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Latest news from the AGILE Data Center
• AGILE Cycle-6 Public Data Now Available
The proprietary period for the first AGILE Cycle-6 Observation Blocks, up to 2013-06-30, has expired. The data are now public and available from the ASDC Multi-Mission Archive (MMIA) webpage for the AGILE Mission. Querying the archive gives access to all AGILE public data and to the ASDC "Interactive Analysis" tool, which allows web users to preview the AGILE data fields, and to perform a preliminary analysis around a chosen sky position.
• The 12th AGILE Workshop "ASTRO-EARTH: astrophysics and high-energy terrestrial phenomena", celebrating the 7th anniversary of the launch of the AGILE satellite, was held at ASI Headquarters on May 8 and 9, 2014
On behalf of the Workshop SOC and LOC, we thank all the participants. Many interesting talks on recent results ranging from Gamma-ray astrophysics to Terrestrial Gamma-Ray Flashes. The slides of all contributions are publicly available, and may be viewed at the 12th AGILE Workshop website.
• AGILE mission operations extended by ASI for least another year
After a 3-month 'stand-by' period at the beginning of this year, during which the AGILE scientific observations were suspended, on Mar 26, 2014 the satellite resumed on-orbit operations and 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 at least additional 12 months.
New AMS-02 results on cosmic ray electrons and positrons
The AMS-02 collaboration has published on Physical Review Letters new results on energetic electrons and positrons, that provide a deeper understanding of the nature of high energy cosmic rays. AMS-02 is the largest magnetic spectrometer ever built for space, operating on the International Space Station since May 2011.
The AMS-02 collaboration has so far analysed 41 billion primary cosmic ray events, measuring their flux to an unprecedented precision. About 10 millions of these events have been identified as electrons or positrons up to energies never recorded before: the positron fraction and the positron flux have been measured from 0.5 to 500 GeV, while the electron flux from 0.5 to 700 GeV.
The positron fraction decreases rapidly as expected from the diffuse production of positrons, then above 8 GeV begins to steadily increase with energy. Above 200 GeV the positron fraction no longer increases with energy.
The positron and electron flux measurement shows that these particles behave differently both in magnitude and in energy, but neither of them can be described with a single constant spectral index. 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 to the loss of high-energy electrons.
The high precision flux measurement of AMS-02 allows us for the first time to accurately study the additional electron and positron component in the cosmic rays and sheds more light on the existence of astrophysical positron sources in the Galaxy or on a possible contribution from dark matter.
Physical Review Letters publications:
• "High Statistics Measurement of the Positron Fraction in Primary Cosmic Rays of 0.5-500 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.
Latest news from the Fermi mission
• The Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) source catalog (3FGL containing, preliminarly, 3033 gamma-ray sources) and the companion third catalog of LAT AGN (3LAC containing, preliminarly, 1602 AGNs at Galactic latitudes above 10 degrees) based on four years of reprocessed Pass 7 data are now being finalized. In particular at ASDC we investigate the evolution in source census and properties with respect to previous LAT catalogs. The 3LAC catalog benefits of source-association pipelines, multifrequency SED tools, and software for source classification and population studies where ASDC played a significant role. This helped in build the catalog and identify redshifts and other properties on the blazar counterparts. A cooperative effort which see the participation of about 20 international scientist and studentsthat measured the synchrotron peak frequency of all the 3LAC blazar candidates using the SED builder tool.
• The ASDC Fermi team is continuing to support and participate to LAT instrument science operation services like the Data Quality Monitor and Flare Advocate duties, to support and co-coordinate LAT Catalogs and AGN working groups, and has started to participate to the construction of a catalog of LAT hard sources detected above 50 GeV.
• Activities and analysis of LAT Catalogs, services and first contributions to analysis using the new Pass 8 LAT data have also been presented at the Fifth International Fermi Symposium held in Nagoya in October 2014, with two plenary talks and three posters. The Symposium, attended by more than 200 participants, has been focused on the new results enabled by Fermi, the mission, LAT and GBM instrument characteristics and the Catalogs including a growing variety of gamma-ray source types, transients and flares. Recent results on diffuse gamma-ray emission (for example the Fermi Bubbles) and constraints on supersymmetric dark-matter annihilations are also presented in addition to future opportunities, missions, experiments, and coordinated multifrequency/multimessenger observations and modeling.
• The most recent top Fermi stories include starquakes in neutron star storms, the identification of mechanism responsible for gamma ray emission in a Nova star, outbursts discovered in further novae stars, the discovery of pulsar transition from a low-energy to a high-energy system, the classification of blazar types based on a change in the extraction of energy from their central black holes that can be related to their cosmic age, and some new clues on gamma-ray emission from our Galaxy's center as consistent with the simplest dark matter models.
Update of the Cosmic Ray Database
Newly published AMS-02 data are now available within the Cosmic Rays Database (tools.asdc.asi.it/cosmicRays.jsp).
The ASDC Cosmic Rays Database now includes data both from PAMELA and from AMS-02, the only spectrometers dedicated to charged cosmic rays in space. Available data are all published total fluxes, time flux variations and solar flares, as well as fluxes of trapped particles in the Earth magnetosphere, and flux ratios. Full access to PAMELA monthly proton flux modulation and the December 2006 solar flare fluxes are also available. The cosmic ray database interface allows users to plot the data, download ASCII tables, ROOT graphs and png plots. The navigation of the query results has been updated and simplified. An online interface permits simple online plot manipulation, such as rescaling and zooming.
Hands-on tutorial of the MATISSE tool
The full video (about 90 minutes) of the hands-on tutorial of MATISSE, recorded on June 3rd 2014, is now available for streaming and download on solarsystem.asdc.asi.it
Here the main functionalities of MATISSE are shown and discussed with the 10 participants to the live tutorial (held during the Italian Planetology Workshop at ASI Headquarters).
Anyone interested in using MATISSE is strongly encouraged to follow this tutorial.
Furthermore a new MATISSE version has been released (v 0.7.4 – whereas the stable v 1.0 is expected within some weeks): in this version the possibility to download very high-resolution data in Paraview format has been added, thus increasing the scientific capability of the tool.
The usefulness of the Paraview format output has been already demostrated in the case of some “ad hoc” studies for Vesta and the Churyumov-Gerasimenko presented both at the European Planetary Science Congress 2014 (see the proceeding by Palomba et al.) and at the Rosetta Science Working Team during the last week.
European researchers night 2014 at ASI
ASDC collaborators participated to the "European Researchers' Night" appointment of September 26, 2014. The event, promoted by the European Commission, was in its ninth edition and was hosted for the first time in the new building of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) in Rome. There were more than 1000 visitors, many children with their families among the other, demonstrating how the interest for activities, science and observations from space is spread and revived. The event represented an occasion to show and communicate how Italy is advanced in high level technical and scientific activities in space. In particular about a dozen of ASDC researchers were involved in showing spacecraft models, exhibits, information panels and giving seminars. This had the aim of illustrating the space missions, instrument, experiments and software that are devoted to the observation and study of our Universe using observations of photons ranging from microwaves to gamma-rays and other types of cosmic particles. Seminars for the public were held for mission and experiments like Planck, Fermi, AMS-02, GAIA, AGILE and CTA.
Latest news from the CTA Consortium and the ASTRI Collaboration
• CTA site selection.
On April 10th, 2014, the delegates of 12 countries (including Italy), participating to the CTA consortium, have decided to start the negotiations with the countries hosting the two final southern site candidates: namely Aar in Namibia and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) site in Chile (keeping Leoncito in Argentina as third option). After negotiations, one site will be finally selected at the end of 2014. The decision for the negotiations about the northern hemisphere site will be taken as soon as possible. In the meantime, it has been decided at the last CTA consortium meeting held in Catania last September 2014, to install a prototype of the CTA Large Size Telescope (LST) at the MAGIC telescopes site at the Roque de Los Muchachos Obs. (La Palma, Spain).
• Inauguration of the ASTRI SST-2M Prototype.
On 2014 September 24th, at the M.G. Fracastoro INAF Observing Station of the INAF-Catania Astrophysical Observatory on mount Etna, the ASTRI Collaboration has inaugurated the first prototype of the CTA small-size dual-mirror Cherenkov telescope (SST-2M). Several speakers participated to the ceremony, including the INAF President, Prof. Giovanni Bignami, and the CTA Spokesperson, Prof. Werner Hofmann. The event was organized during the CTA Consortium Meeting held in Naxos from Sept. 22 to 26, 2014.
ASTRI (“Astrofisica con Specchi a Tecnologia Replicante Italiana”) is a flagship project of the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, strictly linked to the CTA international Project. The ASTRI SST-2M prototype is the first instrument adopting both the Schwarzschild-Couder optical configuration and silicon photo-multipliers (SiPMs) as light detectors for the imaging of very high-energy gamma-ray induced air-showers. The prototype installed last September is completed in almost all sub-systems: the mechanical structure, the primary and secondary mirrors, and the telescope control system. The SiPM camera will be installed in the next few months and the “first light” is foreseen for the beginning of 2015.
Part of the MWL group of ASDC is involved in the CTA DATA Management working group, and it is in charge of contributing to the definition of the CTA data archive requirements and architecture. The group is also leading the development of the software for the reduction and analysis of the data taken with the CTA/ASTRI telescopes. (Pictures credits: Dr. G. Leto and Dr. G. Umana (INAF/OACT), T. Abegg (CTA Project Office)).