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Ghisellini G. | Ghisellini Gabriele | Ghisellini Renato

G Rebecca R. | G Raju Renjit. | G Vijay Kumar B | G Iván E. Sánchez | G Sainath | G | G Aasis Vinayak. P. | G Maheswar. | G Mauricio Contreras | G Sreeni K.

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The best place and time to live in the Milky Way

Spinelli R., Ghirlanda G., Haardt F., Ghisellini G., Scuderi G.
28 Sep 2020 astro-ph.HE astro-ph.EP astro-ph.GA arxiv.org/abs/2009.13539

Among the most powerful cosmic events, supernovae (SNe) and gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) can be highly disruptive for life: their radiation can be harmful for biota or induce extinction by removing most of the protective atmospheric ozone layer on terrestrial planets. Nearby high-energy transient astrophysical events have been proposed as possible triggers of mass extinctions on Earth. We aim at assessing the habitability of the Milky Way (MW) along its cosmic history against potentially disruptive astrophysical transients with the scope of identifying the safest places and epochs within our Galaxy. We also test the hypothesis that long GRBs had a leading role in the late Ordovician mass extinction event (~440 Myrs ago). We characterise the habitability of the MW along its cosmic history as a function of galactocentric distance of terrestrial planets. We estimate the dangerous effects of transient astrophysical events (long/short GRBs and SNe) with a model which binds their rate to the specific star formation and metallicity evolution within the Galaxy along its cosmic history. Our model also accounts for the probability of forming terrestrial planets around FGK and M stars. Until ~6 billion years ago the outskirts of the Galaxy were the safest places to live, despite the relatively low density of terrestrial planets. In the last ~4 billion years, regions between 2 and 8 kpc from the center, featuring a higher density of terrestrial planets, became the best places for a relatively safer biotic life growth. We confirm the hypothesis that one long GRB had a leading role in the late Ordovician mass extinction event. In the last 500 Myrs, the safest galactic region is comprised between 2 and 8 kpc from the center of the MW, whereas the outskirts of the Galaxy have been sterilized by 2-5 long GRBs.

The first blazar observed at z>6

Belladitta S., Moretti A., Caccianiga A., Spingola C., Severgnini P., Della Ceca R., Ghisellini G., Dallacasa D., Sbarrato T., Cicone C.
12 Feb 2020 astro-ph.CO astro-ph.HE arxiv.org/abs/2002.05178

We present the discovery of PSO J030947.49+271757.31, the radio brightest (23.7 mJy at 1.4 GHz) active galactic nucleus (AGN) at z>6.0. It was selected by cross-matching the NRAO VLA Sky Survey and the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System PS1 databases and its high-z nature was confirmed by a dedicated spectroscopic observation at the Large Binocular Telescope. A pointed Neil Gehrels $Swift$ Observatory XRT observation allowed us to measure a flux of $\sim$3.4$\times$10$^{-14}$ erg s$^{-1}$ cm$^{-2}$ in the [0.5-10] keV energy band, which also makes this object the X-ray brightest AGN ever observed at z>6.0. Its flat radio spectrum ($\alpha_{\nu r}$<0.5), very high radio loudness (R>10$^3$), and strong X-ray emission, compared to the optical, support the hypothesis of the blazar nature of this source. %i.e. a radio-loud (RL) AGN with the relativistic jet pointed toward us. Assuming that this is the only blazar at this redshift in the surveyed area of sky, we derive a space density of blazars at z$\sim$6 and with M${1450 \mbox{\AA}}$ < -25.1 of 5.5$^{+11.2}{-4.6}$$\times$10$^{-3}$ Gpc$^{-3}$. From this number, and assuming a reasonable value of the bulk velocity of the jet ($\Gamma$=10), we can also infer a space density of the entire radio-loud AGN population at z$\sim$6 with the same optical/UV absolute magnitude of 1.10$^{+2.53}_{-0.91}$ Gpc$^{-3}$. Larger samples of blazars will be necessary to better constrain these estimates.

Proton-synchrotron as the radiation mechanism of the prompt emission of GRBs?

Ghisellini G., Ghirlanda G., Oganesyan G., Ascenzi S., Nava L., Celotti A., Salafia O. S., Ravasio E. M., Ronchi M.
04 Dec 2019 astro-ph.HE arxiv.org/abs/1912.02185

We discuss the new surprising observational results that indicate quite convincingly that the prompt emission of Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) is due to synchrotron radiation produced by a particle distribution that has a low energy cut-off. The evidence of this is provided by the low energy part of the spectrum of the prompt emission, that shows the characteristic F(nu) \propto nu^(1/3) shape followed by F(nu) \propto nu^(-1/2) up to the peak frequency. This implies that although the emitting particles are in fast cooling, they do not cool completely. This poses a severe challenge to the basic ideas about how and where the emission is produced, because the incomplete cooling requires a small value of the magnetic field, to limit synchrotron cooling, and a large emitting region, to limit the self-Compton cooling, even considering Klein-Nishina scattering effects. Some new and fundamental ingredient is required for understanding the GRBs prompt emission. We propose proton-synchrotron as a promising mechanism to solve the incomplete cooling puzzle.

ESA Voyage 2050 white paper -- GrailQuest: hunting for Atoms of Space and Time hidden in the wrinkle of Space-Time

Burderi L., Sanna A., Di Salvo T., Amati L., Amelino-Camelia G., Branchesi M., Capozziello S., Coccia E., Colpi M., Costa E.
05 Nov 2019 astro-ph.IM astro-ph.HE gr-qc hep-ex physics.space-ph arxiv.org/abs/1911.02154

GrailQuest (Gamma Ray Astronomy International Laboratory for QUantum Exploration of Space-Time) is a mission concept based on a constellation (hundreds/thousands) of nano/micro/small-satellites in low (or near) Earth orbits. Each satellite hosts a non-collimated array of scintillator crystals coupled with Silicon Drift Detectors with broad energy band coverage (keV-MeV range) and excellent temporal resolution ( below or equal 100 nanoseconds) each with effective area around 100 cm2. This simple and robust design allows for mass-production of the satellites of the fleet. This revolutionary approach implies a huge reduction of costs, flexibility in the segmented launching strategy, and an incremental long-term plan to increase the number of detectors and their performance: a living observatory for next-generation, space-based astronomical facilities. GrailQuest is conceived as an all-sky monitor for fast localisation of high signal-to-noise ratio transients in the X/gamma-ray band, e.g. the elusive electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave events. Robust temporal triangulation techniques will allow unprecedented localisation capabilities, in the keV-MeV band, of a few arcseconds or below, depending on the temporal structure of the transient event. The ambitious ultimate goal of this mission is to perform the first experiment, in quantum gravity, to directly probe space-time structure down to the minuscule Planck scale, by constraining or measuring a first order dispersion relation for light in vacuo. This is obtained by detecting delays between photons of different energies in the prompt emission of Gamma-ray Bursts.

The rise and fall of the high-energy afterglow emission of GRB 180720B

Ronchi M., Fumagalli F., Ravasio M. E., Oganesyan G., Toffano M., Salafia O. S., Nava L., Ascenzi S., Ghirlanda G., Ghisellini G.
23 Sep 2019 astro-ph.HE arxiv.org/abs/1909.10531

The Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) 180720B is one of the brightest events detected by the Fermi satellite and the first GRB detected by the H.E.S.S. telescope above 100 GeV. We analyse the Fermi (GBM and LAT) and Swift (XRT and BAT) data and describe the evolution of the burst spectral energy distribution in the 0.5 keV - 10 GeV energy range over the first 500 seconds of emission. We reveal a smooth transition from the prompt phase, dominated by synchrotron emission in a moderately fast cooling regime, to the afterglow phase whose emission has been observed from the radio to the GeV energy range. The LAT (0.1 - 100 GeV) light curve initially rises ($F_{\rm LAT}\propto t^{2.4}$), peaks at $\sim$78 s, and falls steeply ($F_{\rm LAT}\propto t^{-2.2}$) afterwards. The peak, which we interpret as the onset of the fireball deceleration, allows us to estimate the bulk Lorentz factor $\Gamma_{0}\sim 150 \ (300)$ under the assumption of a wind-like (homogeneous) circum-burst medium density. We derive a flux upper limit in the LAT energy range at the time of H.E.S.S. detection, but this does not allow us to unveil the nature of the high energy component observed by H.E.S.S. We fit the prompt spectrum with a physical model of synchrotron emission from a non-thermal population of electrons. The 0 - 35 s spectrum after its $E F(E)$ peak (at 1 - 2 MeV) is a steep power law extending to hundreds of MeV. We derive a steep slope of the injected electron energy distribution $N(\gamma)\propto \gamma^{-5}$. Our fit parameters point towards a very low magnetic field ($B'\sim 1 $ G) in the emission region.

An extremely X--ray weak blazar at z=5

Belladitta S., Moretti A., Caccianiga A., Ghisellini G., Cicone C., Sbarrato T., Ighina L., Pedani M.
22 Aug 2019 astro-ph.GA astro-ph.HE arxiv.org/abs/1908.08552

We present the discovery and properties of DESJ014132.4-542749.9 (DES0141-54), a new powerful radio-loud active galactic nucleus (AGN) in the early Universe (z=5.0). It was discovered by cross-matching the first data release of the Dark Energy Survey (DES DR1) with the Sidney University Molonglo Survey (SUMSS) radio catalog at 0.843 GHz. This object is the first radio-loud AGN at high redshift discovered in the DES. The radio properties of DES0141-54, namely its very large radio-loudness (R>10$^{4}$), the high radio luminosity (L${0.8 GHz}$=1.73$\times$10$^{28}$ W Hz$^{-1}$), and the flatness of the radio spectrum ($\alpha$=0.35) up to very high frequencies (120 GHz in the source's rest frame), classify this object as a blazar, meaning, a radio-loud AGN observed along the relativistic jet axis. However, the X--ray luminosity of DESJ0141-54 is much lower compared to those of the high redshift (z$\geq$4.5) blazars discovered so far. Moreover its X-ray-to-radio luminosity ratio (log($\frac{L{[0.5-10]keV}}{L_{1.4GHz}}$)=9.96$\pm$0.30 Hz) is small also when compared to lower redshift blazars: only 2\% of the low-z population has a similar ratio. By modeling the spectral energy distribution we found that this peculiar X--ray weakness and the powerful radio emission could be related to a particularly high value of the magnetic field. Finally, the mass of the central black hole is relatively small (M${BH}$ = 3-8 $\times$10$^8$ M${\odot}$) compared to other confirmed blazars at similar redshift, making DES0141-54 the radio-loud AGN that host the smallest supermassive black hole ever discovered at z$\geq$5.

The high-energy radiation environment of the habitable-zone super-Earth LHS 1140b

Spinelli R., Borsa F., Ghirlanda G., Ghisellini G., Campana S., Haardt F., Poretti E.
20 Jun 2019 astro-ph.EP arxiv.org/abs/1906.08783

In the last few years many exoplanets in the habitable zone (HZ) of M-dwarfs have been discovered, but the X-ray/UV activity of cool stars is very different from that of our Sun. The high-energy radiation environment influences the habitability, plays a crucial role for abiogenesis, and impacts planetary atmospheres. LHS 1140b is a super-Earth-size planet orbiting in the HZ of LHS 1140, an M4.5 dwarf at ~15 parsecs. We present the results of a Swift X-ray/UV observing campaign. We characterize for the first time the X-ray/UV radiation environment of LHS 1140b. We measure the variability of the near ultraviolet (NUV) flux and estimate the far ultraviolet (FUV) flux with a correlation between FUV and NUV flux of a sample of low-mass stars in the GALEX archive. We highlight the presence of a dominating X-ray source close to the J2000 coordinates of LHS 1140, characterize its spectrum, and derive an X-ray flux upper limit for LHS 1140. We find that this contaminant source could have influenced the previously estimated spectral energy distribution. No significant variation of the NUV flux of LHS 1140 is found over 3 months, and we do not observe any flare during the 38 ks on the target. LHS 1140 is in the 25th percentile of least variable M4-M5 dwarfs of the GALEX sample. Analyzing the UV flux experienced by the HZ planet LHS 1140b, we find that outside the atmosphere it receives a NUV flux <2% with respect to that of the present-day Earth, while the FUV/NUV ratio is ~100-200 times higher. This represents a lower limit to the true FUV/NUV ratio since the GALEX FUV band does not include Lyman-alpha, which dominates the FUV output of low-mass stars. This is a warning for future searches for biomarkers, which must take into account this high ratio. The relatively low level and stability of UV flux experienced by LHS 1140b should be favorable for its present-day habitability.

A NuSTAR view of powerful gamma-ray loud blazars

Ghisellini G., Perri M. L., Costamante G., Tagliaferri G., Sbarrato T., Campitiello S., Madejski G., Tavecchio F., Ghirlanda G.
07 Jun 2019 astro-ph.HE arxiv.org/abs/1906.02955

We observed with the NuSTAR satellite 3 blazars at z>2, detected in gamma-rays by Fermi/LAT and in the soft X-rays, but not yet observed above 10 keV. The flux and slope of their X-ray continuum, together with Fermi/LAT data allows us to estimate their total electromagnetic output and peak frequency. For some of them we can study the source in different states, and investigate the main cause of the observed different spectral energy distribution. We then collected all blazars at redshift greater than 2 observed by NuSTAR, and confirm that these hard and luminous X-ray blazars are among the most powerful persistent sources in the Universe. We confirm the relation between the jet power and the disk luminosity, extending it at the high energy end.

The on-axis view of GRB 170817A

Salafia O. S., Ghirlanda G., Ascenzi S., Ghisellini G.
03 May 2019 astro-ph.HE arxiv.org/abs/1905.01190

The peculiar short gamma-ray burst GRB 170817A has been firmly associated to the gravitational wave event GW170817, which has been unaninmously interpreted as due to the coalescence of a double neutron star binary. The unprecedented behaviour of the non-thermal afterglow led to a debate about its nature, which was eventually settled by high-resolution VLBI observations, which strongly support the off-axis structured jet scenario. Using information on the jet structure derived from multi-wavelength fitting of the afterglow emission and of the apparent VLBI image centroid motion, we compute the appearance of a GRB 170817A-like jet as seen by an on-axis observer and we compare it to the previously observed population of SGRB afterglows and prompt emission events. We find that the intrinsic properties of the GRB 170817A jet are representative of a typical event in the SGRB population, hinting at a quasi-universal jet structure. The diversity in the SGRB afterglow population could therefore be ascribed in large part to extrinsic (redshift, density of the surrounding medium, viewing angle) rather than intrinsic properties. Although more uncertain, the comparison can be extended to the prompt emission properties, leading to similar conclusions.

Physics potential of the International Axion Observatory (IAXO)

Armengaud E., Attie D., Basso S., Brun P., Bykovskiy N., Carmona J. M., Castel J. F., , Cicoli M., Civitani M.
19 Apr 2019 hep-ph hep-ex arxiv.org/abs/1904.09155

We review the physics potential of a next generation search for solar axions: the International Axion Observatory (IAXO). Endowed with a sensitivity to discover axion-like particles (ALPs) with a coupling to photons as small as $g_{a\gamma}\sim 10^{-12}$ GeV$^{-1}$, or to electrons $g_{ae}\sim$10$^{-13}$, IAXO has the potential to find the QCD axion in the 1 meV$\sim$1 eV mass range where it solves the strong CP problem, can account for the cold dark matter of the Universe and be responsible for the anomalous cooling observed in a number of stellar systems. At the same time, IAXO will have enough sensitivity to detect lower mass axions invoked to explain: 1) the origin of the anomalous "transparency" of the Universe to gamma-rays, 2) the observed soft X-ray excess from galaxy clusters or 3) some inflationary models. In addition, we review string theory axions with parameters accessible by IAXO and discuss their potential role in cosmology as Dark Matter and Dark Radiation as well as their connections to the above mentioned conundrums.