ESA chooses to explore “The Hot and Energetic Universe”

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On November 28, the committee of scientific programs of the European Space Agency (ESA) has selected, among 29 proposals, “The Hot and Energetic Universe” as the scientific theme of his future great space mission (class L), whose lauch is scheduled for 2028 [1]. This topic was brought by a united European scientific community. The French community, including the CNRS laboratories (IRAP, Observatoire de Strasbourg) and the CEA laboratories (IRFU / AIM), have greatly contributed to this scientific proposal.

The study of the hot and energetic Universe will allow to understand how ordinary matter assembles in the large structures of the Universe like groups and clusters of galaxies, and how black holes grow and affect their environment. It is the X-rays domain which allows to observe the hot gas in large structures and black holes, two fundamental components which govern the formation and the evolution of the Universe.

A consortium of European laboratories, including French laboratories, will propose in the early 2014 the Athena Mission [2] in order to answer these fundamental questions of modern astrophysics. Successor of the XMM-Newton satellite, currently in operation, Athena would thus be the great European observatory of the next generation in the X-ray field. The collecting area of its mirrors (2m²), coupled to its excellent angular (5 arc-seconds) and spectral (2.5 electron volts) resolution, and its wide field of view (up to 40 arc-minutes) will give it an observation coverage exceeding two orders of magnitude the previous generation instruments. Athena will be complementary to the ground and space observatories in the other areas of wavelengths, like SKA, ALMA, JWST, E-ELT or CTA.

The French laboratories, including the IRAP, the Observatory of Strasbourg and IRFU/AIM, wish to contribute to the Athena mission, to its data center, to the two observation instruments, and first of all, to the spectro-imager of high spectral and angular resolution (X-ray Integral Field Unit).

The list of publications accompanying the proposal of the scientific theme “The Hot and Energetic Universe” and the Athena mission is available on the Athena [2] dedicated website.

[1] http://www.esa.int/fre/ESA_in_your_country/France/La_nouvelle_vision_de_l_ESA_pour_etudier_l_univers_invisible

[2] http://www.the-athena-x-ray-observatory.eu

IRAP Contacts :

  • Didier Barret, didier.barret@irap.omp.eu
  • Etienne Pointecouteau, etienne.pointecouteau@irap.omp.eu

Athena+ France Contact :

  • Didier Barret, didier.barret@irap.omp.eu

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