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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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WFI Meeting 2017The 6th Meeting of the Wide Field Imager Consortium (WFI) was held from October 10th to 12th in the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center (CAMK) Warsaw, Poland. More than 70 consortium members attended to discuss the status of the instrument development, scientific activities, and plans for future work. The meeting started with a series of splinter sessions, dedicated to specific WFI subsystems such as the filters and filter wheel assembly and the detector electronics and instrument control electronics. In addition, the WFI Science Team assembled to review the latest updates to the science requirements and the ongoing science assessment activities. The Background Working Group discussed progress on the reduction and understanding of the instrumental background.

The plenary session started later the same day with a mission status report by WFI PI and ASST Lead Scientist Kirpal Nandra followed by an Athena study status overview given by ESA’s Alexander Stefanescu. Over the course of next two days, the instrument subsystems were discussed in detail. Highlights include the development of the DEPFET sensors, which is making excellent progress with the successful test of prototype detectors. The production of the proto-flight sensors has started. First vibration test of the supporting mesh for the large optical/UV light-blocking filters were also successful and the next tests with flight-like filters are in preparation. All other subsystems, e.g., electronics, filter wheel, thermal, and mechanical are progressing well. Francoise Pajot kindly provided a report on the X-IFU status.

The plenary session also included an update on the end-to-end simulator by the SIXTE team as well as presentations on the astrophysics with the WFI, in particular, the multi-tiered survey and the potential for the WFI Fast Detector to constrain the accretion geometry near the event horizon of stellar mass black holes.

We are most grateful to the hosts of the meeting Agata Rozanska and Piotr Zycki of CAMK for the excellent organization of the meeting and their hospitality, including a memorable conference dinner in historical old-town Warsaw. The pork knuckles and beer were impressive, even by Bavarian standards!

The next consortium meeting will be held at MPE in Garching in April 2018.

Latest activities & news

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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).