The ATHENA mission (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) is the second long-range space mission (L2) of the long term program Cosmic Vision of the European Space Agency (ESA). This mission is dedicated to the scientific theme The hot and violent Universe which it plans to explore with the launch in 2032 of a large X-ray observatory designed by a consortium of European institutes, particularly France, Germany and Italy, and with US and Japanese participation. At the moment in Phase A (concept study in the different groups) the mission adoption by ESA is expected by the end of 2019, leading to launch around 2032.
Figure 1: A conceptual design for the Athena spacecraft derived from the ESA CDF study, designed to be accommodated in an Ariane 5 launcher. – credit ESA.
The ATHENA observatory will have three key instruments:
- an X - ray telescope with a 12-m focal length for X-rays between 0.5 and 12 keV with a spatial resolution of about 5 arcsec and a large effective area of 1.4 m^2 at 1 keV, using an innovative technology; the SPO mirror (Silicon Pore Optics) developed by ESA
- a large field spectro-imager (40'x40') with a spectral resolution of 150 eV: the WFI(Wide Field Imager).
- a high spectral imager (2.5 eV FWHM), the X-IFU (Integral Field Unit)
These detectors will give it a capacity of observation of two orders of magnitude greater than the instruments of the previous generation. ATHENA will allow spectacular advances in all fields of astrophysics, thanks in particular to the very large collector area, the good angular resolution of 5" combined with the large field of view and above all the exceptional spectral resolution of 2.5 eV of the X-IFU spectrometer.
Athena's main objectives are to provide answers to two fundamental questions that have not yet been resolved:
- How does matter come together in the universe to form the large structures that are observed (galaxies and galaxy clusters)?
- How do giant black holes form and grow and what effects do they have on the evolution of the universe?
Generally speaking, this observatory will have a unique contribution to the study of the high-energy universe, in particular in the domain of compact objects (black hole, neutron star, white dwarf), transient sources, supernova remnants, pulsar nebulae, the physics of galaxy clusters and active galactic nuclei (AGN), the warm plasmas in the interstellar medium, stars and also some phenomena in the solar system.
Several of those are of interest in the APC laboratory, in particular in the "Astrophysique de Haute Energie" and "Cosmologie" groups:
- The galactic center and its super massive black-hole;
- Galactic compact objects;
- Particle acceleration and interaction processes;
- Variability and spectroscopy of AGN;
- Galaxy clusters and large cosmology surveys,
- Transient high energy sky and multi-messenger astronomy.
Finally, the third long-range space mission (L3) will be dedicated to the study of the gravitational universe with the iinstrument LISA which also has an APC contribution. Both ATHENA and LISA will be in orbit around 2030-2035 and synergy between them will give Europe a strong position for the multi-messenger exploration of the universe.
- The DC bias of the superconducting sensors (TES)
- The low noise amplification of the signal right outside the cryostat
- The adjustment of the superconducting readout chain (SQUID stages) operating points
Hence, the developed circuit has low noise architecture and very low gain drift.
- Andrea GOLDWURM (APC Scientific responsible - co-I Science, ground segment)
- Florence ARDELLIER (APC WFEE Project manager)
- Damien PRELE ( APC WFEE System Engineer - co-I X-IFU and Detection-chain team member)
- Alexis COLEIRO (E2E simulator, ground segment WFEE)
- Peggy VARNIERE (WP2, WP2.5, E2E simulator)
- Philippe LAURENT (Background simulations)
- Stefano GABICI
- Régis TERRIER
Instrument team (WFEE)
- Alain GIVAUDAN (Mechanics conception)
- Bernard COURTY (Command control)
- Fabrice VOISIN (Micro-electronics design)
- Jean MESQUIDA (Micro-electronics layout)
- Maurice KARAKAC (Mechanics)
- Damien PAILOT (Tests and integration)
- SI CHEN (Instrumental PhD - 11/16-10/19)
APC associated scientists
- James BARTLETT
- Jacques DELABROUILLE
- Yannick GIRAUD-HERAUD
- Paolo GOLDONI
- Etienne PARIZOT
- Michel PIAT (Instrumentation cryo.)
- Stéphane DHEILLY (Mechanics workshop)
- Vincent GUIFFO (Administration)
- Stéphane COLONGES (Quality control)
- Sarodia VYDELINGUM (Communication)
Roles of APC scientists in Athena
- A. Goldwurm : member of the X-IFU Science Team and member of an ASWG, APC contact point for Athena, IN2P3 contact point for Athena project
- P. Laurent : Co-Chair of the Athena Science Working Group on background noise (background)
- S. Chen et al., RHBD for WFEE of XIFU/ATHENA Space Observatory, SERESSA, 2018. S. Chen et al., Development of the WFEE Subsystem for the XIFU Instrument of the ATHENA Space Observatory, SPIE Space Telescopes and Instrumentation, 2018.
- D. Barret et al., The Athena Xray Integral Field Unit (XIFU), SPIE Space Telescopes and Instrumentation, 2018.
- D. Prêle et al., SiGe Integrated Circuit Developments for SQUID/TES Readout,
- Journal of Low Temperature Physics, 2018.
- S. Chen et al., Amplificateur bas bruit à faible dérive de gain en technologie BiCMOS AMS SiGe 350 nm, Ecole IN2P3 de Microélectronique, 2017
- D. Prêle et al., Total dose (up to 100 krad) testing of a 0.35 BiCMOS SiGe technology, Ecole IN2P3 de microélectronique, 2017.
- D. Barret et al., The Athena Xray Integral Field Unit (XIFU), SPIE Space Telescopes and Instrumentation, 2016.
- T.L. Trong et al., XIFU technical challenge, SPIE Space Telescopes and Instrumentation, 2016.
- D. Prêle et al., Gain drift compensation with no feedbackloop developed for the XRay Integral Field Unit/ATHENA readout chain, Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems, Vol. 2(4), 2016.
- D. Prêle, Frontend Multiplexing applied to SQUID multiplexing, Journal of Instrumentation, Volume 10, 2015.
- D. Prêle and A. Goldwurm: Know more about the APC contribution, The XIFU Gazette N°7, April 2018.
- ESA website: http://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/athena/home
- Athena consortium (IRAP): http://www.the-athena-x-ray-observatory.eu/