The Athena space X-ray Observatory and the astrophysics of hot plasma


Abstract: "The properties (temperature, density, chemical composition, velocity) of hot astrophysical plasma and the physical processes affecting them (heating/cooling, turbulence, shocks, acceleration) can be probed by high resolution X-ray spectroscopy, to be complemented by high spatial resolution imaging. The paper presents a status of the ESA's Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics (Athena) mission, particularly focusing on the science performance of its two focal plane instruments for the studies of extended X-ray sources: the Wide Field Imager (WFI) and the X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU). This paper then provides a brief summary of the breakthroughs expected with Athena on the astrophysics of hot plasma, building on the vast heritage of the discoveries and revolutionary results obtained by Chandra and XMM-Newton in this field. As of November 12th, 2019, Athena successfully concluded its feasibility study, and has since then moved into the definition phase, with a launch date scheduled in the early 2030s."

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