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The extragalactic background at ultraviolet, X-ray and gamma ray energies is reviewed. Early work on the diffuse backgrounds in each of these bands was motivated, at least in part, by the idea that these fluxes were the result of processes which produced a truly diffuse flux with profound cosmological implications. As we will see, these processes were not observed. However, the study of this background has led to the discovery of unexpected processes at work in the Universe. Our current understanding of these backgrounds is presented.
Because the division consists of many very active commissions, most activities are included in the reports of the individual commissions. This report highlights a small subset of the major achievements that are covered in detail in the reports by the commissions. Some administrative activities of the division and reports of the divisional working groups and committees are also included as subsequent sections of this divisional report.
We present results from a search for FUV emission from the diffuse ISM conducted with an orbital FUV spectrometer, DUVE, which was launched in July, 1992. The DUVE spectrometer, which covers the band from 950 Å to 1080 Å with 3.2 Å resolution, observed a region of low neutral hydrogen column density near the south galactic pole for a total effective integration time of 1583 seconds, the only emission line detected was a geocoronal hydrogen line at 1025 Å . We were able to place upper limits to several emission features that provide constraints to interstellar plasma parameters. We were also able to place continuum limits in this band. We use these upper limits to place constraints upon the emission measure vs. temperature distribution of this gas using an isothermal Landini and Fossi model.
We are now developing an innovative SETI project, tentatively named seti@home, involving massively parallel computation on desktop computers scattered around the world. The public will be uniquely involved in a real scientific project. Individuals will download a Screensaver program that will not only provide the usual attractive graphics when their computer is idle, but will also perform sophisticated analysis of SETI data using the host computer. The data are tapped off Project Serendip IV’s receiver and SETI survey operating on the 305-meter diameter Arecibo radio telescope. We make a continuous tape-recording of a 2 MHz bandwidth signal centered on the 21 cm H I line. The data on these tapes are then preliminarily screened and parceled out by a server that supplies small chunks of data (50 sec of 20 kHz bandwidth, a total of 0.25 MB) over the Internet to clients possessing the screen-saver software. After the client computer has automatically analyzed a complete chunk of data (in a much more detailed manner than Serendip normally does) a report on the best candidate signals is sent back to the server, whereupon a new chunk of data is sent out. If 50,000-100,000 customers can be achieved, the computing power will be equivalent to a substantial fraction of a typical supercomputer, and seti@home will cover a comparable volume of parameter space to that of Serendip IV.
New results from EUVE are reviewed, with emphasis on the ionization state of the ISM and the question of thermal pressure balance between warm clouds and the hot intercloud medium. A description of what may be expected from the next generation of experiments, some to be launched shortly, will also be presented.
We have used the Deep Survey telescope of EUVE to investigate shadows in the diffuse EUV/Soft X-ray background cast by clouds in the interstellar medium. We confirm the existence of a shadow previously reported, and provide evidence for two new shadows. We used IRAS data to identify the clouds producing these shadows and to determine their optical depth to EUV radiation. The EUV-absorbing clouds are optically thick in the EUV, and all EUV emission detected in the direction of these shadows must be produced from material in front of the clouds. We obtained new optical data to determine the distance to these clouds. We use a new differential cloud technique to obtain the pressure of the interstellar medium. These results do not depend on any zero level calibration of the data. Our results provide evidence that the pressure of the hot interstellar gas is the same in three different directions in the local interstellar medium, and is at least 8 times higher than derived for the local cloud surrounding our Sun. This provides new evidence for large thermal pressure imbalances in the local ISM, and directly contradicts the basic assumption of thermal pressure equilibrium used in almost all present models of the interstellar medium.
We present measurements of interstellar H2 absorption lines in the continuum spectra of seven early-type stars in the Galactic disk at distances between 1 and 4 kpc. The spectra, obtained with the Berkeley EUV/FUV spectrometer on the ORFEUS telescope in 1993 September, have a resolution of 3000 and statistical signal-to-noise ratios between 20 and 80. We determine column densities for each observed rotational level and derive mean excitation temperatures and proton density limits for the H2 clouds along each line of sight. The gross properties of the H2-bearing clouds (e.g., column density, spatial density, cloud size) are consistent with those derived from Copernicus observations, though our lines of sight are much longer, with lower average reddenings and neutral gas densities. We find that the molecular fraction of the neutral hydrogen remains ~ 0.1 out to distances of 4 kpc in the Galactic disk.
We have conducted an extensive analysis of the observability of Classical Novae with the EUVE Lex/B and Al/Ti/C detectors. Predicted count rates have been computed using optically thin, isothermal plasma models for solar and metal-rich compositions, and hot ONeMg white dwarf model atmospheres. We find EUVE to be quite sensitive to both the EUV and soft X-ray emission emitted by the underlying hot white dwarf during novae outbursts, except for the coolest temperatures with very high intervening hydrogen column density. These results are used to interpret the emission detected during the EUVE all-sky survey of Nova Cygni 1992 (≡ V1974 Cyg), 279–290 days after visual maximum. We find the best fit to the observed emission from V1974 Cyg arises from a hot ONeMg white dwarf with surface temperature ~ 4 × 105 K and a mass of ~1.2 M⊙, and derive an interstellar hydrogen column density of ~ 3 × 1021 cm−2. Virtually all this emission arises from supersoft X-rays rather than the EUV. We also report the detection of V1974 Cyg with the EUVE Deep Survey detector at 549 days after visual maximum. This observation is compatible with the above properties, indicating that the mechanism responsible for the soft X-ray emission, connected with the underlying white dwarf, had not yet entirely turned off. We also present analysis of a ROSAT PSPC observation which is contemporaneous with the EUVE survey observations; this independently confirms the high column density we derived from the EUVE survey observation. Light curves for the EUVE and ROSAT observations are presented. Statistical tests for variability show that all of these observations are indeed highly variable over various time scales. The EUVE survey data shows one day variations, the EUVE DS data show ~30 minute fluctuations, while the ROSAT data vary rapidly on time scales of seconds. The EUVE data shows no periodic variability on any time scale. The implications of the rapid variability are briefly discussed.
Three pulsars have been detected with the Lexan (100 Å )filter of the EUVE Deep Survey telescope: the middle-aged isolated pulsars, PSR B0656+14 and Geminga, plus the aged millisecond pulsar PSR J0437–4715. The EUV detections have been used both alone and in combination with observations in other bandpasses to limit the physical state of the objects and to test theories regarding neutron star cooling and re-heating mechanisms. For Geminga, the EUVE data suggests the presence of an optical cyclotron spectral feature superimposed on the Rayleigh-Jeans continuum tail from a hot pulsar surface. We summarize EUV pulsar observations and results.
We have carried out optical and Far UV studies of the field around the EUV source EUVE J1027+323. We find two sources which contribute to this flux which are spatially unresolvable with EUVE. One is a non-cataloged QSO and one is a “hidden” hot white dwarf. Reasonable scenarios ascribe the majority of the flux to the white dwarf.
The Berkeley spectrometer aboard the ORFEUS payload achieved a variety of “firsts” during its inaugural mission in September 1993. The instrument utilizes spherical gratings with mechanically ruled varied line-spacing, and curved microchannel plate detectors with delay-line anode readout systems, to cover the 390 – 1200 Å band at a resolution of λ/5000. The instrument will be discussed, and its performance illustrated with calibration and in-flight spectra. Science highlights from the ORFEUS-I mission will be presented (oral presentation only). The payload will be available for use by guest investigators during the ORFEUS-II mission currently scheduled for late 1996.
Observations in the EUV band have provided new insights into the interstellar medium. In the following I discuss two areas in which EUV observations are providing unique information: the ionization state of the ISM, and the pressure of the hot phase of the local interstellar medium and the bearing of this work on the McKee-Ostriker model of the ISM.
Neutron stars were not expected to be observable in the extreme ultraviolet and hence their detection in this band is a surprise. More important is that EUV observations provide unique new information on these objects. In the accompanying Table 1, I list the neutron stars detected in the EUV with the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer (EUVE). The binary object Her X-l is the only object detected in the all sky survey. This is not surprising since it is the only neutron star system with sufficient intensity to be detectable in the 500 to 2000 second sky intergrations which are typical for the EUVE all sky survey. All the neutron stars were detected in the 100 Å (Lexan) bandpass. A more complete description of EUVE and the all sky survey are provided in Bowyer and Malina (1991), and in Bowyer et al. (1994).
The Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer mission is described. For the first six months, an all-sky survey will be carried out covering 90 to 750 Å, or essentially the entire extreme ultraviolet (EUV) bandpass. This EUV survey will be made in four bands, or colors: λλ 90-150 Å, 170-250 Å, 400-600 Å, and 550-750 Å. A portion of the sky which is free from the normally intense 304 Å geocoronal helium background will be surveyed at greater sensitivity; the wavelength coverage of this band is from 90 to 400 Å. Following the sky survey portion of the mission, spectroscopy of individual sources will be carried out. Three spectrometers employing novel variable line-space gratings will provide spectra with ~1 Å resolution over the band from 70 to 760 Å. This spectroscopy will be carried out by guest observers chosen by NASA in a manner roughly analogous to the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) guest observer program.
We present a new design for high resolution spectroscopy from 80 to 400 Å. This design employs grazing incidence optics and variable line-spaced gratings to achieve high resolution. Unlike some previously proposed EUV echelles, this design employs straight groove planar gratings, which are a well-proven, easily manufactured design. The instrument delivers a peak resolution of λ/Δλ = 7500 and a peak effective area of 3 cm2.
Measurements of the far ultraviolet background are reviewed. A major turning point occurred in the study of this field in the early 1980s, when evidence was first presented that this flux was primarily galactic in origin rather than extragalactic, as had been generally believed. A number of experiments have confirmed this result, and it has been established that the flux is the result of scattering of starlight by dust. However, the detailed scattering properties of dust in the far ultraviolet are uncertain; a wide range of albedos and scattering phase functions have been reported. Very recent evidence indicates that ultraviolet scattering grains are different from grains that scatter in the visible in that they have a low albedo and scatter isotropically. There is evidence that this dust is present at some level in all view directions in the galaxy. Spectral emission features have been detected recently in the diffuse background. Lines of C IV and O III] have been observed and lines of O IV/Si IV and N III have probably been observed. It has been established that the 105 K gas producing these lines is 2–3 kpc above the galactic plane. Overall mass flux rates of 5 to 25 M⊙ yr−1 for this gas are indicated, which provides strong support for the galactic fountain model for this material. Emission from molecular hydrogen has been detected in directions of high and low neutral hydrogen column density. This emission emanates from low density molecular clouds and indicates clumping of the emitting material in the clouds. Our knowledge of the sources of the far ultraviolet background has increased dramatically in the past 10 years. The results obtained have yielded surprising new insights on a variety of astrophysical topics.
NASA's Ultraviolet Experiment (UVX) payload, which flew aboard space shuttle Columbia in January 1986, contained a spectrograph built by the Space Astrophysics Group at the University of California, Berkeley. The wavelength range is 1400–1850 Å with a FWHM resolution of ~15 ± 2 Å. A full description of the instrument can be found in Martin and Bowyer (1984). The instrument was pointed at various regions of the sky for 8 nighttime orbits. Targets spanning a wide range of galactic latitudes and neutral hydrogen column densities were observed.