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Finally we note with sadness the recent passing of three outstandingscientists and past members of HEAD -- Kenneth Greisen, Herb Gurskyand Bohdan Paczynski. They each contributed very significantly to advances in high energy astrophysics.
The most noteworthy news concerns the sweeping personnel changes thathave taken place recently within the Science Mission Directorate. Asmost of you are aware, Dr. Alan Stern was appointed AssociateAdministrator for SMD effective 2 April 2007. Alan has a broadbackground in space science, with experience both in astrophysics andplanetary science. He comes to SMD from Southwest ResearchInstitute's Space Science and Engineering Division in Boulder,Colorado, where he was executive director of the Space Science andEngineering Division. Alan has a long association with NASA, servingon the NASA Advisory Council and as the principal investigator on anumber of planetary and lunar missions, including the New HorizonsPluto-Kuiper Belt mission (for which he will continue as "governmentPI" while serving as AA). Dr. Colleen Hartmann, the acting AA for SMDprior to Stern's appointment, has resumed her position as DeputyAA. Upon his arrival, Alan announced several new appointments,including creation of the new Office of the Chief Scientist, to beheaded by Dr. John Mather of GSFC. John will continue in his role asProject Scientist for JWST in addition to carrying out his newresponsibilities as SMD Chief Scientist. Dr. Andrew Cheng of JHU wasnamed Deputy Chief Scientist for Space Science (and Dr. Randall Friedlof JPL has also been appointed deputy for Earth Science). The ChiefScientist's Office will provide advice to Alan on issues of sciencepriorities within SMD. In conjunction with these new appointments,Paul Hertz has been chosen to direct the newly created Science Policy,Process and Ethics Office. Paul will continue in his role of ensuringthat NASA's science research programs are conducted with the higheststandards and effectiveness in accordance with NASA's principles ofscience merit, open competition and peer review. He also will beresponsible for the solicitation, selection and award processes withinthe directorate's research program. In addition to the aboveappointments, Dr. Yvonne Pendleton of ARC has been named SeniorAdvisor for Research and Analysis and Todd May from MSFC will serve asDeputy AA for Programs. Yvonne comes to SMD from ARC where she servedas Chief of the Space Science and Astrobiology Division; Todd mostrecently served as Deputy Manager of the Science and Mission SystemsOffice (S&MS) at MSFC.
Concurrent with the SMD front office developments, Dr. Jon Morse hasbeen named Director of the Astrophysics Division. Jon comes to theDivision from GSFC, where he was a Senior Astrophysicist in theLaboratory for Observational Cosmology. During the past year heserved on a detail from NASA to OSTP where he had been serving aswas aSenior Policy Analyst in the Science Physical Sciences and EngineeringDivision for the past yearDivision. Prior to that positionarriving atNASA in August 2005, he was an astrophysicist in the Laboratory forObservational Cosmology at GSFC, and before that, whileAssociateProfessor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Arizona StateUniversity, he was PI of the DESTINY JDEM concept study. Previous tohis move to ASU, Jon served as Project Scientist on the HST CosmicOrigins Spectrograph instrument while at the University of ColoradoCenter for Astrophysics and Space Science.
The Chandra Press Office continues to regularly produce press andimage releases on the latest newsworthy results from the mission.(For more details, see the "Chandra in the News" section of thenewsletter.) As a new avenue to share Chandra and its science with thepublic, the EPO group now creates a monthly video podcast. Thesesegments, lasting between three and five minutes, introduce a topic inX-ray astronomy in a colloquial, but scientifically accurate, way. Inaddition to being included on many of the top science podcast lists,the Chandra podcasts were selected as the winner of the 2007 PirelliINTERNETional Award for Science Communication of Physics. The Pirelliawards have been given since 1996, making them the first internationalinternet multimedia award aimed at the diffusion of scientific andtechnological culture worldwide.
(3) The US XMM GOF has also reprocessed all data from Optical Monitor observations, which is now available through MAST ( -om/)This catalogue includes source lists and images in several different filters, all produced using SAS v7.0. The source detection, photometry are done automatically, with astrometry matched against the standard Guide Star Catalogue.
We would also like to alert XMM observers to two facilities that easedata processing and analysis difficulties. Users who do not wish toinstall SAS can now use the online XMM-Newton Science Archive toautomatically reprocess observations to use the latest calibration;see the documentation for assistance. In addition, the US XMM GOF andthe HEASARC have released an update to Hera ( ) which will generate EPICresponses (both arfs and rmfs) on demand. This is particularly usefulsince it allows X-ray spectral analysis to be done without downloadingand installing the entire SAS and CCF repositories. More SAS toolscould be added to Hera based on user interest; please email the Heraor XMM GOF helpdesk with suggestions or questions.
LS 5039 is the only X-ray binary/micro-quasar persistently detected atTeV energies by the Cherenkov HESS telescope. It is moreover agamma-ray emitter in the GeV and possibly MeV energy ranges. LS 5039has been detected along almost all the electromagnetic spectrum thanksto several radio, infrared, optical and soft X-raydetections. However, hard X-ray detections above 20 keV have been sofar elusive and/or doubtful, partly due to source confusion for thepoor spatial resolution of hard X-ray instruments. Thanks to itsimaging abilities, INTEGRAL detected LS 5039 at hard X-ray fluxeswhich are significantly lower than previous estimates obtained withBATSE in the same energy range but, in the lower interval, agree withextrapolation of previous RXTE measurements (P. Goldoni et al,astroph/ 0609708).
We expect a new release of the Swift data analysis software inmid-summer 2007, as part of the HEASoft package. The most recentversion of the software can be downloaded from current version of the Swift software is 2.6, which was releasedin December 2006. The Swift Data Center processing and analysispipeline was updated to run with the current version of the Swiftsoftware in February 2007. All Swift users should update theirsoftware to the latest released version so they are using the latesttools in their analysis.
Black holes are famously said to have "no hair," meaning that they canbe described in General Relativity by only two parameters, effectivelymass and spin. Accurate masses can and have been measured for someblack holes, but the spin parameter has been a tougher nut to crack,because its effects are largely restricted to changes in thespace-time structure very near the event horizon. RXTE's largethroughput and fast timing ability have enabled new efforts to measureblack hole spins. Recently, two independent efforts have focused onthe micro-quasar GRS 1915+105, and have attempted to use spectralmodeling of emission from the inner accretion disk to measure itsspin. Jeff McClintock (MIT) and colleagues identify and fit dataintervals in which GRS 1915+105 shows spectral behavior characteristicof disk emission. Using fits with fully relativistic models, theyargue for a near maximal spin for GRS 1915+105. Matthew Middleton(University of Durham, UK) and collaborators use esentially the sametechnique, but have a different criteria for selecting the "diskdominated" states. Nevertheless, they also infer a rather high spinrate of 0.7. While each group argues that they've got it right,perhaps more interesting is that they both require a substantial spinrate for the black hole in GRS 1915+105.
The GLAST-sponsored PBS NOVA special "Monster of the Milky Way" firstaired on October 31, 2006, and can be downloaded at The accompanying planetariumshow, "Black Holes: the Other Side of Infinity," is now playing atChicago's Adler Planetarium. Many attendees enjoyed a special Februaryscreening at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, which washeld in conjunction with the first GLAST Science Symposium at StanfordUniversity. Sarah Silva and her colleagues presented the educationalaspects of this show in a poster at the January AAS meeting inSeattle.
The committee has now concluded its efforts at collecting publicinputs from the community as a whole at a series of town hall meetingsin Irvine, Cambridge, Baltimore and Chicago. At each of thesemeetings, 5-minute oral presentations were selected from communitymembers who submitted abstracts, and all attendees had the opportunityto speak during open-microphone sessions. The community is clearlyvery supportive of Con-X, with over half of all of these talks insupport of Con-X. The wide range of presentations from the solidstate astrophysics of dust in the interstellar medium to the role offeedback in the evolution of galaxy clusters gave evidence to thecommittee of the breadth of science that can be addressed by theConstellation X-ray mission.
Calculations of recoil kicks from mergers of spinning BBHs made bignews early in 2007, and especially caught the attention ofastrophysicists. Simulations of equal mass BBHs with spins aligned oranti-aligned with the orbital angular momentum produced kickvelocities up to ~ 400 km/s for BHs with a/m ~ 0.8 (Herrmann et al.,gr-qc/0701143; Koppitz et al., gr-qc/0701163); thesealigned/anti-aligned results can be modeled to within 10% (Baker etal., astro-ph/0702390). These kicks are more than double the maximumkick velocity ~ 176 km/s for q ~ 0.36 calculated for nonequal mass,nonspinning BBHs (Gonzalez et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 98, 091101, 2007,and gr-qc/0610154). 2b1af7f3a8