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Astrophsyics

PCOS Science Goals

Explore the behavior of matter and energy in its most extreme environments

Cosmic rays—high-energy charged particles traveling at velocities that can approach the speed of light—are the only direct probe of chemical composition and nuclearsynthesis in the Universe. The majority of cosmic rays are atomic nuclei from hydrogen to the heaviest elements with energies spanning more than twelve orders of magnitude. Cosmic rays with energies below and just above the so-called "knee" in the middle of this energy range are most likely accelerated in supernova remnants. Their elemental and isotopic composition probes nucleosynthesis, nuclear interactions in the interstellar medium, the distribution of freshly synthesized elements, global Galactic properties, the mechanisms of supernova explosions, and particle acceleration in supernova shocks. At energies above roughly 1017 eV a different source dominates. The acceleration engines responsible for such extreme energies are not well understood, but at the highest energies, above 6 x 1019 eV, the rapid energy loss resulting from interactions with the cosmic microwave background limits sources to within about 100 Mpc. Other cosmic ray components include electrons, positrons, and antiprotons. Electrons are quite abundant and can be accelerated in many different types of sources, while positrons and antiprotons are largely the result of interactions of nuclear cosmic rays with the ISM but may also have other origins. Positrons as well as electrons can be produced directly in astrophysical objects such as pulsars and deviations in their spectra can provide important insights into nearby sources. Cosmic ray particles may also be produced directly in the annihilation of dark matter candidate particles such as, e.g., WIMPs, neutralinos, and Kaluza-Klein particles. Details of the spectra and composition of the resulting particles therefore provide important insights into the physics of particle accelerators and properties of the interstellar and/or intergalactic medium, and provide important constraints on the nature of the dark matter.


The European Space Agency LISA observatory


PCOS News

Program News and Announcements

29 July 2020
SMD calls for Expressions of Interest (EOI) from currently funded researchers for augmentations and funded extensions to existing awards to help make up for increased costs directly attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. »  Details.
29 July 2020
Community Announcement: Intention to Amend ROSES-20 via a Future Appendix for Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM). »  Details.
27 July 2020
Snowmass 21 planning underway, with several topical groups on PCOS-related science. »  Details.
23 July 2020
New deadline set for JWST Cycle 1 General Observer proposals. Proposals will be due by 08:00 pm Eastern Time (ET) on Tuesday November 24, 2020. »  Details.
14 July 2020
The NASA LISA Study Team has released a report by their Science Support Task Force analyzing the impact that various levels of access, latency, and user support have on the ability of the US community to maximize the discovery potential of the ESA-led LISA mission. The report was submitted to NASA on 28 Feb 2020. [PDF] »  Details.
8 July 2020
NASA's Science Mission Directorate will hold a virtual community town hall with Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen and other members of the Science leadership team at 3 p.m. EDT Thursday, July 9. »  Details.
7 July 2020
Second workshop to solicit and collect community input to help create a plan and timeline, or "roadmap," for SOFIA's instrument development to be held 27–29 July 2020. »  Details.
2 July 2020
NASA releases final text for Astrophysics Pioneers opportunity. Notices of Intent due 13 August 2020; proposals due 1 October 2020. »  Details.
1 July 2020
NASA releases draft text of Citizen Science Seed Funding Program. Deadline 30 July 2020. »  Details.
30 June 2020
NASA defers XRISM Guest Scientist Program to 2021. »  Details.
30 June 2020
SOFIA Cycle 9 Calls for Proposals Released. Deadline 4 September 2020. »  Details.
26 June 2020
Based on extensive feedback from the community, including the recent COPAG survey and APAC discussion, the Astrophysics Data Analysis Program will be solicited in ROSES-2021. »  Details.

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  • NASA Official: Phil Newman
  • Web Curator: Pat Tyler
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