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IN THIS ISSUE:                     Newsletter No. 74 May 1999

1. The 1999 Rossi Prize
2. Decadal Survey
3. News from NASA Headquarters
4. The X-Ray Astronomy Program Working Group Report
5. New David N. Schramm Science Writing Award
6. GLAST Facility Team News
8. Unconventional Stellar Aspect experiment (USA)
9. Swift Chosen for MIDEX Phase A Study
10. Chandra Data Analysis Software Demo: AAS Meeting, Chicago
11. Special Session on Progress in Astro-Statistics at the upcoming Chicago AAS Meeting
12. Chandra Fellows Named
13. Version 2.0 of the CHIANTI Database for Astrophysical Spectroscopy
14. HEAD in the News (12/98 - 5/99)
15. 4th INTEGRAL Workshop, 4-8 September 2000, Alicante, Spain
16. 5th Compton Symposium, September 15-17, 1999, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
17. Invitation to Join in the APS Meeting in April/May 2000
18. 26th International Cosmic Ray Conference, August 17-25, 1999, Salt Lake City Utah
19. 10th Annual October Astrophysics Conference in Maryland: "Cosmic Explosions", October 1999
20. TeV Gamma Ray Workshop, August 13-16, 1999, Snowbird Ski Resort, Utah
21. IAU Symposium 195: Highly Energetic Physical Processes and Mechanisms for Emission from Astrophysical Plasmas, Montana State University
22. 5th Huntsville Gamma-Ray Burst Symposium
23. Successful Balloon Flight of the Liquid Xenon Compton Telescope (LXeGRIT)

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Notes 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 is at  It was last updated in April 1999.  There, 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.

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On January 7, 1999, at the HEAD Business Meeting during the AAS meeting in Austin, TX, Dr. Jean Swank and Prof. Hale Bradt were named as the winners of the 1999 Bruno Rossi Prize "for their key roles in the development of NASA's Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) spacecraft and for the resulting important discoveries related to high time resolution observations of compact astrophysical objects."

Dr. Swank is the project scientist for RXTE at the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics within NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.  Hale Bradt is Professor of Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is the principal investigator for the RXTE All Sky Monitor. Their Rossi prize lecture will be given at the next winter meeting of the AAS, to be held in January 2000 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Rossi Prize recognizes significant contributions as well as recent and original work in High Energy Astrophysics. It is awarded annually in honor of Professor Bruno Rossi, an authority of cosmic rays whose experimental techniques at the Los Alamos Laboratory and at MIT gave birth to the field of X-ray astronomy.  The prize also includes a $1,500 award.

The RXTE observatory has made it possible to obtain measurements of cosmic X-ray sources at unprecedented high time resolutions, which has allowed astronomers around the world to observe fast moving, energetic and rapidly spinning objects, such as apparent supermassive black holes, active galactic nuclei and milli-second pulsars.

For more information about RXTE and its three main instruments, refer to

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2.  DECADAL SURVEY (Roger Blandford)

The High Energy Astrophysics from Space Panel of the Decadal Survey will hold two sessions that are open to the community in conjunction with the Chicago AAS meeting.  (Both will take place at the Hilton.) Community input is vital to the Survey process and I hope that you will be able to attend one of the sessions.

The first session is during the Survey Town Meeting on June 1st beginning at 8:15 pm.  Steve Kahn and other members of the panel will be present to discuss the current state of the Panel's work and any other concerns that you may have.  Alan Bunner is also expected to attend.

The open sessions during the Panel's second meeting on June 4-5 will include presentations from the XAPWG and GRAPWG chairs, international colleagues, and other concerns and initiatives within the community (e.g., laboratory astrophysics). The draft agenda of the open sessions can be found at:

Please contact Joel Parriott at the NAS with any questions (

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3.  News from NASA Headquarters (Alan Bunner, Louis Kaluzienski, Donald Kniffen)

a. GLAST:  The Announcement of Opportunity for investigations using the Gamma Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) is in final preparation. The AO is for the selection of a primary instrument and possibly one or two secondary instruments and several interdisciplinary scientists. We currently anticipate to release the AO in early July, with proposals due 90 days afterwards.

b. HEA SR&T Program: Approximately 55 proposals were received in response to the ROSS-99 NRA for participation in the High Energy Astrophysics Supporting Research & Technology Program.  A scientific and technical peer review of the proposals will be conducted during the latter part of June.  It is anticipated that the proposal selection will be announced by mid-August.

c. RXTE Guest Observer Program: The solicitation for proposals for observing time (Cycle 5) on The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer satellite was issued on April 30.  The deadline for proposals is July 30, and the review is planned for early Fall.  Selected observing programs will be carried out beginning around the first of the year.

d. CGRO Cycle-9 NRA: The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory is now in its eighth  year of operations. BATSE, OSSE and COMPTEL continue to operate at nearly 100% oftheir full capability. EGRET is partially operational and will be turned on for significant  targets of opportunity. Recently, a call for proposals for the Cycle-9 Guest Investigator Program wasissued (NRA-OSS-02). A total of 94 proposals were received by the  May 6, 1999 closing date. Proposals will be reviewed during the summer and selections will be announced in late August or early September. Cycle 9 will last 18months, from December 1999 until June 2001.

e. ASCA Status: The ASCA satellite is currently projected to reenter the atmosphere during the first half of next year.  Following the launch of Astro-E, scheduled for January 24, 2000, contacts with the satellite will be reduced to approximately 2-3 per week.  In light of this situation, ISAS and NASA are reassessing science operations beyond the present observing cycle, with the likelihood that no further formal solicitations for observing time on the mission will be issued.

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4.  The X-Ray Astronomy Program Working Group Report (Steve Murray)

The X-Ray Astronomy Program Working Group has completed its update of the 1994 Report,"A 15-Year Plan for X-ray Astonomy 1994-2008". The final draft of the "White Paper and Road Map" can be found on the WWW at:

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The High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society  (AAS) has established a new writing prize for science journalism, the David N. Schramm Award for High Energy Astrophysics Science Journalism.  Schramm was a distinguished scientist, who is widely regarded as the founder of the field of Particle Astrophysics, a discipline where cosmology and particle physics meet. He was the Louis Block  Distinguished Service Professor and Vice President for Research at the University of  Chicago, the Chair of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academy of Sciences, and an active member in numerous professional societies including the AAS.  The purpose of this newly created award is to recognize and stimulate distinguished writing on topics in high energy astrophysics. The award will be presented every 18 months; articles for the first award must have been published between January 1, 1999 and June 30, 2000.  Deadline for the receipt of the application package is August 1, 2000.

The winning journalist will receive a prize of $1,000, and a plaque containing a citation.  The publisher of the winning work will receive a certificate honoring the publication in  which the work appeared. HEAD/AAS  will pay the winning author's personal and travel expenses so that the award can be received in person at the next HEAD meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for November 2000 in Honolulu, HI.
For further information, see the web site at:
Or contact Prof. Lynn Cominsky, HEAD/AAS Press Officer.

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6.  GLAST Facility Science Team Winds Down its Activities as the Announcement Opportunity Nears (Lynn Cominsky, Chair  GFST Public Affairs Working Group)

The mission of the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) is to explore nature's highest energy processes. Defining its specific scientific goals has been one of the main tasks of the GLAST Facility Science Team (GFST), co-chaired by Peter Michelson and Neil Gehrels.   The GFST consists of scientists and engineers from universities, government laboratories and research institutions in the United States and around the world. Other GFST duties have included the definition and prioritization of science requirements for the mission, making recommendations on the data rights policy and secondary instrumentation, formulation of a strawman payload and a plan for payload and mission development, and various outreach activities. For more information on activities conducted by the GFST, see:

The GFST has produced several documents and websites that summarize the GLAST mission and its requirements.  The GLAST Science Requirements Document was released by the GFST in February, 1999. It can be found at:

A more colorful GLAST science document, prepared for the Decadal survey review, has just been released, and can be found at:

The public outreach GLAST web site was released in January, 1999, and can be found at:

And the March, 1999 version of the GLAST brochure for scientists can be found at:

The GFST has also provided input to NASA regarding the GLAST AO. The draft GLAST AO requesting proposals for the main instrument and possible secondary instruments can be found at:

The official GLAST AO is expected to be issued by NASA headquarters in June, 1999.

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7.  ASTRO-E (Richard L. Kelley & Koji Muki)

The ASTRO-E Observatory is the next in a series of highly successful Japanese collaborative missions designed to study the universe in X-rays. The main objective of the mission is to achieve high energy resolution and throughput over a very broad range of energies.  The US has contributed significantly to the mission, and in return secured a significant share of the observing time for the US astronomical community.

The Observatory will consist of a high resolution X-ray spectrometer based on a microcalorimeter array, four CCD X-ray cameras, and a hard X-ray telescope to enable a composite band pass of 0.3-700 keV.  The CCD cameras and XRS each have their own grazing incidence X-ray mirrors, and all instruments are coaligned and powered up all of the time for simultaneous viewing.  Profs. Y. Ogawara and H. Inoue from the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) in Japan have the overall responsibility for the mission management and scientific implementation.  S. Holt of the Goddard Space Flight Center is the Project Scientist for the US involvement in ASTRO-E.  The ASTRO-E Guest Observer Facility at Goddard has responsibility for archiving, processing and distributing all of the data to US participants, and providing analysis tools.

The X-ray Spectrometer (XRS) is based on a new approach to X-ray spectroscopy, the X-ray microcalorimeter.  This device senses the energies of individual X-ray photons as heat with extreme precision.  A 32-channel array of cryogenically cooled microcalorimeters is being employed, each with an energy resolution of about 12 eV at 6 keV and about 9 eV at energies below about 1 keV.  This will provide 10 times higher spectral resolving power in the Fe-K region than has been available.  The instrument incorporates a three stage cooling system capable of operating the array at 0.060 K for about two years in orbit.  The XRS was developed jointly by a team at Goddard and the University of Wisconsin, led by principal investigator R. Kelley, and a team in Japan from several institutions under the leadership of ISAS.

The assembly of the instrument has recently been completed.  The Helium Insert, which includes the detector array, first stage electronics, liquid helium tank with adiabatic magnetization refrigerator, and flight electronics were developed at Goddard and delivered to Japan earlier this year.  This portion of the instrument was then integrated into a solid neon dewar designed and built in Japan by Sumitomo Heavy Industries under the direction of ISAS.  The integrated dewar system was then finished over a period of months as the many layers of thermal insulation were applied. The system is now undergoing an extended pump out (five weeks) prior to cooling to cryogenic temperatures in June.

The X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (XIS) consists of four individual CCD cameras that provide imaging and moderate spectral resolution.  The XIS detectors are a collaboration between Japanese universities, led by Profs. K. Koyama of Kyoto University and H. Tsunemi of Osaka University, and the MIT Center for Space Research, led by G. Ricker and M. Bautz.  The field of view of each XIS camera is much larger (~ 18' x 18') than the XRS (2' x 4') and the spatial resolution is also much better, essential for obtaining a more complete understanding of each field.

The XRS and XIS both use the next generation of high throughput conical X-ray mirrors.  These mirrors use the basic nested, coated foil concept, but the reflective surface is replicated off of a polished mandrel.  The half power diameter will be about 2', or about half that of ASCA, and there will be much less scattered power beyond a few arcminutes due to the better surfaces, resulting in a narrower core in the point-spread function.  The four mirrors for the XIS cameras have a focal length of 4.75 meters, an outer diameter of 40 cm and gold reflecting surfaces.  The total effective area of the XIS will be some 4-6 times higher than that of the SIS instruments on the ASCA Observatory.  The XRS mirror has a 4.5-meter focal length and platinum surfaces.  Platinum was chosen because of its ~10-15% higher reflectivity around 6 keV to increase the throughput of the XRS. The mirrors were developed, produced and tested at Goddard, under the direction of P. Serlemitsos with help from teams at Nagoya University (H. Kunieda et al.) and ISAS.

The Hard X-Ray Detector (HXD), developed at the University of Tokyo under the direction of Profs. T. Kamae and K. Makishima, covers the energy band 10-700 keV with collimated gadolinium silicate well-type phoswich counters andsilicon PIN diodes.  The HXD has low residual instrumental background, which should result in significantly higher sensitivity than previous missions in the 10-700 keV band. Estimates are that the sensitivity will be up to 10 times higher than the HEXTE on the RXTE Observatory.  The science program of ASTRO-E will be very diverse.  The high throughput, broad band, and high spectral resolution will make the instrument powerful for the study of essentially all high energy astrophysics sources, particularly clusters of galaxies, AGN, many types of X-ray binary systems and SNR's.  An important aspect of the XRS will be the high sensitivity to velocity diagnostics.  A velocity resolution of only ~100 km/sec should be obtainable through the study of narrow Fe-K features.

The ASTRO-E launch is planned for early 2000.  An announcement of opportunity for the guest investigator program should be released in June 1999 for a nine-month period of time (US Guest Observers will have a 33% share of the available observing time during this period).  The proposal due date is expected to be early to mid September.  A second AO will be released about nine months after launch, for a 40% share of the available time during the remainder of the XRS lifetime.  Once the helium and neon are expended from the XRS, the Observatory will continue to operate with the XIS and HXD instruments in a program managed similar to that of ASCA.

Web site for more information:

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8.  First Light for the USA experiment, a new X-ray timing mission (Lynn Cominsky and Paul Hertz, on behalf of the USA Team)

The Unconventional Stellar Aspect experiment (USA) was launched on February 23, 1999 as part of the Air Force Space Test Program's Advanced Research and Global Observation Satellite (ARGOS).  USA is an X-ray timing experiment with large area proportional counters and microsecond timing capabilities.  Calibration observations are now in progress, and the scientific program will begin in late May.

The USA experiment has two proportional counters, sensitive to X-ray wavelengths of about 1 to 10 Angstroms that can be pointed using a gimbaled mounting. With a field-of-view of about 1.5 degrees, and an area of about 2000 cm^2, the detectors will measure the time-varying X-ray output of celestial sources with timing information to 4 microseconds, and up to 48 channels of energy resolution.  The ARGOS satellite is in a sun synchronous polar orbit, limiting observations to the two low latitude parts of each orbit.

The USA science mission is the study of X-ray variability at periods from microseconds to years.  USA will observe a relatively small number of targets, re-measuring the X-rays from these targets repeatedly, in order to study infrequent state transitions, correlated temporal/spectroscopic/photometric behavior, and long term evolution of primarily Galactic X-ray sources.  In addition, USA will conduct a number of applied engineering and defense-related demonstrations including autonomous navigation, time keeping, and space computing tasks.

USA has been built by a collaboration of astrophysicists from the Department of Defense's Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and particle physicists from the Department of Energy's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), Stanford University.  The USA collaboration includes the principal investigator Kent Wood (NRL), project scientist Michael
Lovellette (NRL), SLAC lead-Co-I Elliott Bloom (SLAC), NRL co-I's Reba Bandyopadhyay, Gil Fritz, Paul Hertz, Paul Ray, and Michael Wolff, Gary Godfrey (SLAC), Peter Michelson (Stanford), Lynn Cominsky (Sonoma St) and a growing number of Stanford graduate students. There is also a broader membership in the USA collaboration poised to analyze data including Denis Leahy (Calgary), Deepto Chakrabarty (MIT), and Jeffrey Scargle (NASA/Ames). The Department of Defense and the Department of Energy have provided funds for USA.

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9.  Swift Chosen for MIDEX Phase A Study (Lynn Cominsky, Swift Press Officer)

Swift, a proposed panchromatic gamma-ray burst mission designed to "catch gamma-ray bursts on the fly", was chosen for Phase A study in the latest round of MIDEX selections. The first experiment designed specifically to study the afterglow seen from gamma-ray bursts, Swift consists of three instruments: the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT), the X-Ray Telescope (XRT) and the UV/Optical Telescope (UVOT).  Swift uses the BAT's wide-field detector array to identify the burst location, then "swiftly" reorients the spacecraft so that detailed studies of the afterglow can be conducted using the XRT and UVOT.  Swift is expected to detect about 300 gamma-ray bursts per year, and to perform detailed on-board studies at longer wavelengths for about 200 of these. Follow-up studies using ground-based instruments are key parts of the program and will be carried out by a world-wide network of observers, using burst positions and finding charts that have been transmitted down from the spacecraft in real time and distributed publicly via the Gamma-ray burst Coordinates Network (GCN).  All Swift data will be public and available as soon as possible for community use. Swift will also be able to perform a sensitive hard X-ray survey of the sky, while it is awaiting the arrival of the next gamma-ray burst. 

Swift's design has been optimized to address important questions about gamma-ray bursts, including:

1. What are the sites and nature of the GRB progenitors?
2. Are there multiple classes of GRBs?
3. What is the local environment near the GRB? and
4. What can GRBs tell us about the early universe?

To answer these questions, Swift has on-board capabilities that will: accurately locate GRBs; measure many GRB redshifts; detect very short and very long GRBs; perform detailed high time-resolution, multi-wavelength observations starting immediately after the burst and continuing for days; and characterize burst physics with detailed X-ray, UV and optical spectra.

The Principal Investigator for Swift is Neil Gehrels from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Nicholas White (GSFC) is the Project Scientist and John Nousek (Penn State University) is the Narrow-Field Instruments Lead.  Other key personnel include BAT Lead Ann Parsons (GSFC), XRT Lead  David Burrows (PSU), Ground Segment Lead Frank Marshall (GSFC), Science Theory Team Lead Peter Meszaros (PSU), Follow Up Team Lead Kevin Hurley (UC Berkeley), and Education Outreach Team Lead Eric Feigelson (PSU). There is considerable international involvement in the Swift effort, with groups from Leicester University (led by Alan Wells), Mullard Space Science Laboratory (led by Keith Mason), the Instituto di Fisica Cosmica (led by Patrizia Caraveo) and Brera Observatory (led by Oberto Citterio) providing important hardware contributions, and scientific and technical support.

The Swift team is in the process of completing its Phase A study and submitting its study report. Selection for flight opportunities by NASA for two of the five Phase A MIDEX missions is expected in September, 1999. If selected, Swift could be launched as early as 2003. For further information about Swift, see

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10.  Chandra Data Analysis Software Demo: AAS Meeting, Chicago

We would like to draw your attention to the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC) exhibit at the AAS in Chicago where we will be running demonstrations of the data analysis software which is currently in beta release and will be publically released this summer (ETA: August).

The Chandra Interactive Analysis of Observations (CIAO, formerly known as ASCDS) currently includes:

Fitting: Sherpa (formerly known as ascfit) - a general purpose fitting

program (spatial+spectral+timing)

Detection: three detection program optimised for different source types:

celldetect - traditional sliding cell
wavdetect  - wavelet detect
vtpdetect  - Voronoi Tessellation and Percolation

Data manipulation: - based on the CIAO data model:

dmlist  - examine contents of data files
dmcopy - copying, filtering binning images or tables
dmextract - generate subsidiary products such as PHA files

Personnel will be available throughout the meeting to demonstrate the software of your choice one-on-one. We will also run several general presentations which you can drop by to watch, times will be posted.

We look forward to seeing you in Chicago,
The Chandra X-ray Center Staff

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11. Special Session on Progress in AstroStatistics at the upcoming Chicago AAS

Meeting (Alanna Connors)

I would like to encourage you to attend our first Special Session  on Progress in AstroStatistics at the upcoming Chicago AAS Meeting.  Much will be of practical use to high energy astrophysics: in timing (both periodic and non);  spectra (especially high resolution and low  counts per bin); and spatial (clustering, etc.) applications.

 Time: Monday May 31 10:30 - 12:00

Lead-off Speaker:  James Berger
"Recent Revolutions in Bayesian and Related Likelihood

Techniques: Overview"
We are privelged to have Dr. James Berger of Duke University as our lead-off speaker for this session. His wide interests include both practical applications such as astronomy and underlying concepts, such as areas of difference and agreement in hypothesis testing for Bayesian and freqeuntist methods. He is an engaging and friendly speaker.  Applications:  P. C. Gregory "Application of Bayesian Methods to Periodic Signal Detection" D. van Dyk "Aanalysis of Energy Spectra with Low Counts via Bayes Posterior Simulation"  E. Feigelson "Advances in Bayesian applications to astronomy"

Posters:  F. Murtagh, A. Connors Includes listings of available software

Plenty of time for questions and discussion included!

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12. CHANDRA FELLOWS NAMED (Wallace Tucker)

Six scientists have been chosen as Fellows of the second annual Chandra X-ray Observatory Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. The fellowships are open to recent astronomy and astrophysics graduates worldwide.  This year's winners will work for three years at a host astronomical institution in the  United States where they will research problems broadly related to the scientific mission of the Chandra Observatory. The Chandra X-ray Observatory Fellowship Program is a joint venture between NASA and the Chandra X-ray Observatory Center in cooperation with the host institutions.

The 1999 Fellows are:  Markus B÷ttcher, a graduate of  Bonn University, whose host institution  will be Rice University; Jimmy Irwin, a graduate of the University of Virginia, will be hosted by the University of Michigan; Kristen Menou, a graduate of the University of Paris, will be hosted by Princeton University;  Eliot Quataert, a graduate of Harvard University, will be hosted by the Institute for Advanced Study; Rudy Wijnands, a graduate of the University of Amsterdam, will be hosted by MIT; and Amy Barger, a graduate of Cambridge University, is a Fellow at large at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy.

The Chandra Fellowship Program attracted forty-five applicants from eleven countries. A member of the review panel commented, "I found it extremely difficult to choose between the many excellent entries."

We are very pleased with the response to the program, and I am confident that the work of these fellows will enhance our understanding of the scientific problems to be explored by the Chandra X-ray Observatory," said Nancy Remage Evans, coordinator of the Fellowship Program.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, formerly know as AXAF, will provide stunning new images and data of the extremely hot, active regions in the universe.  Such regions exist where stars have exploded, where matter is swirling into black holes, and where clusters of galaxies are merging.

A tentative launch date of July 9, 1999 has been set by NASA for the Chandra X-ray Observatory.  The Space Shuttle Columbia mission STS-93, commanded by astronaut Eileen Collins will carry the telescope into a low circular orbit of Earth.  There the astronauts will deploy the Chandra spacecraft, which will then fire two Boeing Inertial Upper Stage solid motors in succession to place Chandra in a highly elliptical
orbit.  This orbit will be fine-tuned by the spacecraft's integral
propulsion system made by TRW, until it reaches its final height of 10,000 km by 140,000 km.

Further information about the Chandra X-ray Observatory is available at the World Wide Web at  Further information about the ellowship program is available at

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13.  Version 2.0 of the CHIANTI Database for Astrophysical Spectroscopy (Ken Dere for the CHIANTI consortium,

We would like to announce the release of Version 2.0 of the CHIANTI database for astrophysical spectroscopy.  The additions and corrections to the database have been described in a paper `CHIANTI - an atomic database for emission lines, III - Continuum radiation and extension of the ion database' by E. Landi, M. Landini, K.P. Dere, P.R. Young, H.E. Mason and has been published in Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement Series, 135, 339 ,1999, (Paper III).  The new material is described below but the primary goal of this release is to provide atomic data for many of the minor elements.

The best way to access CHIANTI is through any of our 3 WWW sites where a complete description of the update can be found:

A continuum procedure will soon be adapted to the CHIANTI formats and will be released soon in an update to the CHIANTI IDL procedures.  We are currently working to complete the database at X-ray wavelengths in time for the launch of AXAF.

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14.  HEAD IN THE NEWS (12/98 - 5/99) (Lynn Cominsky, HEAD Press Officer)


Three press briefings and a eight press releases were issued from our press room at the Westin Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, SC during the HEAD meeting, April 12-14, 1999. The press briefings featured: 1) the discovery of hypernova remnants in M101 using a combination of ROSAT and HST data, (Q. Daniel Wang, Northwestern University with independent commentary by Chuck Dermer, NRL);  2) new results on black holes (including evidence for "medium-sized", roughly 1000 solar mass black holes in the centers of relatively normal galaxies, as well as mysteriously quiet black holes, which emit little X-radiation despite their supermassive nature), (Edward Colbert, GSFC; Andrew Ptak, Carnegie Mellon University; and Tiziana Di Matteo, CfA) and  3) the discovery of kiloHertz oscillations from Cen X-3 which are linked to theoretically predicted photon bubbles effects in the pulsar's accretion column (J. Garrett Jernigan, UCB SSL and Richard Klein, UCB/LLNL with independent commentary by Philip Kaaret, CfA).

The briefing subjects then appeared in many daily newspapers and weekly science journals, as well as in a few television spots.  This meeting marked the first use of the Web as a low-cost way to reach more reporters, who were encouraged to participate via phone conference. The phone conference was accompanied by embargoed web sites, which contained electronic versions of the viewgraphs shown at each briefing. Sonoma State University student Tim Graves produced the web site, which can be found at: and is mirrored at:

Where to Read Scientific Details about the Press Briefing Subjects

Wang's work on the hypernova remnants appears in an article in the May 20 issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 517. For complete information (including many color figures) see his web site at:

Colbert's work (with Richard Mushotzky) will appear in the Astrophysical Journal and can be found on-line at:

Ptak's work (with Richard Griffiths) has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal, Letters and can be found on-line at:

Di Matteo's work (with E. Quataert, S.W. Allen, R. Narayan  and A.C. Fabian) has been submitted to Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and can be found on-line at:

Jernigan and Klein's work was submitted to the Astrophysical Journal on April 1, 1999 and will be available on-line after it is accepted.

Other HEAD Press Activities in Charleston HEAD press activities in Charleston were greatly aided by help from NASA's SEU Science Writer Chris Wanjek, and GSFC Public Affairs specialist Bill Steigerwald. Because of their efforts, HEAD had both university and GSFC-issued releases for most of the briefing events and a NASA headquarters release about "medium-sized" black holes.  Wanjek also helped to choose stories and write releases for several other topics, including the discovery of a previously unknown supernova by Chen and Gehrels (in the April 1, 1999 issue of the  Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 514) and news from CGRO and ROSAT observations that will change canonical views of the "lighthouse" pulsar emission mechanism (Thompson et al. 1999, to appear in the Astrophysical Journal,
 HEAD also distributed a press release from the University of Alabama, Huntsville featuring the work of Richard Lieu, who claims EUVE data show evidence for a "warm gas" that fills intra-cluster space and can be an important constitutent of the missing mass (accepted by Astrophysical Journal Letters, or see AAS Press Officer Steve Maran, helped out in the press room, and organized a special session at the meeting discussing the interactions between "Scientists and the Media", which was well-attended and thought-provoking.


High-energy observations were featured in a press briefing about the discovery of an X-ray-identified supercluster near the North Ecliptic pole. Data from the ROSAT All-sky Survey were presented by J. Patrick Henry and Chris Mullis from the University of Hawaii. This meeting also marked my first endeavor in the new role of Deputy Press Officer for the AAS.


In the past six 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. Gamma-Ray Burst Caught In The Act

On January 23, 1999, the BATSE detectors on board CGRO were triggered by the beginning of a bright gamma ray burst (see Briggs et al. 1999,  As the burst was still in progress, computers determined a  rough location and radioed the position to the GSFC-based Gamma Ray Burst  Coordinates Network (GCN) The position was immediately forwarded via  the GCN to astronomers at ground based observatories throughout  the world. Twenty-two seconds later the Robotic Optical Transient Search  Experiment (ROTSE) in Los Alamos, NM, operated by a team led by Dr. Carl Akerlof of the University of Michigan, was in position and took images of the patch of sky where the burst was reported. The first picture taken by ROTSE showed a brightening new star within the sky region where the burst was reported. The optical burst achieved peak brightness about five seconds later, reaching 9th magnitude, however within eight minutes of the initial detection, the burst had faded by a factor of 100 below its maximum brightness (Akerlof et al. 1999, Nature 398, 400). Follow-up ground based observations have been especially valuable in helping to understand the energetics of this observational breakthrough (Kulkarni et al.1999, Nature 398, 389)

Galaxies Came Before Clusters

New evidence from  ROSAT X-ray telescope has shown that the afterglow of galaxy formation can be seen today in the hot gas trapped in groups of galaxies. The high temperatures seen in this gas can be explained by the energy released from the supernova explosions accompanying galaxy formation, but only if galaxies formed BEFORE they grouped together into galaxy clusters. (Ponman, Cannon and Navarro, 1999, Nature 397, 135).

Black Holes May Show Variability Related To Mass

Similarities in both short-term and long-term X-ray fluctuations between apparent supermassive black holes in distant galaxies and smaller, well-studied stellar black holes in our galaxy could help determine the mass of the more distant  objects. Observations of NGC 3516 using RXTE showed similar features in the power spectrum to that observed from Cygnus X-1: however the features were at frequencies which differed by a factor of about one million - the same as the canonical mass ratio of the black holes in the two sources. (Edelson and Nandra 1998,

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15.  4th INTEGRAL Workshop: 4 - 8 September 2000, Alicante, Spain

The 4th INTEGRAL (International Gamma-ray Astrophysics Laboratory) workshop will provide the forum to present and discuss recent scientific progress on nucleosynthesis, cosmic plasmas, gravitational collapse, accretion, jets. Special emphasis will be placed on the scientific capabilities of INTEGRAL, one year before launch.

Point of contact: Prof Dr. V. Reglero


Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Dr. Moliner, 50
E-46100 Burjassot


34- 96 398 32 29
34- 96 398 32 61

e-Mail adress:

Workshop Web Site at Alicante:

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16.  THE FIFTH COMPTON SYMPOSIUM:  Celebrating 40 Years of Gamma-Ray Astronomy

September 15-17, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

The 5th Compton Symposium on Gamma-Ray Astronomy will be held September 15-17 at the Sheraton Harborside Hotel in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Hosted by the University of New Hampshire and the Goddard Space Flight Center, the scientific program and format will generally follow that of previous Compton Symposia.  A mixture of invited talks, contributed papers, and poster presentations will cover the current status of observational and theoretical gamma-ray astrophysics. Observational results from both space-based missions and ground-based observatories at energies above 10 keV aresolicited. A session devoted to future missions (including INTEGRAL and GLAST) is also planned. A second circular and call for papers has recently been released and will soon be distributed to those on the symposium mailing list. The deadline for abstract subsmission is July 1.  Hotel reservations should be secured by July 25.  Early registration deadline is August 15. Further information (including access to the complete second circular) can be obtained at the conference website:

or by contacting the conference secretary:

Ms. Robbin Pendexter
Space Science Center
Morse Hall
University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH  03824

Phone: 603-862-1061
Fax:   603-862-4685

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(APS) (Virginia Trimble)

The April meeting of the American Physical Society, at which the Division of Astrophysics holds a number of sessions of invited and contributed papers, will occur 29 April to 2 May 2000 in beautiful downtown Long Beach (California).  If you would like to have some input into organizing sessions of mutual interest or otherwise participate in the meeting, please communicate with the DAP/APS program chair

Virginia Trimble
Dept. of Physics
University of California
Irvine CA 92697-4575

Phone  949-824-6948

If you think the millenium doesn't come until the next year, you will also be very welcome at the April 2001 meeting in Washington DC.

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Salt Lake City Utah, August 17-25, 1999

Please visit the conference web site at

All aspects of cosmic-ray physics are covered in this conference, including origin and acceleration of galactic and extra-galactic cosmic rays, cosmic rays in the heliosphere, the sun as a particle accelerator and secondary cosmic rays in the atmosphere.  In addition, implications for high energy physics, such as neutrino oscillations, will be featured.  High-energy gamma-ray and neutrino astronomy are covered as well as experiments for detection of charged cosmic-rays of all energies, both from the ground and in space.

Invited speakers include Malcolm Longair, John Ellis, Shri Kulkarni, Alexei Smirnov, Jack Gosling and Robert Walker. A preliminary schedule of the conference with information for registration and hotel reservations is available at the conference web site.

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19. 10th Annual October Astrophysics Conference in Maryland: "Cosmic Explosions"

11-13 October 1999 - College Park, MD
Contact: Susan Lehr (
TeV Gamma Ray Workshop
Aug. 13-16, 1999
Snowbird Ski Resort, near Salt Lake City, Utah

First Circular (Feb. 8, 1999)

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20. TeV Gamma Ray Workshop, August 13-16, 1999, Snowbird Ski Resort, Utah

The "TeV Gamma Ray Workshops" have recently been held in conjunction with the International Cosmic Ray Conferences that take place every two years.  This summer the ICRC is to be held in Salt Lake City, beginning August 17, 1999.  This year'sTeV Gamma Ray Workshop will be held just before the conference, during August 13-16, 1999, in the beautiful Snowbird Ski Resort in the mountains near Salt Lake City.

Invited talks and contributed talks and posters will be presented on theories, observations, instrumentation, and analysis techniques for high-energy gamma-ray astrophysics, emphasizing the GeV to TeV energy ranges.  Both ground-based and space-based gamma-ray instruments will be represented at the meeting.  The proceedings will be published after the conference by the American Institute of Physics.  Please note that the abstract deadline for the Workshop is June 1; manuscripts will be due *after* the Workshop.  This will enable us to have the latest results presented at the meeting.

Preregistration is now being accepted for the TeV Gamma Ray Workshop. The preregistration can be completed via the web by going to the URL:
and clicking on Preregistration, or by responding with the form given at the end of this email. Please note that there will be *no hardcopies* of the Workshop Circulars sent by mail; all circulars will be distributed by email, and all preregistration and registration is to be done via the web or email.  Accompanying family members are welcome at the workshop.  The Snowbird resort has many hiking trails, a swimming pool, and child care facilities.  It is less than 1 hour drive from the SLC airport and can be reached by a shuttle service. Further details can be found on the Snowbird Summer Lodge and Ski Resort home page (

The meeting will begin with an evening reception on Friday August 13, and will end on Monday evening, August 16, with the workshop banquet. The ICRC opening ceremony is the following afternoon, on Tuesday August 17, in downtown Salt Lake City.

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Montana State University - Bozeman, 6 - 10 July 1999

The Astrophysics and Solar Research Groups at Montana State University-Bozeman warmly invite you to Montana for Symposium 195 of the International Astronomical Union, which will be held from Tuesday, July 6, through Saturday, July 10, 1999. The meeting will focus on high-energy processes taking place in astrophysical plasmas, and will include discussion of the mechanisms of high energy emission from various magnetized and thermal plasmas. Particular emphasis will also be given to jets and accreting systems in active galactic nuclei and around compact objects in Galactic binaries, neutron stars, black holes, the Sun, supernovae, gamma ray bursts, soft gamma repeaters and the early universe. Attendees are invited to submit abstracts for contributed papers. Abstract submission, as well as registration, can be performed electronically from

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22. 5th Huntsville Gamma-Ray Burst Symposium

The University of Alabama in Huntsville, NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center and the Universities Space Research Association are pleased to announce that the Fifth Huntsville Gamma-Ray Burst Symposium will be held 19-22 October, 1999 at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Huntsville, Alabama, USA. 

The scientific program of the Fifth Huntsville Gamma-Ray Burst Symposium will reflect the current state of GRB research in its emphasis on new observations at all wavelengths, theoretical interpretations and predictions based on these observations, and new developments in GRB instrumentation.  We invite contributed papers for oral and poster presentations on all of these subjects. 

Contributions are also invited for a one-day workshop on Magnetar research to be held before the GRB symposium on Monday, 18 October.

For further information, including instructions/deadlines for registration and abstract submission, please refer to the symposium web site:

Note that the URL has changed from that of the first announcement.

If web access is unavailable, please contact the symposium organizers via e-mail at:

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23. Successful Balloon Flight of the Liquid Xenon Compton Telescope (LXeGRIT), (Elena Aprile)

The Liquid Xenon Gamma-Ray Imaging Telescope (LXeGRIT), sensitive in the 300 keV to 25 MeV energy band,  successfully completed a 9.5 hours balloon flight from Fort Sumner, NM, on May 7, 1999, collecting about 200,000 events.  After a picture perfect launch by a 29 million cubic-foot balloon at 7:26h local time, LXeGRIT reached a float altitude of 39 km by about 10:00 am. At 5:05 pm, the payload was cut down and recovered in good conditions, a few hours later, near Fairview, Oklahoma. The goal of the flight was to study the background of this new gamma-ray detector in a high radiation environment and to verify its imaging performance and unique background rejection capabilities with observations of the Crab nebula, which was well in the telescope's  80 degrees (FWHM) field-of-view (FOV) for most of the time afloat. The entire instrument, including the liquid xenon imaging detector, its liquid nitrogen cryogenics system, the active NaI(Tl) and plastic scintillator shields, the 130 channels of detector analog and digital electronics and its data acquisition systems, worked as expected. Telemetry at 1 Mbps and on-board data storage ensured full data taking efficiency. The payload is now back at the Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory, where it will be refurbished in preparation for a future flight of longer duration, possibly from the Southern Hemisphere.  With its large FOV and good sensitivity in a broad energy band, LXeGRIT is well suited for imaging observations of compact sources in the Galactic Center and bulge. Among the science goals of such flight will be a study, for the first time with an imaging telescope, of the positron annihilation line and continuum emission. Spectral and Compton imaging analysis of the recent flight data is in progress and will provide important feedback for future observations of MeV sources with LXeGRIT.

LXeGRIT uses a  large volume Liquid Xenon Time Projection Chamber (LXeTPC), as efficient Compton telescope in which the history of every gamma-ray is recorded in one homogeneous volume. The detector combines high detection efficiency with three-dimensional event imaging and calorimetry with moderate energy resolution. From the knowledge of the energy deposits and spatial coordinates of all interaction points, the original  gamma-ray direction and energy is inferred from Compton kinematics.

LXeGRIT is a collaborative effort involving Columbia University, as PI institution, the University of New Hampshire, Waseda University in Japan and the University of Padua in Italy. We are greatful for the work of all participants from these institutions. The contribution of MSFC (Space Sciences Laboratory) to the development of the LXeTPC flight electronics is greatly appreciated.  We would also like to thank the National Scientific Balloon Facility and its crews for an excellent flight support. This research is supported by NASA grant NAG5-5108.

More information and pictures of the detector and the flight campaign can be found at

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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:

Mitchell Begelman (
Gordon Garmire, Vice-Chair (
Neil Gehrels, Past Chair (
Jules Halpern (
Alice Harding, Vice-Chair (
Christine Jones (
Alan Marscher, Secretary-Treasurer (
Arthur Davidsen (
Alan Guth (
Richard Lingenfelter (
The HEAD press officer is Lynn Cominsky (

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    Created By: Tim Graves and Lynn Cominsky, June 14, 1999