Dimitrios Psaltis - Steward Observatory and Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona

Dimitrios Psaltis
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Dimitrios Psaltis
Steward Observatory and Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona
Sun City
United States

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High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (43)
General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (17)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (8)
Nuclear Theory (7)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (7)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (5)
Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (5)
Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (2)
High Energy Physics - Theory (1)

Publications Authored By Dimitrios Psaltis

Non-ideal MHD effects may play a significant role in determining the dynamics, thermal properties, and observational signatures of radiatively inefficient accretion flows onto black holes. In particular, particle acceleration during magnetic reconnection events may influence black hole spectra and flaring properties. We use representative GRMHD simulations of black hole accretion flows to identify and explore the structures and properties of current sheets as potential sites of magnetic reconnection. Read More

One of the key goals of observing neutron stars is to infer the equation of state (EoS) of the cold, ultradense matter in their interiors. We present here a Bayesian statistical method of inferring the pressures at five fixed densities, from a sample of mock neutron star masses and radii. We show that while five polytropic segments are needed for maximum flexibility in the absence of any prior knowledge of the EoS, regularizers are also necessary to ensure that simple underlying EoS are not over-parametrized. Read More

The observable quantities that carry the most information regarding the structures of the images of black holes in the interferometric observations with the Event Horizon Telescope are the closure phases along different baseline triangles. We use long time span, high cadence, GRMHD+radiative transfer models of Sgr A$^*$ to investigate the expected variability of closure phases in such observations. We find that, in general, closure phases along small baseline triangles show little variability, except in the cases when one of the triangle vertices crosses one of a small regions of low visibility amplitude. Read More

The Event Horizon Telescope is a global very-long baseline interferometer capable of probing potential deviations from the Kerr metric, which is believed to provide the unique description of astrophysical black holes. Here we report an updated constraint on the quadrupolar deviation of Sagittarius A* within the context of a radiatively inefficient accretion flow model in a quasi-Kerr background. We also simulate near-future constraints obtainable by the forthcoming eight-station array and show that in this model already a one-day observation can measure the spin magnitude to within $0. Read More

The need for a consistent quantum evolution for black holes has led to proposals that their semiclassical description is modified not just near the singularity, but at horizon or larger scales. If such modifications extend beyond the horizon, they influence regions accessible to distant observeration. Natural candidates for these modifications behave like metric fluctuations, with characteristic length and time scales set by the horizon radius. Read More

The increasing number and precision of measurements of neutron star masses, radii, and, in the near future, moments of inertia offer the possibility of precisely determining the neutron star equation of state. One way to facilitate the mapping of observables to the equation of state is through a parametrization of the latter. We present here a generic method for optimizing the parametrization of any physically allowed EoS. Read More

A precise moment of inertia measurement for PSR J0737-3039A in the double pulsar system is expected within the next five years. We present here a new method of mapping the anticipated measurement of the moment of inertia directly into the neutron star structure. We determine the maximum and minimum values possible for the moment of inertia of a neutron star of a given radius based on physical stability arguments, assuming knowledge of the equation of state only at densities below the nuclear saturation density. Read More

Significant X-ray variability and flaring has been observed from Sgr A* but is poorly understood from a theoretical standpoint. We perform GRMHD simulations that take into account a population of non-thermal electrons with energy distributions and injection rates that are motivated by PIC simulations of magnetic reconnection. We explore the effects of including these non-thermal electrons on the predicted broadband variability of Sgr A* and find that X-ray variability is a generic result of localizing non-thermal electrons to highly magnetized regions, where particles are likely to be accelerated via magnetic reconnection. Read More

The Galactic Center black hole Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*) is a prime observing target for the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), which can resolve the 1.3 mm emission from this source on angular scales comparable to that of the general relativistic shadow. Previous EHT observations have used visibility amplitudes to infer the morphology of the millimeter-wavelength emission. Read More

One of the primary science goals of the next generation of hard X-ray timing instruments is to determine the equation of state of the matter at supranuclear densities inside neutron stars, by measuring the radius of neutron stars with different masses to accuracies of a few percent. Three main techniques can be used to achieve this goal. The first involves waveform modelling. Read More

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a millimeter-wavelength, very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) experiment that is capable of observing black holes with horizon-scale resolution. Early observations have revealed variable horizon-scale emission in the Galactic Center black hole, Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*). Comparing such observations to time-dependent general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic (GRMHD) simulations requires statistical tools that explicitly consider the variability in both the data and the models. Read More

Synthesis imaging of the black hole in the center of the Milky Way, Sgr A*, with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) rests on the assumption of a stationary image. We explore the limitations of this assumption using high-cadence GRMHD simulations of Sgr A*. We employ analytic models that capture the basic characteristics of the images to understand the origin of the variability in the simulated visibility amplitudes. Read More

The Neutron-star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) is an X-ray astrophysics payload that will be placed on the International Space Station. Its primary science goal is to measure with high accuracy the pulse profiles that arise from the non-uniform thermal surface emission of rotation-powered pulsars. Modeling general relativistic effects on the profiles will lead to measuring the radii of these neutron stars and to constraining their equation of state. Read More

Near a black hole, differential rotation of a magnetized accretion disk is thought to produce an instability that amplifies weak magnetic fields, driving accretion and outflow. These magnetic fields would naturally give rise to the observed synchrotron emission in galaxy cores and to the formation of relativistic jets, but no observations to date have been able to resolve the expected horizon-scale magnetic-field structure. We report interferometric observations at 1. Read More

One avenue for testing the no-hair theorem is obtained through timing a pulsar orbiting close to a black hole and fitting for quadrupolar effects on the time-of-arrival of pulses. If deviations from the Kerr quadrupole are measured, then the no-hair theorem is invalidated. To this end, we derive an expression for the light travel time delay for a pulsar orbiting in a black-hole spacetime described by the Butterworth-Ipser metric, which has an arbitrary spin and quadrupole moment. Read More

Affiliations: 1Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 2Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 3California Institute of Technology, Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, 4Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 5Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 6Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 7Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 8Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 9Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 10Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy, 11California Institute of Technology, Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, 12California Institute of Technology, Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, 13Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 14Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 15Rice University, Department of Physics and Astronomy, 16Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 17Georgia College, Department of Chemistry, Physics, and Astronomy, 18Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 19Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 20North-West University, Centre for Space Research, 21Technical University of Denmark, DTU Space, National Space Institute, 22Yale University, Department of Astronomy, 23Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 24University of Virginia, Department of Astronomy, 25MPI for Extraterrestrial Physics Garching, 26Durham University, Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, Department of Physics, 27Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 28North Carolina State University, Department of Physics, 29Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 30Cambridge, Institute of Astronomy, UK, 31Penn State University, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 32Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 33University of California, Berkeley, Department of Physics, 34ASI Science Data Center, Italy, 35California Institute of Technology, Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, 36Cambridge, Institute of Astronomy, UK, 37Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 38Purdue University, Department of Physics and Astronomy, 39Texas Tech University, Physics Department, 40Nagoya University, Center for Experimental Studies, Kobayashi-Maskawa Institute for the Origin of Particles and the Universe, 41University of Maryland, Physics Department, 42RIKEN, 43Univ. of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Astronomy Dept, 44Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 45Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, INAF, 46Department of Astronomy/Steward Observatory, 47Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 48Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 49Department of Astronomy/Steward Observatory, 50NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 51Tohoku University, Astronomical Institute, 52NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

This paper describes the Polarization Spectroscopic Telescope Array (PolSTAR), a mission proposed to NASA's 2014 Small Explorer (SMEX) announcement of opportunity. PolSTAR measures the linear polarization of 3-50 keV (requirement; goal: 2.5-70 keV) X-rays probing the behavior of matter, radiation and the very fabric of spacetime under the extreme conditions close to the event horizons of black holes, as well as in and around magnetars and neutron stars. Read More

We describe HEROIC, an upgraded version of the relativistic radiative post-processor code HERO described in a previous paper, but which now Includes Comptonization. HEROIC models Comptonization via the Kompaneets equation, using a quadratic approximation for the source function in the short characteristics radiation solver. It employs a simple form of accelerated lambda iteration to handle regions of high scattering opacity. Read More

The black hole in the center of the Milky Way, Sgr A*, has the largest mass-to-distance ratio among all known black holes in the Universe. This property makes Sgr A* the optimal target for testing the gravitational no-hair theorem. In the near future, major developments in instrumentation will provide the tools for high-precision studies of its spacetime via observations of relativistic effects in stellar orbits, in the timing of pulsars, and in horizon-scale images of its accretion flow. Read More

Data selection and the determination of systematic uncertainties in the spectroscopic measurements of neutron star radii from thermonuclear X-ray bursts have been the subject of numerous recent studies. In one approach, the uncertainties and outliers were determined by a data-driven Bayesian mixture model, whereas in a second approach, data selection was performed by requiring that the observations follow theoretical expectations. We show here that, due to inherent limitations in the data, the theoretically expected trends are not discernible in the majority of X-ray bursts even if they are present. Read More

We present a comprehensive study of spectroscopic radius measurements of twelve neutron stars obtained during thermonuclear bursts or in quiescence. We incorporate, for the first time, a large number of systematic uncertainties in the measurement of the apparent angular sizes, Eddington fluxes, and distances, in the composition of the interstellar medium, and in the flux calibration of X-ray detectors. We also take into account the results of recent theoretical calculations of rotational effects on neutron star radii, of atmospheric effects on surface spectra, and of relativistic corrections to the Eddington critical flux. Read More

Measuring neutron star radii with spectroscopic and timing techniques relies on the combination of multiple observables to break the degeneracies between the mass and radius introduced by general relativistic effects. Here, we explore a previously used frequentist and a newly proposed Bayesian framework to obtain the most likely value and the uncertainty in such a measurement. We find that, for the expected range of masses and radii and for realistic measurement errors, the frequentist approach suffers from biases that are larger than the accuracy in the radius measurement required to distinguish between the different equations of state. Read More

HERO (Hybrid Evaluator for Radiative Objects) is a 3D general relativistic radiative transfer code which has been tailored to the problem of analyzing radiation from simulations of relativistic accretion discs around black holes. HERO is designed to be used as a postprocessor. Given some fixed fluid structure for the disc (i. Read More

Affiliations: 1Steward Observatory and Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona, 2Steward Observatory and Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona, 3Steward Observatory and Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona, 4Department of Physics, UC Santa Barbara, 5Steward Observatory and Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona, 6MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, 7Institute for Theory and Computation, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

We explore the variability properties of long, high cadence GRMHD simulations across the electromagnetic spectrum using an efficient, GPU-based radiative transfer algorithm. We focus on both disk- and jet-dominated simulations with parameters that successfully reproduce the time-averaged spectral properties of Sgr A* and the size of its image at 1.3mm. Read More

We calculate the effects of spot size on pulse profiles of moderately rotating neutron stars. Specifically, we quantify the bias introduced in radius measurements from the common assumption that spots are infinitesimally small. We find that this assumption is reasonable for spots smaller than 10$^\circ$-18$^\circ$ and leads to errors that are $\le$10% in the radius measurement, depending on the location of the spot and the inclination of the observer. Read More

Many techniques for measuring neutron star radii rely on absolute flux measurements in the X-rays. As a result, one of the fundamental uncertainties in these spectroscopic measurements arises from the absolute flux calibrations of the detectors being used. Using the stable X-ray burster, GS 1826-238, and its simultaneous observations by Chandra HETG/ACIS-S and RXTE/PCA as well as by XMM-Newton EPIC-pn and RXTE/PCA, we quantify the degree of uncertainty in the flux calibration by assessing the differences between the measured fluxes during bursts. Read More

The current effort to test General Relativity employs multiple disparate formalisms for different observables, obscuring the relations between laboratory, astrophysical and cosmological constraints. To remedy this situation, we develop a parameter space for comparing tests of gravity on all scales in the universe. In particular, we present new methods for linking cosmological large-scale structure, the Cosmic Microwave Background and gravitational waves with classic PPN tests of gravity. Read More

The half opening angle of a Kerr black-hole shadow is always equal to (5+-0.2)GM/Dc^2, where M is the mass of the black hole and D is its distance from the Earth. Therefore, measuring the size of a shadow and verifying whether it is within this 4% range constitutes a null hypothesis test of General Relativity. Read More

Affiliations: 1Steward Observatory and Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona, 2Steward Observatory and Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona, 3Steward Observatory and Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona, 4Institute for Theory and Computation, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 5MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research

Recent advances in general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations have expanded and improved our understanding of the dynamics of black-hole accretion disks. However, current simulations do not capture the thermodynamics of electrons in the low density accreting plasma. This poses a significant challenge in predicting accretion flow images and spectra from first principles. Read More

Observations of the black hole in the center of the Milky Way with the Event Horizon Telescope at 1.3 mm have revealed a size of the emitting region that is smaller than the size of the black-hole shadow. This can be reconciled with the spectral properties of the source, if the accretion flow is seen at a relatively high inclination (50-60 degrees). Read More

The image of the emission surrounding the black hole in the center of the Milky Way is predicted to exhibit the imprint of general relativistic (GR) effects, including the existence of a shadow feature and a photon ring of diameter ~50 microarcseconds. Structure on these scales can be resolved by millimeter-wavelength very long baseline interferometry (VLBI). However, strong-field GR features of interest will be blurred at lambda >= 1. Read More

We calculate the rotational broadening in the observed thermal spectra of neutron stars spinning at moderate rates in the Hartle-Thorne approximation. These calculations accurately account for the effects of the second-order Doppler boosts as well as for the oblate shapes and the quadrupole moments of the neutron stars. We find that fitting the spectra and inferring the bolometric fluxes under the assumption that a star is not rotating causes an underestimate of the inferred fluxes and, thus, radii. Read More

Affiliations: 1MIT, 2Berkeley, 3Caltech, 4Arizona, 5IRAP/Toulouse, 6IRAP/Toulouse, 7Berkeley, 8DTU Space, 9LLNL/Berkeley, 10Caltech, 11Columbia, 12Caltech, 13McGill, 14Michigan, 15MIT, 16Caltech, 17JPL/Caltech, 18NASA/GSFC, 19Erlangen-Nuremberg, 20NASA/GSFC

The low-mass X-ray binary Cen X-4 is the brightest and closest (<1.2 kpc) quiescent neutron star transient. Previous 0. Read More

Black hole binaries exhibit a wide range of variability phenomena, from large-scale state changes to broadband noise and quasi-periodic oscillations, but the physical nature of much of this variability is poorly understood. We examine the variability properties of three GRMHD simulations of thin accretion disks around black holes of varying spin, producing light curves and power spectra as would be seen by observers. We find that the simulated power spectra show a broad feature at high frequency, which increases in amplitude with the inclination of the observer. Read More

Affiliations: 1Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, 2Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, 3Harvard University, 4University of Arizona

The advent of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a millimeter-wave very-long baseline interferometric array, has enabled spatially-resolved studies of the sub-horizon-scale structure for a handful of supermassive black holes. Among these, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), presents the largest angular cross section. Thus far, these studies have focused upon measurements of the black hole spin and the validation of low-luminosity accretion models. Read More

Modeling the amplitudes and shapes of the X-ray pulsations observed from hot, rotating neutron stars provides a direct method for measuring neutron-star properties. This technique constitutes an important part of the science case for the forthcoming NICER and proposed LOFT X-ray missions. In this paper, we determine the number of distinct observables that can be derived from pulse profile modeling and show that using only bolometric pulse profiles is insufficient for breaking the degeneracy between inferred neutron-star radius and mass. Read More

An international consortium is presently constructing a beamformer for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile that will be available as a facility instrument. The beamformer will aggregate the entire collecting area of the array into a single, very large aperture. The extraordinary sensitivity of phased ALMA, combined with the extremely fine angular resolution available on baselines to the Northern Hemisphere, will enable transformational new very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) observations in Bands 6 and 7 (1. Read More

Authors: Kirpal Nandra1, Didier Barret2, Xavier Barcons3, Andy Fabian4, Jan-Willem den Herder5, Luigi Piro6, Mike Watson7, Christophe Adami8, James Aird9, Jose Manuel Afonso10, Dave Alexander11, Costanza Argiroffi12, Lorenzo Amati13, Monique Arnaud14, Jean-Luc Atteia15, Marc Audard16, Carles Badenes17, Jean Ballet18, Lucia Ballo19, Aya Bamba20, Anil Bhardwaj21, Elia Stefano Battistelli22, Werner Becker23, Michaël De Becker24, Ehud Behar25, Stefano Bianchi26, Veronica Biffi27, Laura Bîrzan28, Fabrizio Bocchino29, Slavko Bogdanov30, Laurence Boirin31, Thomas Boller32, Stefano Borgani33, Katharina Borm34, Nicolas Bouché35, Hervé Bourdin36, Richard Bower37, Valentina Braito38, Enzo Branchini39, Graziella Branduardi-Raymont40, Joel Bregman41, Laura Brenneman42, Murray Brightman43, Marcus Brüggen44, Johannes Buchner45, Esra Bulbul46, Marcella Brusa47, Michal Bursa48, Alessandro Caccianiga49, Ed Cackett50, Sergio Campana51, Nico Cappelluti52, Massimo Cappi53, Francisco Carrera54, Maite Ceballos55, Finn Christensen56, You-Hua Chu57, Eugene Churazov58, Nicolas Clerc59, Stephane Corbel60, Amalia Corral61, Andrea Comastri62, Elisa Costantini63, Judith Croston64, Mauro Dadina65, Antonino D'Ai66, Anne Decourchelle67, Roberto Della Ceca68, Konrad Dennerl69, Klaus Dolag70, Chris Done71, Michal Dovciak72, Jeremy Drake73, Dominique Eckert74, Alastair Edge75, Stefano Ettori76, Yuichiro Ezoe77, Eric Feigelson78, Rob Fender79, Chiara Feruglio80, Alexis Finoguenov81, Fabrizio Fiore82, Massimiliano Galeazzi83, Sarah Gallagher84, Poshak Gandhi85, Massimo Gaspari86, Fabio Gastaldello87, Antonis Georgakakis88, Ioannis Georgantopoulos89, Marat Gilfanov90, Myriam Gitti91, Randy Gladstone92, Rene Goosmann93, Eric Gosset94, Nicolas Grosso95, Manuel Guedel96, Martin Guerrero97, Frank Haberl98, Martin Hardcastle99, Sebastian Heinz100, Almudena Alonso Herrero101, Anthony Hervé102, Mats Holmstrom103, Kazushi Iwasawa104, Peter Jonker105, Jelle Kaastra106, Erin Kara107, Vladimir Karas108, Joel Kastner109, Andrew King110, Daria Kosenko111, Dimita Koutroumpa112, Ralph Kraft113, Ingo Kreykenbohm114, Rosine Lallement115, Giorgio Lanzuisi116, J. Lee117, Marianne Lemoine-Goumard118, Andrew Lobban119, Giuseppe Lodato120, Lorenzo Lovisari121, Simone Lotti122, Ian McCharthy123, Brian McNamara124, Antonio Maggio125, Roberto Maiolino126, Barbara De Marco127, Domitilla de Martino128, Silvia Mateos129, Giorgio Matt130, Ben Maughan131, Pasquale Mazzotta132, Mariano Mendez133, Andrea Merloni134, Giuseppina Micela135, Marco Miceli136, Robert Mignani137, Jon Miller138, Giovanni Miniutti139, Silvano Molendi140, Rodolfo Montez141, Alberto Moretti142, Christian Motch143, Yaël Nazé144, Jukka Nevalainen145, Fabrizio Nicastro146, Paul Nulsen147, Takaya Ohashi148, Paul O'Brien149, Julian Osborne150, Lida Oskinova151, Florian Pacaud152, Frederik Paerels153, Mat Page154, Iossif Papadakis155, Giovanni Pareschi156, Robert Petre157, Pierre-Olivier Petrucci158, Enrico Piconcelli159, Ignazio Pillitteri160, C. Pinto161, Jelle de Plaa162, Etienne Pointecouteau163, Trevor Ponman164, Gabriele Ponti165, Delphine Porquet166, Ken Pounds167, Gabriel Pratt168, Peter Predehl169, Daniel Proga170, Dimitrios Psaltis171, David Rafferty172, Miriam Ramos-Ceja173, Piero Ranalli174, Elena Rasia175, Arne Rau176, Gregor Rauw177, Nanda Rea178, Andy Read179, James Reeves180, Thomas Reiprich181, Matthieu Renaud182, Chris Reynolds183, Guido Risaliti184, Jerome Rodriguez185, Paola Rodriguez Hidalgo186, Mauro Roncarelli187, David Rosario188, Mariachiara Rossetti189, Agata Rozanska190, Emmanouil Rovilos191, Ruben Salvaterra192, Mara Salvato193, Tiziana Di Salvo194, Jeremy Sanders195, Jorge Sanz-Forcada196, Kevin Schawinski197, Joop Schaye198, Axel Schwope199, Salvatore Sciortino200, Paola Severgnini201, Francesco Shankar202, Debora Sijacki203, Stuart Sim204, Christian Schmid205, Randall Smith206, Andrew Steiner207, Beate Stelzer208, Gordon Stewart209, Tod Strohmayer210, Lothar Strüder211, Ming Sun212, Yoh Takei213, V. Tatischeff214, Andreas Tiengo215, Francesco Tombesi216, Ginevra Trinchieri217, T. G. Tsuru218, Asif Ud-Doula219, Eugenio Ursino220, Lynne Valencic221, Eros Vanzella222, Simon Vaughan223, Cristian Vignali224, Jacco Vink225, Fabio Vito226, Marta Volonteri227, Daniel Wang228, Natalie Webb229, Richard Willingale230, Joern Wilms231, Michael Wise232, Diana Worrall233, Andrew Young234, Luca Zampieri235, Jean In't Zand236, Silvia Zane237, Andreas Zezas238, Yuying Zhang239, Irina Zhuravleva240
Affiliations: 1DE, 2FR, 3ES, 4UK, 5NL, 6IT, 7UK, 8FR, 9UK, 10PT, 11UK, 12IT, 13IT, 14FR, 15FR, 16CH, 17US, 18FR, 19IT, 20JP, 21IN, 22IT, 23DE, 24BE, 25IL, 26IT, 27IT, 28NL, 29IT, 30US, 31FR, 32DE, 33IT, 34DE, 35FR, 36IT, 37UK, 38IT, 39IT, 40UK, 41US, 42US, 43DE, 44DE, 45DE, 46US, 47IT, 48CZ, 49IT, 50US, 51IT, 52IT, 53IT, 54ES, 55ES, 56DK, 57US, 58DE, 59DE, 60FR, 61GR, 62IT, 63NL, 64UK, 65IT, 66IT, 67FR, 68IT, 69DE, 70DE, 71UK, 72CZ, 73US, 74CH, 75UK, 76IT, 77JP, 78US, 79UK, 80FR, 81FI, 82IT, 83IT, 84CA, 85UK, 86IT, 87IT, 88DE, 89GR, 90DE, 91IT, 92US, 93FR, 94BE, 95FR, 96AT, 97ES, 98DE, 99UK, 100US, 101ES, 102FR, 103SE, 104ES, 105NL, 106NL, 107UK, 108CZ, 109US, 110UK, 111FR, 112FR, 113US, 114D, 115FR, 116GR, 117US, 118FR, 119UK, 120IT, 121DE, 122IT, 123UK, 124CA, 125IT, 126UK, 127DE, 128IT, 129ES, 130IT, 131UK, 132IT, 133NL, 134DE, 135IT, 136IT, 137IT, 138US, 139ES, 140IT, 141ES, 142IT, 143FR, 144BE, 145FI, 146IT, 147US, 148JP, 149UK, 150UK, 151DE, 152DE, 153US, 154UK, 155GR, 156IT, 157US, 158FR, 159IT, 160IT, 161UK, 162NL, 163FR, 164UK, 165DE, 166FR, 167UK, 168FR, 169DE, 170US, 171US, 172NL, 173DE, 174IT, 175US, 176DE, 177BE, 178IT, 179UK, 180UK, 181DE, 182FR, 183US, 184IT, 185FR, 186CA, 187IT, 188DE, 189IT, 190PL, 191UK, 192IT, 193DE, 194IT, 195DE, 196ES, 197CH, 198NL, 199D, 200IT, 201IT, 202FR, 203UK, 204IE, 205DE, 206US, 207US, 208IT, 209UK, 210US, 211DE, 212US, 213JP, 214FR, 215IT, 216US, 217IT, 218JP, 219US, 220NL, 221US, 222IT, 223UK, 224IT, 225NL, 226IT, 227FR, 228US, 229FR, 230UK, 231DE, 232NL, 233UK, 234UK, 235IT, 236NL, 237UK, 238GR, 239DE, 240US

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. Read More

White dwarfs, neutron stars and stellar mass black holes are key laboratories to study matter in most extreme conditions of gravity and magnetic field. The unprecedented effective area of Athena+ will allow us to advance our understanding of emission mechanisms and accretion physics over a wide range of mass accretion rates, starting from lower and sub-luminous quiescent X-ray binaries up to super-Eddington ultra-luminous sources. Athena+ will measure stellar black hole spins in a much higher number of binaries than achievable now, opening the possibility to study how spin varies with black hole history. Read More

Using stellar structure calculations in the Hartle-Thorne approximation, we derive analytic expressions connecting the ellipticity of the stellar surface to the compactness, the spin angular momentum, and the quadrupole moment of the spacetime. We also obtain empirical relations between the compactness, the spin angular momentum, and the spacetime quadrupole. Our formulae reproduce the results of numerical calculations to within a few percent and help reduce the number of parameters necessary to model the observational appearance of moderately spinning neutron stars. Read More

We present a new numerical algorithm for the calculation of pulse profiles from spinning neutron stars in the Hartle-Thorne approximation. Our approach allows us to formally take into account the effects of Doppler shifts and aberration, of frame dragging, as well as of the oblateness of the stellar surface and of its quadrupole moment. We confirm an earlier result that neglecting the oblateness of the neutron-star surface leads to ~5-30% errors in the calculated profiles and further show that neglecting the quadrupole moment of its spacetime leads to ~1-5% errors at a spin frequency of 600 Hz. Read More

Affiliations: 1Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona, 2Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona, 3Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona

We introduce GRay, a massively parallel integrator designed to trace the trajectories of billions of photons in a curved spacetime. This GPU-based integrator employs the stream processing paradigm, is implemented in CUDA C/C++, and runs on nVidia graphics cards. The peak performance of GRay using single precision floating-point arithmetic on a single GPU exceeds 300 GFLOP (or 1 nanosecond per photon per time step). Read More

Monitoring the orbits of stars around Sgr A* offers the possibility of detecting the precession of their orbital planes due to frame dragging, of measuring the spin and quadrupole moment of the black hole, and of testing the no-hair theorem. Here we investigate whether the deviations of stellar orbits from test-particle trajectories due to wind mass loss and tidal dissipation of the orbital energy compromise such measurements. We find that the effects of stellar winds are, in general, negligible. Read More

Neutron stars spinning at moderate rates (~300-600Hz) become oblate in shape and acquire a nonzero quadrupole moment. In this paper, we calculate profiles of atomic features from such neutron stars using a ray-tracing algorithm in the Hartle-Thorne approximation. We show that line profiles acquire cores that are much narrower than the widths expected from pure Doppler effects for a large range of observer inclinations. Read More

According to the no-hair theorem, astrophysical black holes are fully characterized by their masses and spins and are described by the Kerr metric. This theorem can be tested observationally by measuring (at least) three different multipole moments of the spacetimes of black holes. In this paper, we calculate the profiles of fluorescent iron lines emitted from the accretion flows around black hole candidates within a framework that allows us to perform the calculation as a function of its mass and spin as well as of a free parameter that measures potential deviations from the Kerr metric. Read More

The observed flat rotation curves of galaxies require either the presence of dark matter in Newtonian gravitational potentials or a significant modification to the theory of gravity at galactic scales. Detecting relativistic Doppler shifts and gravitational effects in the rotation curves offers a tool for distinguishing between predictions of gravity theories that modify the inertia of particles and those that modify the field equations. These higher-order effects also allow us in principle, to test whether dark matter particles obey the equivalence principle. Read More

We investigate the distribution of neutron star masses in different populations of binaries, employing Bayesian statistical techniques. In particular, we explore the differences in neutron star masses between sources that have experienced distinct evolutionary paths and accretion episodes. We find that the distribution of neutron star masses in non-recycled eclipsing high-mass binaries as well as of slow pulsars, which are all believed to be near their birth masses, has a mean of 1. Read More

Dynamical mass measurements to date have allowed determinations of the mass M and the distance D of a number of nearby supermassive black holes. In the case of Sgr A*, these measurements are limited by a strong correlation between the mass and distance scaling roughly as M ~ D^2. Future very-long baseline interferometric (VLBI) observations will image a bright and narrow ring surrounding the shadow of a supermassive black hole, if its accretion flow is optically thin. Read More

Observations of stars and pulsars orbiting the black hole in the center of the Milky Way offer the potential of measuring not only the mass of the black hole but also its spin and quadrupole moment, thereby providing observational verification of the no-hair theorem. The relativistic effects that will allow us to measure these higher moments of the gravitational field, however, are very small and may be masked by drag forces that stars and pulsars experience orbiting within the hot, tenuous plasma that surrounds the black hole. The properties of this plasma at large distances from the central object have been measured using observations of the extended X-ray emission that surrounds the point source. Read More

We explore the evolution of the mass distribution of dust in collision-dominated debris disks, using the collisional code introduced in our previous paper. We analyze the equilibrium distribution and its dependence on model parameters by evolving over 100 models to 10 Gyr. With our numerical models, we confirm that systems reach collisional equilibrium with a mass distribution that is steeper than the traditional solution by Dohnanyi (1969). Read More

We develop a new numerical algorithm to model collisional cascades in debris disks. Because of the large dynamical range in particle masses, we solve the integro-differential equations describing erosive and catastrophic collisions in a particle-in-a-box approach, while treating the orbital dynamics of the particles in an approximate fashion. We employ a new scheme for describing erosive (cratering) collisions that yields a continuous set of outcomes as a function of colliding masses. Read More