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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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Hitomi CollaborationAbstract: "We present Hitomi observations of N132D, a young, X-ray bright, O-rich core-collapse supernova remnant in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Despite a very short observation of only 3.7 ks, the Soft X-ray Spectrometer (SXS) easily detects the line complexes of highly ionized S K and Fe K with 16-17 counts in each. The Fe feature is measured for the first time at high spectral resolution. Based on the plausible assumption that the Fe K emission is dominated by He-like ions, we find that the material responsible for this Fe emission is highly redshifted at ~800 km/s compared to the local LMC interstellar medium (ISM), with a 90% credible interval of 50-1500 km/s if a weakly informative prior is placed on possible line broadening. This indicates (1) that the Fe emission arises from the supernova ejecta, and (2) that these ejecta are highly asymmetric, since no blue-shifted component is found. The S K velocity is consistent with the local LMC ISM, and is likely from swept-up ISM material. These results are consistent with spatial mapping that shows the He-like Fe concentrated in the interior of the remnant and the S tracing the outer shell. The results also show that even with a very small number of counts, direct velocity measurements from Doppler-shifted lines detected in extended objects like supernova remnants are now possible. Thanks to the very low SXS background of ~1 event per spectral resolution element per 100 ks, such results are obtainable during short pointed or slew observations with similar instruments. This highlights the power of high-spectral-resolution imaging observations, and demonstrates the new window that has been opened with Hitomi and will be greatly widened with future missions such as the X-ray Astronomy Recovery Mission (XARM) and Athena."

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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).