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See detailThe Hot and Energetic Universe: A White Paper presenting the science theme motivating the Athena+ mission
Nandra, Kirpal; Barret, Didier; Barcons, Xavier et al

Report (2013)

This White Paper, submitted to the recent ESA call for science themes to define its future large missions, advocates the need for a transformational leap in our understanding of two key questions in ... [more ▼]

This White Paper, submitted to the recent ESA call for science themes to define its future large missions, advocates the need for a transformational leap in our understanding of two key questions in astrophysics: 1) How does ordinary matter assemble into the large scale structures that we see today? 2) How do black holes grow and shape the Universe? Hot gas in clusters, groups and the intergalactic medium dominates the baryonic content of the local Universe. To understand the astrophysical processes responsible for the formation and assembly of these large structures, it is necessary to measure their physical properties and evolution. This requires spatially resolved X-ray spectroscopy with a factor 10 increase in both telescope throughput and spatial resolving power compared to currently planned facilities. Feedback from supermassive black holes is an essential ingredient in this process and in most galaxy evolution models, but it is not well understood. X-ray observations can uniquely reveal the mechanisms launching winds close to black holes and determine the coupling of the energy and matter flows on larger scales. Due to the effects of feedback, a complete understanding of galaxy evolution requires knowledge of the obscured growth of supermassive black holes through cosmic time, out to the redshifts where the first galaxies form. X-ray emission is the most reliable way to reveal accreting black holes, but deep survey speed must improve by a factor ~100 over current facilities to perform a full census into the early Universe. The Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics (Athena+) mission provides the necessary performance (e.g. angular resolution, spectral resolution, survey grasp) to address these questions and revolutionize our understanding of the Hot and Energetic Universe. These capabilities will also provide a powerful observatory to be used in all areas of astrophysics. [less ▲]

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See detailX-ray spectroscopy of stars
Guedel, Manuel; Nazé, Yaël ULg

in Astronomy and Astrophysics Review (2009), 17

Non-degenerate stars of essentially all spectral classes are soft X-ray sources. Their X-ray spectra have been important in constraining physical processes that heat plasma in stellar environments to ... [more ▼]

Non-degenerate stars of essentially all spectral classes are soft X-ray sources. Their X-ray spectra have been important in constraining physical processes that heat plasma in stellar environments to temperatures exceeding one million degrees. Low-mass stars on the cooler part of the main sequence and their pre-main sequence predecessors define the dominant stellar population in the galaxy by number. Their X-ray spectra are reminiscent, in the broadest sense, of X-ray spectra from the solar corona. The Sun itself as a typical example of a main-sequence cool star has been a pivotal testbed for physical models to be applied to cool stars. X-ray emission from cool stars is indeed ascribed to magnetically trapped hot gas analogous to the solar coronal plasma, although plasma parameters such as temperature, density, and element abundances vary widely. Coronal structure, its thermal stratification and geometric extent can also be interpreted based on various spectral diagnostics. New features have been identified in pre-main sequence stars; some of these may be related to accretion shocks on the stellar surface, fluorescence on circumstellar disks due to X-ray irradiation, or shock heating in stellar outflows. Massive, hot stars clearly dominate the interaction with the galactic interstellar medium: they are the main sources of ionizing radiation, mechanical energy and chemical enrichment in galaxies. High-energy emission permits to probe some of the most important processes at work in these stars, and put constraints on their most peculiar feature: the stellar wind. Medium and high- resolution spectroscopy have shed new light on these objects as well. Here, we review recent advances in our understanding of cool and hot stars through the study of X-ray spectra, in particular high-resolution spectra now available from XMM -Newton and Chandra. We address issues related to coronal structure, flares, the composition of coronal plasma, X-ray production in accretion streams and outflows, X-rays from single OB-type stars, massive binaries, magnetic hot objects and evolved WR stars. [less ▲]

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