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Newsletter No. 75 November 1999

  1. Obituary: Dr. Jan van Paradijs
  2. High Energy Astrophysics Division special sessions at the 195th AAS Meeting, Atlanta, GA, January 11-15, 2000
  3. News from NASA Headquarters
  4. HEAD in the News (6/99 - 10/99)
  5. NASA NRA: "Advanced Cross-Enterprise Technology Development for NASA Missions"
  6. Swift Satellite Selected for 2003 Launch
  7. XMM Prepared for Launch
  8. Astro-E in Final Testing
  9. NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory
  10. HETE Readies for Early 2000 Launch
  11. BeppoSAX data at the HEASARC
  12. The 2nd ROSAT HRI Source Catalog
  13. Report on NATO Advanced Study Institute on "The Neutron Star - Black Hole Connection"
  14. 2000 HEAD Meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii, November 5-10, 2000
  15. ROSSI 2000: Astrophysics with the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA, March 22-24, 2000
  16. Invitation to Join in the APS Meeting in April/May 2000
  17. INTEGRAL Spring School: "Observing with INTEGRAL + Gamma-Ray, Nucleosynthesis," Les Diablerets, Switzerland, March 29 - April 1, 2000
  18. 30th SAAS FEE ADVANCED COURSE: "High-Energy Spectroscopic Astrophysics," Les Diablerets, Switzerland, April 3-8, 2000
  19. 4th INTEGRAL Workshop: Exploring the Gamma-ray Universe, Alicante, Spain, September 4-8, 2000
  20. Inst. for Theoretical Physics program for Fall 2000: ``Spin and Magnetism in Young Neutron Stars,'' U. California, Santa Barbara
  21. 33rd COSPAR Scientific Assembly, Warsaw, Poland, July 16-23, 2000

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from the Editor (Alan Marscher, HEAD Secretary-Treasurer,; phone: 617-353-5029)

If you receive a hard-copy of this newsletter, it means that I do not have a working e-mail address for you. In this case, if you do in fact have an e-mail address, please send me e-mail so that I can update your address. Thanks.

The HEAD Web site has been moved to the Web site of the American Astronomical Society ( It was last updated in early summer 1999, although I plan to update it in December. At the web site, you will find past issues of the Newsletter, information on meetings, links to other sites of interest, and general information about HEAD.

We also have an e-mail exploder for announcements of general interest to HEAD members. If you have an item that you would like to announce in this way or in the semiannual newsletter, please send the announcement to me via e-mail and I will publish it in the next newsletter or, if more urgent, send it out via e-mail to the HEAD e-mail list.

This will be my last issue as editor of the HEAD Newsletter. Paul Hertz has agreed to run for the position of secretary/treasurer and since he is (as usual for this post) unopposed, I will stick my neck out and welcome him as my successor, effective after the January AAS meeting. It has been my pleasure to serve you and only wish that I had time to update the web site and e-mail membership list more frequently!

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1. OBITUARY: Dr. Jan van Paradijs 1946-1999

Johannes (Jan) Antonius van Paradijs, a distinguished and prolific high-energy astrophysicist, died on November 2, 1999, in Amsterdam, after a long illness. Van Paradijs shared HEAD's 1998 Bruno Rossi prize with the BeppoSAX team for his co-discovery of the first optical afterglow associated with a gamma-ray burst that occurred on February 28, 1997. He was also awarded the 1983 Pastor Schmeits Prize for his work on the theory of X-ray bursts and the 1999 Physica Prize of the Dutch Physical Society for his breakthrough gamma-ray burst work.

Van Paradijs was a Professor of astronomy at The University of Amsterdam, as well as the Pei-Ling Chan eminent scholar in astrophysics at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Jan split his time between the Netherlands and Huntsville, where he worked with UAH graduate students and collaborated with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory/BATSE team at the Space Sciences Lab at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Jan's recent work in Huntsville was done in collaboration with his wife, astronomer Chryssa Kouveliotou, whom he married in 1992. He also worked with many Dutch graduate students in Amsterdam, including Paul Groot and Titus Galama, who worked with him on the optical afterglow discovery. Other notable former students who worked with van Paradijs include Ralph Wijers, Marten van Kerkwijk, Erik Kuulkers and Steve Howell.

Van Paradijs earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from the University of Amsterdam, and was a research scientist at the University of Amsterdam from 1970-1988. From 1977-1979, Jan was a visiting scientist at MIT's Center for Space Research, where he collaborated with Prof. Walter Lewin and the SAS-3 group, making major contributions to the study of X-ray bursts, and participating in the discovery of the first associated optical bursts. Jan was named full Professor at the University of Amsterdam in 1988. In 1993, he was named to the endowed Pei-Ling Chan eminent scholar post at UAH. In 1998, Jan was elected member of the Hollandse Maatschappij der Wetenschappen in Haarlem (the oldest scientific society in Holland) and in 1999 he was elected member of the Academia Europea (the European Academy of Sciences in London).

Van Paradijs published more than 300 scientific papers, including the recent "Perspective" article in the October 22 issue of the journal "Science", written shortly before his death, on possible links between gamma ray bursts and super novae. He was the co-editor or co-author of at least eight books, including the conference proceedings volumes "The Lives of the Neutron Stars", and "The Many Faces of Neutron Stars" as well as the review book "X-ray Binaries" which is the best and most recent summary of the field to which he made many contributions.

Many of his colleagues over the years were deeply affected by Jan's untimely death. "Jan was one of the most knowledgeable, productive, and wide-ranging workers in our field, a master of both observational and theoretical high-energy astrophysics," said Dr. Jerry Fishman, the BATSE principal investigator at NASA/Marshall. "He was near the top of everyone's list of the world's great astrophysicists." According to HEAD Press Officer Lynn Cominsky who worked with Jan at MIT while she was a graduate student, "Jan was one of the first truly 'multiwavelength' astronomers. He was able to synthesize optical and x-ray data to see the entire compact binary picture--and it led him to important physical insights." MIT Professor Walter Lewin, a close collaborator said "For over 20 years Jan had a very large positive impact on my personal life and on my science." And his colleague at the University of Amsterdam, Professor Ed van den Heuvel recalled "Jan was a scientist of extraordinary caliber. It was not a coincidence that Jan's group was the first to make an optical identification of a BeppoSAX GRB: they were mentally prepared and trained for it thanks to Jan's foresight. We all miss Jan very very much, as a colleague and a friend."

Van Paradijs served on the boards of directors of the Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy and the European Astrophysics Doctoral Network, and was a HEAD AAS and RAS member of long standing. Jan also spent much time trying to spread his love of astronomy to the public: he was a long-time director of the Dutch amateur-astronomer oriented Simon Stevin Observatory, and he gave frequent public lectures in remote villages all over Holland. He is survived by his wife Chryssa, his two children by a previous marriage, and by three grandchildren.

A special memorial service will be held for Jan van Paradijs, in Huntsville, AL on December 1, 1999. Travel funds for young astronomers are being set up in Jan's memory at both the University of Alabama, Huntsville and at the University of Amsterdam. Please contact Jerry Fishman ( or Ed van den Heuvel ( for additional information.

---Lynn Cominsky, HEAD Press Officer

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2. High Energy Astrophysics Division special sessions at the 195th American Astronomical Society Meeting, Atlanta, GA, January 11-15, 2000

HEAD I: Astrophysical Jets, Thursday, January 13, 10:00 - 11:30 am

Directed, high-velocity outflows or jets are becoming the norm among astrophysical sources of high energy photons. From active galaxies to gamma-ray bursts to microquasars to pulsars, jets seem to be everywhere. This session will explore some of the recent observational results and theoretical issues illuminating this always fascinating topic.

  • Observations of Jets in Galactic and Extragalactic Sources: John Biretta - STSI
  • Formation of Jets in AGN: Mitchell Begelman - JILA, University of Colorado
  • Simulations of Relativistic Jet Formation: David L. Meier - JPL

HEAD II: The Highest Energy Gamma-Rays, Cosmic Rays and Neutrinos, Thursday, January 13, 2:00 - 3:30 pm

Exploring the extremes of nature (or at least of our observational windows) often presents new puzzles and sometimes new pieces to old puzzles. Such is the case in the fields of high-energy gamma-ray and cosmic-ray astrophysics. Detection of gamma-rays with energies up to 50 TeV from active galaxies and supernova remnants is revealing new information on nature's most powerful accelerators. Meanwhile, the sources of ultra-high energy cosmic rays, detected at energies beyond the theoretical cutoff due to interaction with the microwave background, are completely unknown. The detection of high-energy neutrinos from astrophysical sources, possible within the coming decade, would open up a new window to study these and other sources.

  • Very High Energy Gamma Ray Astronomy: Rene Ong, University of Chicago
  • The Highest Energy Cosmic Rays: Todor Stanev, Bartol Research Institute
  • High Energy Neutrinos: Francis Halzen, University of Wisconsin

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3. News from NASA Headquarters (Louis Kaluzienski)

a. ASTRO-E and XMM Guest Observer Programs

Approximately 150 Stage 1 proposals for US Guest Observations during the Phase 1 observing period of ASTRO-E were received and evaluated by a US science peer panel during the first week of November. The proposals requested a total of ~ 16.5 Msec of observing time, representing an oversubscription of ~ 4.9:1 of the time available to US GO's during the initial viewing phase. The set of recommended proposals will be merged with approved Japanese GO proposals at a meeting planned for December 2-3, and the final integrated target list posted at the ASTRO-E website ( around December 10. US PI's with approved observations will be invited to submit Stage 2 (cost) proposals, and it is anticipated that final selections will be announced in March 2000. The mission is currently planned for launch in early February.

ESA has completed its science peer review of proposals for guest observations on the XMM mission, and it is anticipated that the results of the review will be announced in early December. US PI's awarded observing time on XMM will be notified by NASA in late December/early January of the opportunity to submit Stage 2 cost proposals for support of their investigations. It is expected that the awards of XMM GO grants will be announced in the April/May 2000 timeframe.


A total of 20 proposals were received in response to the Announcement of Opportunity for GLAST Flight Investigations (AO 99-OSS-03). There were two proposals for the primary instrument, 3 for the secondary instrument and 15 for interdisciplinary scientist. The peer review of these proposals is planned for December with announcement of the final selection anticipated in February.

c. High Energy Astrophysics SR&T Program

The review and budget assessment of proposals for participation in the High Energy Astrophysics Supporting Research and Technology Program received in response to the ROSS-99 NRA has now been completed. A total of 53 proposals were received, of which 34 proposals have been recommended for funding. Based upon the final Office of Space Science Research and Analysis program budget, the total funding awarded to selected proposals during FY00 is ~ $7.9M. Due to the recent restructuring of the OSS R&A Program, proposals for participation in the HEA SR&T Program will be solicited on an annual basis, commencing with the ROSS-2000 NRA. During the transition from the current three-year cycle, projects selected under the ROSS-99 NRA will reflect a mix of 1-, 2-, and 3-year grant awards.

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4. HEAD in the News (6/99 - 10/99) (Lynn Cominsky, HEAD Press Officer and Christopher Wanjek, SEU Science Writer)

In the past four months, many exciting discoveries in High Energy Astrophysics were publicized through the AAS e-mail distribution channel, as well as an occasional Space Sciences Update by NASA. Many of these stories received extensive coverage in the daily and televised news media, including Time magazine, the New York Times and CNN. In addition, articles were written about HEAD subjects by prominent scientists, including Michiel van der Klis ("The Buzz of General Relativity" in Science 285, p. 1499) and Jan van Paradijs ("From Gamma-Ray Bursts to Supernovae" in Science 286 p. 693).

A brief summary of non-Chandra related news is presented below. Chandra news is relayed separately in the article by W. Tucker.

X-Ray Emission From The Event Horizon ASCA observations of NGC 3516 by Paul Nandra, Rich Mushotzky (GSFC) and others showed evidence for the final plunge of x-ray heated matter into the AGN's central black hole. Buried in the X-ray emission spectrum typical of AGN was a rare glimpse at a red-shifted absorption feature in the iron K-alpha line. This very highly red-shifted feature was separate from the overall redshift due to the movement of the AGN itself, and provides the first direct evidence for accretion inflow onto a black hole. (See Nandra et al., ApJ, 523, L17)

The Energy Output of the Universe The total energy emitted by the growth of massive black holes can be 10-50 percent of that emitted by stars, according to Andrew Fabian (Cambridge). The X-ray background provides a good measure of this energy; most accretion power is absorbed and re-emitted in the far infrared band. In Fabian's model, for every ordinary quasar about ten more obscured ones are needed, meaning that the growth of most massive black holes by accretion is hidden from view by the traditional optical and ultraviolet and near infrared wavebands. Chandra and XMM should detect obscured X-ray sources associated with massive black hole growth. This result received attention at the X-ray Astronomy 1999 meeting in Bologna, Italy. (See Fabian,

Gamma-Ray Burst Breakthroughs

It was another exciting year for gamma-ray burst science, as observers around the world worked together to unravel the long-standing mystery of GRBs. Among the newsworthy results:

Polarization and Strong Evidence for Jet Collimation Observed in GRB 990510 Observations with the new the VLT 8.2-m ANTU (UT1) telescope at Paranal, Chile, showed evidence for polarization in the optical source, indicating that synchrotron emission is involved in the afterglow, and measured a redshift of z = 1.619 for the optical counterpart to GRB990510. The ESO observations were triggered by an alert from CGRO/BATSE and were guided by the counterpart location obtained with X-ray data from BeppoSAX and optical images from the PLANET microlensing team at SAAO (see Wijers et al., ApJ 523, L33). Extensive multi-color optical and radio data were obtained for this extremely well-covered burst, and showed clear evidence for jet collimation reducing the apparent flux from the GRB by at least a factor of 100. (see Harrison et al., ApJ 523, L121). See also the news article by Govert Schilling inScience (284, p. 1251).

GRBs Used to Set Limits on the Mass of a Photon, and Frequency Independence of the Speed of Light Bradley Schaefer (Yale) has used the 220 microsecond rise time of GRB 930229 for photons of 30 keV and 200 keV to show that the speed of light is independent of frequency to within a factor of 6 parts in 10^{-21}, 4 orders of magnitude better than previous limits. His result also sets a mass limit for the photon of less than 2 x 10^{-11} eV. This result was reported in the August issue of Physics Today, and can be read in PRL, 82, p. 4964.

GRBs linked to Supernovae from Massive Stars Observations of GRB 980326 carried out at the Keck Observatory's 10-m telescope by Josh Bloom, Shri Kulkarni (Caltech) and others have found a dramatic rebrightening of optical emission at the position of the gamma-ray burst. The unique optical light curve has been interpreted as additional light from a supernova accompanying the usual rapidly fading burst afterglow. The supernova emission brightened slowly as the burst afterglow decayed, and then disappeared completely after about nine months. The initially blue afterglow spectrum appeared to turn red after about a month, lending additional weight to the interpretation. (See Bloom et al., Nature, 401, 453, and also the news article by Schilling in Science, 286, p.395.)

GRBs Could Be Most Distant Observable Objects At the Fifth Huntsville International Symposium on Gamma-ray Bursts, Daniel Reichart and Don Lamb (Chicago) claimed that GRBs should be observable far past the observational redshift limit of about 5, currently held by quasars. New satellites such as HETE-2 and Swift should be able to detect GRBs out to redshifts of 20, providing luminous probes of the early universe. They also presented evidence that a supernova accompanied GRB970228, confirming the Caltech group's earlier results for GRB 980326 (see Reichart et al., ApJ, 517, p. 692). For further news from the Huntsville GRB Symposium, see the article by Schilling in Science (286, p. 893.)

News from the Compton Gamma-ray Symposium in Portsmouth, NH

Three press releases were issued from the Fifth Compton Gamma-ray Observatory Symposium, held in Portsmouth, NH, September 15-17, 1999.

COMPTEL Gamma-ray Source Catalog Released The first source catalog for objects emitting in the 1-30 MeV energy range was released by the COMPTEL team at the Fifth Compton Gamma-ray Observatory Symposium, held in Portsmouth, NH. The catalog is comprised of 63 sources, 31 of which are GRBs, with the rest being persistent emitters such as neutron stars and black holes. The catalog will appear in the A&Ap Supplement Series next year (Schönfelder et al., 2000).

New Method for Weighing Black Holes Combines X-ray and Radio Data A new method has been devised for determining the mass of black holes which are multi-wavelength emitters. Insu Yi (Korea Institute for Advanced Study) and Stephen Boughn (Haverford College) used their new technique to weigh 10 massive black holes by measuring radio and x-ray flux ratios. They find masses which agree with previous measurements of the same black holes using more complicated methods. A side benefit of their method is the determination of the mass accretion rate onto the black hole. (See Yi and Boughn, ApJ, 515, p. 576).

First Evidence for Supernova Origin of Proton Cosmic Rays Combining the discovery of a new radio supernova remnant with the gamma-ray signature of pion decay in previously unidentified EGRET sources, Jorge Combi (Instituto Argentino de Radioastronomia) and others have reported the first evidence that directly links proton cosmic rays to their long-assumed birthplace. The large, yet weak radio supernova remnant is located in our Galaxy, at a distance of about 1600 light years, and occurred about 15,000 years ago. It was discovered in observations made with the Hartbeesthoek radio telescope in Krugersdorp, South Africa.

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5. NASA NRA 99-OSS-05: "Advanced Cross-Enterprise Technology Development for NASA Missions"

This is to draw your attention to the release by NASA of NRA 99-OSS-05, "Advanced Cross-Enterprise Technology Development for NASA Missions", soliciting proposals to develop critical space technologies that enable innovative and less costly missions, and new mission opportunities through revolutionary, high-risk, high-payoff technology advances. The NRA may be found at the Office of Space Science homepage, and clicking on "Research Opportunities" and "Open Opportunities". Please note the compressed schedule, with Notices of Intent due on 11/30/99 and proposals due by 12/23/99.

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6. Swift Satellite Selected for 2003 Launch (Christopher Wanjek and Lynn Cominsky)

NASA has selected the Swift multi-wavelength observatory for a MIDEX flight opportunity, with launch scheduled in 2003. Named for the small, nimble bird, as well as for its ability to swiftly turn and point its instruments, Swift will operate for at least three years at a total cost of $163 million. Development is now underway at Goddard Space Flight Center, Pennsylvania State University, in the UK and in Italy. The Swift team, led by P.I. Neil Gehrels (GSFC), expects the satellite to detect over 300 bursts a year and determine their location relative to their host galaxies. The multi-wavelength, rapid pointing capability of Swift will also open up a new part of observational parameter space - Swift may detect different types of high-energy bursts than those presently observed, as well as observing flare-like phenomena that have not yet been studied.

Swift is a three-telescope space observatory for studying gamma ray bursts. Although gamma-ray bursts are the largest known explosions in the universe, outshining the rest of the universe when they explode unpredictably in distant galaxies, the underlying cause of the explosion is a true mystery of astrophysics. Swift will have the unique ability to rotate in orbit and point its gamma-ray telescope, X-ray telescope, and ultraviolet/optical telescope at gamma-ray bursts within minutes of the burst's first appearance. Since gamma-ray bursts are believed to originate billions of light years away, Swift will use these sources as beacons to probe distant regions of the universe.

The main instrument aboard Swift is the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT). The BAT will detect and locate about one gamma-ray burst per day, relaying a 1-4 arc minute position to the ground within about 15 seconds. This position will then be used to "swiftly" re-point the satellite to bring the burst area into the narrower fields of view of the two other Swift instruments designed to study the afterglow: the X-ray Telescope (XRT) and the UltraViolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT). These longer-wavelength instruments will determine an arc-second position of a burst and determine the redshift of the burst source. Meanwhile, the Gamma-ray Bursts Coordinate Network (GCN) will inform other observatories of the active burst.

Since GRBs are the most luminous objects in the Universe, they provide a unique opportunity to probe distant host galaxies and provide information about the early universe. Depending on evolution, GRBs might originate from redshifts up to ~ 20. They may therefore be the most distant observable sources of emission. It has been suggested that some GRBs may be standard candles - if so, the extreme distances to GRBs would help determine the cosmic distance scale.

When not catching gamma-ray bursts, Swift will conduct an all-sky survey in hard x-rays that will be 100 times more sensitive than BeppoSAX and CGRO. No complete hard X-ray survey has been performed since HEAO-A4 in the late 1970s.

A detailed description of Swift is available at

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7. XMM Prepared for Launch (Christopher Wanjek, S. Kahn and F. Cordova)

XMM arrived by barge in French Guiana on September 27, after a ten-day crossing from Europe. Numerous system checks on the satellite are now underway before fuelling in mid-November. A thorough review of the implications of the Chandra ACIS-I problem for XMM has been performed and the appropriate measures have been taken. The launch aboard an Ariane-5 rocket is scheduled for December 10. Steven Kahn (Columbia) is the U.S. Principal Investigator for XMM's Reflection Grating Spectrometer experiment and France Cordova (UCSB) is the U.S. Principal Investigator for XMM's Optical/UV Monitor experiment. U.S. astronomers have access to guest observing time, by means of an open competition with peer review. The mission anticipates a 10 year lifetime.

For a daily mission update, refer to

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8. Astro-E in Final Testing (Christopher Wanjek and Richard Kelley)

Astro-E, Japan's fifth X-ray astronomy mission, readies for a proposed February 2000 launch. Astro-E was subjected to the spacecraft bake-out test and thermal-vacuum testing in October and has now entered into the final integration testing. As of November 24, Astro-E will have completed vibration testing. Astro-E covers the energy range 0.4 - 700 keV with the three instruments: an X-ray micro-calorimeter (X-ray Spectrometer or XRS), X-ray CCDs (X-ray Imaging Spectrometer or XIS), and the hard X-ray detector (HXD). The satellite was developed by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) in collaboration with U.S. (NASA/GSFC, MIT) and other Japanese institutions. ISAS will rename ASTRO-E shortly after launch. For a daily mission update with images, refer to

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9. NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory (Martin C. Weisskopf and Harvey Tananbaum on behalf of the Chandra Team)

After its successful launch on July 23 the NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory is now routinely performing observations. Each of the early calibration and activation observations provided new surprises and insights - the discoveries of a point source at the center of Cas-A, a spectacularly detailed jet and counter-jet in Centaurus A, a several hundred kiloparsec long jet emanating from a putative point-like quasar, new spatial structure in the Crab Nebula, fascinating spectral features taken at high resolution from Capella, etc. We feel that it is fair to say that the return from the CXO is beyond everyone's expectations.

A special session at the AAS meeting in Atlanta will be devoted to the first results from Chandra. An associated poster session will include more details from the initial on-orbit calibration phase of the mission and additional early science findings. In the meanwhile, check out the websites listed above for some of Chandra's first images.


HRC: The HRC-I is performing well and close to what was expected pre-launch but there are some differences. First, the background rate is higher than expected, but still only about 1-2 counts in a square arc second cell for a 10**5 s integration. Next, the highest possible imaging quality has not yet been achieved as high gain at the sweet spot has required the development of new processing algorithms. Currently the image is comparable to that achieved with ACIS (> 60% encircled energy in 1 arc second diameter). Further improvements utilizing improved processing algorithms are under study.

ACIS: Following launch and initial calibration and activation (door openings) the ACIS experiment was performing as it was prior to launch. In general, the 2-8 keV background is quite low. For the front illuminated (FI) CCDs the rate is about 6 x 10-7 counts per square arcsec per second and for the prime back-illuminated device, S3, it is about twice this value. As with the HRC, there are, of course, episodes of enhanced background - (factors of several to over 10X) lasting from minutes to hours which may be correlated with solar activity. The image quality observed on orbit is very close to that predicted prior to launch. Unfortunately, the front-illuminated (FI) CCDs have suffered some radiation damage and their energy resolution has become position dependent over the face of each CCD. Absolutely no damage has been observed in either of the two back-illuminated (BI) devices.

During the on-orbit calibration period, but after the telescope contamination covers were opened, the FI CCds of the ACIS instrument began to exhibit increased charge transfer inefficiency (cti). We have determined that the increased cti was associated with having ACIS at the focus of the telescope during passages through the radiation belts. Subsequently, ACIS is no longer placed in this position during belt passages and the degradation in performance of the FI devices has ceased. The BI CCDs remain unaffected. We are currently investigating, by means of laboratory experiments, various possible processes that fit the details of the situation. The most probable cause involves low energy protons reflecting through the telescope. The importance of identifying the mechanism is for guiding ground testing of CCDs and electronics to try to mitigate and/or better cope with the damage and we are confident that some improvements over the current status can be implemented.

The principal impact of the observed damage to the ACIS FI chips is that now the energy resolution is a function of row number within the chips - being as good as the pre-flight values near the readout but increasing by as much as a factor of four depending on which chip and what energy at the furthest from the readout. The imaging capability of these devices is unimpaired. The degradation of the energy resolution also has no serious impact on HETG spectroscopy. However, the row dependence of the energy resolution has implications for one's observing strategy for imaging spectrometry with no grating in place.

Observers with targets smaller than the field of view covered by a single chip (8 arcmin in diameter) may well wish to consider obtaining their image using the BI chip (S3) at the prime focus if imaging spectrometry is a critical part of their objective. However, if imaging a field larger than 8 arcminutes is the prime goal, and insufficient photons for spectroscopy are available then the I-array is still the likely array of choice. More details as to choce of modes, etc. are available through the User Group.

HETG: HETG performance has been as expected with no hints of performance differing from ground calibrations. The HRMA-HETG-ACIS-S system is achieving the expected resolving power -- over 700 for the MEG at 0.653 keV, and over 1100 for the HEG at 0.825 keV based on observations of Capella. The "degraded" ACIS FI CCDs have energy resolution adequate for use in order separation.

LETGS: The LETGS comprising the LETG and the HRC-S has only begun to be utilized and calibrated. Early calibrations have shown that the HRC-S background is also higher than anticipated and higher than that experienced with the HRC-I due to mis-timing between the anticoincidence and the detector electronics. Nevertheless, with suitable windowing and post-facto pulse- shape discrimination, the effect on a strong source as Capella is negligible. Based on the first 80 ks observation of Capella, the impression is that LETGS performs roughly as expected. The measured resolution, delta lambda (FWHM) is 0.06 Angstrom, in agreement with ground calibrations.

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10. HETE-2 Readies for Early 2000 Launch (L. Cominsky and C. Wanjek)

The High-Energy Transient Explorer 2 (HETE-2), a multi-wavelength satellite designed to detect and precisely localize gamma-ray bursts and to rapidly relay these locations to other observatories, has entered into the final review stages before its proposed January 23, 2000 launch. Within seconds, GRB positions from 10 arc-seconds to 10 arc-minutes for ~50 bursts per year will be transmitted from HETE-2 to a global network of ground stations. These positions will then be immediately relayed to the public over the Internet, thereby enabling sensitive follow-up studies.

HETE-2 has three on-board instruments: FREGATE, WXM and SXC. The French Gamma Telescope (FREGATE) is derived from the design of the successful gamma-ray burst experiment Lilas aboard the Russian Phobos mission. Its prime objectives are the detection and spectroscopy of gamma-ray bursts and the monitoring of variable X-ray sources. The Wide-Field X-ray Monitor (WXM) consists of two pairs of one dimensional position sensitive proportional counters, with a coded aperture mask in front of each pair; one pair is used to determine the x- and the other the y-position of the GRB. Finer positional localization is provided by the Soft X-ray Cameras (SXC), which take advantage of the substantial photon fluence in the low energy X-ray band, and the possibility of achieving finer localization with a CCD/coded mask combination.

Various readiness reviews will be held through December and early January. HETE-2 will be launched aboard a UELV Hybrid Pegasus from Kwajalein Missile Range, so as to achieve an almost equatorial orbit. HETE-2, with a mission lifetime for 6 months to two years, will also observe X-ray transients, X-ray pulsars and soft-gamma repeaters (SGRs). The mission PI is George Ricker, MIT. HETE-2 consortium institutions include MIT, RIKEN (Japan), Los Alamos National Laboratory, CESR and CNES (France), CNR-TESRE (Italy), UC-Berkeley, University of Chicago, UC-Santa Cruz, and Supaero (France).

For more information about HETE-2 see

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11. BeppoSAX data at the HEASARC (Lorella Angelini)

A large fraction of the public archival BeppoSAX data are now available at the HEASARC. The data were provided by the BeppoSAX data center in Rome to the BeppoSAX US coordinating facility ( established at the HEASARC. The archive currently includes data from the Narrow Field Instruments MECS, LECS and PDS. Also provided are a copy of the latest software and calibration data and a mirror of the BeppoSAX data center web site in Rome. These data can be accessed via the HEASARC on-line services.

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12. The 2nd ROSAT High Resolution Imager Source Catalog (Michael Corcoran)

The ROSAT Consortium (the Max-Planck-Institut fuer extraterrestrische Physik, the Goddard Space Flight Center, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Leicester University, and the Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam) announces an update to "THE ROSAT SOURCE CATALOG OF POINTED OBSERVATIONS WITH THE HIGH RESOLUTION IMAGER" (ROSHRICAT). This catalog contains arcsecond positions and count rates of detected sources from nearly 3000 public ROSAT HRI observations, including more than 7500 firm sources (signal-to-noise ratio > 4).

The catalog consists of all primary source parameters from the automated detection algorithm employed by the Standard Analysis Software System (SASS). In addition each observation has been quality checked, both by automatic algorithms and by detailed visual inspection. The results of this quality checking are contained as a set of logical-value flags for each principal source parameter. If a source parameter is suspect, the associated flag is set to "TRUE"; parameters with no obvious problems maintain the default, "FALSE", value. In addition to the catalog, data products for each screened observation are also available. These data products include the screened source lists, FITS images, and ASCII files containing information about obvious real sources not detected by the SASS detection algorithms.

Detailed information about the catalog and methods of access to the catalog and data products can be obtained from the ROSAT Results Archive web pages in Germany, in the US, and in the UK:,,,,

Access to the command-line driven BROWSE interface to the ROSHRI catalog is also available via telnet to either or - in each case the username is xray, then type "browse roshri" (no quotes) at the command line prompt.

The ROSAT High Resolution Imager Source Catalog will continue to be updated as new HRI observations are screened and become public. New versions will be announced via the electronic ROSAT Status reports and on the RRA web sites at MPE, GSFC, SAO, AIP and Leicester.

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13. Report on NATO Advanced Study Institute on "The Neutron Star - Black Hole Connection" (Chryssa Kouveliotou, Jan van Paradijs, & Joseph Ventura)

Set against the background of beautiful Mirabello Bay, astronomers from fourteen countries met at Elounda, Crete in the period 7-18 June, to debate some of the most compelling issues of present day astrophysics.

Neutron stars and black holes have been at the forefront of astrophysics for over thirty years. As recently as ten years ago it was still being debated whether galactic stellar-mass black holes existed or not. It is now generally accepted that many (possibly a thousand) stellar-mass black holes -- most of them still undetected -- lie in low mass X-ray binary (LMXB) systems; a few of them are detected every year as X-ray or gamma-ray transients. These objects are more massive than 3 M_sun, the maximum possible mass for a neutron star, and show none of the tell-tale signs of neutron stars, such as X-ray bursts and X-ray pulsations.

It is quite remarkable that all LMXBs display a similar temporal and spectral behaviour, independently of whether the accreting compact object is a neutron star or a black hole. A broad debate on these similarities and differences naturally constituted one of the main focal points during the Elounda meeting. Evidence on these aspects has been forthcoming from the Compton Gamma-ray Observatory (CGRO), the ROSAT and ASCA satellites, the Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), and from the Beppo-SAX Observatory.

Several reports zeroed in onto the very rich phenomenology of the transient X-ray source GRS 1915+105, a black hole, also found to be a microquasar expelling superluminal plasma jets at regular intervals. This source also displays an interesting pattern of fast spectral and time variations, and has been singled out as a unique prototype for the study of accretion-disk instabilities, possibly at work in other accreting black holes. An observing run of this source with RXTE was actually taking place while the meeting was in progress, and a direct internet connection to the experiment enabled observer Tomaso Belloni to obtain the latest light curves and variability patterns. There are indications that we are seeing emission from very close to the black hole event horizon, possibly at the location of the last stable orbit, and excitement over the possibility of observing direct manifestations of general relativity in this and related objects is quite strong.

Predictably, the mysterious gamma ray bursts (GRB), and the recently discovered magnetars added two more important focal points to the Elounda meeting. Recent success in following up GRB afterglows has led to identifications relating these most powerful explosions to faint galaxies at cosmological distances. It is theorised that these events could be the result of catastrophic mergers of neutron star binaries, or neutron star - black hole binaries. Mechanisms leading to such gigantic coalescence events were reviewed at the meeting.

GRBs are thought to be catastrophic, one-time-only events, resulting in the total disruption of the initial system. Contrary to these, the distinct class of the so called soft gamma repeaters (SGRs), numbering only four sources located in our Galaxy and in the nearby Large Magelanic Cloud, do recur in sporadic eruptions displaying very soft gamma ray spectra. These objects have been linked to magnetic neutron stars with rather long, 5 to 10 second spin periods, and are typically linked to 10^4 year old supernova remnants. Their long spin periods along with their mesured rates of spin decay point to ultra-strong magnetic fields of the order of 10^15} Gauss. Are these objects related to another class of low luminosity - long period X-ray pulsars, known as anomalous X-ray pulsars? This is still a point of detailed investigation and debate involving theory and observation.

These, and a multitude of related issues were reviewed, analysed, and debated in Elounda:

  • Can magnetospheric beat frequency models explain some of the neutron star QPOs?
  • QPOs were recently detected during thermonuclear X-ray burst events in accreting neutron stars. Do these quasiperiodicities relate to the propagation velocity of burning fronts as they move across the neutron star's surface?
  • How is one to interpret the evident similarities of accreting neutron stars and black holes in low mass X-ray binaries?
  • Do NS magnetic fields evolve?
  • Do we see the surface thermal emission of isolated neutron stars?
  • Do we observe all the neutron stars predicted by the current counts of supernova events in our Galaxy?
  • Which evolutionary senarios give rise to NS and BH binary systems?
  • Could a sub-class of GRBs be due to the catastrophic release of the rotational energy of the neutron star in some odd, accreting low mass X-ray binaries in distant galaxies?

All these debates certainly serve in refocussing the observing strategies to be followed with the new and powerful Chandra and XMM observatories awaiting launch within this summer. The Elounda meeting has thus offered an excellent opportunity for reviewing the capabilities of these and other coming space-borne missions.

One characteristic that made this event memorable to the participants was the special effort lecturers and speakers placed in preserving a broad tutorial character in their presentations. This aspect is specially important in meetings bringing together researchers with very disparate backgrounds, as it serves in unifying the audience, and furthering the cross-fertilisation of ideas.

PS: More details on this meeting (program, list of participants) may be found in the conference web page:

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14. 2000 HEAD Meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii, November 5-10, 2000

The next meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society will take place at the Ilikai Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Anyone can add their name to the list automatically by sending any email to:

The above address should be used for any correspondence concerning this meeting. Details of the meeting, registration and abstract submission will be distributed by email as they become available. Or you may contact our website at

We look forward to your participation at another successful meeting.

Eureka Scientific
Host, 2000 HEAD Meeting

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15. ROSSI 2000: Astrophysics with the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA, March 22-24, 2000

As the preeminent large-area X-ray timing mission to date, NASA's Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) has proven a powerful and highly flexible tool for studying the variability of the X-ray sky over a wide range of time scales and X-ray energies. In order to bring together a diverse mix of researchers working with RXTE data, we are pleased to announce "ROSSI 2000", a three day meeting to be held Wednesday through Friday, March 22-24, 2000, at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, USA. The meeting will focus on the wealth of rich new data which continues to be collected from the mission, and it will seek to bring together observers and theorists studying both Galactic and extragalactic sources in order to explore the connections between these areas in a broad astrophysical context.

Prospective attendees are encouraged to reply to with their name, institution and a preliminary paper or abstract title.

Tod Strohmayer (NASA/GSFC)
Deepto Chakrabarty (MIT)
Rick Edelson (Leicester/UCLA)
(on behalf of the Scientific Organizing Committee)

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American Physical Society, 29 April - 2 May, 2000, Long Beach, California

Astrophysics Invited Sessions:

  • Saturday AM, The Origin of Cosmic Magnetic Fields
  • Saturday PM, The Engine of Gamma Ray Bursters
  • Sunday AM, Cosmic Rays: Exploring the extremes
  • Sunday PM, First Results from Chandra
  • Monday AM, Triumphs of 20th Century Astrophysics
  • Tuesday AM, The Women of Stellar Astrophysics

There will also be plenary talks on some astrophysics topics, including cosmology and extra-solar-system planets.

Contributed talks and posters on these and all other topics within astrophysics are welcome. The abstract deadline is 14 January, and abstracts can be submitted via the APS web site, Registration and housing for the meeting can be arranged through (those are zero's not oh's).

SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS: Some of the sessions of contributed talks will feature graduate students reporting on their thesis work, with partial travel grants for the speakers and a modest award for the best talk. Encourage your studetns to participate in this unusual opportunity.

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17. INTEGRAL SPRING SCHOOL: "Observing with INTEGRAL + Gamma-Ray Nucleosynthesis" Les Diablerets, Switzerland, March 29 - April 1, 2000.

A special 4-day school will take place at about 20 months from the launch of the INTEGRAL gamma-ray Observatory. The purpose of the school is to present and get familiarized with the Observatory and its instruments. It is open to all of those who intend to submit an observation proposal to INTEGRAL and/or who intend to use the data collected by the satellite. It includes presentations on the INTEGRAL mission, on the instruments and their specifications, and on the data reduction process. Practical training with computer simulations will also be provided.

In addition, the school will offer a special nucleosynthesis session dedicated to GAMMA-RAY RADIOACTIVITY. Those courses complement the 30th Saas-Fee Course, dedicated to High Energy Astrophysics, which is scheduled at the same location during the week following the present school.

Further information can be found on:
E-mail contact:
Registration deadline: January 31, 2000

Organizers: T. Courvoisier (, P. Dourouchoux (, G. Meynet (, N. Mowlavi (, R. Walter (

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18. 30th SAAS FEE ADVANCED COURSE: "High-Energy Spectroscopic Astrophysics," Les Diablerets, Switzerland, April 3-8, 2000

The Swiss Society for Astrophysics and Astronomy (SSAA) is now organizing the 30th annual `Saas Fee Advanced Course' in Astronomy and Astrophysics. The subject of this course will be HIGH-ENERGY SPECTROSCOPIC ASTROPHYSICS. The course is intended for post-graduate astronomers and astro-/physicists who wish to broaden their knowledge in this field. The lectures will be given by three renowned experts in the field:

  • Prof. Rashid Sunyaev, on `Hard X-Ray and Gamma-Ray Spectroscopy'
  • Prof. Steven Kahn, on `Soft X-Ray Spectroscopy'
  • Prof. Peter von Ballmoos, on `Telescope Systems for High-Energy Astrophysics'

Many theoretical, observational, and instrumental aspects will be discussed. For further details and information on registration (deadline January 31,2000), visit our website:

e-mail contact:

Course Organizers: Roland Walter, Integral Science Data Center, CH-1290 Versoix, Switzerland, and Manuel Guedel, Paul Scherrer Institute, CH-5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland,

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19. 4th INTEGRAL Workshop: Exploring the Gamma-ray Universe, Aula de Cultura (CAM) Alicante, Spain, September 4-8, 2000

The 4th INTEGRAL (International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory) workshop `Exploring the Gamma-ray Universe' will take place from 4 - 8 September 2000 in Alicante, Spain.

The workshop is being jointly sponsored by ESA, NASA, INTA, CDTI, CICYT, Caja de Ahorros del Mediterraneo, The Generalitat Valenciana and some of the main european aerospace companies.

This circular calls for contributed oral and poster papers to be presented at the workshop.

Registration and hotel accommodation forms, instructions for authors and kits for the preparation of abstracts (including examples) will be available via the WWW pages of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC):

The ESA INTEGRAL pages on the WWW will also provide access to the latest workshop information:

It is intended to make all accepted abstracts and the scientific programme information available on the WWW. The deadline for receipt of abstracts is 15 March 2000.

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20. Inst. for Theoretical Physics program for Fall 2000: ``Spin and Magnetism in Young Neutron Stars,'' University of California, Santa Barbara

A long-term program entitled ``Spin and Magnetism in Young Neutron Stars'' will be held at the Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITP) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, from July 31, 2000 to December 15, 2000. A one week conference will be held October 2-6, 2000 at the ITP. The program coordinators are Lars Bildsten, Lars Hernquist, Vicky Kaspi and Shri Kulkarni.

The recent discoveries of highly magnetized neutron stars and new physical mechanisms that might set the initial neutron star rotation rate has given us exciting new insights into neutron star properties and forces us to reconsider much of the interior physics of these extreme stellar remnants. The intent of this program is to bring together researchers working on all aspects of neutron star properties set during their birth and prevalent during their youth. This will include the origin of magnetism and the high-field magnetars, the possible role of gravitational radiation in limiting the initial spin periods, the origin of kicks and glitches and new information from neutron star cooling. The rapid observational progress on these topics (both from current and future X-ray satellites, as well as radio pulsar surveys) makes the time ripe for a gathering of theorists and observers.

Theoretical focus will be placed on the interior physics of the neutron star as well as physics during the collapse, the role of progenitor evolution, atmospheric modeling and cooling spectra, and most importantly the interpretation of the rapidly arriving datasets.

The observational progress on these topics (both from current and future X-ray satellites, as well as radio pulsar surveys) makes the time ripe for a gathering of theorists and observers. Indeed, this program will provide an opportunity to reconsider the theoretical interpretations of the observations and the resulting implications for the inferred properties of the young neutron star. It is hoped that collaborations and new research directions will emerge from the extended interactions between theorists interested in the physics of neutron stars with both the observers and the general relativists working on gravitational wave emission from young neutron stars.

We also hope to have observers present who can present in some detail the status of current observational work, emphasizing what they consider to be future directions, thus stimulating theoretical work of broad relevance. The parallel program at the ITP during the same period is "High Temperature Superconductivity'" (organized by C. Kallin, R. Laughlin, P. Lee, and D. Scalapino) so the theoretical overlap should be large for interior physics, superfluids and superconductivity.

If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact any of the coordinators. More information on both the program and the conference can be found at the ITP website (

Lars Bildsten, ITP; Lars Hernquist, Harvard; Vicky Kaspi, MIT; Shri Kulkarni, Caltech

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21. 33rd COSPAR Scientific Assembly, Warsaw, Poland, July 16-23, 2000

The 33rd COSPAR Scientific Assembly in Warsaw, Poland, which will take place during the week of 16-23 July, 2000, will feature several symposia of interest to HEAD members. Detailed meeting information can be obtained at The website does not yet contain the list of confirmed invited speakers, but it does contain an abstract about each of the various 1-2 day symposia at the assembly. Individual abstracts are due 10 January 2000.

Among the symposia of that may be of interest to HEAD members are:

  • "X-Ray and Gamma-Ray Signatures of Black Holes and Weakly Magnetized Neutron Stars" (organized by Andrzej Zdziarski)
  • "Origin and Acceleration of Cosmic Rays" (organized by Mark Wiedenbeck)
  • "New Vistas from X-Ray Observatories" (organized by Steve Holt)

The latter 2-day symposium will be the first opportunity for coordinated results from Chandra, XMM and Astro-E to be presented. It's confirmed list of invited speakers is:

  • Session 1: The Extragalactic Scale
    • Martin Weisskopf Chandra Introduction/Status
    • Fred Jansen XMM Introduction/Status
    • Hajime Inoue Astro-E Introduction/Status
    • Andy Fabian Spectroscopy of Clusters
    • Richard Mushotzky Dark Matter from Clusters
  • Session 2: The Galactic Scale
    • Giuseppina Fabbiano Imaging Studies of Galaxies
    • Kazuo Makashima Spectoscopy of Normal Galaxies
    • Chris Reynolds Reverberation Studies of AGN
    • Hideyo Kunieda Spectroscopy of AGN
  • Session 3: The Nebular Scale
    • Steve Kahn Characterization of Sources in the LMC
    • Rob Petre Imaging of SNR
    • Jack Hughes Spectroscopic Studies of SNR
    • Eric Feigelson Star Forming Regions
  • Session 4: The Stellar Scale
    • Manuel Guedel Spectroscopic Studies of Stars
    • Richard Kelley Spectroscopic Studies of X-ray Binaries
    • Koji Mukai Spectroscopic Studies of Cataclysmic Variables
    • Werner Becker X-ray Observations of Pulsars

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HEADNEWS, the electronic newsletter of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society, is issued by the Secretary-Treasurer, at the Department of Astronomy, Boston University, 725 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215. The HEAD Executive Committee Members are:

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