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May 23, 2024

Euclid: Five new amazing images

ESA's Euclid space mission has released five new images that show different and amazing aspects of our Universe, in space and in time, from star forming regions to very distant galaxy systems. The five targets shown here are (clockwise from top left) the Dorado Group, Messier 78, NGC 6744, Abell 2764, and Abell 2390.

This new set of images accompanies the first phases of Euclid's scientific main survey, which aims at answering the biggest open questions of cosmology and revealing the dark side of our Universe. The quality of these images, and in particular the level of detail that can be achieved, demonstrates that Euclid has the potential to fulfill its ambitious scientific goals.

These images complement the publication of a series of technical papers, which present the first scientific results and describe all the aspects of the preparation and commissioning of the instruments mounted on the Euclid space telescope.

Apr 23, 2024

HERMES First Light On Board SpIRIT!

The University of Melbourne, the Italian Space Agency, the Australian Space Agency and the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics have announced the successful scientific operations of the HERMES instrument on board the SpIRIT satellite.

The HERMES payload successfully collected light particles known as photons during a brief observation lasting about 10 minutes – a significant milestone astronomers call “first light”.

HERMES scientific data are received, processed and archived at the ASI Space Science Data Center (SSDC). SSDC also developed the scientific software for data calibration and cleaning and hosts the Science Operation Center (SOC) of HERMES.

ASI Press release:

INAF Press release:

10 min scan of the sky in the three energy bands 3-10 keV, 10-100 keV and 100 keV-2 MeV. The modulation seen at low and medium energies is mainly due to partial Earth occultation of the Cosmic X-ray Background. The level of the background detected in the three energy bands is consistent with pre-flight estimates.

Apr 22, 2024

First release of Mini-EUSO Earth emission data in the Ultra Violet range

We are pleased to announce the first release of Mini-EUSO UV Earth emission data.
Mini-EUSO is a wide field of view UV camera operating from the International Space Station since 2019. Goal of this experiment is the understanding of the experimental conditions in view of future ultra-high-energy cosmic ray observatories from space. Mini-EUSO acquires data at night-time between -51 and +51 degrees of latitude with a time resolution of 2.5µs and with single-photon counting capability. We present here the integrated emission measured over 1.5 years (from Nov. 2019 to May 2021), in terms of average photon counts per frame [Remote sensing of environment, 284 (2023) 113336].
Three data sets are presented: World, Europe and North Africa and North America, each of them containing data from a specific geographical area and with a specific spatial resolution. Data can be downloaded in different formats: .txt, .png and .kmz, the latter being compatible with the implementation in tools like Google Maps®.
An interactive tool is available to select subsamples of such data. Users can select intervals in latitude, longitude, maximum and minimum count rates and visualize, directly on the web interface, the resulting image. For each selected sample the corresponding data sets can be downloaded in the above-mentioned format. We encourage the community to use this tool for scientific and educational purposes.
Feedbacks are highly appreciated.

The Mini-EUSO detector during acquisition on the ISS.

Selection of the Europe and North Africa data set obtained with the interactive tool between latitudes (35,48)° and longitudes (5,17)°.

Apr 15, 2024

SSDC SED Builder opens up to polarimetric information

We are pleased to announce an improved version (v5.0) of the SED Builder, the SSDC web tool designed to build and handle the Spectral Energy Distribution (SED) of astrophysical sources.

In addition to the large amount of available features and plotting options to analyze SED's properties, the tool is now able to display the polarimetric information, that is both angle and degree of the polarization of the radiation as a function of the photon energy. This is carried out selecting the new "Polarization plot" option, with two additional graphs for angle and degree of polarization appearing over the main graph with the SED, all of these sharing the X axis that corresponds to the energy of the radiation.
The possibility of building a polarization plot is currently exploited in the X-ray energy band, using published data from the IXPE mission that have been accurately collected at SSDC for this purpose, and is planned to be expanded to other bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, for which catalogs with polarimetric information is available.

The SSDC SED Builder provides open access to data from catalogs and from specific publications. If you use any of these data sets in a publication, please make sure to give proper credit to the papers and/or the external services from which data have been taken. Detailed credit information can be retrieved by clicking the “Data citation policy” button present on the SED Builder webpage.

If your research benefits from the use of SSDC services, we would appreciate the following acknowledgement: "Part of this work is based on online services provided by the ASI-SSDC."

Feb 14, 2024

The AGILE satellite re-entered the atmosphere

After 17 years of thriving operations, the AGILE Italian scientific satellite re-entered the atmosphere, thus ending its intense activity as a hunter of some of the most energetic cosmic sources in the Universe that emit gamma and X-rays.

AGILE, built by ASI with contributions from INAF and INFN, Italian universities and industry, has been a unique and hugely successful space program in the landscape of Italian space activities. Observations acquired by the satellite were received on the ground by ASI's Luigi Broglio Space Center station in Malindi, Kenya. The data were then sent to the Telespazio Control Center through the ASINet operational network, and then to the ASI Space Science Data Center in Rome, which is responsible for all scientific operations: from management, analysis and archiving to distribution of the data and related catalogs accessible to the international community.

AGILE's scientific output consists of more than 800 bibliographic references, including more than 160 refereed articles and 12 mission catalogs published through January 2024 (also available as interactive SSDC webpages here).

AGILE's major scientific discoveries include: the first detection of galactic cosmic ray sources in Supernovae remnants, evidence of extremely rapid particle acceleration from the Crab Nebula with a rapidly rotating pulsar at its center (Bruno Rossi Prize 2012), and the detection of transient gamma-ray emission associated with relativistic jet emission from the galactic black hole binary system Cygnus X-3.

During its operational life, AGILE has also revealed many transient events of cosmic origin such as Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs), searched for high-energy emission associated to neutrino events and Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), detected thousands of solar flares, as well as events of terrestrial origin such as Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs). AGILE has contributed with a leading role in the search for possible counterparts of gravitational wave (GW) sources, and AGILE's follow-up observations have provided the fastest response and most significant upper limits above 100 MeV on all GW events detected by the Ligo-Virgo-Kagra collaboration to date.

With the AGILE's re-entry, the in-orbit operational phase comes to a close, but a new phase of scientific work on the satellite legacy data archive opens: AGILE may still hold future surprises.

Additional links:


Jan 11, 2024

IXPE receives the 2024 Bruno Rossi Prize

We are pleased to report that the 2024 Bruno Rossi Prize of the High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society has been awarded to Martin Weisskopf, Paolo Soffitta and the IXPE team "for their development of the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer whose novel measurements advance our understanding of particle acceleration and emission from astrophysical shocks, black holes and neutron stars".

IXPE (Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer) is a joint NASA-ASI mission that was launched in December 2021 under NASA's Small Explorer (SMEX) program. The mission exploits the polarization state of light from astrophysical sources in the X-ray energy band with a polarization sensitivity improvement of two orders of magnitude over the previous polarimeters obtained with X-ray polarization detectors provided by ASI.

Italy collaborates on the primary scientific mission goals with a team of scientists of ASI, INAF, INFN and Roma Tre University. The Italian participation includes also the provision by ASI of the “Luigi Broglio” ground station (Malindi, Kenya) and of the Space Science Data Center (SSDC).

The SSDC has provided the Calibration Database (CALDB) and has designed and developed, in collaboration with INAF and INFN, the scientific software modules that are part of the Instrument Pipeline. The software is written in FTOOLS style and is fully integrated in the HEASoft package maintained and distributed by NASA/HEASARC. The Instrument Pipeline IXPE FTOOLS are run at the Science Operation Center (NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center) to generate the official IXPE scientific data archive.

This is the 6th time that a space mission for which the SSDC plays an important role has been awarded a Rossi Prize, after BeppoSAX in 1998, Swift in 2007, Fermi in 2011, AGILE in 2012 and NuSTAR in 2015.

Link (in Italian): ASI news

Nov 07, 2023

Euclid's first images

Today, the ESA’s Euclid space mission has revealed its first full-colour images obtained combining observations from the visible and near infrared instruments.

These five images illustrate Euclid's full potential, from bright stars to faint galaxies. Its observations will cover one third of the sky remaining extremely detailed, even when zooming in on distant galaxies.

Here at SSDC, we have been working on the development of the software used to process the images observed in the near infrared.

For more details see ESA web page and ESA YouTube channel.

Oct 10, 2023

Gaia Focused Product released on 10 October 2023!

Waiting for Gaia DR4 release, expected not before the end of 2025, and just a few months from Gaia 10th launch anniversary (19 December 2023), the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium is releasing a juicy subset of new data focused on specific subjects.
In particular, this release consists of 5 data products:
  1. Astrometry and photometry from engineering images taken in Omega Centauri high source density region.
    The publication consists mainly of:
    • Astrometric information (position, parallax and proper motion) for 526,457 new Gaia sources as derived from the Service Interface Function (SIF) images (with 130 additional sources with positions only).
    • Photometric information (mean G magnitude and flux) for these same 526,587 sources as derived from the SIF images.
  2. Extended radial velocity epoch data for Long Period Variables.
    The publication consists mainly of:
    • A table with the epoch radial velocity data points for a sub-set of variable stars.
    • Statistical parameters of radial velocity time series for these long-period variables.
  3. Diffuse Interstellar Bands from aggregated RVS spectra.
    The publication consists mainly of:
    • A table of fitted Diffuse Interstellar Band parameters together with the uncertainties of the DIB at 862.1 nm and 864.8 nm for each voxel (volume pixel) which is defined according to the equatorial coordinates and the distance.
    • A spectra table containing the stacked Interstellar Medium spectra for each voxel which is defined according to the galactic coordinates and the distance.
  4. The first results of quasars' environment analysis for gravitational lenses search.
    The publication consists mainly of:
    • A table of 4.8 million sources (named components), based on an analysis of the observations in the neighbourhood of a list of 3.8 million quasar candidates. This table provides the mean astrometry and mean onboard photometry of the sources.
    • The analysis of this table by several artificial intelligence algorithms led to the selection of a list of 381 gravitational lens candidates that are presented in the associated Gaia Collaboration paper. The 4.8 million sources with their scores to be a lens are available at CDS.
    • A table of individual epoch observations linked to their corresponding source (component), with their celestial coordinates and onboard magnitudes.
    • A table of individual epoch observations classified as outliers and rejected by our clustering analysis, with their celestial coordinates and onboard magnitudes.
  5. Updated astrometry for Solar System objects.
    The publication consists mainly of:
    • Updated epoch astrometry of the Solar System objects from Gaia's Data Release 3.
    • Orbits of the Solar System Objects from Gaia's Data Release 3 computed with 66 months of data instead of 34 months.
Most of these data can be queried from GaiaPortal using the "Gaia Only Query" tab.
Diffuse Interstellar Bands data and Lens Catalogue Names can be downloaded as a single file through the "Gaia DR3 --> DataModel and Statistics" tab.
Since Solar System Objects data are not included in our GaiaPortal, updated astrometry for Solar System objects can be accessed through the Gaia ESA Archive.

Further information:
For further information about Gaia FPR please refer to this page.
Gaia FPR related papers are available here.