NYUAD Assistant Professor of Physics Awarded XMM-Newton AO-11 Grant

Joseph Gelfand, Assistant Professor of Physics, NYUAD.

Congratulations to NYUAD Assistant Professor of Physics Joseph Gelfand who has been awarded a USD 57,000 XMM-Newton AO-11 grant from NASA's Astrophysics Division. Using the funds and recently acquired data from the XMM-Newton — an orbiting x-ray observatory named in honor of Sir Isaac Newton — Gelfand aims to discover what is accelerating particles in SNR G5.7-0.1 — the name of a location in the sky: "SNR" for Supernova Remnant, which is what remains from a massive explosion that has blown up a star; "G" to designate a location in galactic coordinates; "5.7" for the galactic longitude; and "-0.1" for the galactic latitude.

"The problem is that there are too many choices for what is accelerating the high-energy particles," Gelfand said. But he has some suspicions, including an object unrelated to the SNR, but near it on the sky. "In this case," Gelfand explained, "the X-ray emission from these particles should not be from the SNR itself, but nearby." Another cause could be the interaction between the rapidly expanding material ejected in the supernova explosion and the surrounding material. "The X-ray emission from these particles is likely to be from the outer parts of the SNR," he said. Finally, Gelfand will look to the neutron star — "an object 1.5 times more massive than the Sun with a surface magnetic field 10^6 times stronger than the most powerful magnet on Earth, and the size of Abu Dhabi Island" — produced in the explosion as another possible cause of acceleration. A hypothesis that would result in the X-ray emission from these particles originating from inside the SNR.

Gelfand will soon begin his analysis of the data from the XMM-Newton to further investigate these hypotheses.