News & Press releases

Number of entries: 119

10
September 2020

A proposal for the new generation Einstein Telescope observatory — potential infrastructure of the future


Proposal submitted to include the Einstein Telescope in the ESFRI roadmap
Proposal to include the Einstein Telescope in ESFRI roadmap
NASA / Imagno / Getty Images
A proposal for the new generation Einstein Telescope observatory — potential infrastructure of the future
  • The Einstein Telescope is an ambitious third-generation gravitational-wave ground-based observatory project.
  • The proposal to include the project in the 2021 update of the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap has been signed by 40 European institutions, eight of which are Spanish.
  • Spanish researchers have contributed significantly to the development of the project’s physics program, as well as to the preparation of its technical design report.
The Einstein Telescope (ET) is the most ambitious project for a future terrestrial observatory for gravitational waves (GWs). The conceptual design of this pioneering third-generation observatory has been supported by a grant of the European Commission. Now, a consortium of European countries and of research institutions and universities has officially submitted the proposal for the realisation of such an infrastructure in the 2021 update of the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap [1].
The ET consortium brings together about 40 research institutions and universities in several European countries, including France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Among the institutions that signed the proposal, eight are Spanish [2]. The proposal also has the political support of Belgium, Poland, Spain and The Netherlands, and is led by Italy. Its transnational headquarters was established at the European Gravitational Observatory (EGO) in Italy.

The amazing scientific achievements of Advanced Virgo (in Europe) and Advanced LIGO (in the USA) in the last 5 years initiated the era of GW astronomy. The adventure began with the first direct detection of gravitational waves in September 2015 and continued in August 2017 when the two observatories observed gravitational waves emitted by two merging neutron stars. Simultaneously, signals of this event were observed with a variety of electromagnetic telescopes —on the ground and in space— over the entire observable wavelength range —from radio waves to gamma rays—. This marked the beginning of the era of multi-messenger astronomy with gravitational waves.
 
The recent observation of the merging of two black holes to create one 142 times more massive than the Sun —a so-called Intermediate Mass Black Hole— demonstrated the existence of such previously unknown objects in our Universe. The Einstein Telescope will enable scientists to detect any merge of two intermediate-mass black holes in the entire universe and thus contribute to the understanding of its evolution. This will shed new light on the Dark Universe and will clarify the roles of dark energy and dark matter in the structure of the cosmos. ET will explore the physics of black holes and will detect thousands of coalescences of neutron stars improving our understanding of the behaviour of matter under such extreme conditions of density and pressure. In addition, we will have a chance to explore the nuclear physics underlying the supernova explosions of the stars.
These challenging scientific targets need a new observatory capable of observing GWs with a sensitivity at least one order of magnitude better than the current detectors (the so-called second generation). The Einstein Telescope will be located in a new infrastructure and will apply technologies that are dramatically improved over the current ones. Two sites for the development of the ET infrastructure are currently being evaluated: the Euregio Meuse-Rhine, at the borders of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, and Sardinia, Italy.  It is hoped that a companion project in the US, Cosmic Explorer, will follow.

The Einstein Telescope has aroused great interest in the Spanish scientific community involved in gravitational waves, which includes all the centers that currently participate in ground-based (LIGO / Virgo / KAGRA) and space (LISA) programs. Spanish researchers have contributed significantly to the development of the ET physics program, as well as to the preparation of its technical design report. Furthermore, motivated by the development of new technologies and the potential significant returns for Spanish industry, explicit support was also provided by research institutions, including some “Singular Scientific and Technical Infrastructures” (ICTS). In total, up to 23 Spanish institutions supported the ESFRI initiative [3].

Notes
[1] The European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap describes the future major research infrastructures in Europe.
[2] List of Spanish Institutions that have signed the ET ESFRI proposal: Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC), Institute of Cosmos Sciences (ICCUB), Institute of Structure of Matter (IEM), Institute of Physics of High Energy (IFAE), Institute of Theoretical Physics (IFT-CSIC), University of the Balearic Islands (UIB) and University of Valencia (UV).
[3] List of Spanish Institutions that initially supported the ET ESFRI initiative: Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC), Institute of Cosmos Sciences (ICCUB), ALBA Synchrotron, Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), Canfranc Underground Laboratory (LSC), Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT), Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Institute of Structure of Matter (IEM), Institute of High Energy Physics (IFAE), Institute of Corpuscular Physics (IFIC-CSIC), Institute of Theoretical Physics (IFT-CSIC), Port d'informació Científica (PIC), RedIris, University of Alicante (UA), Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), University of the Balearic Islands (UIB), University of Cádiz (UC), University of Murcia (UMU) , University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU), Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM), University of Salamanca (USAL), University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) and University of Valencia (UV). The candidacy was also supported by the Spanish Society of Relativity and Gravitation (SEGRE).

Links
More information
The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC  — Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya) promotes and coordinates space research and technology development in Catalonia for the benefit of society. IEEC fosters collaborations both locally and worldwide and is an efficient agent of knowledge, innovation and technology transfer. As a result of over 20 years of high-quality research, done in collaboration with major international organisations, IEEC ranks among the best international research centers, focusing on areas such as: astrophysics, cosmology, planetary science, and Earth Observation. IEEC’s engineering division develops instrumentation for ground- and space-based projects, and has extensive experience in working with private or public organisations from the aerospace and other innovation sectors. 
 
IEEC is a private non-profit foundation, governed by a Board of Trustees composed of Generalitat de Catalunya and four other institutions that each have a research unit, which together constitute the core of IEEC R&D activity: the University of Barcelona (UB) with the research unit ICCUB — Institute of Cosmos Sciences; the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) with the research unit CERES — Center of Space Studies and Research; the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) with the research unit CTE — Research Group in Space Sciences and Technologies; the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) with the research unit ICE — Institute of Space Sciences. IEEC is integrated in the CERCA network (Centres de Recerca de Catalunya).
 
Contacts
IEEC Communication Office
Barcelona, Spain
Ana Montaner Pizà
E-mail: comunicacio@ieec.cat
 
Institute of Space Sciences (ICE, CSIC)
Barcelona, Spain
Carlos F. Sopuerta
E-mail: sopuerta@ice.csic.es
 
Institute of Cosmos Sciences (ICC-UB)
Barcelona, Spain
Jordi Portell i de Mora
E-mail: jportell@fqa.ub.edu
 
Institute of High Energy Physics (IFAE)
Barcelona, Spain
Member of the Einstein Telescope Directive Committee
Mario Martínez
E-mail: mmp@ifae.es

Press Release elaborated by the IEEC Communication Office in collaboration with Science Wave.
 
01
September 2020

A Nebula's Gamma-ray Heartbeat is NASA high-energy picture of the week


NASA High Energy Astrophysics Archive features our recent SS433 research with its Picture of the Week
NASA High Energy Astrophysics Archive has selected an image related to a recent Nature Astronomy paper for its Picture of the Week: https://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/objects/heapow/archive/nebulae/SS433_fermi.html

Using Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope and the giant Arecibo radio telescope our study revealed a high-energy "heartbeat", coming from a cosmic gas cloud located about 100 light years away from SS 433. The surprising gamma-ray signal from this otherwise cold, innocuous cloud pulses with the rhythm of the precessing jet from the black hole in SS 433. This shows that shomehow there must be a direct connection between the precessing jet from SS 433 and the gamma-ray pulsations at the cloud.

Reference:
Gamma-ray heartbeat powered by the microquasar SS 433;  Jian Li, Diego Torres , Ruo-Yu Liu, Matthew Kerr, Emma de Oña Wilhelmi, Yang Su; Nature Astronomy, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-020-1164-6
17
August 2020

Strange cosmic coincidence: gamma-ray heartbeat puzzles scientists


Atomic gas clouds blinks in sync with circling black hole
Artistic view of SS 433 and Fermi J1913+0515
Produced by Konrad Rappaport, Susane Landis (Scicomlab for DESY), under advice by Jian Li (DESY), Diego F. Torres (ICREA / ICE, CSIC / IEEC)
Strange cosmic coincidence: gamma-ray heartbeat puzzles scientists 
  • Astronomers detected a cosmic gas cloud that beats with the rhythm of a black hole 100 light years apart, in a microquasar. 
  • The microquasar is located in the Milky Way and consists of a giant star and a black hole. The cloud is located in the constellation Aquila.
  • Previously published theoretical models did not predict such a result, which challenges common interpretations. 
  • The study is led by a scientist from the DESY Laboratory in Hamburg and a researcher from the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) at the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE, CSIC). The results are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Scientists have detected a mysterious gamma-ray heartbeat coming from a cosmic gas cloud. The unremarkable cloud, which is located in the constellation Aquila, is beating with the rhythm of a nearby black hole, indicating a connection between the two objects. The study, led by the DESY scientist Jian Li and ICREA Professor Diego F. Torres, a researcher from the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) at the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE, CSIC), appears today in the journal Nature Astronomy. 

Researchers rigorously analysed more than ten years of data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, looking at a so-called microquasar. Microquasars, the local siblings of extragalactic quasars, are binary systems comprising a compact object and a companion star. By collecting matter from their companions, microquasars launch powerful winds and jets, influencing the interstellar environment around them. The system observed in this study, catalogued as SS 433, is one of the most famous systems of its kind and even though it has been studied for decades it still surprises researchers. Located some 15,000 light years away, within the Milky Way, it consists of a giant star of about 30 times the mass of our Sun and a black hole of 10 to 20 solar masses. The two objects are orbiting each other while the black hole sucks matter from the giant star. 

“The material from the star accumulates in a disc around the black hole before falling into it like water in the whirl above the drain of a bathtub”, explains Li, a DESY researcher. “However, a part of that matter does not fall down the drain but shoots out at high speed in two narrow jets in opposite directions above and below the rotating disc”. “The accretion disc does not lie exactly in the plane of the orbit of the two objects but it sways like a spinning top that has been set up slanted on a table”, says Li. “As a consequence, the two jets spiral into the surrounding space, rather than just forming a straight line.” 

The sway of the black hole's jets makes a complete round in about 162 days. The high-speed particles and the ultra-strong magnetic fields in the jet produce X-rays and gamma rays, the latter being observed by the team. A meticulous analysis revealed one gamma-ray signal with the same period coming from an unremarkable gas cloud located relatively far from the microquasar's jets. The consistent periods indicate the gas cloud's emission is powered by the microquasar. 

“The timing signal we found provides an unambiguous connection between the microquasar and the cloud, separated by about 100 light years. This is as amazing as is intriguing, opening questions regarding how the black hole powers the cloud's heartbeat thus far”, says Torres, IEEC researcher at ICE-CSIC. An explanation that the team explored is based on the impact of fast protons produced at the ends of the jets, or near the black hole, that are injected into the cloud and hit the gas particles, producing gamma rays. Protons could also be part of an outflow of fast particles from the edge of the accretion disc. Whenever this outflow strikes the gas cloud, it lights up in gamma rays, explaining its strange heartbeat. “Energetically, the outflow from the disc could be as powerful as that of the jets and is believed to sway in solidarity with the rest of the system,” explains Torres. 

Further observations as well as theoretical work are required to explain the gamma-ray heartbeat of this unique system beyond this initial discovery. “SS 433 continues to amaze observers at all frequencies and theoreticians alike,” emphasises Li. “And it is certain to provide a test-bed for our ideas on cosmic-ray production and propagation near microquasars for years to come.” 
The research team led by Torres and Li is composed of international scientists from Spain (IEEC-ICE-CSIC), Germany (DESY), China (Nanjing University and Purple Mountain observatory) and USA (NRL). 

Instruments
The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope was launched from the Kennedy Space Center on 11 June 2008. Fermi has two gamma-ray instruments: the Large Area Telescope (LAT) and the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM). The LAT is a wide-field gamma-ray telescope. From the start of regular observations, LAT scans the sky, providing all-sky coverage every two orbits. The GBM is an all-sky monitor that detects transient events such as occultations and gamma-ray bursts. 
Diego F. Torres and Jian Li are Fermi-LAT members.

 Links
- IEEC
- ICE
- DESY

More information
This research is presented in a paper entitled “Gamma-ray heartbeat powered by the microquasar SS 433”, by Jian Li, D. F. Torres, Ruo-Yu Liu, Matthew Kerr, Emma de Oña Wilhelmi & Yang Su, that is published in the journal Nature Astronomy, 2020, on 17 August 2020.

The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC  — Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya) promotes and coordinates space research and technology development in Catalonia for the benefit of society. IEEC fosters collaborations both locally and worldwide and is an efficient agent of knowledge, innovation and technology transfer. As a result of over 20 years of high-quality research, done in collaboration with major international organisations, IEEC ranks among the best international research centers, focusing on areas such as: astrophysics, cosmology, planetary science, and Earth Observation. IEEC’s engineering division develops instrumentation for ground- and space-based projects, and has extensive experience in working with private or public organisations from the aerospace and other innovation sectors.  

IEEC is a private non-profit foundation, governed by a Board of Trustees composed of Generalitat de Catalunya and four other institutions that each have a research unit, which together constitute the core of IEEC R&D activity: the University of Barcelona (UB) with the research unit ICCUB — Institute of Cosmos Sciences; the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) with the research unit CERES — Center of Space Studies and Research; the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) with the research unit CTE — Research Group in Space Sciences and Technologies; the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) with the research unit ICE — Institute of Space Sciences. IEEC is integrated in the CERCA network (Centres de Recerca de Catalunya).

Contacts
IEEC Communication Office

Barcelona, Spain
Ana Montaner Pizà
E-mail: comunicacio@ieec.cat 

Institute of Space Sciences (ICE, CSIC)
Barcelona, Spain
Diego Torres
E-mail: dtorres@ice.csic.es

Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY
Hamburg, Germany
Jian Li
E-mail: jian.li@desy.de

Press Release created by the IEEC Comunication Office with the collaboration of Science Wave
 
17
August 2020

Magnetic fields going with the flow


Comments of Gemma Busquet in Nature Astronomy News & Views about a paper of Pillai et al (2020)
Magnetic fields going with the flow
Magnetic fields in molecular clouds play a crucial role in regulating flows of gas and the formation of stars. Far-infrared polarimetric observations obtained with the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) unveil the small-scale magnetic field structure within dense gas filaments, discovering a new transition in the relative orientation between the magnetic field and cloud structure. Gemma Busquet, a researcher from the Institute of Space Science (ICE-CSIC) comments these scientific results, published in Nature Astronomy by Pillai et al. (2020), within the News & Views section of Nature Astronomy [1]. The work by Pillai et al. [2] provides observational evidence for gravity entraining the frozen-in large-scale magnetic field and causing it to become parallel to the gas flow that is nurturing the forming star cluster. Such gravity-induced gas flows in filaments supports a scenario in which gravitational collapse and star cluster formation occur even in the presence of relatively strong magnetic fields.

References:
[1] Busquet, G., Nature Astronomy News & Views. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-1180-6 (2020)
[2] Pillai, T., et al. Nature Astronomy. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-1172-6 (2020)
28
July 2020

Researchers identify massive black holes that seemed “hidden” in dwarf galaxies


Researchers have found massive black holes in 37 dwarf galaxies and have identified active galactic nuclei not seen until now
Generic picture of a dwarf galaxy
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Jenny Hottle
  • An investigation conducted by two researchers from the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC), a research unit of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC), has been published today in the Astrophysical Journal Letters
  • The researchers have found massive black holes in 37 dwarf galaxies and have identified active galactic nuclei not seen until now. These nuclei are similar to the seed black holes that produced the massive black holes
  • The study constitutes the widest work so far done in dwarf galaxies using the integral field spectroscopy technique

A project conducted by the Institute of Space Science (ICE - CSIC), a research unit of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC), has used the integral field spectroscopy technique (also known as IFU - integral field unit) to identify massive black holes in dwarf galaxies. The researchers have found 37 of these phenomena, 23 of which are new as evidence of their presence were not found in previous works of the same galaxies. This is the widest study ever done with this technique in dwarf galaxies. 

The analysis, published today in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, is the widest study of active galactic nuclei (AGN) in dwarf galaxies ever done using the almost 5,000 observations of galaxies measured by MaNGA (Mapping Nearby Galaxies at Apache Point Observatory) with the IFU technique.

An AGN is a compact area in the centre of a galaxy that emits energy in its central region, usually generated by a massive black hole, among other elements.

“Thanks to the observations with IFU we have been able to find AGNs that seemed to be hidden in previous works”, emphasises Mar Mezcua, an IEEC researcher at ICE-CSIC. 

The other co-author of the study and ICE-CSIC researcher, Helena Domínguez Sánchez, says: “The advantage of the IFU technique with respect to the classic observations with long-slit spectroscopy, that gives one spectrum per object, is that it allows us to obtain multiple spectra, sometimes more than one thousand per galaxy, in different regions”. “This way”, she adds, “we can study with much more detail the stellar populations, their gas and the kinematics of both.

The “light echo” from the black hole has been captured by the spectroscopy

From the 1,609 dwarf galaxies that have been studied, the researchers have found AGNs in 37 of them, 23 of which are new cases that had not been previously identified.

“The classic spectroscopy has the limitation that it detects only the dominant energy source”, clarifies Domínguez, “meaning that in galaxies where the energy emerging from the stellar formation dominates its total emission, the AGN would be left «hidden»”.

The factors that explain the difficulty of observing these nuclei could be related to their activity or their location. On one hand, it can be that the AGN is no longer active and the IFU technique detects its last emission, the “light echo”, generally very weak. On the other hand, the AGN can be active but outside the centre of the galaxy.  At the same time, it could be that the nucleus is active and in the centre of the galaxy, but the stellar emission from the central region is brighter than the active nucleus, which makes its observation more difficult.  

“With this investigacion we conclude that the IFU technique allows us to identify the last emission from nuclei that are no longer active, something that can not be done with other techniques”, says Mezcua. “Moreover, the active nuclei found are much weaker than those known until now”.

Searching for active nuclei in dwarf galaxies to understand the beginning of the Universe

These active nuclei could contain the vestiges of the first black holes formed in the early Universe, those which did not grow until becoming supermassive. The search for AGNs or massive black holes in dwarf galaxies allows us to increase our knowledge about the origin of the Universe, because they are considered to be the type of galaxies most similar to the first ones.

“It is believed that the black holes powering the AGNs are very similar to the seed black holes, the ones that were first formed”, notes Mezcua. The researcher adds that the scientific community considers that the supermassive black holes, those with one-million-times larger mass than that of the Sun, could have grown from these seed black holes.

Links
- IEEC
- ICE
- CSIC

More information
This research is presented in a paper entitled “Hidden AGN in dwarf galaxies revealed by MaNGA: light echoes, off-nuclear wanderers, and a new broad-line AGN”, by Mezcua, M. & Domínguez Sánchez, H., and it has appeared in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters,  2020, ApJL, 898, L30, on 28 July 2020. 
The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC  — Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya) promotes and coordinates space research and technology development in Catalonia for the benefit of society. IEEC fosters collaborations both locally and worldwide and is an efficient agent of knowledge, innovation and technology transfer. As a result of over 20 years of high-quality research, done in collaboration with major international organisations, IEEC ranks among the best international research centers, focusing on areas such as: astrophysics, cosmology, planetary science, and Earth Observation. IEEC’s engineering division develops instrumentation for ground- and space-based projects, and has extensive experience in working with private or public organisations from the aerospace and other innovation sectors.  
IEEC is a private non-profit foundation, governed by a Board of Trustees composed of Generalitat de Catalunya and four other institutions that each have a research unit, which together constitute the core of IEEC R&D activity: the University of Barcelona (UB) with the research unit ICCUB — Institute of Cosmos Sciences; the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) with the research unit CERES — Center of Space Studies and Research; the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) with the research unit CTE — Research Group in Space Sciences and Technologies; the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) with the research unit ICE — Institute of Space Sciences. IEEC is integrated in the CERCA network (Centres de Recerca de Catalunya).

Contacts
IEEC Communication Office
Barcelona, Spain
Ana Montaner Pizà
E-mail: comunicacio@ieec.cat 

Institute of Space Science (ICE - CSIC)
Barcelona, Spain
Mar Mezcua
E-mail: mezcua@ice.csic.es

Institute of Space Science (ICE - CSIC)
Barcelona, Spain
Helena Domínguez Sánchez
E-mail: dominguez@ice.csic.es



 
09
July 2020

Euclid space telescope’s Near-Infrared instrument ready to draw a 3-D map of galaxies of the distant Universe


The Near-Infrared instrument of the Euclid mission ready to be integrated in the telescope
Near Infrared Instrument of Euclid mission
ESA’s Euclid mission to study more than a billion galaxies is a step closer to launch as its two instruments are now built and fully tested, including the complex Near-Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer (NISP) instrument delivered by an international consortium coordinated by France, with partners from Italy, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Norway and the United States.

Once Euclid is launched from French Guiana in 2022, the NISP instrument will feed the world largest near infrared wide field camera put into space and will deliver near-infrared photometry, spectra and redshifts of tens of million distant galaxies providing a detailed description of the 3-dimensional structure of the Universe, and its evolution as function of look back time.

Euclid has a 1.2-metre mirror telescope that is designed to work at both visible and near- infrared wavelengths. It will collect light from distant cosmic objects and feed it into NISP and the second instrument, the VISible instrument (VIS), both working in parallel and observing the exact same regions of the sky at each exposure of the telescope.

Euclid will survey the 3-D distribution of galaxies and dark matter and map the geometry of the Universe with the aim of making accurate measurements of the mysterious Dark Matter and Dark Energy, which make up most of the cosmos. No-one yet knows what Dark Energy is, and Euclid will be the yet most powerful tool for cosmologists and astronomers looking to find out.

Dr Yannick Mellier (Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, CNRS/Sorbonne Université and CEA/IRFU, Saclay), lead of the 1500-strong Euclid Consortium of which NISP is a part, said “Euclid will revolutionise our knowledge of the Universe by making the most accurate measurements of Dark Matter and Dark Energy, testing whether Einstein's theory of General Relativity requires modification, weighing neutrinos, and exploring the details of how galaxies evolve.”

NISP is composed of several subsystems that were designed, built, and tested by a team of astronomers and engineers from several laboratories of the Euclid Consortium with the help and supports from the Centre National d’Etudes Spatial (CNES, France), the Astronomy and Particle Physics Departments of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, France),the Institute for Research on the Fundamental laws of the Universe (IRFU) Research Division of the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA, France), the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI, Italy), the Istituto Nazionale Astrofisica (INAF, Italy), the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN, Italy), the Deutsches Zentrum für LuftundRaumfahrt (DLR, Germany), the Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterestrische Physik (MPE, Germany), the Max-Plank-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA, Germany), the Ministerio de Economia y Competividad (MINECO, Spain), the Institut de Física d’Altes Energies - The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (IFAE-BIST, Spain) and the Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya - Institut of Space Science (IEEC-ICE-CSIC, Spain), Universidad Politecnica de Cartagena (Spain), the University of Oslo (UiO, Norway), the Norwegian Space Agency (Norway), the Niels Bohr institute (Denmark), the technical University of Denmark (DTU, Denmark), and NASA / JPL (USA).

Thierry Maciaszek (CNES/LAM), NISP instrument project manager, said, "The international NISP team in the Euclid Consortium and industries has made an incredible quasi perfect job to design, develop and test this challenging complex instrument. The delivery of NISP is however not the end of the story for the NISP team. Many major activities have to be completed with NISP at satellite level. We are looking forward to seeing the first light in flight demonstrating the excellent performances of the instrument."

NISP was designed, built and tested under the lead of the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille (LAM, France).
The NISP instrument consists of three main assemblies:
  • The NISP Opto-Mechanical Assembly (cooled to 130K) made of:
    • A silicon carbid estructure, developed by LAM, with elements provided by UiO, supporting the different NISP subsystems and interfacing with the Euclid Payload module.
    • The NISP Optical Assembly (built by MPE) made of a Correction Lens and a 3-lens focusing optics.
    • Three near infrared Y, J, and H broad band filters (MPIA) are mounted on a dedicated rotating wheel (IFAE, IEEC, ICE-CSIC & CEA/Irfu).
    • Four near infrared grisms developed by LAM (grism is a grating and a prism used for spectrometry) are mounted on a dedicated rotating wheel (INAF and CEA/Irfu).
    • A calibration Unit having 5 near-infrared LEDs (MPIA).
  • The NISP detector system, composed of:
    • 16 high quality detectors cooled to 95K (NASA/ESA).
    • 16 electronics dedicated to detector controlling (NASA/ESA) o A detector/electronic support structure (LAM).
  • The NISP warm electronic units composed of:
    • The Instrument Control Unit (Universidad Politecnica de Cartagena and Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain). The software of the ICU is developed by INAF.
    • The Data Processing Unit managing the detector electronics and performing detectors onboard data processing (ASI, OHB-I, SAB,TEMIS). The software of the DPU has been developed by INAF.
The detector system has been deeply characterized in Europe by the Centre de Physique des Particules de Marseille (CPPM) and the Institut de Physique des 2 Infinis de Lyon (IP2I).
The NISP integration and cold functional / performances tests were performed at LAM in a large cryochamber, in collaboration with all the partners. A complex optical setup has been developed by LAM and Niels Bohr / DTU institutes for the NISP cold performance verification. The NISP ground commanding setups are under INAF/INFN responsibility. The NISP vibration testing were done at the Centre Spatial de Liège (CSL, Belgium).

Dr Anne Ealet, NISP Spectroscopy Instrument Scientist said “NISP will provide the photometry of a billion distant galaxies in 3 photometric bands (Y, J, H) and the spectra of tens of millions distant galaxies using a slitless multi-object spectrograph”. “NISP will reveal the large-scale distribution of galaxies and how cosmic structures formed under the complex combined effects of gravity, dark matter, and dark energy over the last ten billion years” added Dr Knud Jahnke NISP Photometry Instrument Scientist.

The NISP instrument, which is being built by a consortium of nationally funded institutes led by the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille (LAM) in France, is dedicated to making distance measurements and near infrared photometry of galaxies. With the VIS instrument, it will allow Euclid’s data to be turned into the largest, most accurate 3D survey of the Universe ever conducted.

Now that the instruments have been delivered to ESA, Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defense and Space, they will be integrated first with the telescope, and next with the rest of the payload module and the satellite, which will take several months to ensure everything is precisely aligned and electronically communicating.

It has been a long journey getting this far. Euclid was selected for implementation in 2011, having already undergone almost five years of studies. While there is still a lot of hard work and testing ahead, the delivery of the instruments and telescope means that the spacecraft is now really beginning to come together.

Notes to Editors
For more information or to speak to the researchers involved, please contact: NISP technical: Thierry Maciaszek (thierry.maciaszek@lam.fr / thierry.maciaszek@cnes.fr
NISP science: spectroscopy : Anne Ealet (anne.ealet@cppm.fr), Photometry : Knud Jahnke (jahnke@mpia.de)
For information about the Euclid Consortium or the Euclid mission please contact Audrey Le Reun (audrey.le_reun@iap.fr, +33 (0) 173 775 523) or Yannick Mellier (mellier@iap.fr).

Additional material

Websites:
  • European Space Agency main site: http://www.esa.int/esaCP/index.html
  • European Space Agency Euclid site: http://sci.esa.int/science- e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=102
  • Euclid Consortium main site: https://www.euclid-ec.org/
  • CNES Space Agency site: https://cnes.fr/en
  • ASI Space Agency site: https://www.asi.it
  • DLR Space Agency site: https://www.dlr.de/EN/Home/home_node.html NASA Space Agency site: https://www.nasa.gov
  • INAF site: http://www.inaf.it/it
  • INFN site: https://www.infn.it
  • CEA/Irfu site: http://irfu.cea.fr
  • CNRS site: https://www.cnrs.fr
  • CPPM site: https://www.cppm.in2p3.fr/web/en/index.html DTU site: https://www.dtu.dk/english
  • Institut de Física d'Altes Energies: https://www.ifae.es
  • Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya: https://www.ieec.cat
  • Institute of Space Sciences, IEEC-CSIC site: https://www.ice.csic.es
  • IP2I site: https://www.ip2i.in2p3.fr/?lang=en
  • Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias site: https://www.iac.es/en
  • JPL site: https://jpl.nasa.gov
  • LAM site: https://www.lam.fr/?lang=en
  • MINECO site: https://mineco.gob.es
  • MPE site: http://www.mpe.mpg.de/main
  • MPIA website: http://www.mpia.de/en
  • Niels Bohr site: https://nbi.ku.dk
  • Norwegian Space Agency site: https://www.romsenter.no
  • Universidad Politecnica de Cartagena site: https://upct.es
  • University of Oslo site: https://www.uio.no/english/
22
June 2020

Software engineer for space and ground-based instrument control applications


The Institute of Space Sciences (ICE) is looking for a Software engineer for space and ground-based instrument control applications.
The Institute of Space Sciences (ICE) is looking for a Software engineer for space and ground-based instrument control applications to beef up the engineering department.

ICE is participating in different space missions and experiments (i.e., ARIEL, LISA, CTA, CARMENES, SKA, and Nanosats) and there is a significant contribution and leadership focused on software developments on most of them (LISA, CTA, ARIEL, CARMENES). See the ICE web page for more details (http://www.ice.csic.es/en/content/96/capacities).

The software engineer will contribute to different space missions (LISA, ARIEL) and ground experiments (CTA, CARMENES, SKA) at the level of a senior developer. He/she will participate in the definition and deployment of the system engineering practices and will contribute to the high-level design and development of software modules.

The appointed engineer will participate as a senior developer in all the aforementioned projects and will carry out different kind of tasks according to the development phase of the project:
  • He/she will be the supervisor of software developers for those projects running development or prototyping/TDA phase (CTA, Nanosats, SKA-PAF).
  • He/she will coordinate the software engineering practices at the systems engineering level (documentation, development cycle, configuration control, etc.) for all projects.
  • He/she will participate in mission and experiment meetings (internal and external to ICE) and eventually lead tasks in the mentioned projects and at the Consortium level.
  • He/she will identify new funding opportunities and collaborate in the preparation of proposals to respond to EU, ESA, national funding calls.
  • He/she will contribute to fostering the participation of institute researchers in the construction of new space missions and experiments. The contract will be for a period of 2 years. Candidates with BSc or MSc degree in computer science will be considered. The candidate should have a good background and experience in programming with the following programming languages and operating systems: C/C++, Python, Java, RTEMS. He/she should have experience in software engineering management, in developing under Linux and with the software development life cycle: requirements, design, implementation, documentation, and testing. Knowledge of basic positional astronomy and astronomical instrumentation will be valued. Candidates should possess English language skills.

Selection process:
The selection process, according to the number of applicants, will consist of curricular pre-selection and interviews.
Applications (including CV and letter of interest) should be forwarded to:
Ms. Noemí Cortés (Assistant to the Director)
Email: cortes@ice.csic.es
Subject: Software engineer for space and ground-based instrument control applications
17
June 2020

Youngest baby pulsar ever found could help understand the most powerful explosions in the Universe


Youngest baby pulsar ever found could help understand the most powerful explosions in the Universe
Illustration of a magnetar
Credit: ESA.
  • IEEC scientists at ICE (CSIC) have led a study that has found a baby pulsar, the youngest such object ever found. 
  • The pulsar is located 15,000 light years away and it contains remnants of an ancient massive star. It is also a magnetar, with a magnetic field a thousand billion times stronger than that of the Earth.
  • The discovery supports the idea that the pulsars found in the Milky Way are mostly magnetars.
  • The baby pulsar may also help explain the origin of the Universe's most powerful explosions.
A team of scientists from the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC  — Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya) at the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE, CSIC) has led the discovery of a pulsar[1] shortly after its birth. Located about 15,000 light years away, within the Milky Way, it is the youngest pulsar found so far. It consists of the remnants of an ancient massive star and it is also a magnetar, with a magnetic field a thousand billion times stronger than that one of the Earth. The discovery was made possible by observations from the European Space Agency's (ESA) XMM-Newton X-ray telescope, NASA's Swift and NuSTAR satellites, and the Sardinia Radio Telescope (Italy).

The baby pulsar, named Swift J1818.0-1607, was first observed by NASA's Swift observatory in March. What the instruments of the XMM-Newton have now picked up is an explosion coming from the pulsar. These explosions are often preceded by smaller bursts. 

Swift J1818.0-1607 is not only the youngest of the 3,000 known pulsars in our galaxy, but it also belongs to a strange category of cosmic objects with the strongest magnetic fields in the Universe - a magnetar.

The magnetar has more features that make it special. It is one of the fastest rotating objects ever observed, rotating once every 1.36 seconds, despite containing the mass of two Suns and having a diameter of only 25 kilometres. Additionally, the object  is one of the few magnetars that also emits radio waves.

Not so unusual objects

"Magnetars are fascinating objects and this baby seems especially intriguing because of its extreme characteristics. The fact that it can be observed in both radio waves and X-rays provides us with a key clue to resolving the current scientific debate about the nature of a specific type of stellar remnant: pulsars," says IEEC researcher at ICE (CSIC) Nanda Rea, who has led the ESA and NASA observations.

Until now, magnetised pulsars were believed to be rare in the Universe with only about 30 detected so far. Scientists assumed that these objects were different from other types of pulsars that are shown in the form of powerful radio emissions. But researchers working with X-rays have long suspected that magnetars are much more common than it is generally believed. Now this finding could confirm the theory that the pulsars discovered in the Milky Way are mostly magnetars.

"The fact that this magnetar formed recently, around 240 years ago, indicates that this idea is well founded", explains Alice Borghese, another IEEC researcher at ICE (CSIC) and co-author of this study. "A large number of magnetars have been discovered in the last decade, doubling the population of magnetars we know of. It is as if these objects fly under the radar when they are dormant and are only discovered when they wake up, as demonstrated by this baby magnetar, which was much less luminous before the big explosion that led to its discovery," clarifies Borghese. 

Transient events

Transient events are gamma ray bursts, supernova explosions and rapid radio wave bursts. These energetic events are potentially linked to the formation and existence of young, heavily magnetised objects, such as the one now discovered by this team of astronomers.

"Magnetars are already interesting by themselves but they are important on a wider scale, as they could play a key role in the transient events we see in the Universe. Scientists believe that these events are somehow connected with magnetars during their birth or in the early stages of their life", explains Francesco Coti Zelati, another of the IEEC scientists at the ICE (CSIC) who have participated in the discovery.

According to scientists, findings like this shed light on the understanding of the starry content of the Milky Way and reveal the complexity of phenomena occurring throughout the Universe.

"The entire group at ICE has contributed to this great discovery and we continue to study pulsars, magnetic and gravitational monsters that surprise us every day," concluded Rea.

Notes
[1] Pulsars are among the most unusual objects in the universe. They form at the end of the lives of massive stars through violent supernova explosions. These extreme events leave behind extreme stellar remnants: hot, dense, magnetized remnants that emit radiation in unpredictable ways, sending powerful X and gamma rays into space over periods of time ranging from milliseconds to years.

Links
- IEEC
- ICE

More information
This research is presented in a paper entitled “A very young radio-loud magnetar”, by P. Esposito et al., to appear in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters on 17 June 2020.

The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC  — Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya) promotes and coordinates space research and technology development in Catalonia for the benefit of society. IEEC fosters collaborations both locally and worldwide and is an efficient agent of knowledge, innovation and technology transfer. As a result of over 20 years of high-quality research, done in collaboration with major international organisations, IEEC ranks among the best international research centers, focusing on areas such as: astrophysics, cosmology, planetary science, and Earth Observation. IEEC’s engineering division develops instrumentation for ground- and space-based projects, and has extensive experience in working with private or public organisations from the aerospace and other innovation sectors.  

IEEC is a private non-profit foundation, governed by a Board of Trustees composed of Generalitat de Catalunya and four other institutions that each have a research unit, which together constitute the core of IEEC R&D activity: the University of Barcelona (UB) with the research unit ICCUB — Institute of Cosmos Sciences; the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) with the research unit CERES — Center of Space Studies and Research; the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) with the research unit CTE — Research Group in Space Sciences and Technologies; the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) with the research unit ICE — Institute of Space Sciences. IEEC is integrated in the CERCA network (Centres de Recerca de Catalunya).

Contacts
IEEC Communication Office
Barcelona, Spain

Rosa Rodríguez Gasén
E-mail: comunicacio@ieec.cat 

Lead Researcher at IEEC
Barcelona, Spain

Nanda Rea
Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC)
Institute of Space Science (ICE, CSIC)
E-mail: rea@ice.csic.es

CSIC Communication Office
Madrid, Spain

Alda Ólafsson
E-mail: alda.olafsson@csic.es 

Press Release created by the IEEC Comunication Office with the collaboration of Science Wave
 
16
June 2020

Responsable de Comunicación del ICE


Puesto de trabajo: Responsable de Comunicación del ICE
Se ofrece un puesto de trabajo a tiempo completo como “Responsable de Comunicación” del Instituto de Ciencias del Espacio. El puesto será inicialmente por un año, con renovación pendiente de disponibilidad de fondos y del desempeño de la labor.

Titulación requerida: Grado en física o astronomía, periodismo, o diseñadores gráficos. En todos los casos se valorará la experiencia en trabajos de comunicación relacionados con física y astrofísica, siendo un requisito imprescindible el dominio de inglés.

Trabajos a realizar:
  • Elaboración y ejecución inicial del Plan de Comunicación y Divulgación.
  • Coordinación con las Oficinas de Comunicación del CSIC y del IEEC.
  • Diseño, elaboración y distribución de materiales de comunicación y periodístico (vídeos cortos, notas de prensa, etc.).
  • Elaboración de material gráfico para informes internos.
  • Mantenimiento de cuentas en medios sociales (twitter, youtube).
  • Elaboración de material gráfico para divulgación.
  • Presentación del instituto en foros diversos (congresos de astrofísica y astronomía profesionales y amateurs, ferias industriales, foros de política científica, eventos de divulgación científica), así como en medios periodísticos de radio, televisión y escritos.
  • Colaboración con los científicos del instituto para la elaboración de material gráfico. 
Los interesados deben enviar su CV a cortes@ice.csic.es indicando 'Outreach officer' en el asunto.

La posición está abierta y se valorarán los curriculum recibidos hasta cubrir la plaza, en el marco de los trámites legales del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.
Salario: en la escala de titulados superiores (Grupo 1 de convenio) del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.

 
Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC-CSIC)

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Phone: +34 93 737 9788
Email: ice@ice.csic.es
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An institute of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas

An institute of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
Affiliated with the Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya

Affiliated with the Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya