The prize is given each year by the High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), the largest professional organization of astronomers in the United States.
Swift, which launched on November 20, 2004, was designed to rapidly detect, locate, and observe gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), powerful cosmic explosions which astronomers think are the birth cries of black holes. GRBs were first observed in the 1960s, and were a complete mystery until the mid 1990s. To date, Swift has detected over 200 GRBs, and its rapid response – it was named after the bird, which catches its prey “on the fly” – has been critical to understanding these titanic events.
“This is a great recognition of all the wonderful science coming from Swift and the years of hard work that the team has done to make it possible,” said Neil Gehrels, the Principal Investigator for the Swift mission. “Swift is a remarkable machine which is still going strong. We expect even more great things from it over the coming years.”
UK scientists from UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory and the University of Leicester have a strong involvement in two of the telescopes onboard Swift and continue to support the ongoing operation of the spacecraft and its instruments and have been involved in many of the new discoveries made by Swift. This is the first time that a UK mission team has been awarded the Rossi Prize.
Professor Keith Mason, UK lead investigator on the Ultra Violet/Optical Telescope and Chief Executive of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) said, “This is a fantastic accolade for the entire Swift team. To date the spacecraft has already made observations to determine the precise location of short gamma-ray bursts and discovered enormously bright X-ray flares in the early afterglows.”
Dr Julian Osborne, Lead Investigator for Swift at the University of Leicester said, "Swift has been wonderfully successful at discovering new things about these incredibly energetic explosions in the distant universe, we are especially proud that the X-ray camera provided by the University of Leicester has been responsible for most of these discoveries. The Leicester team greatly appreciate the honour of this award, and look forward to learning more with Swift in this fascinating area of science."
Among Swift’s notable observations have been:
- The first detection of an afterglow (the lingering, fading glow) of a short burst, GRB050509, thought to be caused by the collision of two ultradense neutron stars.
- The detection of the most distant GRB ever seen (GRB 050904), lying at a distance of 13 billion light years from the Earth.
- The discovery of the nearby GRB 060218 that was coincident with a supernova explosion (SN 2006aj)
- X-ray and UV observations of NASA’s Deep Impact probe when it smashed into comet 9/P Tempel 1 in July 2005, helping solar system scientists determine how much debris was ejected by the impact.
- Highly-detailed data of a powerful flare from a nearby magnetar, a tremendously magnetic neutron star, which was so bright it saturated Swift’s detectors and actually physically impacted the Earth’s magnetic field in December 2004.
Besides observing GRBs, Swift has several secondary scientific goals, including observing supernovae (powerful stellar explosions which can be used to map out the shape and fate of the Universe) and making the first high-energy survey of the entire sky since the 1980s.
The HEAD-AAS awards the Rossi Prize in recognition of significant contributions as well as recent and original work in high-energy astrophysics. Past awards have been given for work, both theoretical and observational, in the fields of neutrinos, cosmic rays, gamma rays and X-rays. The prize is in honor of Professor Bruno Rossi, an authority on cosmic-ray physics and a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy. Bruno Rossi died in 1993. The prize also includes an engraved certificate and a £765 ($1,500) award.For more information on Swift, visit http://www.swift.ac.uk/ and http://swift.gsfc.nasa.gov, and for a list of Swift’s significant observations see http://swift.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/swift/results/releases/.
Rossi Prize information is located at http://www.aas.org/head/rossi/rossi.prize.html.Contacts
Gill Ormrod | alfa
APEX takes a glimpse into the heart of darkness
25.05.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie
First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences