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  • 1
    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; 20-24 Aug. 2017; Sun Valley, ID; United States
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: Millisecond pulsars (MSPs) are a growing class of gamma-ray emitters. Pulsed gamma-ray signals have been detected from more than 40 MSPs with the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT). The wider radio beams and more compact magnetospheres of MSPs enable studies of emission geometries over a broader range of phase space than non-recycled radio-loud gamma-ray pulsars. We have modeled the gamma-ray light curves of 40 LAT-detected MSPs using geometric emission models assuming a vacuum retarded-dipole magnetic field. We modeled the radio profiles using a single-altitude hollow-cone beam, with a core component when indicated by polarimetry; however, for MSPs with gamma-ray and radio light curve peaks occurring at nearly the same rotational phase, we assume that the radio emission is co-located with the gamma rays and caustic in nature. The best-fit parameters and confidence intervals are determined using amaximum likelihood technique.We divide the light curves into three model classes, with gamma-ray peaks trailing (Class I), aligned (Class II), or leading (Class III) the radio peaks. Outer gap and slot gap (two-pole caustic) models best fit roughly equal numbers of Class I and II, while Class III are exclusively fit with pair-starved polar cap models. Distinguishing between the model classes based on typical derived parameters is difficult. We explore the evolution of the magnetic inclination angle with period and spin-down power, finding possible correlations. While the presence of significant off-peak emission can often be used as a discriminator between outer gap and slot gap models, a hybrid model may be needed.
    Keywords: Astrophysics
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN17872 , The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series; 213; 1; 6
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2019-07-12
    Description: We report the discovery of nine previously unknown gamma-ray pulsars in a blind search of data from the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT). The pulsars were found with a novel hierarchical search method originally developed for detecting continuous gravitational waves from rapidly rotating neutron stars. Designed to find isolated pulsars spinning at up to kHz frequencies, the new method is computationally efficient, and incorporates several advances, including a metric-based gridding of the search parameter space (frequency, frequency derivative and sky location) and the use of photon probability weights. The nine pulsars have spin frequencies between 3 and 12 Hz, and characteristic ages ranging from 17 kyr to 3 Myr. Two of them, PSRs Jl803-2149 and J2111+4606, are young and energetic Galactic-plane pulsars (spin-down power above 6 x 10(exp 35) ergs per second and ages below 100 kyr). The seven remaining pulsars, PSRs J0106+4855, J010622+3749, Jl620-4927, Jl746-3239, J2028+3332,J2030+4415, J2139+4716, are older and less energetic; two of them are located at higher Galactic latitudes (|b| greater than 10 degrees). PSR J0106+4855 has the largest characteristic age (3 Myr) and the smallest surface magnetic field (2x 10(exp 11)G) of all LAT blind-search pulsars. PSR J2139+4716 has the lowest spin-down power (3 x l0(exp 33) erg per second) among all non-recycled gamma-ray pulsars ever found. Despite extensive multi-frequency observations, only PSR J0106+4855 has detectable pulsations in the radio band. The other eight pulsars belong to the increasing population of radio-quiet gamma-ray pulsars.
    Keywords: Astrophysics
    Type: GSFC.JA.6037.2012 , GSFC.JA.0377.2012 , GSFC.JA.7328.2012
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2019-07-12
    Description: We have discovered five millisecond pulsars (MSPs) in a survey of 14 unidentified Ferm;'LAT sources in the southern sky using the Parkes radio telescope. PSRs J0101-6422, J1514-4946, and J1902-5105 reside in binaries, while PSRs J1658-5324 and J1747-4036 are isolated. Using an ephemeris derived from timing observations of PSR JOl01-6422 (P=2.57ms, DH=12pc/cubic cm ), we have detected gamma-ray pulsations and measured its proper motion. Its gamma-ray spectrum (a power law of Gamma = 0.9 with a cutoff at 1.6 GeV) and efficiency are typical of other MSPs, but its radio and gamma-ray light curves challenge simple geometric models of emission. The high success rate of this survey -- enabled by selecting gamma-ray sources based on their detailed spectral characteristics -- and other similarly successful searches indicate that a substantial fraction of the local population of MSPs may soon be known.
    Keywords: Astronomy
    Type: GSFC.JA.01107.2012
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2019-07-12
    Description: We report the detection of pulsed gamma-ray emission from the fast millisecond pulsars (MSPs) B1937+21 (also known as J1939+2134) and B1957+20 (J1959+2048) using 18 months of survey data recorded by the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) and timing solutions based on radio observations conducted at the Westerbork and Nancay radio telescopes. In addition, we analyzed archival RXTE and XMM-Newton X-ray data for the two MSPs, confirming the X-ray emission properties of PSR B1937+21 and finding evidence (approx. 4(sigma)) for pulsed emission from PSR B1957+20 for the first time. In both cases the gamma-ray emission profile is characterized by two peaks separated by half a rotation and are in close alignment with components observed in radio and X-rays. These two pulsars join PSRs J0034..0534 and J2214+3000 to form an emerging class of gamma-ray MSPs with phase-aligned peaks in different energy bands. The modeling of the radio and gamma-ray emission pro les suggests co-located emission regions in the outer magnetosphere.
    Keywords: Astronomy
    Type: GSFC.JA.5934.2012
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: We report the detection of radio emission from PSR J1311.3430, the first millisecond pulsar (MSP) discovered in a blind search of Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) gamma-ray data. We detected radio pulsations at 2 GHz, visible for less than 10% of approximately 4.5 hr of observations using the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). Observations at 5 GHz with the GBT and at several lower frequencies with Parkes, Nan cay, and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope resulted in non-detections. We also report the faint detection of a steep spectrum continuum radio source (0.1 mJy at 5 GHz) in interferometric imaging observations with the Jansky Very Large Array. These detections demonstrate that PSR J1311.3430 is not radio quiet and provide additional evidence that radio-quiet MSPs are rare. The radio dispersion measure of 37.8 pc cm(exp -3) provides a distance estimate of 1.4 kpc for the system, yielding a gamma-ray efficiency of 30%, typical of LAT-detected MSPs. We see apparent excess delay in the radio pulses as the pulsar appears from eclipse and we speculate on possible mechanisms for the non-detections of the pulse at other orbital phases and observing frequencies.
    Keywords: Astrophysics
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN8391 , The Astrophysical Journal Letters; 763; 1
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: We report the discovery of the millisecond pulsar PSR J2043+1711 in a search of a Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) source with no known associations, with the Nancay Radio Telescope. The new pulsar, confirmed with the Green Bank Telescope, has a spin period of 2.38 ms, is relatively nearby (d approx. 〈 2 kpc) and is in a 1.48-d orbit around a low-mass companion, probably an He-type white dwarf. Using an ephemeris based on Arecibo, Nancay and Westerbork timing measurements, pulsed gamma-ray emission was detected in the data recorded by the Fermi LAT. The gamma-ray light curve and spectral properties are typical of other gamma-ray millisecond pulsars seen with Fermi. X-ray observations of the pulsar with Suzaku and the Swift X-ray Telescope yielded no detection. At 1.4 GHz, we observe strong flux density variations because of interstellar diffractive scintillation; however, a sharp peak can be observed at this frequency during bright scintillation states. At 327 MHz, the pulsar is detected with a much higher signal-to-noise ratio and its flux density is far more steady. However, at that frequency the Arecibo instrumentation cannot yet fully resolve the pulse profile. Despite that, our pulse time-of-arrival measurements have a post-fit residual rms of 2 micro s. This and the expected stability of this system have made PSR J2043+1711 one of the first new Fermi-selected millisecond pulsars to be added to pulsar gravitational wave timing arrays. It has also allowed a significant measurement of relativistic delays in the times of arrival of the pulses due to the curvature of space-time near the companion, but not yet with enough precision to derive useful masses for the pulsar and the companion. Nevertheless, a mass for the pulsar between 1.7 and 2.0 solar Mass can be derived if a standard millisecond pulsar formation model is assumed. In this paper, we also present a comprehensive summary of pulsar searches in Fermi LAT sources with the Nancay Radio Telescope to date.
    Keywords: Astronomy
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN9913 , Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (ISSN 0035-8711); 422; 2; 1294-1305
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: We searched for radio pulsars in 25 of the non-variable, unassociated sources in the Fermi LAT Bright Source List with the Green Bank Telescope at 820 MHz. We report the discovery of three radio and gamma-ray millisecond pulsar (MSPs) from a high Galactic latitude subset of these sources. All of the pulsars are in binary systems, which would have made them virtually impossible to detect in blind gamma-ray pulsation searches. They seem to be relatively normal, nearby (〈= 2 kpc) MSPs. These observations, in combination with the Fermi detection of gamma-rays from other known radio MSPs, imply that most, if not all, radio MSPs are efficient gamma-ray producers. The gamma-ray spectra of the pulsars are power law in nature with exponential cutoffs at a few Ge V, as has been found with most other pulsars. The MSPs have all been detected as X-ray point sources. Their soft X-ray luminosities of approx 10(exp 30) - 10(exp 31) erg/s are typical of the rare radio MSPs seen in X-rays.
    Keywords: Astronomy
    Type: GSFC.JA.6615.2012 , The Astrophysical Journal Letters; 727
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  • 9
    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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  • 10
    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; 26 Jun. - 1 Jul. 2016; Edinburgh, Scotland; United Kingdom|Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray; 9905; 99051R
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