A Taste of the eRosita Sky (Astronomy)

Today the eRosita team, the telescope aboard the Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma (Srg) satellite, publishes the first series of data obtained from observations of the sky in X-rays, the so-called Early Data Release (Edr). Accompanying it there are 35 scientific articles published in preview on arxiv, made with data collected by the space telescope. Many of them see the contribution of Inaf researchers

As anticipated in the past few hours during the EAS annual meeting, the European Astronomical Society, the eRosita team , the telescope aboard the Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma (Srg) satellite has made public the first series of data obtained by scanning the sky in the X-rays, the so-called Early Data Release (Edr). For the first time, astronomers around the world will have the opportunity to download and analyze data from this powerful space telescope. The Early Data Release is accompanied by the publication of 35 scientific articlesmade with data from eRosita and many of them see the participation of Inaf researchers. This group of articles, along with others, will be published in an upcoming special issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics magazine .

The Early Data Release observations were conducted during the calibration and performance verification phase, which lasted approximately from mid-September to mid-December 2019. Since then, the eRosita X-ray telescope scans the entire sky and produces detailed maps of everything. the sky in X-rays. An activity that will continue until the end of 2023.

The EDR contains nearly 100 single observations of 29 distinct portions of the sky (the so-called fields) taken before the start of the full-sky scans. In these fields there are many celestial objects of different nature: from the neutron stars in the Milky Way to the clusters of galaxies (see an example in the figure above) which highlight the potential and versatility of the eRosita telescope for imaging , spectroscopy and time domain analysis.

“This is the first public release of Srg / eRosita data”, underlines Andrea Merloni , of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (Mpe), principal investigator of eRosita. “Since the beginning of the X-ray telescope observations at the end of 2019, we have been impressed by the high quality of the data, which has already led to numerous discoveries. Now is the time to give astronomers around the world a first taste of what is to come in the next few years. This will open up a whole new universe of possibilities ».

“Organizing this first block of eRosita data comprehensively was a huge challenge,” adds Miriam Ramos-Ceja , also from the MPE, who coordinated the Early data release. “We first had to collect and process the data consistently, and then check and validate it to make sure it was of high quality.” In addition to the data itself, the team led by Mpe will also make available software developed specifically to reduce and analyze eRosita data.

Among the datasets released to the public, there is one in particular that holds a special place: a mini-survey called eFeds (eRosita Final Equatorial Depth Survey). Designed as a preview of the final map of the entire sky, eFEDS uniformly covers an area of ​​approximately 140 square degrees of the sky (approximately 1/300 ° of the entire scan), providing a glimpse of what the entire extra-galactic sky will look like. in X-rays when eRosita completes its survey program in 2023. In just four days of observations under the eFeds program, eRosita has detected nearly 30,000 X sources, a surprising number that has no equal in the study of the sky in the X-ray.

The 35 articles led by the German consortium eRosita mainly focus on EDR observations, but not only. The objects studied range from stars and diffuse emissions in our Milky Way or in the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud to active galactic nuclei (Agn) that host supermassive black holes and endless clusters of galaxies. “Beyond cutting-edge science, another thing that makes me really proud is the contribution of female scientists to this project: 40 percent of the articles accompanying the release of the data are led by women”, observes Mara Salva(Mpe), spokesperson for eRosita and at the helm of the coordination activities of the eRosita observations with other telescopes across the electromagnetic spectrum. “The eRosita collaboration will continue to work to make scientific opportunities available to all.”

Featured image: The Abell 3266 galaxy cluster is one of the brightest in the sky. In the right pane, its nucleus as shown by the X-ray observations of eRosita. Credits: eROSITA-Kollaboration, Sanders et al.

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Provided by INAF

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