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  • 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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SearchingOutflows Abstract: "Ultraluminous X-ray sources are non-nuclear point sources exceeding the Eddington luminosity of a 10 Solar mass black hole. Modern consensus for a majority of the ULX population is that they are powered by stellar-mass black holes or neutron stars accreting well above the Eddington limit. Theoretical models of super-Eddington accretion predict existence of powerful outflows of moderately ionised gas at mildly relativistic velocities. So far, these winds have been found in 3 systems: NGC 1313 X-1, NGC 5408 X-1, NGC 55 ULX. In this work, we create a sample of all ULXs with usable archival high resolution X-ray data, with 10 sources in total, in which we aim to find more signatures of outflows. We perform Gaussian line scans to find any narrow spectral signatures, and physical wind model scans where possible. We tentatively identify an outflow in NGC 5204 X-1, blueshifted to 0.34c, which produces emission features with a total significance of at least 3σ. Next we compare ULXs with similar hardness ratios. Holmberg IX X-1 shows absorption features which could be associated with a photoionized outflowing absorber, similar to that seen in NGC 1313 X-1. The spectrum of Holmberg II X-1 possesses features similar to NGC 5408 X-1 and NGC 6946 X-1 shows O VIII rest-frame emission. All other sources from the sample also show tentative evidence of spectral features in their high resolution spectra. Further observations with the XMM-Newton and Chandra gratings will place stronger constraints. Future missions like XARM and Athena will be able to detect them at larger distances and increase our sample."

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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 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 early 2030s.

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 early 2030s (like ALMA, ELT, JWST, SKA, CTA, etc).