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Dec 13, 2022

New GaiaSpecTool available on GaiaPortal@SSDC

The new GaiaSPECtool tab is now online!
Easy-to-use GaiaPortal combined with powerful GaiaXPy spectra handling!
This new tool is based on the official Python package GaiaXPy, developed and maintained by members of the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) and in particular, Coordination Unit 5 (CU5), and the Data Processing Centre located at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK (DPCI).

GaiaSPECtool can be used on a single Gaia DR3 source or, for registered users only, on a list of sources to:
  • convert Gaia DR3 mean spectra from a continuous representation to a sampled spectrum, optionally on a user-defined wavelength grid. Sampled spectra can be provided in two data formats:
    1. two separate files, one with the wavelength sampling array, the other containing in each line the sourceId, flux, and fluxerror arrays (in [W m-2 nm-1]);
    2. individual csv files (one for each source), containing 3 columns (wavelength, flux, fluxerror in [W m-2nm-1] or [erg cm-2 s-1 -1]).
    Plots of the spectra can also be requested.
  • Compute synthetic photometry in bands that are covered by the BP/RP wavelength range.
    Several sets of filters are included in the package.
  • The original Gaia DR3 continuous mean spectra are also provided in a single csv file, for use with a local installation of GaiaXPy, if needed.

GaiaSPECtool can be accessed here, through the GaiaPortal DR3 main tab.

Jun 13, 2022

SSDC contribution to Gaia DR3

On June 13th the Gaia collaboration has released its Gaia Data Release 3 catalogue.
Gaia DR3 data are based on data collected between 25 July 2014 and 28 May 2017, spanning a period of 34 months. As a comparison, Gaia DR2 was based on 22 months of data and Gaia DR1 was based on observations collected during the first 14 months of Gaia's routine operational phase.
Gaia DR3 catalogue contains more than 1.8 billion stars with proper motion and parallax for 1.5 billion sources.
Gaia DR3 catalogue also includes BP and RP spectra for 220 million stars, RVS spectra for 1 million stars and epoch photometry for more than 11 million stars. Gaia is also publishing the astrophysical parameters for more than 1.5 billion stars, radial velocity measurements for 34 million stars and variability measurements for more than 10.5 million sources.

SSDC is one of the four ESA partner data centers for the publication and dissemination of Gaia data releases.
SSDC has thus designed, developed, and made publicly available an access point to the Gaia and cross-matched external catalogues data: the GaiaPortal. SSDC is continuing to develop access, data extraction and multi-wavelength cross-match tools to enable the astronomical community to handle and fully exploit the scientific potential of this enormous archive.
In addition, SSDC is responsible for the calculation of the official cross-match of the Gaia catalogue with the largest public available optical and near-IR catalogues ensuring an all-sky, panchromatic vision of the universe.

Jun 11, 2022

Happy 14-year birthday, GLAST/Fermi!

On June 11, 2008 (14 years ago) NASA launched the Fermi Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (previously known as GLAST) into orbit. Fermi satellite's name was chosen to honor the famous Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, who first proposed the eponymous mechanism for the acceleration of cosmic rays that creates many of the high-energy gamma rays that the satellite detects. Fermi LAT is continuing to map the entire high-energy gamma-ray sky every ~three hours. Recently the Data-Release 3 of the incremental version of the fourth Fermi LAT catalog of gamma-ray sources (4FGL-DR3) based on the first twelve years of science data in the energy range from 50 MeV to 1 TeV, and containing 6658 sources, has been published. The companion fourth LAT catalog of active galactic nuclei (data release 3, 4LAC-DR3), co-driven by the SSDC Fermi team , includes 1607 new AGN sources relative to the initial 4FGL-DR1 catalog.
The LAT science photon event data archive at the SSDC currently holds more than 1 billion and 530 millions gamma-ray photons ready for science analysis. Finally the 10th International Fermi Symposium will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from October 9-15, 2022. Fermi LAT and GMB detectors and instruments were built and are operated by an international collaboration between astrophysicists and particle physicists from the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Sweden.

Apr 22, 2022

The ASI scientific satellite AGILE turns 15 years in orbit

15 years after its launch on 23 April 2007, the AGILE satellite of ASI, built and operated in cooperation with INAF and INFN, is still fully operational and continues its monitoring of the high-energy sky. AGILE is providing a unique contribution to the search for the gamma-ray counterparts of gravitational waves, neutrinos, fast radio bursts and other transients.

In these fifteen years, the satellite has completed more than 77,600 orbits around the Earth equator. AGILE observations are regularly transmitted to the ground through the ASI tracking station in Malindi (Kenya), sent to the Telespazio control center in Fucino via ASINET, and from there to the ASI Space Science Data Center (SSDC) in Rome, which oversees all the scientific activities related to the analysis, archiving and distribution of AGILE data.

AGILE made several important scientific discoveries, including: a novel mechanism of particle acceleration operating in the Crab Nebula (Bruno Rossi Prize 2012); the emission of transient gamma-rays correlated with relativistic jet ejections from Galactic compact sources; the first evidence of hadronic cosmic ray production from a SNR; the emission of very powerful gamma-ray flares from accreting super-massive black holes in AGNs. Also, terrestrial applications are relevant for the science program: AGILE discovered gamma-ray emission above 20 MeV from Terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) produced by powerful lightning and thunderstorms.

Recently, AGILE observations in April 2020 provided crucial information relevant to our understanding of the physical mechanisms behind the mysterious fast radio bursts (FRBs) and their connection to magnetar events.

Finally, thanks to a new dedicated pipeline detecting variations of the count rate from the Anticoincidence panel oriented toward the Sun, AGILE may play a role also in solar related science, providing a fast alert to the space weather community about hard-X ray flares (80-200 keV) observed from the Sun.

- Links (in Italian): ASI News; Media INAF News

Artistic rendition of the AGILE satellite orbiting the Earth (credit ASI).

Apr 19, 2022

SSDC in memory of Maria Teresa Capria

On Friday, April 15th Maria Teresa Capria, INAF-IAPS Senior Researcher and SSDC Senior Scientist, passed away, after a long period of illness.

She has been a renowned expert of thermophysical modeling of planetary bodies also dedicating huge efforts in the definition and application of best practices for data maintenance and curation for planetary exploration missions.

Thanks to her role as SSDC Senior Scientist she was one of the founders of the present day organization of the Center for what regards Solar System Exploration, pushing for the development of a tool able to provide users data fusion capabilities and FAIR principles compliance.

That tool is now MATISSE and its complete development and diffusion inside the scientific community of interest is also due to its exploitation for VIRTIS-Rosetta and VIR-Dawn datasets, hardly possible without the Maria Teresa will.

It is worthy remembering her vision as the major contribution in creating a robust Solar System Exploration research able to develope and maintain her brilliant idea of a multi-disciplinary, open data driven, Planetary Exploration branch in SSDC.

Maria Teresa Capria at her last SSDC seminar on December 12th 2019 about ESA Comet Interceptor mission

Feb 01, 2022

The SURVEY of SURVEYS available on GaiaPortal@SSDC

A new astronomical database containing the recalibrated measurements from all main large spectroscopic surveys has just been released to the international scientific community and is available online on GaiaPortal.

The Survey of Surveys represents the synthesis of spectroscopic measurements available in the large spectroscopic surveys for the Milky Way stars. The project is led by Italian scientists, with SSDC-ASI leading the cross-match phase, the database management and the data access, and INAF-Florence leading the scientific analysis of data (for further information see here).

Astronomical surveys generally include several types of stars and are built collecting data with different instruments and telescopes located on both Earth hemispheres. In addition, the measurements obtained are analysed using different methods, and finally presented in several catalogues having their own format and content. Until now, there was no single and uniform reference catalogue for spectroscopic measurements. The SoS data release 1, the largest catalogue of radial velocity to date containing data for more than eleven million stars, was created through the cross-match and recalibration of all large surveys (GaiaDR2, APOGEE, RAVE, GALAH, GES, LAMOST) on a single reference scale.

The first stellar parameter published in the SoS is the radial velocity, with an accuracy of about 300 m/s and a precision of about 0.5-2 km/s (a very good quality for such a large and composite catalogue).
The future releases of the SoS catalogue will include further stellar parameters and detailed chemical information.