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  • Astrophysics  (5)
  • 2015-2019  (5)
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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: We search for an isotropic stochastic gravitational-wave background (GWB) in the newly released 11 year data set from the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav). While we find no evidence for a GWB, we place constraints on a population of inspiraling supermassive black hole (SMBH) binaries, a network of decaying cosmic strings, and a primordial GWB. For the first time, we find that the GWB constraints are sensitive to the solar system ephemeris (SSE) model used and that SSE errors can mimic a GWB signal. We developed an approach that bridges systematic SSE differences, producing the first pulsar-timing array (PTA) constraints that are robust against SSE errors. We thus place a 95% upper limit on the GW-strain amplitude of A (sub GWB) 〈 1.45 10 (exp -15) at a frequency of f=1 yr(exp -1) for a fiducial f (exp -2/3) power-law spectrum and with interpulsar correlations modeled. This is a factor of approximately 2 improvement over the NANOGrav nine-year limit calculated using the same procedure. Previous PTA upper limits on the GWB (as well as their astrophysical and cosmological interpretations) will need revision in light of SSE systematic errors. We use our constraints to characterize the combined influence on the GWB of the stellar mass density in galactic cores, the eccentricity of SMBH binaries, and SMBH-galactic-bulge scaling relationships. We constrain the cosmic-string tension using recent simulations, yielding an SSE-marginalized 95% upper limit of G (sub mu) 〈 5.3 10(exp -11) - a factor of approximately 2 better than the published NANOGrav nine-year constraints. Our SSE-marginalized 95% upper limit on the energy density of a primordial GWB (for a radiation-dominated post-inflation universe) is omega (sub GWB)(f) h (exp 2) 〈 3.4 10 (exp -10).
    Keywords: Astrophysics
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN59128 , Astrophysical Journal (ISSN 0004-637X) (e-ISSN 1538-4357); 859; 1; 47
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: We describe a probe-class mission concept that provides an unprecedented view of the X-ray sky, performing timing and 0.2-30 keV spectroscopy over timescales from microseconds to years. The Spectroscopic Time-Resolving Observatory for Broadband Energy X-rays (STROBE-X) comprises three primary instruments. The first uses an array of lightweight optics (3-m focal length) that concentrate incident photons onto solid state detectors with CCD-level (85-130 eV) energy resolution, 100 ns time resolution, and low background rates to cover the 0.2-12 keV band. This technology is scaled up from NICER, with enhanced optics to take advantage of the longer focal length of STROBE-X. The second uses large-area collimated silicon drift detectors, developed for ESA's LOFT, to cover the 2-30 keV band. These two instruments each provide an order of magnitude improvement in effective area compared with its predecessor (NICER and RXTE, respectively). Finally, a sensitive sky monitor triggers pointed observations, provides high duty cycle, high time resolution, high spectral resolution monitoring of the X-ray sky with approx. 20 times the sensitivity of the RXTE ASM, and enables multi-wavelength and multi-messenger studies on a continuous, rather than scanning basis.For the first time, the broad coverage provides simultaneous study of thermal components, non-thermal components, iron lines, and reflection features from a single platform for accreting black holes at all scales. The enormous collecting area allows detailed studies of the dense matter equation of state using both thermal emission from rotation-powered pulsars and harder emission from X-ray burst oscillations. The combination of the wide-field monitor and the sensitive pointed instruments enables observations of potential electromagnetic counterparts to LIGO and neutrino events. Additional extragalactic science, such as high quality spectroscopy of clusters of galaxies and unprecedented timing investigations of active galactic nuclei, is also obtained.
    Keywords: Astrophysics
    Type: MSFC-E-DAA-TN46013 , AAS HEAD Divisional Meeting; Aug 20, 2017 - Aug 24, 2017; Sun Valley, ID; United States
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The Large Observatory For x-ray Timing (LOFT) is a mission concept which was proposed to ESA as M3 and M4 candidate in the framework of the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program. Thanks to the unprecedented combination of effective area and spectral resolution of its main instrument and the uniquely large field of view of its wide field monitor, LOFT will be able to study the behaviour of matter in extreme conditions such as the strong gravitational field in the innermost regions close to black holes and neutron stars and the supra-nuclear densities in the interiors of neutron stars. The science payload is based on a Large Area Detector (LAD, is greater than 8m2 effective area, 2-30 keV, 240 eV spectral resolution, 1 degree collimated field of view) and a Wide Field Monitor (WFM, 2-50 keV, 4 steradian field of view, 1 arcmin source location accuracy, 300 eV spectral resolution). The WFM is equipped with an on-board system for bright events (e.g., GRB) localization. The trigger time and position of these events are broadcast to the ground within 30 s from discovery. In this paper we present the current technical and programmatic status of the mission.
    Keywords: Astrophysics
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN44111 , SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation; Jun 26, 2016 - Jul 01, 2016; Edinburgh, Scotland; United Kingdom|Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray; 9905; 99051R
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: We present results of recent Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) observations of the accreting millisecond X-ray pulsar (AMXP) IGR J17062-6143 that show that it resides in a circular, ultracompact binary with a 38-minute orbital period. NICER observed the source for 26 kiloseconds over a 5.3-day span in 2017 August, and again for 14 and 11 kiloseconds in 2017 October and November, respectively. A power spectral analysis of the August exposure confirms the previous detection of pulsations at 163.656 Hertz in Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) data, and reveals phase modulation due to orbital motion of the neutron star. A coherent search for the orbital solution using the Z squared method finds a best-fitting circular orbit with a period of 2278.21 seconds (37.97 minutes), a projected semimajor axis of 0.00390 lt-s (Localization Test Statistic), and a barycentric pulsar frequency of 163.6561105 Hertz. This is currently the shortest known orbital period for an AMXP. The mass function is 9.12 times 10 (sup minus 8) solar mass, presently the smallest known for a stellar binary. The minimum donor mass ranges from approximately 0.005 to 0.007 times the solar mass for a neutron star mass from 1.2 to 2 times the solar mass. Assuming mass transfer is driven by gravitational radiation, we find donor mass and binary inclination bounds of 0.0175-0.0155 times the solar mass and 19 degrees less than i less than 27.5 degrees, where the lower and upper bounds correspond to 1.4 and 2 times the solar mass neutron stars, respectively. Folding the data accounting for the orbital modulation reveals a sinusoidal profile with fractional amplitude 2.04 plus or minus 0.11 percent (0.3-3.2 kiloelectronvolts).
    Keywords: Astrophysics
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN61305 , Astrophysical Journal (ISSN 2041-8205) (e-ISSN 2041-8213); 858; 2; L13
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2019-12-31
    Description: Observations indicate that nearly all galaxies contain supermassive black holes at their centers. When galaxies merge, their component black holes form SMBH binaries (SMBHBs), which emit low-frequency gravitational waves (GWs) that can be detected by pulsar timing arrays. We have searched the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves 11 yr data set for GWs from individual SMBHBs in circular orbits. As we did not find strong evidence for GWs in our data, we placed 95% upper limits on the strength of GWs from such sources. At f(gw) = 8 nHz, we placed a sky-averaged upper limit of h(0) 〈 7.3(3) 10(exp 15). We also developed a technique to determine the significance of a particular signal in each pulsar using "dropout" parameters as a way of identifying spurious signals. From these upper limits, we ruled out SMBHBs emitting GWs f(gw) = 8 nHz within 120 Mpc for M = 10(exp 9) Solar Mass, and within 5.5 Gpc for M= 10(exp 10) Solar Mass at our most sensitive sky location. We also determined that there are no SMBHBs with M 〉 1.6 x 10(exp 9) Solar Mass emitting GWs with f(gw) = 2.8317.8 nHz in the Virgo Cluster. Finally, we compared our strain upper limits to simulated populations of SMBHBs, based on galaxies in the Two Micron All-Sky Survey and merger rates from the Illustris cosmological simulation project, and found that only 34 out of 75,000 realizations of the local universe contained a detectable source.
    Keywords: Astrophysics
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN76492 , Astrophysical Journal; 880; 2; 116
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