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The Athena X-ray Observatory: Community Support Portal

  • Athena: revealing the Hot and Energetic Universe

    Athena: revealing the Hot and Energetic Universe

  • Where are the hot baryons and how do they evolve?

  • Reveal the causes and effects of cosmic feedback

  • Track obscured accretion through the epoch of galaxy formation

  • Understand the physics of accretion onto compact objects

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DTorres Nature

Diego F. Torres, director of the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE, CSIC) in Barcelona, ICREA Professor, member of the Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (IEEC) and also member of Athena Working Groups 3.3 and 3.4, has recently published the paper entitled “Order Parameters for the high-energy spectra of pulsars”.

In this work, Diego presents a theoretical model with only four physical parameters, able to fit the multifrequency spectra of all known pulsars, disregarding whether they are normal or millisecond pulsars, detected in X-rays or gamma-rays or both. When analyzing the fittings for all pulsars, relevant correlations of the model parameters appear, explaining the different observational behaviors.

The model shows that a mission like Athena could significantly constrain the spectrum of the many gamma-ray pulsars that could be similar to Vela, with a large magnetic gradient in their magnetospheres. Those pulsars would have all gone undetected yet (Vela is, because of its proximity), since these would be low-luminous pulsars in X-rays, particularly when compared with the sensitivity of current instruments. And for finding them, the paper shows that the model is a tool to predict detectable X-ray pulsars starting from Fermi gamma-ray data, thus Athena could be ready to detect these pulsars from day 1 of its operation.

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Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics

 

Athena (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) is the X-ray observatory mission selected by ESA, within its Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme, to address the Hot and Energetic Universe scientific theme. It is the second L(large)-class mission within that programme and is due for launch in 2028.

Athena will study how hot baryons assemble into groups and clusters of galaxies, determine their chemical enrichment across cosmic time, measure their mechanical energy and characterise the missing baryons which are expected to reside in intergalactic filamentary structures. At the same time, it will study the physics of accretion into compact objects, find the earliest accreting supermassive black holes and trace their growth even when in very obscured environment, and show how they influence the evolution of galaxies and clusters through feedback processes. Athena will also have a fast target of opportunity observational capability, enabling studies and usage of GRBs and other transient phenomena. As an observatory, Athena will offer vital information on high-energy phenomena on all classes of astrophysical objects, from solar system bodies to the most distant objects known. See Science chapter for more details.

Athena will consist of a single large-aperture grazing-incidence X-ray telescope, utilizing a novel technology (High-performance Si pore optics) developed in Europe, with 12m focal length and 5 arcsec HEW on-axis angular resolution. The focal plane contains two instruments. One is the Wide Field Imager (WFI) providing sensitive wide field imaging and spectroscopy and high count-rate capability. The other one is the X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) delivering spatially resolved high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy over a limited field of view. See Mission chapter for more details.

With its unparalleled capabilities, Athena will be a truly transformational observatory, operating in conjunction with other large observatories across the electromagnetic spectrum available in the late 2020s (like ALMA, ELT, JWST, SKA, CTA, etc).