funded through NASA.s Astronomy and Physics Research & Analysis (APRA) program.  Dr. Richard Kelley of GSFC is the lead scientist on the US-supplied instrumentation.  Mission launch is planned for late 2011.

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3. HEAD in the News - Megan Watzke

CHANDRA IN THE NEWS May 2007-October 2007

This period kicked off with perhaps the biggest newsmaker ever associated with Chandra. On May 7th, a NASA Science Update (NSU) was held in Washington, DC to announce the discovery of the brightest supernova ever recorded, SN 2006gy. This discovery, made through a combined effort from Chandra and ground-based observatories, generated unprecedented print, web, and broadcast coverage for the mission. The story was found on the front pages of the Washington Post, USA Today, Time magazine, just to name a few. Some of the other prominent print locations included: New York Times, US News & World Report, Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, and scores of other newspapers both in the United States and around the rest of the world. As one might expect, the web coverage was also staggering. There were hundreds of web news articles and the story topped the news.google.com site, a reliable indicator of the reach of any particular news story.

Another area where the 2006gy story did exceedingly well was on traditional broadcast coverage. For example, the story aired on the same evening as the conference press The story appeared on national broadcasts of all of the major TV networks this period. Overall, there were 8 other press releases between May and October of this year, and an additional 11 images released on the website. For a full list of both, please visit
http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/press_release.html and

Some releases and some samples of the coverage they received include:

Date: June 20, 2007
Object (PI): Eta Carinae (Michael Corcoran, GSFC)
Headline: on Space.com, Earth & Sky, Science Daily

Date: August 16, 2007
Object (PI): Abell 520 (Andisheh Mahdavi, University of Victoria)
Headline: Train Coverage: Wired News, Space.com, Lancaster Newspapers (PA), IntheNews.co.uk, WreckNPR

4. Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report - Roger Brissenden and Martin Weisskopf

November 2007 HEAD Newsletter Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report Roger Brissenden, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Martin C. Weisskopf, Marshall Space Flight Center

We are pleased to report that the Chandra spacecraft and science instruments have continued to operate superbly during the last 6 months. There were no safemodes or major anomalies during the period, and operations were routine.

The average observing efficiency for May 2007 through October 2007 was 67% (compared with a maximum achievable efficiency of about 70%). This value is up slightly from the 63% of the prior 6-month period (November 2006 through April 2007), which was affected by substantial solar activity during December 2006.

The Aspect Camera continues to operate well in support of spacecraft pointing control and x-ray image reconstruction. In December 2006, the temperature of the aspect camera's CCD array was lowered to reduce the number of warm pixels and thereby improve guide star acquisition and centroiding. Since that time the number of warm pixels has increased (from the reduced number) at the expected, acceptable rate.

Both the ACIS and HRC focal plane instruments continue to operate well. All 10 ACIS CCDs continue to operate nominally. The CCDs' charge transfer inefficiency (CTI) continues to increase at a predicted and acceptable rate. The contamination on the ACIS Optical Blocking Filter, which decreases the instrument's low-energy sensitivity, continues to accumulate, at a rate that appears to be decreasing with time.

The processing, archiving and distribution of Chandra data has continued smoothly, with the average time from target observation to data distribution remaining at approximately one day. The archive has grown more rapidly over the past year due to the third full reprocessing of Chandra data, which was completed in the summer of 2007. The primary archive is now 4.9 TB in size, and retrieval of data and calibration products are on the order of 500 GB per month.

The Chandra Press Office regularly produces press and image releases on the latest newsworthy results from the mission. (For more details, see the "Chandra in the News" section of the newsletter.) As a new avenue to share news of Chandra and its science with the public, the Education and Public Outreach (EPO) group, in conjunction with science researchers and the NASA Museum Alliance, has begun a series of specially tailored teleconference briefings for staff of science museums and planetaria. The briefings provide scientific explanations of press releases that are deemed of special interest, presented by researchers in the field. In the first of the briefings, Dr. Patrick Slane of the Chandra X-ray Center discussed the supernova remnant G292.0+18 with staff of over 20 science museums from around the country. In conjunction with the briefing, 25 museums received, in addition to press kits and educational materials, large-size, full color images for display. The EPO group is also carrying out a vigorous schedule of workshops for educators. Three, week-long workshops were conducted over the summer, and multiple presentations are scheduled for all three fall and winter regional meetings of the National Science Teacher Association, as well as for the national NSTA meeting in March 2008.

The Cycle 9 proposal peer review was held in Boston in June. The review panels considered 663 submitted proposals (569 for observations, requesting 93 Msec of observing time, and 94 for theory and archive research), and approved 149 observing proposals (17.2 Msec of allotted time) and 29 theory and archive proposals. The quality and breadth of the proposals promises to yield a productive 9th year of Chandra science. The annual symposium by Chandra Fellows was held in October at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. All of the current Fellows gave summaries of their work, providing an exciting look at Chandra science. The competition for Chandra Fellowships for 2008 closed on October 31, 2007; the new group of Fellows will be announced in February, 2008.

On July 23 we celebrated the completion of Chandra's 8th year of science operations, and in October we joined with the scientific community for the Eight Years of Science with Chandra symposium, held in Huntsville, Alabama, at which over 130 researchers and students presented and discussed a wide range of scientific results.

5. XMM-Newton Mission News - Randall Smith

XMM-Newton E/PO News

By Kevin McLin and Lynn Cominsky

Work continues on the Supernova Educators Guide and poster. After initial review by our EA and by WestEd we have redesigned two of the activities and expect to have a new version of the guide soon. Scientific reviewers are urgently needed to help us finish this product.

We have recently tested the Extreme Universe planetarium show at a planetarium run by one of our Educator Ambassadors, Jeff Adkins, at Deer Valley High School in Antioch, California. All the features of the program worked well, and Jeff and one of his students (who often runs planetarium shows herself) are interested in helping us develop a scripted show that can be used in schools along with the software.

Another new group member is Kevin John, a recent physics graduate from SSU. Kevin has been learning to maintain some of our websites and has developed presentations and materials to be used in our training workshops.

Finally, Dr. Kevin McLin has been hired as GTN director, supporting multi-wavelength observations of targets of interest to XMM-Newton and other satellites, and helping to develop the supernova curriculum materials and the planetarium show.

And don't forget to check out XMM-Newton products available for purchase through Cafe Press:

6. INTEGRAL Mission News Christoph Winkler

Christoph Winkler, 15 October 2007

INTEGRAL continues to operate nominally. The 10th SPI annealing was performed in June 2007 with nominal results.

The INTEGRAL (and XMM-Newton) Mission Extended Operations Review took place in May 2007 and the board concluded that (i) the scientific interest in both missions remains high; (ii) all mission elements are stable and trouble free with sufficient consumables and life-limited items to allow operation of both missions up to at least 2018; (iii) national funding of the instruments and data centres will support operations until the end of any mission extensions, (iv) the review team fully endorsed the revised operational concept proposed by the Executive, by merging spacecraft operations teams for both missions.

The Announcement of Opportunity AO-5 for INTEGRAL open time observing proposals closed on 20 April 2007. The available observing time was oversubscribed by a factor 6. The total number of AO-5 proposals received was 182 including 22 proposals received for the Key Programmes AO-5 issued a few months earlier. The TAC peer review took place in June and the AO-5 observing cycle commenced on 16 August 2007 for a duration of 12 months.

Meanwhile, preparations to issue the Key Programme AO-6 (release: 22 October 2007, deadline 30 November 2007) are underway.

INTEGRAL operations are funded until December 2010. The science case for extension of the operations by two more years until 31 December 2012 has been presented to ESA's Astronomy Working Group (AWG) on 10 October 2007, and the AWG strongly recommends the extension. The final decision by the Science Programme Committee is scheduled for mid November 2007.

During the past 5 years in orbit, INTEGRAL has achieved outstanding scientific results, to be mentioned in particular:

  • The unique view of the Galaxy in the light of the electron-positron annihilation line
  • Galaxy-wide origin of 26Al emission (1809 keV) reflecting massive star population throughout the entire Galaxy and independent determination of the Galactic core-collapse (SNII) rate
  • Hard X-ray sky surveys and catalogues
  • Resolution of the diffuse Galactic hard X-ray continuum emission in point sources.
  • Discovery of accreting binaries in dense clouds - a new class of HMXB
  • Discovery of very hard tails in anomalous X-ray pulsars
  • First hard X-ray determination of the cosmic diffuse background since 1970's

Looking ahead, great scientific challenges will be tackled by INTEGRAL in the future:

  • 511 keV map and source of positrons - an outstanding mystery. What is the disk component in the inner Galaxy ? Asymmetry ? Extended halo ?
  • Nucleosynthesis in massive stars. Are 60Fe and 26Al convenient diagnostic tools for all parts of the Galaxy ? Young massive stars in Cyg region and line profiles ?
  • The origin of the galactic hard X-ray ridge emission above 100 keV - a yet unknown population of sources with hard spectra, or truly diffuse emission ?
  • What produces the peak of the CXB at ~ 25 keV ?
  • Collaboration with HESS, MAGIC, GLAST, AGILE, SWIFT to unravel the nature of very high energy sources, study transients and their counterparts, and surveys
  • Continue monitoring the highly variable high energy sky with large FOV, broad energy range and good sensitivity and be ready for observations of bright Galactic X-ray novae and the next near-by or Galactic supernova.

The total number of INTEGRAL related publications in refereed journals since launch is 293, with 54 during 2007. Conference and non-refereed papers: 437. Five ESA press releases on INTEGRAL science appeared in 2007.

On the occasion of the 5th launch anniversary, a workshop entitled ``INTEGRAL - the first five years'' will take place in Sardinia on 17-19 October 2007 hosting more than 140 participants.

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7. RHESSI Mission News - David Smith

The Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) will anneal its germanium detectors in order to reverse the effects of radiation damage, beginning November 5. Readers interested in overviews of RHESSI science topics (and general developments in high-energy solar physics) should visit the RHESSI Science Nuggets page at
where we will also post the results of the anneal as soon as they are known, around the end of November.

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8. Swift Mission News - Padi Boyd, Lynn Cominsky, Neil Gehrels

Swift Mission News - by Robert Naeye (SP Systems/GSFC), Padi Boyd and Neil Gehrels (GSFC), and Lynn Cominsky and Kevin McLin (Sonoma State)

As of October 25, 2007, Swift had observed 272 gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), including 23 short GRBs. It has also performed 383 rapid-reaction slews for non-GRB targets of opportunity.

The spacecraft has returned to full operations after recovering from a period of inactivity. The spacecraft entered a safe mode on August 10 due to anomalous behavior in one of the three dual-axis gyro modules. Calibration efforts revealed a subtle flaw in the onboard attitude-control software. Ground controllers gradually restored the spacecraft to full health over the next 2.5 months. All three instruments are now back on line performing science and detecting GRBs and their afterglows, and fully autonomous slewing resumed in mid-October. Fortunately, the faulty gyro is still functional and, with suitable care to avoid the glitches, it can be used to control the spacecraft if one of the other two gyros fails.

The Swift science team has decided to try an experiment for a month in late 2007 to tune the BAT instrument so it can detect weaker GRBs. This will lower the threshold for detecting faint signals to the point where false "noise" events start to creep in. The team won't know at first if a weak blip is a real GRB or a false event, so the spacecraft will slew immediately for each BAT detection and observe with XRT and UVOT. An XRT and/or UVOT afterglow detection will tell scientists whether the event was really a GRB and whether Swift should keep observing it. If nothing is seen with XRT or UVOT, the team will quickly revert back to the original schedule. It is difficult to predict how successful this method will be in picking up interesting new types of GRBs.

Among recent Swift GRB results, John Graham, Andrew Fruchter, and their colleagues used the Gemini North and South observatories to follow-up the BAT detected GRB 070714B. They measured the highest spectroscopically confirmed redshift yet for a short GRB: z=0.92. This result shows that this subclass of bursts has a broad range of redshifts, although still smaller on average than that of long GRBs.

Although primarily built to study GRBs, some of Swift's more impressive recent science results have highlighted its versatility. An ongoing BAT survey led by Jack Tueller and Richard Mushotzky (GSFC) has unveiled 250 active galactic nuclei. Follow-up observations with XRT, XMM-Newton, and Suzaku have provided detailed X-ray spectra and light curves of these AGN. Suzaku observations have shown that about 10 to 20 percent of these objects represent a new class of AGN that is so heavily obscured by dust that virtually no light (other than hard X-rays) escapes. GSFC issued a press release on this discovery on July 30.

Using the XRT, Robert Rutledge (McGill University), along with Derek Fox and Andrew Shevchuk (Penn State), has found what might be one of the closest neutron stars to Earth. This result was publicized in a press release issued on August 20 by Penn State.

Using Swift and RXTE, Hans Krimm and Craig Markwardt (GSFC) discovered a bursting millisecond pulsar and found that it has a planetary-mass companion - presumably the remains of a stripped-down stellar companion. And a group led by Andrea Prestwich (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) has used the XRT and Chandra to discover the most massive known stellar-mass black hole. These results were publicized in press releases issued by GSFC and CfA on September 12 and October 30, respectively.

Meetings and Workshops

A summer workshop held in Aspen, Colorado, on June 4-15 highlighted Swift GRB results. The conference was organized by Don Lamb, Josh Grindlay, and Neil Gehrels.

The November 5-9 GRB meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, will feature many papers devoted to Swift and the study of afterglows of GRBs detected by Swift.

Guest Investigator Program

Numerous proposals for the Swift Cycle 4 Guest Investigator (GI) were received before the November 9, 2007 deadline. This cycle features expanded opportunities that include pointed observations of all types of astrophysical sources. Besides probing GRBs, Swift is a valuable asset for obtaining multiwavelength images, spectra, and light curves on interesting targets of opportunity (TOOs) and other non-transient sources. The Swift Guest Investigator program is part of the 2007 NASA Science Mission Directorate's Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES).

New in Cycle 4 will be an opportunity for scientists at U.S and non-U.S. institutions to study non-GRB, non-transient sources. Cycle 4 will also continue the opportunity initiated in Cycle 3 for GIs to propose for GRB research as well as TOOs on non-GRB transients. Funding through the NASA Swift GI Program is available only to scientists at U.S. institutions. Consistent with Explorer Program policy, there will be no proprietary data rights to observations conducted with Swift. More information about the Swift GI program can be found at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/ or at http://swift.gsfc.nasa.gov/.

Swift E/PO News

We have printed "Angling for Gamma-ray Bursts" posters to accompany our GRB Educator's Guides. We also have a new printing of "Newton's Laws" posters, which are available for middle-school classrooms. These posters feature beautiful graphics by Aurore Simonnet, along with classroom activities and Swift connections on the back. Posters can be ordered by e-mailing Laura Chase at laurac@universe.sonoma.edu.

You can also order a Swift license-plate frame with the words "Catch Gamma-ray Bursts on the Fly," along with other Swift logo products, by visiting http://www.cafepress.com/swiftsatellite/.

Kamal Prasad, who was hired over the summer, has taken over the Swift MySpace page (http://myspace.com/swiftsatellite) as well as supporting a new Facebook page. You can access the Facebook page by signing up for a Facebook account, and then doing a search for "Swift satellite." Kamal has also been working on workshop presentations to accompany the Newton's Laws poster series. Kamal is being assisted by another recent hire, Kevin John.

We hired Kevin McLin over the summer to be director of the Global Telescope Network (GTN), which looks for GRB optical afterglows. He is also involved in developing and presenting materials for K-12 education. Kevin and Prasad participated in a workshop in July at the Space Sciences Lab in Berkeley, where they presented the Invisible Universe's GEMS guide to approximately 25 teachers.

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9. RXTE News - Padi Boyd, Keith Jahoda, Gail Rohrbach, Evan Smith, Jean Swank, Craig Markwardt, Tod Strohmayer

RXTE contribution to the HEAD Newsletter, 11/27/07. With contributions from Padi Boyd, Keith Jahoda, Craig Markwardt, Gail Rohrbach, Evan Smith, Tod Strohmayer, and Jean Swank.

The Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) is now approaching its 12th launch anniversary, it continues to ably serve the astrophysics community, and to produce important scientific results, some of the most recent of which are highlighted below.

Cycle 12 observations have begun. The nominal start date for Cycle 12 was June 29, 2007 and observations are expected to continue through December 25, 2008. The future for RXTE science beyond that point will be decided by NASA's Astrophysics Division Senior Review of Operating Missions 2008. The RXTE Users Group will submit a proposal to continue operations for another two years. In addition to the unique capabilities for RXTE's large collecting area, broad bandpass and high time resolution, the next two years will include new opportunities for combined observing programs. RXTE accepted several Cycle 12 programs to combine observations with the soon-to-be launched GLAST mission, as well as the array of TeV gamma-ray Cerenkov imaging telescopes rapidly impacting the high energy astrophysics scene (such as HESS and VERITAS). In addition we anticipate continued joint observing programs with currently operating missions such as Chandra, Swift, INTEGRAL, XMM-Newton and Suzaku.

Science Snapshot:

Recently, RXTE and SWIFT combined to make the discovery of the eighth accreting millisecond pulsar. The new X-ray transient source, SWIFT J1756.9-2508, was discovered by Hans Krimm (USRA/GSFC) with the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) onboard Swift. Shortly thereafter it was observed with RXTE's Proportional Counter Array (PCA), and Craig Markwardt (UMCP/CRESST/GSFC) found it to be a pulsar with a frequency of 182.07 Hz. Further observations and analysis by the team at GSFC and also a group at MIT led by Deepto Chakrabarty found that the pulsar is in a binary system with a 54.7 minute period. The pulsar measurements indicate that the companion star has a minimum mass of only 7 Jupiters! The actual companion mass depends on the unknown inclination of the system, but it is unlikely to be greater than 30 Jupiters, making it one of the least massive companions known. The results were the subject of a NASA press release and web feature at http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2007/millisecond_pulsar.html

Observations with RXTE were instrumental in finding the fast spinning neutron stars in low mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs). Over the past year RXTE observations continue to provide unique insights on these objects. For example. it now appears that some LMXBs can be intermittent pulsars, with variations in their pulsation amplitudes seemingly related to the ocurrence of thermonuclear bursts. Evidence of such behavior was first reported by Duncan Galloway (Univ. of Melbourne) and collaborators in the behavior of HETE J1900.1-2455, which showed abrupt increases in its pulsed amplitude coincident with X-ray bursts. Recent work by Fotis Gavriil (UMBC/CRESST/GSFC) and colleagues at GSFC, and Diego Altamirano (Univ. of Amsterdam) and collaborators in Amsterdam have found another pulsar with such intermittent behavior in the globular cluster NGC 6440. Gavriil et al. had first reported the discovery of a 442 Hz pulsation in RXTE data from an outbursting source in NGC 6440. The pulsations lasted for about 500 s, and showed a small frequency drift consistent with orbital motion. Altamirano then searched additional data sets from the same pointing direction, and found further examples of intermittent pulse trains. They were able to deduce an orbital period of 8.7 hours by analysing all the intervals with detections of pulsations, and also argue that the source of the pulsations is very likely SAX J1748.9-2012. As in the HETE pulsar, the episodes of increased pulsed amplitude are apparently coincident with thermonuclear bursts. In yet another related study, Piergiorgio Casella (Univ. of Amsterdam) and colleagues discovered an episode of intermittent pulsations lasting 150 seconds from the LMXB Aql X-1. The frequency was very close to the known 550 Hz burst oscillation frequency in this source, further confirming a connection with the spin of the neutron star. The physical mechanism responsible for these variations in pulsed amplitude is still unclear.

RXTE has also recently discovered the strongest and most coherent kilohertz quasiperiodic oscillation (QPO) yet found. The QPO was found in the ultra-compact LMXB 1A 1246-588 by Peter Jonker (SRON, Utrecht) and colleagues. They detected QPOs at 1258 Hz with an amplitude (rms) in the 5 - 60 keV band of 27.4 %, among the highest yet reported for a kHz oscillation. This behavior fits in roughly with the previously known anticorrelation of QPO amplitude and source luminosity, but the details for 1A 1246-588 appear a bit different. Whereas other sources only showed highest amplitudes when the upper kHz QPO was at lower frequencies (700 - 800 Hz), the QPO in 1A 1246 shows very high amplitude at very high frequency.

GOF Update: Corrections to the RXTE PCA Background Model

Problems were discovered in the SAA history file that is used to generate PCA background estimates. Some modest gaps in SAA coverage were present in the file, and the accumulated dose from some SAA passes were undercounted. This resulted in errors in the background rate estimation. A new file that corrects these problems has now been made available.

In addition, a bug was discovered in the FTOOL PCABACKEST for faint models only, in Epoch 5c. The parameter maxmodels=2000 (instead of the default value maxmodels=600) must be set in order to return a complete faint background model.

Details can be found on the PCA Team SAA History and Backgrounds Problem Report Page at:


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10. Suzaku Mission News - Koji Mukai and Ilana Harrus

Suzaku - Koji Mukai and Ilana Harrus

Suzaku spacecraft and instruments have been operating nominally since the last HEAD Newsletter. We are now more than halfway through the AO-2 period, and Guest Observer (GO) observations continue on a routine bases. We have started distribution of AO-2 GO grants; we apologize for the delay in this process.


Suzaku AO-3 proposals are due on Friday, November 30th at ISAS/JAXA, NASA/GSFC, and at ESTEC depending on the location of the PI. Proposals to NASA must be submitted via the ARK/RPS system by 4:30 pm on Nov 30th with no hardcopy submission requirement. The submission process process is similar to previous cycles except for the addition of a new category of proposals. Starting with AO3, we are introducing a Long program category for proposal requiring between 300 ks and 1 Ms. Further details can be found at the following web sites.



We have started Version 2 processing of Suzaku data year, including the calibration of XIS data taken with spaced-row charge injection (SCI). In addition to proprietary data, the Suzaku archive now contain Version 2 processed data from the SWG phase of the mission, and Cycle 1 GO data are also beginning to enter the archive. Details of the Version 2 processing, software and calibration status, and related information can be found at the Suzaku GOF web site. Or you can come to the San Diego meeting and ask us in person (see below).

Conference, Workshop, and Users' Group Meeting:

The Suzaku project will host a 3-day (Dec 10-12) conference in San Diego highlighting the results from the mission. We will also hold an evening workshop on Suzaku data analysis on Monday, Dec 10. We encourage the community to attend the conference including the workshop.


We will hold a US Suzaku Users' Group meeting on Dec 13 in San Diego, at the same venue as the conference. Those who wish to provide inputs to the Users' Group can contact a member of the group (listed in the Suzaku GOF web site) or the GOF.


The Suzaku E/PO program continues development of activities and products which will be available in the near future. Among them is the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's newest Night Sky Network toolkit, Supernova!, which is now in Beta test development. The Suzaku E/PO program, along with the Sonoma E/PO program, is supporting the development of this kit, which will feature activities and information inspired by Suzaku science. The toolkit will be ultimately distributed to the Network's 200 amateur astronomy clubs to be used in their outreach programs.

The latest edition of the Suzaku Newsletter for Educators, "Suznews", is available online at:
Vol 2, No 2 features an explanation of calibration, an interview with a Suzaku scientist, and an article on the birth of X-ray astronomy.

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11. GLAST Mission News - Steven Ritz, Lynn Cominsky and Robert Naeye

GLAST Mission News . by Robert Naeye (SP Systems/GSFC), Kevin McLin and Lynn Cominsky (Sonoma State), and Kevin Grady and Steve Ritz (GSFC)

The GLAST spacecraft has completed its electromagnetic interference and dynamics testing at the prime contractor, General Dynamics in Gilbert, Arizona, and the GBM source calibration has been performed. In mid-November the spacecraft will be transported to the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., where it will undergo final thermal-vacuum tests. After this testing is completed, the spacecraft will be sent to Cape Canaveral for launch preparations. GLAST is currently scheduled to launch no earlier than February 2008, with a mid-May date more likely. Please check http://www.nasa.gov/glast for updates. [***CHRISTINE: We will have an update on the launch date early next week. Can we send this to you as soon as we have the information, so this launch situation can be updated before the newsletter goes to press?]

GLAST has signed agreements with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). The agreements provide observing time on NRAO and NOAO facilities to be awarded as part of the GLAST Guest Investigator program, facilitating multiwavelength observations. This is a great development for GLAST, NRAO, and NOAO science! Details may be found on the GSSC site (http://glast.gsfc.nasa.gov/gssc).

The GLAST LAT Multiwavelength Coordinating Group organized an observing campaign of the blazar 3C454.3 after optical observations revealed a flare starting on July 17. Astronomers who study phenomena across the electromagnetic spectrum responded, and preliminary science results will be presented at the January AAS meeting in Austin, Texas.

Meetings and Workshops

The GLAST Users Committee most recently met on September 17 at Goddard. The next face-to-face meeting will be on February 1, with a telecon on November 30. See http://glast.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/resources/gug/.

A LAT collaboration meeting was held July 31 to August 3 at SLAC. The next LAT meeting will take place November 13-16 in Arlington, Virginia.

In addition to various mission-level end-to-end ground system tests and operations simulations, a workshop was held at the LAT operations center at SLAC on October 8-12. The team rehearsed science operations, receiving simulated on-orbit data and processing it to check instrument performance and to handle simulated gamma-ray bursts and AGN flares. A total of 78 LAT collaboration members . including scientists from France, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and the US . participated in the successful rehearsal.

The Proceedings of the first GLAST Symposium, held February 5-8 at Stanford, have been published by the American Institute of Physics. Visit http://proceedings.aip.org/dbt/dbt.jsp?KEY=APCPCS&Volume=921&Issue=1 for more details or to order a copy.

Fellowship and Guest Investigator Opportunities

GLAST Fellowship applications are due December 7. NASA will award three fellowships in February 2008, with the fellowships to begin in September 2008. The three-year fellowships are intended to stimulate an infusion of new ideas that will enhance GLAST.s scientific return. The fellowships are open to scientists who have received a Ph.D., Sc.D., or equivalent degree in astronomy, physics, or a related discipline before the start of the fellowship. Support for each fellow will be provided through an award to a U.S. host institution, designated by the fellow, where the fellow will be resident. Proposals will be judged on their scientific merit and relevance to gamma-ray astrophysics and GLAST science. Further information and application instructions can be found at http://cresst.umd.edu/GLAST_Fellows/.

The deadline for the Cycle 1 GLAST Guest Investigator (GI) program passed on September 7. There were 167 proposals, of which about 40 will be selected for funding. Stage 1 of the peer review process will take place in December, and the final selections will be announced in the spring of 2008. More information about the GI program can be found at http://glast.gsfc.nasa.gov/ssc/proposals/.


The Sonoma State University E/PO group is gearing up for launch! Various launch products are in the works, including a GLAST litho, fact sheet, and poster. Other goodies are already printed and awaiting launch, including magic cubes, a GLAST paper model, a refrigerator magnet, and an Active Galaxy pop-up book and teacher.s guide. Pamela Gay, co-producer of AstronomyCast, will be producing podcasts related to GLAST mission science and featuring team members answering questions from students.

The GLAST Optical Robotic Telescope (GORT) participated in a multi-wavelength monitoring campaign on quasar 3C 454.3 in August and September. Kevin McLin has been hired to direct the Global Telescope Network and manage GORT. He attended the September Astronomical Society of the Pacific E/PO conference in Chicago, participating in a workshop on the use of telescope networks for education and outreach. Lynn Cominsky also attended the conference, giving a brief introduction to a showing of .Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity. at a special open house held at the Adler Planetarium for over 150 ASP conference attendees. She then gave two workshops on black holes for local-area teachers at the Adler on the Friday evening following the meeting.

In July, GLAST E/PO sponsored a Summer Experience for 60 students from the Roseland University Prep High School. We have been partnering with students at this predominantly Hispanic school since its founding in 2003. During a 2-day overnight program on the SSU campus, the students participated in several activities related to GLAST, including a public viewing session at the SSU Observatory of some GLAST blazars and other interesting objects.

Sarah Silva and Phil Plait left the SSU E/PO Group at the end of May. Sarah has gone off to become a real-estate tycoon, and Phil moved to Boulder, Colorado to write a book titled .Death From The Skies.. We wish them well in their new endeavors.

Kamal Prasad was hired over the summer and has taken over the GLAST MySpace page and other aspects of our web pages, as well as coordinating after-school activities. Another recent hire, Kevin John, is assisting Kamal. We also created a new FaceBook page to reach college students who are not as likely to check out GLAST on MySpace.

By popular demand, you can now purchase a lovely GLAST license-plate frame and other GLAST-themed products at http://www.cafepress.com/glast/. Look for an expanded Cafe Press site soon.

Public Affairs News

With input from many people, Rob Gutro and Robert Naeye of GSFC produced the GLAST Science Writer.s Guide. The Guide provides an in-depth summary of the mission, including scientist contacts, a Q&A on all aspects of GLAST, a timeline of gamma-ray astronomy, 11 feature articles on objects that GLAST will study, an overview of GLAST.s two instruments, lists of web sites, multimedia, and Education/Public outreach products, and a glossary. You can view the Guide through a link on the lower right side of the new GLAST portal web site at http://www.nasa.gov/glast. This website has recently started publishing web stories written by collaborating institutions, including SLAC.

Copies of the Science Writer.s Guide were handed out to 16 reporters who attended GLAST Media Day, held at GSFC on September 19. The New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, New Scientist, National Geographic News, Science News, Space.com, and other publications sent representatives. An A.P. wire story about GLAST appeared in newspapers all across the U.S. just days after the event. Panelists Steve Ritz, Peter Michelson, Charles Meegan, David Thompson, Kevin Grady, and Lynn Cominsky briefed reporters on various aspects of the mission, and fielded questions. Reporters were given media kits that included a DVD with high-resolution images and animations, which were produced by Liz Smith of GSFC.

Reminder: to subscribe to the GLAST Mission news, send an email to majordomo@athena.gsfc.nasa.gov (leave the subject line blank). In the body of the message, please write the following: subscribe glastnews your-email-address.

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12. NUSTAR - Daniel Stern and Fiona Harrison

HEAD Newsletter: The Revival of NuSTAR

NASA has recently given the go-ahead to restart a high energy astrophysics mission that will provide a unprecedented sensitivity to high energy X-rays. The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is a focusing hard X-ray observatory which will be launched in August 2011 and will map the sky at 6 to 80 keV. With more than 500 times the sensitivity of any previous hard X-ray mission, NuSTAR will provide greater capabilities for uncovering obscured black holes, studying the physics of active galaxies, tracing the birth of metals in supernova explosions, and studying stellar remants in the Galaxy.

NASA had cancelled the NuSTAR mission, a Small Explorer mission, in February 2006 due to funding pressures within the Science Mission Directorate. As of September 2007, however, NASA has reinstated NuSTAR, which will bridge the gap in astrophysics mission flights between the 2009 launch of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and the 2013 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.

NuSTAR will be the first focusing hard X-ray telescope in orbit. Its design eliminates high detector backgrounds, allows true imaging, and permits the use of compact, high performance detectors. The result is a combination of clarity, sensitivity, and spectral resolution surpassing the largest observatories that have operated in this band by orders of magnitude.

The High Energy Focusing Telescope (HEFT), a balloon-borne experiment, is the precursor to NuSTAR and demonstrated the capabilities of the NuSTAR optical and detector designs. This technology, combined with an extendable mast which has space flight heritage from the Shuttle Radar Topography Misison, will allow NuSTAR comparable sensitivity gains in the hard X-ray band as first Einstein and then Chandra obtained in the soft X-ray band.

NuSTAR consists of a single instrument that achieves its science objectives with a combination of surveys and pointed observations. The primary science objectives include:

- Conducting a census of black holes and stellar remnants on all scales, achieved through surveys of both extragalactic and Galactic fields, including the Galactic center.

- Mapping radioactive material in historical supernova remnants, to study the birth of the elements, their dispersal into the universe, and to probe the physics of stellar explosions.

- Understanding the physics of nature's most powerful particle accelerators by obtaining high cadence, multiwavelength observations of blazars at radio, optical, X-ray, and gamma-ray wavelengths.

- Responding to targets of opportunity, including supernovae and gamma-ray bursts, with a rapid response capability.

The primary science program will be completed in two years, and a subsequent Phase F has been proposed to open the unprecedented capabilities of NuSTAR to guest observers from the broad scientific community.

The NuSTAR mission will be developed by Caltech, JPL, UC Berkeley, Columbia University, the Danish National Space Center, GSFC, LLNL, UC Santa Cruz, and SLAC. Sonoma State University will be leading the NuSTAR Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) effort, and Orbital Sciences Corporation and ATK Goleta are the primary industrial partners. The Principal Investigator for the mission is Prof. Fiona Harrison (Caltech).


For more information about the NuSTAR mission, visit http://www.nustar.caltech.edu.

- Fiona Harrison (NuSTAR Principal Investigator) Daniel Stern (NuSTAR Project Scientist)

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13. Constellation-X News - Mike Garcia for Con X team

Constellation X-ray Mission Update, by Michael Garcia for the Con-X team

Since our last Mission Update (May 2007) the Con-X team has made significant technical progress on the mission 'tall poles' and has also begun preparations to present the Con-X Science and Technology case to the upcoming NRC Astronomy Decadal Survey. The team has completed its work with the NRC BEPAC (Beyond Einstein Program Assessment Committee).

As you may know, the BEPAC report provides mixed news for Con-X. Unfortunately Con-X was not chosen as the first Beyond Einstein mission to be built. However, there is also good news to be found in the BEPAC endorsement of the Con-X science case and technical readiness. Specifically, "Con-X will make the broadest and most diverse contributions to astronomy of any of the candidate Beyond Einstein missions...the general observer program of Con-X will harness the ingenuity of the entire astronomical community", and "Con-X is one of the best studied and tested of the missions presented to the panel...much of this can be attributed to...strong community support". We note that this support was very clearly displayed at the three Town Hall meetings the BEPAC held, as the largest fraction of community speakers supporting any single mission were those who spoke in favor of Con-X. Wide community support was also visible in the approximately one hundred attendees to the recent Con-X town hall at the Eight Years of Science with Chandra meeting in Huntsville, AL.

While the BEPAC report views Con-X as general purpose astrophysics observatory rather than a focused Beyond Einstein mission, it will remain as part of NASA's Beyond Einstein portfolio. The panel also suggested that the true value of Con-X could only be appreciated when compared with the broader scope of Astronomy missions, in a setting such as the decadal, and they recognized that "Con-X was ranked second only to the James Webb Space Telescope in the 2000-2010 Decadal Survey" (aka Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium). With this endorsement, we are proceeding with plans to present Con-X to the 2010-2020 Decadal Panel which the NRC is now in the process of forming. One of our tasks will be to expand upon the BEPAC material, which was very focused on BE science, in order to capitalize on the breadth and diversity of Con-X science.

One of our first efforts in support of the decadal is a reorganization of the Con-X Facility Science Team and associated Science Panels. These panels will be responsible for much of the input to the decadal. The kick-off meeting for these new panels will be an FST meeting on Feb 21 and 22 in Boulder, CO, at the Boulderado Hotel. This central location was chosen at the invitation of members of the Con-X team at University of Colorado. Details will be forthcoming shortly via email, and will be posted at the Con-X web site (conx.gsfc.nasa.gov). As always, these are open meetings and we invite all interested parties to attend, not just the formal members of the FST and/or Science Panels. We also invite you to stop by the Con-X booth at the upcoming AAS in Austin and talk with us there.

The tall poles in the Con-X project are the large X-ray mirrors (the Flight Mirror Assemblies or FMAs) and the X-ray Calorimeters. Manufacture of the 4 FMAs is the single most challenging part of building the observatory, so the project efforts have been largely dedicated to working on the mirror technology development over the last 6 months. We have continued to modify our procedures for slumping the 0.4mm thin glass mirror substrates onto precision formed mandrels, and the resulting mirror segments have been gradually improving in optical quality. Measurements of the dominant error terms for the best mirror segments show that they meet the specifications for a 15 arc-sec HPD observatory over substantially more than 50% of their surface area. A substantial part of our effort has been devoted to understanding what is limiting the figure in the best mirror segments (the figure of the mandrel itself, or the slumping process, or something else?) in order to do better than the requirement of 15 arc-sec HPD and move towards our goal of 5 arc-sec HPD for the complete end-to-end observatory. After forming the mirror segments, the next most important (and time consuming) step is the alignment of the 2600 individual mirror segments comprising each mirror assembly into a tightly nested Wolter-1 mirror. Several different techniques of aligning and then fixing the segments in the proper orientation are being developed and the resulting mirror paraboloid-hyperboloid (P-H) segments are being measured and evaluated. Part of the metrology being used to measure the P-H segments is derived from that used to align Chandra's sub-arcsec mirrors, so we will know the results of the alignment very accurately. The most accurate alignment method may not be the most desirable, as we will need to trade the achieved alignment against the stability of the resulting mirror and the speed and ease of assembly.

As a result of a increase in the required FOV for the calorimeter to 5x5 arcmin, new Position Sensitive TES (PoST) calorimeter arrays have been designed and work on fabricating them has begun. These arrays would surround a central 2.5x2.5 arcmin array and allow a 5x5 arcmin FOV. While yielding a bit in terms of energy resolution, the PoSTs require only a modest increase in multiplex capacity in order to read out the larger array.

The re-reinstatement of NASA's NuStar program is good news for the High Energy X-ray Telescope (HXT) on Con-X, as there is a synergism between NuStar and the Con-X HXT. Lastly, Dr. Randall Smith has joined the Con-X team as Mission Scientist at GSFC. Randall's initial efforts will be to help the team developing our input to the Decadal Survey.

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14. LISA News - Tom Prince and Bonny Schumaker

In early September, the report of the National Research Council Beyond Einstein Program Assessment Committee (BEPAC) was released. Although LISA was not chosen to be the mission most ready for a new start in 2009, the BEPAC committee gave LISA a very strong endorsement. LISA was given the committee's highest scientific ranking among all the Beyond Einstein missions, and in the committee's view LISA should be the flagship of a long-term program addressing Beyond Einstein goals. The committee also recommended that LISA receive additional funds for technology development so that it can proceed in partnership with ESA to a new start once LISA Pathfinder has returned its results. The Executive Summary of the BEPAC report can be read or downloaded from the LISA International Science Community's web portal, at http://www.lisa-science.org/resources/talks-articles/mission. The full report, with a detailed discussion of science, technology, and budgets is available from the National Academy web site, http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12006.

Immediately after the release of the BEPAC report, the LISA International Science Team held a team meeting at ESTEC in Europe. Among the highlights of that meeting was a presentation of the results of the very successful Mock LISA Data Challenge, Round 2, concluded in June of 2007. Later, in October, the project had a very productive Payload Architecture Review meeting in Friedrichshafen together with a baseline costing exercise. Simultaneously, the LISA Pathfinder Mission is moving ahead towards a launch date of 2010.

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15. Calendar



This serves as a partial archive of upcoming and recent HEAD meetings. Access to Web sites of past HEAD meetings, including abstracts and programs, is subject to availability on remote servers.

HEAD Tenth Divisional Meeting, 2008, March 31 - April 3, 2008, Omni Hotel, Los Angeles, CA. http://www.confcon.com/head2008/index.php    

HEAD Ninth Divisional Meeting, 2006, 4 - 7 October, 2006, San Francisco, CA.     Web site: http://www.confcon.com/head2006/head06.php The program is available at http://www.abstractsonline.com/viewer/?mkey=%7B27F17723%2DCCC9%2D4AEF%2D89DC%2DE18425D56297%7D

HEAD Eighth Divisional Meeting, 2004, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, 8 - 11 September, 2004.     Web site: http://www.confcon.com/head2004/head04.php. The pr ogram as available at http://www.aas.org/publications/baas/v36n3/head20 04/SL.htm

HEAD Seventh Divisional Meeting, 2003, Mt. Tremblant, Quebec, Canada, 23 - 26 March, 2003.     Web site: http://www.westoverconferences.com/HEAD. The program as available at http://www.aas.org/publications/baas/v35n2/head20 03/SL.htm

HEAD Sixth Divisional Meeting, 2002, Joint Meeting of HEAD and APS Division of Astrophysics, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, 20 - 23 April, 2002.     Web site: http://www.aps.org/meet/APR02/. The program as available at http://www.aps.org/meet/APR02/baps/index.html

HEAD Fifth Divisional Meeting, 2000, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, 6 - 10 November, 2000.     Web site: http://www.eurekasci.com/FRAMES/toc_head2k.html. The program as available at http://www.aas.org/publications/baas/v32n3/head20 00/SL.htm


of potential interest to HEAD members are listed here. To have a meeting listed here, please send relevant information to the HEAD Secretary-Treasurer. Also listed on this page is the annual HEAD schedule. This is of interest to current and potential HEAD officers.

"Magnetic Fields in the Universe II: from Laboratory and Stars to the Primordial Universe" Cozumel, Mexico 28 January - 1 February 2008 - http://www.astroscu.unam.mx/congresos/mfu2/overview.htm

In view of the success of the meeting "Magnetic Fields in the Universe: from Laboratory and Stars to Primordial Structures", held in Angra dos Reis (Brasil) in December 2004, a second edition is being organized. The scientific aim of the conference is to provide a natural continuation to the first edition, putting forward the most recent advances of theoretical and numerical studies, as well as new evidence gathered from observations.

The conference will consist in invited talks on themes of general interest, a limited number of selected contributed oral presentations, and poster sessions on more specific topics. Poster contributions will be exhibited for the entire duration of the conference with two special sessions devoted to them, preceeded by a invited review to give highlighs and promote discussion.

"Observational Evidence for Black Holes in the Universe" Kolkata, India 10 - 15 February 2008 - http://www.bose.res.in/~blackhole08/KOL-BH.html

The conference will cover all aspects of the theoretical and observational results pertaining to the astrophysical stellar mass, intermediate mass and super-massive black holes, primordial black holes in cosmology, and mini-black holes in accelerators.

"1st La Plata International School on Astronomy and Geophysics - Compact Objects and their Emission" La Plata, Argentina March 10 - 14, 2008 - http://school2008.fcaglp.unlp.edu.ar/

"43rd Rencontres de Moriond - Cosmology" La Thuile, Valle d'Aosta, Italy 15-22 March 2008 - http://moriond.in2p3.fr/J08

The purpose of the Rencontres de Moriond is to discuss recent findings and new ideas in cosmology, particle physics and astrophysics in a pleasant, relaxed and intimate atmosphere. The meeting is intended to promote fruitful collaboration between various communities and between various institutes by bringing together a small number of scientists in beautiful and inspiring surroundings.

The program will include Dark Energy Probes (SN Ia, Baryonic acoustic oscillations, clusters of galaxies, weak lensing), Dark Matter (in galaxies and in clusters of galaxies, the Lyman alpha forest, direct searches for dark matter particles), Structure formation and the CMB.

"An XXL Extragalactic Survey: Prospects for the XMM Next Decade" Paris 14-16 April 2008 - http://www.astro.ulg.ac.be/RPub/Colloques/XXL/index.html

The purpose of the meeting would be to examine the scientific arguments for a 100 sq degree extragalactic survey, the technical feasibility of conducting the survey with XMM-Newton, and the practical steps needed to make best use of the data that would be returned. Now is an excellent time for such a workshop, since groups have gained considerable experience in working with XMM-Newton data.

"Workshop on Blazar Variability across the Electromagnetic Spectrum" Palaiseau, Paris 22 - 25 April 2008 - http://polywww.in2p3.fr/blazars

It has been known for a long time that blazars are variable, both on short (minutes to days) and long (weeks to years) timescales. Various models exist to explain the mechanisms causing variability, and disentangling them has also been particularly hard. A wide variety of tools are used to define and characterize variability, with varying limitations depending on the analysis method and observation uniformity. We plan to have several wavelength-dependent review talks about variability of blazars, ranging from radio to Very High Energy wavelengths, with a special emphasis on Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescope results - and possibly from GLAST - where the timescales have been the shortest.

"The Warm & Hot Universe" Columbia University, New York City 7 - 9 May 2008 - http://warmhot.gsfc.nasa.gov/

A workshop on the unique contributions of X-ray astronomy to the understanding of large scale structures and the Universe.

"The X-ray Universe 2008" Granada, Spain 27 - 30 May 2008 - http://xmm.esac.esa.int/external/xmm_science/workshops/2008symposium/

The symposium is intended to encompass a broad range of high energy astrophysics topics and we hope that it will provide a showcase for results and discoveries not only from XMM-Newton, Chandra and Suzaku but also from other current missions; the scientific potential of future projects like XEUS should be discussed at the conference.

"The Central Kiloparsec: Active Galactic Nuclei and Their Hosts" Elounda, Crete, Greece 4 - 6 June 2008 - http://www.mpifr-bonn.mpg.de/div/vlbi/ckp08

The interplay between active nuclei and their galactic hosts is amongst the most important areas of astrophysical research, connecting the nuclear activity, galactic evolution and physics of large scale structures in the Universe. This research theme relies upon synergy of knowledge and information obtained in several different fields of astrophysics including high-resolution radio, optical, and X-ray observations, optical, NIR, and X-ray spectroscopy, and large broad-band surveys of galaxies. The workshop is going to bring together leading scientists working in these fields and provide a forum for interaction, exchange of ideas, and forming new cross-field collaborations in the area of AGN and host galaxy research.

"Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation 2008" Marseille, France 23-28 June 2008 - http://spie.org/astronomical-instrumentation.xml

Spectacular discoveries regarding the nature and origin of the Universe continue to flow from the advanced technology of ground and space-based telescopes and instrumentation. Scientific synergy has also existed for many years between ground and space such as the use of 8-10 m class ground-based telescopes for spectroscopy of distant galaxies discovered in Hubble Space Telescope images. Further progress is anticipated in this area when the more powerful JWST will complement the next generation of Extremely Large Ground-based Telescopes now being designed around the world. Most examples of scientific synergy arise naturally due to the demands of addressing specific scientific questions.

"4th Heidelberg International Symposium on High Energy Gamma Ray Astronomy" Heidelberg, Germany 7 - 11 July 2008 - http://www.mpi-hd.mpg.de/hd2008/pages/news.php

We plan to cover all the major observational and theoretical aspects of the field with an emphasis on the high (GeV) and very high (TeV) energy intervals of the electromagnetic spectrum. The topics of the Symposium will range from the origin of galactic and extragalactic cosmic rays to the physics and astrophysics of compact objects (Pulsars, Microquasars, AGN) and cosmological issues related to Large Scale Structures, Dark Matter and Extragalactic Background Radiation. Finally, we plan to have a special session for discussion of scientific objectives and practical developments related to the next generation of ground-based gamma-ray detectors.

"Radio Galaxies in the Chandra Era" Cambridge, MA 8 - 11 July - http://cxc.harvard.edu/radiogals08

Chandra has profoundly influenced our understanding of a wide range of astrophysical phenomena, but one area in which Chandra's influence has arguably been the greatest is in the study of radio galaxies and radio loud quasars. The superb angular resolution of Chandra permits the multicomponent emission from radio galaxies to be spatially separated and has given us insights into the accretion and outflow processes. In many cases, however, the wealth of new data has provoked more questions than answers. This conference will highlight both theoretical and observational studies of all aspects of radio galaxies including nuclei, jets, lobes, hot spots, and interactions with the ambient medium. The goals are to bring together a diverse group of researchers to present the latest results and discuss the outstanding problems in radio galaxy physics, and best decide how to use the unique capabilities of Chandra going forward to resolve the outstanding issues.

"Probing Strong Gravity and Dense Matter with X-rays" 37th COSPAR Scientific Assembly, Montreal, Canada 13 - 20 July 2008 - http://www.cospar-assembly.org/

Annual HEAD Schedule

January 20

Treasurer's report due to AAS office (Kevin Marvel marvel@aas.org)

June 15

Chair requests rooms for HEAD sessions, Rossi Prize lecture, and business meeting for January AAS meeting from AAS conference coordinator (Kelli Gilmore: gilmore@aas.org)

July 1

Chair sends call for nominations of candidates for officers and call for Rossi Prize nominations to AAS newsletter editor for inclusion in AAS newsletter (Crystal Tinch tinch@aas.org)

August 1

Deadline for vice-chair to provide details of HEAD sessions for January meeting to AAS conference coordinator (Kelli Gilmore). Needed - names of speakers; preliminary titles of talks; names for sessions or descriptions. Suggest names of session chairs to AAS Secretary (John Graham).

September 15

Secretary-Treasurer sends email to division members requesting nominations for Rossi prize.

October 15

Deadline for nominations of new officers from Nominating Committee (and nominations presented by petitions from members) to be sent by chair to Secretary-Treasurer for including in November newsletter and voting by division members.

October 15

Deadline for nominations for Rossi Prize. Chair sends all nominating letters and selected supporting material to Executive Committee members and begins collecting and recirculating comments

November - December

Election of new officers. Secretary-Treasurer conveys results to all candidates and AAS Executive Officer.

November 10

Chair sends annual report to AAS Secretary for discussion at January AAS council meeting. Also to Secretary-Treasurer for next HEAD newsletter.

December 1

Chair prepares agenda for January HEAD business meeting and sends to Executive Committee.

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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: