Astrophysics experts from all over Europe and the US meet at the University of Alicante to discuss the future of the Athena mission
Alicante. Monday 26 November 2018
Approximately 30 astrophysics experts from all over Europe and the United States will be gathering on the University of Alicante campus from 27 to 29 November 2019 to discuss the future of the European Space Agency (ESA) mission Athena. The event is part of the European project AHEAD (Integrated Activities for the High-Energy Astrophysics Domain). One of AHEAD’s work packages is led by the UA Department of Physics, Systems Engineering and Signal Theory’s Astronomy and Astrophysics group, together with Europe’s leading research institutes.
With a focus on high energy astrophysics research, AHEAD is intended to pool national and international efforts in this domain to make sure space observatories like Athena can continue. Moreover, it will keep supporting the scientific community through grants for collaborative studies, dissemination of results and promotion of workshops, such as the one to be held in the UA’s Germà Bernàcer building these days.
“The objective is to address scientific topics in which the use of the Athena telescope can be enhanced by synergies with other space telescopes and cosmic messengers other than electromagnetic waves, for instance subatomic particles or gravitational waves,” according to experts from the UA Department of Physics, Systems Engineering and Signal Theory.
During the sessions, the latest advances and studies on space-oriented instrumentation and technological innovation will be presented. Experts will also work on a proposal to guarantee the continuation of the Athena mission.
The ESA selected the Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics (Athena) as its second L-class (large) scientific mission. This space observatory, to be launched in 2028, combines a large X-ray telescope with state-of-the-art scientific instruments. Athena will help find answers to key astrophysical questions, including how and why ordinary matter assembles into the galaxies and galactic clusters that we see today, or how black holes grow and influence their surroundings.
For this reason, the goal of the AHEAD project consortium is to develop the facilities needed in the European Union for high energy astrophysics research and promote the design of detectors to be implemented in future space observatories such as the Athena telescope.
Athena’s powerful instruments will allow unprecedented studies of a wide range of astronomical phenomena, such as gamma-ray bursts, the hot gas found in the space around clusters of galaxies, the magnetic interplay between exoplanets and their parent stars, Jupiter’s auroras and comets in our own Solar System.