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237 Sep 23, 2014

NuSTAR 5th Data Release at ASDC

The NuSTAR 5th Data Release is available from September 23, 2014 at ASDC. This new release contains 214 new data sets of 28 distinct targets observed up to June 30, 2014, including all the calibration observations of the Crab.

All the NuSTAR public data at ASDC are fully integrated in the ASDC Multi-Mission Interactive Archive (MMIA). Through the MMIA the user can perform on-line analysis of all NuSTAR public observations, without the need to download any software, including the extraction of high-level scientific products (cleaned event files, sky images, energy spectra, light-curves, ARFs and RMFs).

For more details on NuSTAR, see:
http://nustar.asdc.asi.it/
http://www.nustar.caltech.edu/
http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/nustar/

237 Sep 19, 2014

Latest AMS-02 Results published on PRL

After one year of intensive analysis the AMS-02 Collaboration has released the long-awaited extended results on the positron fraction and a new measurement of the electron and positron fluxes up to unprecedented energies.

These results provide new insights into the nature of the mysterious excess of positrons observed in the flux of cosmic rays and were presented in a conference at CERN by the AMS02 spokesperson, the Nobel laureate professor Samuel Ting, on September 18th, just before their publication in the Physics Review Letters Journal.

41 billion primary cosmic ray events have been analyzed among which almost 10 million have been identified as electrons and positrons. The energy at which the positron fraction ceases to increase has been measured to be 275+/-32 GeV and the distribution of these events shows no preferred incoming direction from space. Between 20 and 200 GeV, the rate of change of the positron flux is surprisingly higher than that for electrons. This is important proof that the excess seen in the positron fraction is due to a relative excess of high-energy positrons, and not the loss of high-energy electrons.

Data are already available for download on the ASDC Cosmic Rays Database.

PRL Publications:

"High Statistics Measurement of the Positron Fraction in Primary Cosmic Rays of 0.5500 GeV with the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station" 10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.121101

"Electron and Positron Fluxes in Primary Cosmic Rays Measured with the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station" 10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.121102

CERN press release

INFN press release (italian)

Webcast of the seminar at CERN



237 Jun 26, 2014

Paolo Giommi in the list of 2014 World's most influential scientific minds

We are pleased to announce that the head of ASDC, Paolo Giommi is included in the list of "2014 World's most influential scientific minds", recently issued by Thomson Reuters.
For more information see the list of HighlyCited researchers or the report on this event on the ASI official web pages.

237 May 07, 2014

NuSTAR 4th Data Release at ASDC

The NuSTAR 4th Data Release is available from May 7, 2014 at ASDC. This new release contains 163 new data sets of 26 distinct targets observed up to December 31, 2013.

All the NuSTAR public data at ASDC are fully integrated in the ASDC Multi-Mission Interactive Archive (MMIA). Through the MMIA the user can perform on-line analysis of all NuSTAR public observations, without the need to download any software, including the extraction of high-level scientific products (cleaned event files, sky images, energy spectra, light-curves, ARFs and RMFs).

For more details on NuSTAR, see:
http://nustar.asdc.asi.it/
http://www.nustar.caltech.edu/
http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/nustar/

237 Mar 26, 2014

AGILE mission operations extended by ASI for another year

After a 3-month 'stand-by' period, during which the AGILE scientific observations were suspended, today the satellite started to look at the gamma-ray sky again. Following the positive evaluation of the scientific results in its first 6 years of operations, and the still nominal status, as evaluated by the AGILE Mission Board, the Italian Space Agency decided to extend the operations of AGILE for additional 12 months.
The animation below shows the first day of data acquisition after the operations restart.

A petition supporting the protraction of the AGILE Mission was started autonomously by a Princeton physicist, Franco Paoletti and by Bruno Coppi, Prof. Emeritus at MIT, working in the area of Plasma Physics. The third signature is the one of the Nobel Prize Russell Hulse, discoverer of the first binary pulsar. Their interest in the AGILE Mission stems from the discovery of the variability of the Crab Nebula in gamma-rays, which earned the 2012 Bruno Rossi Prize to Marco Tavani and the AGILE team. As of today the petition reached almost 500 signatures from all over the world.
A manifestation of interest and a strong support letter was also sent to ASI by the Terrestrial atmospheric science community, interested in the unique contribution that AGILE is giving to the science of Terrestrial Gamma Ray Flashes (TGF).
The first scientific data after the restart has been successfully received and processed today at the AGILE Data Center at ASDC.





Thank to the hundreds of supporters that signed the petition "AGILE Must Go On". Click here to access the current list of signatures

237 Feb 21, 2014

PLATO selected by ESA!

On February 19 ESA announced PLATO 2.0 (PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars) was selected for the M3 slot in the ESA's cosmic vision program. PLATO 2.0 launch is foreseen by 2022-2024.

The main scientific objective of the mission is the discovery and characterization of extrasolar planetary systems.

PLATO 2.0 will observe up to 1,000,000 stars and it will detect and characterize hundreds of small planets, thousands of giant planets, performing for each of them accurate measurements of radius, mass, mean density and age.

The final catalog will include Earth-like, potentially habitable planets.

The number of stars that Plato can follow is limited by telemetry bandwidth, and it is considerably smaller than the total number of stars in Plato's field of view, therefore the selection of the optimal targets (i.e. the preparation on the Plato Input Catalogue) is a fundamental task for the mission.

The Plato Input Catalogue (PIC) will be implemented and managed at the ASI Science Data Center (ASDC), one of the PLATO Data Processing Centres, in close collaboration with the Target/Field Characterization team (leader Professor G. Piotto).

For more details:
PLATO 2.0 on ESA website: http://sci.esa.int/plato/
Press release ESA: http://sci.esa.int/plato/53707-esa-selects-planet-hunting-plato-mission/
Press release ASI: http://www.asi.it/it/news/l_esa_approva_la_missione_plato/
Press release INAF: http://www.media.inaf.it/2014/02/19/e-lesa-scelse-plato/



237 Feb 20, 2014

NuSTAR creates the first map of 44Ti emission in Cassiopeia A

The NASA's high-energy X-ray observatory Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has created the first map of radioactive element in the Cassiopeia A (Cas A) supernova remnant. The radioactive element is titanium-44, which has an unstable nucleus produced at the heart of the exploding star.

The NuSTAR map of Cas A shows the titanium concentrated in clumps at the remnant's center, strongly suggesting that the exploding star literally sloshed around, re-energizing the stalled shock wave and allowing the star to finally blast off its outer layers. These results have been published in the February 20 issue of Nature.

"Stars are spherical balls of gas, and so you might think that when they end their lives and explode, that explosion would look like a uniform ball expanding out with great power," said Fiona Harrison, the principal investigator of NuSTAR at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. "Our new results show how the explosion's heart, or engine, is distorted, possibly because the inner regions literally slosh around before detonating."

The NuSTAR titanium-44 map also casts doubt on other models of supernova explosions, in which the star is rapidly rotating just before it dies and launches narrow streams of gas that drive the stellar blast. Though imprints of jets have been seen before around Cas A, it was not known if they were triggering the explosion. NuSTAR did not see the titanium, essentially the radioactive ash from the explosion, in narrow regions matching the jets, so the jets were not the explosive trigger.

"With NuSTAR we have a new forensic tool to investigate the explosion," said the paper's lead author, Brian Grefenstette of Caltech. "Previously, it was hard to interpret what was going on in Cas A because the material that we could see only glows in X-rays when it's heated up. Now that we can see the radioactive material, which glows in X-rays no matter what, we are getting a more complete picture of what was going on at the core of the explosion."

The Italian participation to NuSTAR includes the provision of the Malindi ground station (ASI), the ASI Science Data Center (ASDC), which contributes to the development of the NuSTARDAS software package and will host an official mirror of the NuSTAR scientific data archive, and a team of scientists of the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) to collaborate on the primary scientific mission goals.

The NuSTAR team at ASDC is composed by M. Perri (INAF archive scientist), S. Puccetti (INAF archive scientist) and P. Giommi (ASDC Responsible).

For more details on NuSTAR, see:
http://nustar.asdc.asi.it/
http://www.nustar.caltech.edu/
http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/nustar/



NuSTAR image of the Cas A supernova remnant superimposed with the NASA's Chandra orbiting telescope image. Blue shows NuSTAR's map of the distribution of titanium-44 produced in the core of the explosion 340 years ago, while red and green are X-ray emissions detected by Chandra of heated iron and silicon/magnesium, respectively.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CXC/SAO.

237 Feb 06, 2014

NuSTAR 3rd Data Release at ASDC

The NuSTAR 3rd Data Release is available from February 6, 2014 at ASDC. This new release contains 104 new data sets of 21 distinct targets observed up to June 30, 2013.

All the NuSTAR public data at ASDC are fully integrated in the ASDC Multi-Mission Interactive Archive (MMIA). Through the MMIA the user can perform on-line analysis of all NuSTAR public observations, without the need to download any software, including the extraction of high-level scientific products (cleaned event files, sky images, energy spectra, light-curves, ARFs and RMFs).

A new version of the NuSTAR Data Analysis Software (NuSTARDAS v.1.3.1, developed by ASDC in collaboration with Caltech) is available within the new release of the HEASARC's HEASoft multi-mission software (v.6.15.1). An updated version (v.1.5) of the NuSTARDAS data analysis software guide is also available.

For more details on NuSTAR, see:
http://nustar.asdc.asi.it/
http://www.nustar.caltech.edu/
http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/nustar/

237 Dec 19, 2013

Gaia launched!

On 19 December 2013 09:12 GMT (10:12 CET) Gaia lifted off on a Soyuz rocket from the ESA Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, and is now travelling to L2. Up there 1 billion stars (in the Galaxy and beyond) wait to be observed by the satellite and their brightness, positions, motion, distance and astrophysical characteristics to be measured, to produce the richest 3D map of the sky ever realized.
We are eager to see the expected and, even more, the unexpected results that Gaia will produce.

Gaia will provide the detailed 3D distributions and space motions of a billion stars, brighter than 20th magnitude. The astrometric precision, reaching a few millionths of an arcsecond, will be unprecedented. This will allow our Galaxy to be mapped, for the first time, in three dimensions. Ten million stars will be measured with a distance accuracy of better than 1 percent and a 150 million to better than 10 percent. Compared to Hipparcos, Gaia will improve parallax and proper-motion accuracy by almost 100 times and the number of stars observed by 10 000 times. In addition it will measure radial velocities and spectrophotometry for the sources. Gaia will survey a vast population of solar system bodies (major planets, natural satellites, comets, and asteroids, including several thousands of near-Earth objects) and extragalactic objects (half a million quasars and thousands of supernovae). In addressing all these fields, Gaia will cover a significant part of modern astrophysics.

The Gaia catalogue will be one of the largest and richest astronomical catalogue ever realized.
The ASDC (ASI Science Data Center) coordinates the Italian contribution to DPAC-CU9, the coordination unit responsible for the realization of the Catalogue and for the release of the Gaia data. In the framework of a wide international collaboration, ASDC will host a copy of the Gaia catalogue and will contribute to CU9 activities. ASDC is responsible in CU9 for the cross-match of the Gaia catalogue with the largest public available optical and near-IR catalogues, as well as several other catalogues from radio to gamma-ray, ensuring an all-sky, multi-wavelength and multi-color vision of the Galaxy. In addition, ASDC is developing access and data mining tools to enable the astronomical community to handle and fully exploit the scientific potential of this enormous archive.

In addition, ASDC is building the archive and database which will host the Gaia ancillary data obtained by the Italian teams involved in the project. This archive will include the measurements, observations and simulations needed for the absolute calibration of the Gaia spectro-photometric data. The archive is helping the work of the calibration team and will then be public.

Finally ASDC is involved in DPAC-CU5 (responsible for the spectro-photometric data analysis and reduction) activities, namely the realization of the crowded fields analysis software and the data reduction of the photometric data needed for the validation of the Gaia spectro-photometric standards.

ASI press release : http://www.asi.it/it/news/al_via_la_missione_gaia
INAF press release : http://www.media.inaf.it/2013/12/19/gaia-appuntamento-con-la-storia/
ESA press release : http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Gaia/Liftoff_for_ESA_s_billion-star_surveyor


237 Nov 25, 2013

NuSTAR 2nd Data Release at ASDC

The NuSTAR 2nd Data Release is available from November 25, 2013 at ASDC. This new release contains 72 new data sets of 15 distinct targets observed up to December 31, 2012. The total exposure time of this new data release is 538 ks.

We are pleased to announce that all the NuSTAR public data at ASDC are now fully integrated in the ASDC Multi-Mission Interactive Archive (MMIA). Through the MMIA the user can perform on-line analysis of all NuSTAR public observations, without the need to download any software, including the extraction of high-level scientific products (cleaned event files, sky images, energy spectra, light-curves, ARFs and RMFs).

A new version of the NuSTAR Data Analysis Software (NuSTARDAS v.1.3.0, developed by ASDC in collaboration with Caltech) is available within the new release of the HEASARC's HEASoft multi-mission software (v.6.15). An updated version of the NuSTARDAS data analysis software guide is also available.

For more details on NuSTAR, see:
http://nustar.asdc.asi.it/
http://www.nustar.caltech.edu/
http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/nustar/

237 Nov 20, 2013

Happy 9th Birthday Swift!

20 November 2004 - 20 November 2013 : Happy 9th Birthday Swift!
237 Nov 12, 2013

GRB 131108A in gamma-rays

GRB 131108A, bright but relatively soft in gamma-rays, triggered onboard Fermi-LAT (GCN #15464), and transited in the field of view of AGILE approximately between -20 and +150 seconds from the trigger (t0 = 20:41:55 UT) (GCN #15479). A preliminary reduction of the optical afterglow spectrum indicates a GRB redshift of z=2.40 (GCN #15470).

This is the first onboard Fermi-LAT trigger since 2009, indicating a potentially rare and interesting event. The autonomous repoint of the Fermi spacecraft of 9ksec was followed by a ToO pointed observation until about 23:11 UT of November 9, 2013. The Fermi LAT data flow and quality monitor during this exciting GRB was followed by a duty shifter scientist of ASDC.

A preliminary analysis of the AGILE Gamma-Ray Imaging Detector (GRID) data in temporal and spatial coincidence with the GRB shows a significant excess of gamma-ray events above 30 MeV at the location of the event.

AGILE-GRID detected more than 65 photons compatible with the GRB location in the anticygnus region, most of which below 100 MeV, corresponding to a fluence of 2.56 +- 0.32 1e-5 erg / cm^2 in the energy band 30 MeV - 1 GeV, in which AGILE has a competitive sensitivity.

The AGILE-GRID image of GRB 131108A, one of the most interesting GRB events seen by AGILE after 6 years of observations, is shown in the figure below.


Image: AGILE-GRID view of GRB 131108A , credits AGILE Team.