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Goddard, MD, United States

Seager S.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Deming D.,Goddard Space Flight Center
Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2010

At the dawn of the first discovery of exoplanets orbiting Sun-like stars in the mid-1990s, few believed that observations of exoplanet atmospheres would ever be possible. After the 2002 Hubble Space Telescope detection of a transiting exoplanet atmosphere, many skeptics discounted it as a one-object, one-method success. Nevertheless, the field is now firmly established, with over two dozen exoplanet atmospheres observed today. Hot Jupiters are the type of exoplanet currently most amenable to study. Highlights include: detection of molecular spectral features, observation of day-night temperature gradients, and constraints on vertical atmospheric structure. Atmospheres of giant planets far from their host stars are also being studied with direct imaging. The ultimate exoplanet goal is to answer the enigmatic and ancient question, "Are we alone?" via detection of atmospheric biosignatures.Two exciting prospects are the immediate focus on transiting super Earths orbiting in the habitable zone of M-dwarfs, and ultimately the spaceborne direct imaging of true Earth analogs. © 2010 by Annual Reviews.

Kashlinsky A.,Goddard Space Flight Center | Atrio-Barandela F.,University of Salamanca | Ebeling H.,University of Hawaii at Manoa | Edge A.,Durham University | Kocevski D.,University of California at Davis
Astrophysical Journal Letters | Year: 2010

We present new measurements of the large-scale bulk flows of galaxy clusters based on five-year WMAP data and a significantly expanded X-ray cluster catalog. Our method probes the flow via measurements of the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (SZ) effect produced by the hot gas in moving clusters. It computes the dipole in the cosmic microwave background data at cluster pixels, which preserves the SZ component while integrating down other contributions. Our improved catalog of over 1000 clusters enables us to further investigate possible systematic effects and, thanks to a higher median cluster redshift, allows us to measure the bulk flow to larger scales. We present a corrected error treatment and demonstrate that the more X-ray luminous clusters, while fewer in number, have much larger optical depth, resulting in a higher dipole and thus a more accurate flow measurement. This results in the observed correlation of the dipole derived at the aperture of zero monopole with the monopole measured over the cluster central regions. This correlation is expected if the dipole is produced by the SZ effect and cannot be caused by unidentified systematics (or primary cosmic microwave background anisotropies). We measure that the flow is consistent with approximately constant velocity out to at least ≃800 Mpc. The significance of the measured signal peaks around 500 h -1 70 Mpc, most likely because the contribution from more distant clusters becomes progressively more diluted by the WMAP beam. However, at present, we cannot rule out that these more distant clusters simply contribute less to the overall motion. © 2010 The American Astronomical Society.

Fixsen D.J.,University of Maryland College Park | Kashlinsky A.,Goddard Space Flight Center
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2011

Conventional interpretation of the observed cosmic microwave background (CMB) dipole is that all of it is produced by local peculiar motions. Alternative explanations requiring part of the dipole to be primordial have received support from measurements of large-scale bulk flows. A test of the two hypotheses is whether other cosmic dipoles produced by collapsed structures later than the last scattering coincide with the CMB dipole. One background is the cosmic infrared background (CIB) whose absolute spectrum was measured to 30% by the COBE satellite. Over the 100-500μm wavelength range its spectral energy distribution can provide a probe of its alignment with the CMB. This is tested with the COBE FIRAS data set which is available for such a measurement because of its low noise and frequency resolution which are important for Galaxy subtraction. Although the FIRAS instrument noise is in principle low enough to determine the CIB dipole, the Galactic foreground is sufficiently close spectrally to keep the CIB dipole hidden. A similar analysis is performed with DIRBE, which - because of the limited frequency coverage - provides a poorer data set. We discuss strategies for measuring the CIB dipole with future instruments to probe the tilt and apply it to the Planck, Herschel, and the proposed Pixie missions. We demonstrate that a future FIRAS-like instrument with instrument noise a factor of 10 lower than FIRAS would make a statistically significant measurement of the CIB dipole. We find that the Planck and Herschel data sets will not allow a robust CIB dipole measurement. The Pixie instrument promises a determination of the CIB dipole and its alignment with either the CMB dipole or the dipole galaxy acceleration vector. © 2011. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Henry A.,Goddard Space Flight Center | Scarlata C.,University of Minnesota | Martin C.L.,University of California at Santa Barbara | Erb D.,University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2015

We report Hubble Space Telescope/Cosmic Origins Spectrograph observations of the Lyα emission and interstellar absorption lines in a sample of 10 star-forming galaxies at z ∼ 0.2. Selected on the basis of high equivalent width optical emission lines, the sample, dubbed "Green Peas," make some of the best analogs for young galaxies in an early universe. We detect Lyα emission in all ten galaxies, and 9/10 show double-peaked line profiles suggestive of low H i column density. We measure Lyα/Hα flux ratios of 0.5-5.6, implying that 5%-60% of Lyα photons escape the galaxies. These data confirm previous findings that low-ionization metal absorption (LIS) lines are weaker when Lyα escape fraction and equivalent width are higher. However, contrary to previously favored interpretations of this trend, increased Lyα output cannot be the result of a varying H i covering: the Lyman absorption lines (Lyβ and higher) show a covering fraction near unity for gas with NH i ≥ 1016 cm-2. Moreover, we detect no correlation between Lyα escape and the outflow velocity of the LIS lines, suggesting that kinematic effects do not explain the range of Lyα/Hα flux ratios in these galaxies. In contrast, we detect a strong anticorrelation between the Lyα escape fraction and the velocity separation of the Lyα emission peaks, driven primarily by the velocity of the blue peak. As this velocity separation is sensitive to H i column density, we conclude that Lyα escape in these Green Peas is likely regulated by the H i column density rather than outflow velocity or H i covering fraction. © 2015. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved..

Jahoda K.,Goddard Space Flight Center
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2010

The Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer (GEMS), currently in Phase B, will be the 13th in NASA's Small Explorer series and is being developed for an April 2014 launch readiness date. Sensitive X-ray polarization measurements are enabled by advances in photoelectric polarimetry. This paper summarizes the scientific objectives and mission characteristics which exploit this advance © 2010 SPIE.

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