J. Wilms

Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany

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Publications (591)1051.7 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The EXTraS project (Exploring the X-ray Transient and variable Sky) will harvest the hitherto unexplored temporal domain information buried in the serendipitous data collected by the European Photon Imaging Camera (EPIC) instrument onboard the ESA XMM-Newton X-ray observatory since its launch. This will include a search for fast transients, as well as a search and characterization of variability (both periodic and aperiodic) in hundreds of thousands of sources spanning more than nine orders of magnitude in time scale and six orders of magnitude in flux. X-ray results will be complemented by multiwavelength characterization of new discoveries. Phenomenological classification of variable sources will also be performed. All our results will be made available to the community. A didactic program in selected High Schools in Italy, Germany and the UK will also be implemented. The EXTraS project (2014-2016), funded within the EU/FP7 framework, is carried out by a collaboration including INAF (Italy), IUSS (Italy), CNR/IMATI (Italy), University of Leicester (UK), MPE (Germany) and ECAP (Germany).
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    ABSTRACT: Transient short-period <100s oscillations have been found in the X-ray light curves of three novae during their SSS phase and in one persistent SSS. We pursue an observational approach to determine possible driving mechanisms and relations to fundamental system parameters such as the white dwarf mass. We performed a systematic search for short-period oscillations in all available XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray light curves of persistent SSS and novae during their SSS phase. To study time evolution, we divided each light curve into short time segments and computed power spectra. We then constructed dynamic power spectra from which we identified transient periodic signals even when only present for a short time. From all time segments of each system, we computed fractions of time when periodic signals were detected. In addition to the previously known systems with short-period oscillations, RS Oph (35s), KT Eri (35s), V339 Del (54s), and Cal 83 (67s), we found one additional system, LMC 2009a (33s), and also confirm the 35s period from Chandra data of KT Eri. The amplitudes of oscillations are of order <15% of the respective count rates and vary without any clear dependence on the X-ray count rate. The fractions of the time when the respective periods were detected at 2-sigma significance (duty cycle) are 11.3%, 38.8%, 16.9%, 49.2%, and 18.7% for LMC 2009a, RS Oph, KT Eri, V339 Del, and Cal 83, respectively. The respective highest duty cycles found in a single observation are 38.1%, 74.5%, 61.4%, 67.8%, and 61.8%.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 02/2015; DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201425178 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Binary systems with an accreting compact object are a unique chance to investigate the strong, clumpy, line-driven winds of early type supergiants by using the compact object's X-rays to probe the wind structure. We analyze the two-component wind of HDE 226868, the O9.7Iab giant companion of the black hole Cyg X-1 using 4.77 Ms of RXTE observations of the system taken over the course of 16 years. Absorption changes strongly over the 5.6 d binary orbit, but also shows a large scatter at a given orbital phase, especially at superior conjunction. The orbital variability is most prominent when the black hole is in the hard X-ray state. Our data are poorer for the intermediate and soft state, but show signs for orbital variability of the absorption column in the intermediate state. We quantitatively compare the data in the hard state to a toy model of a focussed Castor-Abbott-Klein-wind: as it does not incorporate clumping, the model does not describe the observations well. A qualitative comparison to a simplified simulation of clumpy winds with spherical clumps shows good agreement in the distribution of the equivalent hydrogen column density for models with a porosity length on the order of the stellar radius at inferior conjunction; we conjecture that the deviations between data and model at superior conjunction could be either due to lack of a focussed wind component in the model or a more complicated clump structure.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 02/2015; DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201425418 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Very-high-energy $\gamma$-ray observations of the active galaxy IC 310 with the MAGIC telescopes have revealed fast variability with doubling time scales of less than 4.8min. This implies that the emission region in IC 310 is smaller than 20% of the gravitational radius of the central supermassive black hole with a mass of $3\times 10^8 M_\odot$, which poses serious questions on the emission mechanism and classification of this enigmatic object. We report on the first quasi-simultaneous multi-frequency VLBI observations of IC 310 conducted with the EVN. We find a blazar-like one-sided core-jet structure on parsec scales, constraining the inclination angle to be less than $\sim 20^\circ$ but very small angles are excluded to limit the de-projected length of the large-scale radio jet.
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    ABSTRACT: This is an overview of pulsar accretion modeling. The physics of pulsar accretion, i.e., the process of plasma flow onto the neutron star surface, can be constrained from the spectral properties of the X-ray source. We discuss a new implementation of the physical continuum model developed by Becker and Wolff (2007, ApJ 654, 435). The model incorporates Comptonized blackbody, bremsstrahlung, and cyclotron emission. We discuss preliminary results of applying the new tool to the test cases of Suzaku data of Cen X-3 and XTE J1946+274. Cen X-3 is a persistent accreting pulsar with an O-star companion observed during a bright period. XTE J1946+274 is a transient accreting pulsar with a Be companion observed during a dim period. Both sources show spectra that are well described with an empirical Fermi Dirac cutoff power law model. We extend the spectral analysis by making the first steps towards a physical description of Cen X-3 and XTE J1946+274.
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    ABSTRACT: The jet-counterjet system of the closest radio-loud active galaxy Centaurus A (Cen A) can be studied with Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) on unprecedented small linear scales of ~0.018pc. These high-resolution observations provide essential information on jet emission and propagation within the inner parsec of an AGN jet. We present the results of a kinematic study performed within the framework of the Southern-hemisphere AGN monitoring program TANAMI. Over 3.5years, the evolution of the central-parsec jet structure of Cen A was monitored with VLBI. These observations reveal complex jet dynamics which are well explained by a spine-sheath structure supported by the downstream acceleration occurring where the jet becomes optically thin. Both moving and stationary jet features are tracked. A persistent local minimum in surface brightness suggests the presence of an obstacle interrupting the jet flow, which can be explained by the interaction of the jet with a star at a distance of ~0.4pc from the central black hole. We briefly discuss possible implications of such an interaction regarding the expected neutrino and high-energy emission and the effect on a putative planet.
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    ABSTRACT: Since the discovery of a neutrino flux in excess of the atmospheric background by the IceCube Collaboration, searches for the astrophysical sources have been ongoing. Due to the steeply falling background towards higher energies, the PeV events detected in three years of IceCube data are the most likely ones to be of extraterrestrial origin. Even excluding the PeV events detected so far, the neutrino flux is well above the atmospheric background, so it is likely that a number of sub-PeV events originate from the same astrophysical sources that produce the PeV events. We study the high-energy properties of AGN that are positionally coincident with the neutrino events from three years of IceCube data and show the results for event number 4. IC 4 is a event with a low angular error (7.1$^\circ$) and a large deposited energy of 165 TeV. We use multiwavelength data, including Fermi/LAT and X-ray data, to construct broadband spectra and present parametrizations of the broadband spectral energy distributions with logarithmic parabolas. Assuming the X-ray to {\gamma}-ray emission in blazars originates in the photoproduction of pions by accelerated protons, their predicted neutrino luminosity can be estimated. The measurements of the diffuse extragalactic background by Fermi/LAT gives us an estimate of the flux contributions from faint unresolved blazars. Their contribution increases the number of expected events by a factor of $\sim$2. We conclude that the detection of the IceCube neutrinos IC4, IC14, and IC20 can be explained by the integral emission of blazars, even though no individual source yields a sufficient energy output.
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    ABSTRACT: IC 310 has recently been identified as a gamma-ray emitter based on observations at GeV energies with Fermi-LAT and at very high energies (VHE, E > 100 GeV) with the MAGIC telescopes. Despite IC 310 having been classified as a radio galaxy with the jet observed at an angle > 10 degrees, it exhibits a mixture of multiwavelength properties of a radio galaxy and a blazar, possibly making it a transitional object. On the night of 12/13th of November 2012 the MAGIC telescopes observed a series of violent outbursts from the direction of IC 310 with flux-doubling time scales faster than 5 min and a peculiar spectrum spreading over 2 orders of magnitude. Such fast variability constrains the size of the emission region to be smaller than 20% of the gravitational radius of its central black hole, challenging the shock acceleration models, commonly used in explanation of gamma-ray radiation from active galaxies. Here we will show that this emission can be associated with pulsar-like particle acceleration by the electric field across a magnetospheric gap at the base of the jet.
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    ABSTRACT: The source(s) of the neutrino excess reported by the IceCube Collaboration is unknown. The TANAMI Collaboration recently reported on the multiwavelength emission of six bright, variable blazars which are positionally coincident with two of the most energetic IceCube events. Such objects are prime candidates to be the source of the highest-energy cosmic rays, and thus of associated neutrino emission. We present an analysis of neutrino emission from the six blazars using observations with the ANTARES neutrino telescope. The standard methods of the ANTARES candidate list search are applied to six years of data to search for an excess of muons - and hence their neutrino progenitors - from the directions of the six blazars described by the TANAMI Collaboration, and which are possibly associated with two IceCube events. Monte Carlo simulations of the detector response to both signal and background particle fluxes are used to estimate the sensitivity of this analysis for different possible source neutrino spectra. A maximum-likelihood approach, using the reconstructed energies and arrival directions of through-going muons, is used to identify events with properties consistent with a blazar origin.Both blazars predicted to be the most neutrino-bright in the TANAMI sample (1653-329 and 1714-336) have a signal flux fitted by the likelihood analysis corresponding to approximately one event. This observation is consistent with the blazar-origin hypothesis of the IceCube event IC14 for a broad range of blazar spectra, although an atmospheric origin cannot be excluded. No ANTARES events are observed from any of the other four blazars, including the three associated with IceCube event IC20. This excludes at a 90% confidence level the possibility that this event was produced by these blazars unless the neutrino spectrum is flatter than -2.4.
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    ABSTRACT: This is a White Paper in support of the mission concept of the Large Observatory for X-ray Timing (LOFT), proposed as a medium-sized ESA mission. We discuss the potential of LOFT for the study of high-mass X-ray binaries and ultra-luminous X-ray sources. For a summary, we refer to the paper.
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    ABSTRACT: Multiwavelength observations have revealed the highly unusual properties of the gamma-ray source PMN J1603-4904, which are difficult to reconcile with any other well established gamma-ray source class. The object is either a very atypical blazar or compact jet source seen at a larger angle to the line of sight. In order to determine the physical origin of the high-energy emission processes in PMN J1603-4904, we study the X-ray spectrum in detail. We performed quasi-simultaneous X-ray observations with XMM-Newton and Suzaku in 2013 September, resulting in the first high signal-to-noise X-ray spectrum of this source. The 2-10 keV X-ray spectrum can be well described by an absorbed power law with an emission line at 5.44$\pm$0.05 keV (observed frame). Interpreting this feature as a K{\alpha} line from neutral iron, we determine the redshift of PMN J1603-4904 to be z=0.18$\pm$0.01, corresponding to a luminosity distance of 872$\pm$54 Mpc. The detection of a redshifted X-ray emission line further challenges the original BL Lac classification of PMN J1603-4904. This result suggests that the source is observed at a larger angle to the line of sight than expected for blazars, and thus the source would add to the elusive class of gamma-ray loud misaligned-jet objects, possibly a {\gamma}-ray bright young radio galaxy.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 01/2015; 574. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201425442 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We show that the X-ray line flux of the Mn Kalpha line at 5.9 keV from the decay of 55Fe is a promising diagnostic to distinguish between Type Ia supernova (SN Ia) explosion models. Using radiation transport calculations, we compute the line flux for two 3D explosion models: a near-Chandrasekhar mass delayed detonation and a violent merger of two white dwarfs. Both models are based on solar metallicity zero-age main sequence progenitors. Due to explosive nuclear burning at higher density, the delayed-detonation model synthesises 3.5 times more radioactive 55Fe than the merger model. As a result, we find that the peak Mn Kalpha line flux of the delayed-detonation model exceeds that of the merger model by a factor of 4.5. Since in both models the 5.9 keV X-ray flux peaks five to six years after the explosion, a single measurement of the X-ray line emission at this time can place a constraint on the explosion physics that is complementary to those derived from earlier phase optical spectra or light curves. We perform detector simulations of current and future X-ray telescopes to investigate the possibilities of detecting the X-ray line at 5.9 keV. For the delayed-detonation scenario, a line detection is feasible with Chandra up to 3 Mpc for an exposure time of 10^6 s. We find that it should be possible with currently existing X-ray instruments (with exposure times 5x10^5 s) to detect both of our models at sufficiently high S/N to distinguish between them for hypothetical events within the Local Group. The prospects for detection will be better with future missions. For example, the proposed Athena/X-IFU instrument could detect our delayed-detonation model out to a distance of 5 Mpc. This would make it possible to study future events occurring during its operational life at distances comparable to those of the recent supernovae SN 2011fe (6.4 Mpc) and SN 2014J (3.5 Mpc).
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 12/2014; 447(2). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu2537 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Context. The jets of radio-loud Active Galactic Nuclei are among the most powerful particle accelerators in the Universe, and a plausible production site for high-energy cosmic rays. The detection of high-energy neutrinos from these sources would provide unambiguous evidence of a hadronic component in such jets. High-luminosity blazars, such as the flat-spectrum radio quasars (FSRQs), are promising candidates to search for such emission. Because of the low fluxes due to large redshift, these sources are however challenging for the current generation of neutrino telescopes such as ANTARES and IceCube. Aims. This paper proposes to exploit gravitational lensing effects to improve the sensitivity of neutrino telescopes to the intrinsic neutrino emission of distant blazars. Methods. This strategy is illustrated with a search for cosmic neutrinos in the direction of four distant and gravitationally lensed blazars, using data collected from 2007 to 2012 by ANTARES. The magnification factor is estimated for each system assuming a singular isothermal profile for the lens. The neutrino event selection and statistical analysis are identical to the already published ANTARES search for neutrino point sources, which included a few (non-lensed) FSRQs. Results. Based on ANTARES data, we derive upper limits on the intrinsic luminosity of the selected lensed sources. We obtain the strongest constraint from the lensed system B0218$+$357, providing a limit on the total neutrino luminosity of this FSRQ of $1.08\times 10^{46}\,\mathrm{erg}\,\mathrm{s}^{-1}$. This limit is about one order of magnitude lower than those obtained in the ANTARES standard point source search with non-lensed FSRQs, demonstrating the utility of the method.
    Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics 11/2014; 11:017. DOI:10.1088/1475-7516/2014/11/017 · 6.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Supermassive black holes with masses of millions to billions of solar masses are commonly found in the centers of galaxies. Astronomers seek to image jet formation using radio interferometry but still suffer from insufficient angular resolution. An alternative method to resolve small structures is to measure the time variability of their emission. Here we report on gamma-ray observations of the radio galaxy IC 310 obtained with the MAGIC telescopes, revealing variability with doubling time scales faster than 4.8 min. Causality constrains the size of the emission region to be smaller than 20% of the gravitational radius of its central black hole. We suggest that the emission is associated with pulsar-like particle acceleration by the electric field across a magnetospheric gap at the base of the radio jet.
    Science 11/2014; 346(6213). DOI:10.1126/science.1256183 · 31.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aims. We investigate the long-term evolution of the Cyclotron Resonance Scattering Feature (CRSF) in the spectrum of the binary X-ray pulsar Her X-1 and present evidence of a true secular decrease in the centroid energy Ecyc of the cyclotron line in the pulse phase averaged spectra from 1996 to 2012. Methods. Our results are based on repeated observations of Her X-1 by those X-ray observatories capable of measuring clearly beyond the cyclotron line energy of about 40 keV. Results. The historical evolution of the pulse phase averaged CRSF centroid energy Ecyc since its discovery in 1976 is characterized by an initial value around 35 keV, an abrupt jump upwards to beyond about 40 keV between 1990 and 1994, and an apparent decay thereafter. Much of this decay, however, was found to be due to an artifact, namely a correlation between Ecyc and the X-ray luminosity Lx discovered in 2007. In observations after 2006, however, we now find a statistically significant true secular decrease in the cyclotron line energy. At the same time, the dependence of Ecyc on X-ray luminosity is still valid with an increase of about 5% in energy for a factor of two increase in luminosity. A decrease in Ecyc by 4.2 keV over the 16 years from 1996 to 2012 can either be modeled by a linear decay, or by a slow decay until 2006 followed by a more abrupt decrease thereafter. Conclusions. We speculate that the physical reason could be connected to a geometric displacement of the cyclotron resonant scattering region in the polar field or to a true physical change in the magnetic field configuration at the polar cap by the continued accretion.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 10/2014; 572. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201424203 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The first prototype of a photo-detection unit of the future KM3NeT neutrino telescope has been deployed in the deep waters of the Mediterranean Sea. This digital optical module has a novel design with a very large photocathode area segmented by the use of 31 three inch photomultiplier tubes. It has been integrated in the ANTARES detector for in-situ testing and validation. This paper reports on the first months of data taking and rate measurements. The analysis results highlight the capabilities of the new module design in terms of background suppression and signal recognition. The directionality of the optical module enables the recognition of multiple Cherenkov photons from the same $^{40}$K decay and the localization bioluminescent activity in the neighbourhood. The single unit can cleanly identify atmospheric muons and provide sensitivity to the muon arrival directions.
    European Physical Journal C 09/2014; 74:3056. DOI:10.1140/epjc/s10052-014-3056-3 · 5.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Timing of high-count rate sources with the NuSTAR Small Explorer Mission requires specialized analysis techniques. NuSTAR was primarily designed for spectroscopic observations of sources with relatively low count-rates rather than for timing analysis of bright objects. The instrumental dead time per event is relatively long (~2.5 msec), and varies by a few percent event-to-event. The most obvious effect is a distortion of the white noise level in the power density spectrum (PDS) that cannot be modeled easily with the standard techniques due to the variable nature of the dead time. In this paper, we show that it is possible to exploit the presence of two completely independent focal planes and use the cross power density spectrum to obtain a good proxy of the white noise-subtracted PDS. Thereafter, one can use a Monte Carlo approach to estimate the remaining effects of dead time, namely a frequency-dependent modulation of the variance and a frequency-independent drop of the sensitivity to variability. In this way, most of the standard timing analysis can be performed, albeit with a sacrifice in signal to noise relative to what would be achieved using more standard techniques. We apply this technique to NuSTAR observations of the black hole binaries GX 339-4, Cyg X-1 and GRS 1915+105.
    The Astrophysical Journal 09/2014; 800(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/800/2/109 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We characterized the broad-band X-ray spectra of Swift J1745-26 during the decay of the 2013 outburst using INTEGRAL ISGRI, JEM-X and Swift XRT. The X-ray evolution is compared to the evolution in optical and radio. We fit the X- ray spectra with phenomenological and Comptonization models. We discuss possible scenarios for the physical origin of a ~50 day flare observed both in optical and X- rays ~170 days after the peak of the outburst. We conclude that it is a result of enhanced mass accretion in response to an earlier heating event. We characterized the evolution in the hard X-ray band and showed that for the joint ISGRI-XRT fits, the e-folding energy decreased from 350 keV to 130 keV, while the energy where the exponential cut-off starts increased from 75 keV to 112 keV as the decay progressed.We investigated the claim that high energy cut-offs disappear with the compact jet turning on during outburst decays, and showed that spectra taken with HEXTE on RXTE provide insufficient quality to characterize cut-offs during the decay for typical hard X-ray fluxes. Long INTEGRAL monitoring observations are required to understand the relation between the compact jet formation and hard X-ray behavior. We found that for the entire decay (including the flare), the X-ray spectra are consistent with thermal Comptonization, but a jet synchrotron origin cannot be ruled out.
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    ABSTRACT: LOFT, the Large Observatory For X-ray Timing, was one of the ESA M3 mission candidates that completed their assessment phase at the end of 2013. LOFT is equipped with two instruments, the Large Area Detector (LAD) and the Wide Field Monitor (WFM). The LAD performs pointed observations of several targets per orbit (~90 minutes), providing roughly ~80 GB of proprietary data per day (the proprietary period will be 12 months). The WFM continuously monitors about 1/3 of the sky at a time and provides data for about ~100 sources a day, resulting in a total of ~20 GB of additional telemetry. The LOFT Burst alert System additionally identifies on-board bright impulsive events (e.g., Gamma-ray Bursts, GRBs) and broadcasts the corresponding position and trigger time to the ground using a dedicated system of ~15 VHF receivers. All WFM data are planned to be made public immediately. In this contribution we summarize the planned organization of the LOFT ground segment (GS), as established in the mission Yellow Book 1 . We describe the expected GS contributions from ESA and the LOFT consortium. A review is provided of the planned LOFT data products and the details of the data flow, archiving and distribution. Despite LOFT was not selected for launch within the M3 call, its long assessment phase (> 2 years) led to a very solid mission design and an efficient planning of its ground operations.

Publication Stats

4k Citations
1,051.70 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2006–2015
    • Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
      Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2013–2014
    • California Institute of Technology
      • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
      Pasadena, California, United States
    • Paris Diderot University
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
  • 2009–2014
    • Universitätsklinikum Erlangen
      Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2010–2013
    • Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg
      Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany
    • University of Maryland, Baltimore County
      • Center for Space Science and Technology
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2004–2008
    • The University of Warwick
      • Department of Physics
      Warwick, ENG, United Kingdom
    • University of Cambridge
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 1970–2008
    • University of Tuebingen
      • Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics
      Tübingen, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany
  • 2005
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2002
    • SSL
      Palo Alto, California, United States
  • 1997–1999
    • University of California, San Diego
      • Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences (CASS)
      San Diego, California, United States