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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

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.
16 June 2020
Senior Review of NASA Astrophysics Archives Report is now available here [PDF].
15 June 2020
Astrophysics Program Scientist civil servant positions at NASA Headquarters: open in USAJOBS June 29–July 6. »  Details.
15 June 2020
Astrophysics Data Analysis Program (ADAP) Proposal Deadline extended to Thurs 16 July 2020.
15 June 2020
NASA's Cosmic Origins Program Analysis Group Executive Committee (COPAG EC) is soliciting input on the impacts of COVID-19 on Cosmic Origins research via ADAP. The survey deadline has been extended until Friday, June 19, 2020 »  Details.
4 June 2020
Astrophysics Advisory Committee Virtual Meeting to be held June 23–24, 2020 »  Details.
3 June 2020
2020 Spring Meeting of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board/Space Studies Board, June 8–11, 2020 Details.
3 June 2020
ROSES-20 Amendment 28: Final Text and Due Dates for Astrophysics Explorers U.S. Participating Investigators. Details.
29 May 2020
Proposals for NASA's Strategic Astrophysics Technology will not be solicited in 2020, instead waiting for Decadal recommendations. »  Details.
28 May 2020
NASA SMD releases new five-year Science Plan, "Science 2020-2024: A Vision for Scientific Excellence." »  Details.
26 May 2020
NASA's Cosmic Origins Program Analysis Group Executive Committee (COPAG EC) is soliciting input on the impacts of COVID-19 on Cosmic Origins research via ADAP. The survey closes on Monday, June 5, 2020 »  Details.
20 May 2020
NASA names WFIRST in honor of Nancy Grace Roman, a tireless advocate for new tools that would allow scientists to study the broader universe from space. »  Details.
18 May 2020
NASA releases DRAFT text for a new "Astrophysics Pioneers" opportunity. Comments due June 15, 2020. »  Details.
18 May 2020
Join NASA Science Live at 11 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, 20 May 2020, for an exciting announcement on WFIRST! Details and participation links here and here.
7 May 2020
Provide your input on balloon platform capabilities that could enable your science in the next 10 years by completing this survey for NASA's Scientific Balloon Program.
29 Apr 2020
NASA SMD calls for nominations, including self-nominations, to serve on the WFIRST Science Interest Group (WSIG). »  Details
27 Apr 2020
NASA SMD anticipates one or more short-window openings this summer for civil servant Program Scientists at NASA HQ. »  Details
16 Apr 2020
HaloSat Year 1 Data now eligible for funding under ADAP. »  Details
13 Apr 2020
Attend the virtual APS April 2020 meeting! The meeting is open to all and includes three PCOS sessions. Register (no fee) to attend sessions.
7 Apr 2020
NASA announces new ROSES element for LISA Preparatory Science, with mandatory NOI due 15 Sep 2020 and proposal due 15 Dec 2020, and new element for workshops & conferences in ROSES-20, with rolling submission through 29 Mar 2021.
6 Apr 2020
NASA announces new due dates for ADAP (Jun 30) and TCAN (Jun 23) 2020 proposals, cancels ADAP 2021 solicitation. Reminders on dual-anonymous ADAP guidelines.

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