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We present new empirical Colour-Colour and Effective Temperature-Colour Gaia Red Clump calibrations. The selected sample takes into account high photometric quality, good spectrometric metallicity, homogeneous effective temperatures and low interstellar extinctions. From those calibrations we developed a method to derive the absolute magnitude, temperature and extinction of the Gaia RC. We tested our colour and extinction estimates on stars with measured spectroscopic effective temperatures and Diffuse Interstellar Band (DIB) constraints. Within the Gaia Validation team these calibrations are also being used, together with asteroseismic constraints, to check the parallax zero-point with Red Clump stars.
Red Clump (RC) stars are known to be good distance indicators. However the accuracy on these calculations strongly depends on the knowledge of their basic properties: a complete calibration is required.
With Gaia currently in nominal mission mode and sending data to earth, the challenge for the astronomical community is to prepare for the use of what will be at the time of release one of the largest and most complex astronomical catalogues ever produced. Use of parallax data is not straightforward due to the presence of many statistical biases and selection effects. We present an overview of a techniques for correct use of the Gaia parallax information, which relies on statistical modelling of the data in order to infer derived quantities such as distance and absolute magnitude in an unbiased way. The methods rely on a Bayesian methodology and have been applied to case studies on normal stars, variable stars, open clusters and the LMC.
Basic stellar parameters such as effective temperature, surface gravity, chemical composition, and projected rotational velocity, are important to classify stars and are crucial for successful asteroseismic modelling. However, the Kepler space data do not provide such information. Therefore, ground-based spectral and multi-colour observations of Kepler asteroseismic targets are necessary to complement the space data. For this purpose, in coordination with the KASC ground-based observational Working Groups, high-resolution spectroscopic data for more than 500 B, A, F and G-type stars were collected.
Gaia's five-year observation baseline might naively lead to the expectation that it will be possible to fit the parallax of any sufficiently nearby object with the default five-parameter model (position at a reference epoch, parallax and proper motion). However, simulated Gaia observations of a ‘model Universe’ composed of nearly 107 objects, 50% of which turn out to be multiple stars, show that the single-star hypothesis can severely affect parallax estimation and that more sophisticated models must be adopted. In principle, screening these spurious single-star solutions is rather straightforward, for example by evaluating the quality of the fits. However, the simulated Gaia observations also reveal that some seemingly acceptable single-star solutions can nonetheless lead to erroneous distances. These solutions turn out to be binaries with an orbital period close to one year. Without auxiliary (e.g., spectroscopic) data, they will remain unnoticed.
This is an overview of the processing of the dispersed images for the Blue and Red
Photometers in the Gaia Satellite. The data are corrected for CCD related effects in the
pre-processing, where also the sky background and the flux by neighbours are removed; the
data are then internally calibrated to the same “mean instrument” and externally
calibrated to obtain spectrum and flux in physical units, which will be stored in the
The Gaia pixel-level data simulator GIBIS (Gaia Instrument and Basic Image Simulator,
Babusiaux (2005)) provides detailed artificial data for all three instruments on-board the
Gaia spacecraft. This data is used for the preparation of procedures required for the
analysis of real Gaia data to come during the mission. Among the effects that strongly
affect all Gaia data, that therefore have to be modelled with GIBIS, is charge transfer
inefficiency (CTI). CTI, caused by radiation-induced microscopic defects in the CCD
detectors, becomes manifest in a distortion of the line spread functions of observed
objects, as well as in a loss of photo-generated charges inside the window allocated to
each observed source. It affects the astrometric, photometric, and spectroscopic accuracy
of the data. The CTI effects on a particular observation depend on observations done
before, on CCD operations such as gate activity and charge injections, and on physical
effects such as the sky background brightness and cosmic ray events in the detectors. In
this paper, an approach for the simulation of CTI with GIBIS is presented and the
influence of the sky background brightness and cosmic ray events of CTI is discussed in
In this paper we discuss a few aspects of the data volume to be generated by the ESA
space astrometry mission Gaia. This volume is assessed first from the on-board point of
view in the form of the instantaneous number of sources in the combined astrometric fields
of view as a function of time. Then one focuses on the data flow for the data processing
itself measured by the number of objects entering the pipeline every day. Finally the
combination of the on-board acquisition scheme with the number of stars per day gives the
actual telemetry volume to be transferred to the ground and its variation during the
Since January 1st, 2010, the IAU (International Astronomical Union) fundamental celestial
reference frame has been the 2nd International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF2), which is
composed of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) positions for more than 3000
extragalactic radio sources. This frame is constantly improving through joint efforts of
the VLBI community. By surveying the whole sky up to magnitude 20, the European space
astrometric mission Gaia will soon create its own celestial reference frame directly in
the optical domain and with many more sources. By 2015–2020, the two frames will thus
cohabit and it will be important to align these to the highest accuracy for consistency
between optical and radio positions. In this paper, we present the various observational
approaches that are undertaken to improve the VLBI frame in the future. These include
extension to weaker sources for densification, extension to higher radio frequencies to
take advantage of the more compact morphology of the sources at these frequencies, and
further observations in the southern hemisphere for homogeneous sky coverage. We also
elaborate on how such future radio frames should contribute to highly-precise alignment
between the VLBI and Gaia frames within the next decade.
We have chosen the name of GYES, one of the mythological giants with one hundred arms,
offspring of Gaia and Uranus, for our instrument study of a multifibre spectrograph for
the prime focus of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. Such an instrument could provide an
excellent ground-based complement for the Gaia mission and a northern complement to the
HERMES project on the AAT. The CFHT is well known for providing a stable prime focus
environment, with a large field of view, which has hosted several imaging instruments, but
has never hosted a multifibre spectrograph. Building upon the experience gained at GÉPI
with FLAMES-Giraffe and X-Shooter, we are investigating the feasibility of a high
multiplex spectrograph (about 500 fibres) over a field of view one degree in diameter. We
are investigating an instrument with resolution in the range 15 000 to 30 000, which
should provide accurate chemical abundances for stars down to 16th magnitude and radial
velocities, accurate to 1 km s-1 for fainter stars. The study is led by
GÉPI-Observatoire de Paris with a contribution from Oxford for the study of the
positioner. The financing for the study comes from INSU CSAA and Observatoire de Paris.
The conceptual study will be delivered to CFHT for review by October 1st 2010.
This paper is a summary of a presentation done during the ELSA conference in Sèvres, on
June 7th 2010 to describe the actions of the French space agency for space astronomy.
It starts by remembering what was done for Hipparcos, then on more recent astronomy
programs. It describes the supporting role of CNES for the French astronomy laboratories,
and the acting role in the DPAC consortium for the Gaia data processing: CNES is
integrating the scientific chains of object processing (CU4), spectroscopic processing
(CU6) and astrophysical parameters (CU8) in one processing centre. It will be operated in
CNES during the whole Gaia mission.
As data collection and computers expand their capabilities, modelling changes its
characteristics. Not only the purpose of modelling becomes multiple, but thresholds are
reached beyond which the best suited methods change. In view of the expected impact of the
GAIA mission, the possibilities of modelling the Milky Way and spiral galaxy dynamics over
the next decade are here discussed, taking the past development of galactic astronomy as a
I present ideas of Gaia’s impact on the determination of the properties of stars
primarily connected to the study of their atmospheres. This mainly relates to effective
temperatures, gravities and high-fidelity chemical abundances obtained by combining
envisioned Gaia measurements with ground-based spectroscopy ranging from single objects to
well-selected stellar populations. I further discuss the impact of Gaia on the study of
the kinematics of atmospheric flows.
Gaia will also provide a comprehensive survey of Solar System objects. If compared to
other large ground-based surveys, Gaia potential for discoveries of small asteroids
appears to be limited by its magnitude threshold for detection. However, it can provide
valuable data on the physical properties of the observed objects. If compared to LSST,
Pan-STARRS or other surveys Gaia is complementary and occupies a clearly defined
niche on its own.
ELSA (European Leadership in Space Astrometry) is a four-year, EU-funded Research
Training Network ending in September 2010. It has employed 10 postgraduate students and 5
postdocs for 2–3 years and financed a number of workshops, training events and topical
meetings, culminating in the present symposium. The primary goal of ELSA is to train young
scientists in the context of the Gaia project while contributing to the scientific
preparations for the mission. The organization, aims and history of ELSA are outlined.
Pulsating variable stars are powerful tools to study the structure and evolution of
galaxies. Among different types of pulsating variables the Classical Cepheids trace the
young stellar component in galaxies, and are one of the most important primary stellar
distance indicators in establishing the cosmic distance scale. Instead, the RR Lyrae
stars, with ages comparable to the age of the Universe, eyewitnessed the processes
occurring in the very early times of galaxy formation, and thus can provide hints on how
galaxies have formed. The role played by the pulsating variable stars in our understanding
of the galactic structure and evolution is briefly reviewed in light of the promises of
the scientific exploitation of the Gaia mission.
The Gaia spectro-photometric data consist of white-light G magnitudes from unfiltered
fluxes measured in the astrometric field CCDs, and low resolution prism spectra measured
in the blue (BP) and red (RP) CCDs. The integrated flux of these BP and RP spectra will
yield GBP and GRP magnitudes as
two broad passbands. The internal flux calibration will correct for all possible
instrumental effects and produce mean spectral energy distributions in an internally
defined flux scale. The purpose of the absolute flux calibration is to tie this flux scale
to physical units by means of spectro-photometric standard stars that rely ultimately on
Vega’s absolute flux scale. The characteristics of the Gaia spectrophotometric system will
be described, and the absolute calibration process will be outlined and compared with
examples of classical systems.
Gaia is the sixth cornerstone of the ESA Scientific Programme. Beginning 2006, the
programme implementation phase was kicked off at Astrium Satellites. At summer 2010 all
Critical Design Reviews of the modules have been passed successfully, which enables to
give a good snapshot of the development progress. This presentation summarizes the history
of the satellite programme. The status of the current development will be presented with a
focus of the main challenging equipment, with a particular insight on the payload.
During the five years of the mission, the Gaia spectrograph, the Radial Velocity
Spectrometer (RVS) will repeatedly survey the celestial sphere down to magnitude
V ~ 17–18. This talk presents: (i) the system which is currently developed within
the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) to reduce and calibrate the
spectra and to derive the radial and rotational velocities, (ii) the RVS expected
performances and (iii) scientific returns.