As the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) announced at the June AAS meeting and the July Astrophysics Subcommittee meeting, they decided not to confirm the Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer (GEMS). On Sept. 10, 2012 SMD directed the GEMS project to terminate the project and provide a close-out plan. This was provided and on Sept. 28, 2012 was accepted. The Instrument and Mission Preliminary Design Reviews held Feb. 21-24, 2012 were judged to be very successful by the review boards, with the conclusion: “Overall project meets or exceeds PDR success criteria; numerous subsystems well beyond PDR level”. GEMS is closing out with the flight parts in hand for two polarimeters, plus subassemblies that could be assembled into a prototype detector to verify lifetime and performance. The design and performance were described in Hill et al. and Baumgartner et al. at the 2012 SPIE meeting 8443. Foils and housings for two flight mirrors will be put into storage ready for testing. The GEMS team hopes that a sensitive X-ray polarimeter will be flown in the near future.
03.03.10 - New observations from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory provide evidence for powerful winds blowing away from the vicinity of a supermassive black hole in a nearby galaxy. This discovery indicates that “average” supermassive black holes may play an important role in the evolution of the galaxies in which they reside.
For years, astronomers have known that a supermassive black hole grows in parallel with its host galaxy. And, it has long been suspected that material blown away from a black hole -- as opposed to the fraction of material that falls into it -- alters the evolution of its host galaxy.
A key question is whether such “black hole feedback” typically delivers enough power to have a significant impact. Powerful relativistic jets shot away from the biggest supermassive black holes in large, central galaxies in clusters like Perseus are seen to shape their host galaxies, but these are rare. What about less powerful, less focused galaxy-scale winds that should be much more common?