El Observatorio de rayos X Athena: Portal de apoyo a la comunidad

  • Athena: revealing the Hot and Energetic Universe

    Athena: revelando el universo caliente y energético

  • ¿Dónde están los bariones calientes y cómo evolucionan?

  • Revelar las causas y efectos de la retro-alimentación cósmica

  • Trazar la acreción oscurecida en la época de formación de las galaxias

  • Comprender la física de la acreción hacia objetos compactos

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Publicaciones Athena

"Athena X-IFU synthetic observations of galaxy clusters to probe the chemical enrichment of the Universe", by E. Cucchetti et al.


By Edoardo Cucchetti (IRAP, Toulouse, France)

What are we made of? Most of the atoms and elements we know of are formed within stars, either during their life (winds) or during powerful end-of-life phenomena called supernovae. In fact, different mechanisms of metal creation exist in the Universe and elements were not formed evenly during its history. To investigate this chemical enrichment, one must look in the X-rays at the hot gas within clusters of galaxies – the intra cluster medium (ICM) – which is continuously enriched through time by the billions of stars contained in its galaxies. However, to perform meaningful studies of the enrichment through cosmic time, a combination of a high-resolution spatially-resolved spectroscopy and a large telescope collective area is required. For this reason, the Athena/X-IFU will be the breakthrough instrument to investigate metal formation and circulation in the Universe.

In this paper, we tested the power of the X-IFU to fulfil this specific science objective. Using a set of simulated clusters derived from hydrodynamical simulations, we performed synthetic observations of this sample of objects through time, up to a redshift z=2 (10.4 billion years ago) with a completely realistic set-up (including e.g., background, instrumental effects). We demonstrated that with routine 100 ks observations, the X-IFU will be able to study the enrichment with unprecedented accuracy out to the outskirts of the clusters and provide solid answers to the origin of their metal content.

This work is paramount in the Athena context, as it shows the power of the mission in answering some of the key astrophysical questions of our time. It also serves as a feasibility study of the X-IFU, consolidating the current design and the need for spatially-resolved high-resolution spectroscopy.

Read full document.

"On obtaining neutron-star mass and radius constraints from quiescent low-mass X-ray binaries in the Galactic plane", by A. Marino et al.

1806MarinoetalBy Alessio Marino (Università degli Studi di Palermo, Palermo, Italy)

Analysing spectra of quiescent Low Mass X-Ray Binaries (LMXBs) hosting Neutron Stars (NSs) is one of the main techniques for measuring the mass and/or the radius of NSs and, in turn, constrain the Equation of state of ultra-dense matter. However, the precision and the power of these constraints are heavily related to the quality of the spectra. Furthermore, several biases affect the results obtained with this method, in particular, the uncertainty in the distance, the possibility of missing the presence of a power-law component in the spectrum and the evidence that a small variation in the energy range over which the spectrum is extracted might change significantly the results of the fits. As shown in this paper, these biases and limitations could be partially overcome with ESA's Athena mission.

We simulated spectra of two LMXBs hosting Neutron Stars, 4U 1608-52 and EXO 0748-676, based on Chandra archival observations and compared the simulated with the “original” spectra. In the case of 4U 1608-52, while the quality of the Chandra spectrum is too poor to give valuable constraints on the mass and/or the radius of the NS, a fit with a composite quasi-thermal plus power-law model performed on the simulated Athena spectrum results in precise outcomes (relative errors of 0,01-0,001%). On the other hand, the Chandra spectral analysis of EXO 0748-676 is not only limited by the statistics, but also by the energy range dependence, which is apparent analysing a 0.3-10 keV and a 0.5-10 keV spectrum; a simulated single Athena spectrum of the source is, on the contrary, unaffected by the change in the energy range. These results show how in the Athena era the search for constraints on the equation of state of ultra-dense matter via NS radius and mass measurements might receive a considerable boost, although without precise distance measurements an uncertainty associated with the range of plausible distances of the source must be taken into account.

Read full document.

"Measuring turbulence and gas motions in galaxy clusters via synthetic Athena X-IFU observations" por M. Roncarelli et al



The X-IFU that will be on board of Athena will allow a major breakthrough in our understanding of the physics of galaxy clusters. Besides thermodynamics quantities, such as density and temperature, that are already measurable by current X-ray instruments, the X-IFU will unveil the kinematics of the intracluster medium, mapping gas velocity and velocity dispersion by studying the emission lines of heavy elements. 

In this work, it is simulated a set of realistic X-IFU observation of galaxy clusters with the injection of turbulent motions, to test the accuracy of the X-IFU to recover and map their internal kinematics. It is shown that the X-IFU will be able to map kinematic quantities with great accuracy. This will open the possibility not only to measure intracluster turbulence but also to observe galaxy clusters rotation and the accretion of matter from the large-scale structure of the Universe with unprecedented detail.

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"The Performance of the Athena X-ray Integral Field Unit at Very High Count Rates", by P. Peille

Peille XIFU JLTPAbstract: "The Athena X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) will operate at 90 mK a hexagonal matrix of 3840 Transition Edge Sensor pixels providing spatially resolved high-resolution spectroscopy (2.5 eV FWHM up to 7 keV) between 0.2 and 12 keV. During the observation of very bright X-ray sources, the X-IFU detectors will receive high photon rates going up to several tens of counts per second per pixel and hundreds per readout channel, well above the normal operating mode of the instrument. In this paper, we investigate through detailed end-to-end simulations the performance achieved by the X-IFU at the highest count rates. Special care is notably taken to model and characterize pulse processing limitations, readout-chain saturation effects, as well as the non-Gaussian degradation of the energy redistribution from crosstalk at the focal plane level (both thermal and electrical). Overall, we show that the instrument performance should safely exceed the scientific requirements, and in particular that more than 50 % throughput at 1 Crab in the 5–8 keV band can be achieved with better than 10 eV average resolution with the use of a Beryllium filter, enabling breakthrough science in the field of bright sources."

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Últimas actividades y noticias

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Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics


Athena (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) es la misión observatorio de rayos X seleccionada por la Agencia Europea del Espacio (ESA), dentro de su programa Cosmic Vision, para abordar el tema científico El Universo Caliente y Energético. Es la segunda misión grande (clase L) dentro de dicho programa y su lanzamiento está previsto a comienzos de la década de 2030.

Athena estudiará cómo los bariones calientes se agrupan en grupos y cúmulos de galaxias, determinará su enriquecimiento químico a lo largo del tiempo cósmico, medirá su energía mecánica y caracterizará los bariones perdidos que se espera residan en estructuras filamentarias intergalácticas. Al mismo tiempo, estudiará la física de la acreción hacia los objetos compactos, encontrará los agujeros negros supermasivos con acreción más tempranos y trazará su crecimiento incluso en los entornos más oscurecidos, y mostrará cual es su influencia en la evolución de galaxias y cúmulos a través del proceso de retro-alimentación (feedback). Athena tendrá también capacidad observacional de respuesta rápida a los Objetos de Oportunidad (TOO), permitiendo estudios de los GRBs y otros fenómenos transitorios (más detalles en el capítulo de Ciencia).

Athena constará de un telescopio de rayos X de gran apertura e incidencia rasante, que utilizará una tecnología innovadora (óptica de poros de Si de altas prestaciones) desarrollada en Europa, con 12 m de longitud focal y 5 segundos de arco HEW de resolución angular en el eje. El plano focal contiene dos instrumentos. Uno es el Wide Field Imager (WFI) capaz de proporcionar imagen de alta sensibilidad y alta velocidad de recuento. El otro instrumento es el X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) que proporcionará espectroscopía de alta resolución espacialmente resuelta sobre un limitado campo de visión (más detalles en el capítulo de Misión).

Con sus incomparables capacidades, Athena será un observatorio verdaderamente revolucionario, operando en combinación con otros grandes observatorios a lo largo del espectro electromagnético que estarán disponibles a comienzos de la década de 2030 (como ALMA, ELT, JWST, SKA, CTA, etc.)