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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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XIFU CM6The sixth X-IFU consortium meeting took place from September 11th to 15th in Madrid at CSIC headquarters. It was hosted by Miguel Mas Hesse (CAB-INTA) and his team, during a very sunny, hot and beautiful week in Madrid. More than 120 X-IFU team members participated in the 18 splinters and the 1.5 days of the plenary sessions. The splinter meetings covered several technical items (sub-systems of the instrument, e.g. the instrument control unit, the TES and readout chain, the power distribution unit, the dewar door), performance items (e.g. system, instrumental background, end-to-end simulator), science and calibration activities, as well as management.

The plenary sessions started from a report on the Cost Driven Reprogramming Exercise, followed by a presentation by ESA on the status of the Athena project. Then, a series of CNES presentations gave a broad view of the study status at instrument and system levels, detailing the current baseline design of the instrument which is in several aspects reaching a high level of maturity. Each sub-system manager then presented a status on the study activities, demonstrating again the breadth of the activities throughout the consortium. The second day of the plenary sessions started by a presentation by Luigi Piro (IAPS) on the transient Universe as will be probed by Athena, a presentation by Matteo Guainazzi (ESA study scientist) on the science requirements, and a status report on WFI by Arne Rau (MPE). Several presentations related to the instrument performance followed. Overall, the quality and depth of the different presentations demonstrated not only the skills of the team, but also its motivation and dedication to meeting the very ambitious and demanding performance of the instrument. The X-IFU Consortium meeting #7 will be in Paris (ApC) in March 2018 and will also be spread over a week.

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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).