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May 20, 2015

Swift Discovers a Strong Ultraviolet Pulse from a Newborn Type Ia Supernova

Type Ia supernovae are violent stellar explosions used by astronomers to measure the accelerating expansion of the Universe. They are commonly theorized to be the thermonuclear explosions of a white dwarf star that is part of a binary system. How this white dwarf goes from binary star system to Type Ia supernova is a vivid matter of debate. New observations made by the Swift satellite provided an unprecedented clue to the origin of Type Ia explosions. The UVOT telescope aboard Swift started observing the Type Ia supernova iPTF14atg only four days after the explosion, and unveiled a bright pulse of ultraviolet emission. This is consistent with theoretical expectations of collision between material being ejected from a supernova explosion and the companion star from which it has been accreting matter. Alternative models, involving the merger of two white dwarfs, are instead disfavored by the Swift data. These results show that early time ultraviolet observations of young supernovae could hold the key to fully understanding the pre-explosion interaction between a supernova's white dwarf progenitor and its companion.
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Apr 17, 2015

Swift Data Reprocessing

The Swift Data Center is now reprocessing the Swift data for the entire mission in chronological order using the current version of the SDC pipeline (v. 3.16.08). All the data for 2005 have been reprocessed and delivered to the HEASARC. The archives in Italy and UK are currently populating their archives with the new data. Currently the reprocessing rate is about 3 months per month.

Apr 14, 2015

Astronomers discover two classes of Type Ia Supernovae

A team of astronomers found that type Ia supernovae commonly used to measure distances in the universe fall into distinct populations not recognized before. The data collected with Swift were crucial because the differences between the populations are subtle in visible light, which had been used to detect type Ia supernovae previously, but became obvious only through Swift's dedicated follow-up observations in the ultraviolet. These findings have important implications for our understanding of how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang: the study concludes that some of the reported acceleration of the universe can be explained by color differences between the two groups of supernovae, leaving less acceleration than initially reported. This would, in turn, require less dark energy than currently assumed.
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Jan 22, 2015

Swift Detects a Large Flare from the Binary SZ Psc

On January 15, 2015 the Burst Alert Telescope on-board Swift triggered on a large flare from the RS CVn binary system SZ Psc. Preliminary analysis from the Swift team reports that the observed peak X-ray flux corresponds to an X-ray luminosity of 4.6 x 10^33 erg/s, which is one of the most luminous flares in X-rays ever seen from any active late-type star.
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Jan 6, 2015

Swift Cycle 11 Results

Swift Cycle 11 Recommended Targets and Proposals have been posted.

Nov 20, 2014

NASA's Swift Satellite Marks 10 Years of Game-changing Astrophysics

Over the past decade, NASA's Swift Gamma-ray Burst Explorer has proven itself to be one of the most versatile astrophysics missions ever flown. It remains the only satellite capable of precisely locating gamma-ray bursts -- the universe's most powerful explosions -- and monitoring them across a broad range of wavelengths using multiple instruments before they fade from view.
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Nov 19, 2014

NASA's Swift Mission Probes an Exotic Object: 'Kicked' Black Hole or Mega Star?

An international team of researchers analyzing decades of observations from many facilities, including NASA's Swift satellite, has discovered an unusual source of light in a galaxy some 90 million light-years away.
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Sep 30, 2014

NASA's Swift Mission Observes Mega Flares from a Mini Star

On April 23, NASA's Swift satellite detected the strongest, hottest, and longest-lasting sequence of stellar flares ever seen from a nearby red dwarf star. The initial blast from this record-setting series of explosions was as much as 10,000 times more powerful than the largest solar flare ever recorded.
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Sep 30, 2014

Swift Cycle 11 GI Program

NASA received 165 proposals, requesting a total observing time of 14.1 Ms and $5.3M in funds for 1,044 targets. Considering PIs and Co-Is, about 500 individual scientists responded to the Swift Cycle 11 call. The Swift Cycle 11 Peer Review will be held in December to evaluate the merits of submitted proposals. Results will be posted in late December 2014.

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