P. Soffitta's research while affiliated with Sapienza University of Rome and other places

Publications (425)

Preprint
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We report on the first observation of a radio-quiet Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN) using polarized X-rays: the Seyfert 1.9 galaxy MCG-05-23-16. This source was pointed with the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) starting on May 14, 2022 for a net observing time of 486 ks, simultaneously with XMM-Newton (58 ks) and NuSTAR (83 ks). A polarizati...
Preprint
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Recoil imaging entails the detection of spatially resolved ionization tracks generated by particle interactions. This is a highly sought-after capability in many classes of detector, with broad applications across particle and astroparticle physics. However, at low energies, where ionization signatures are small in size, recoil imaging only seems t...
Article
Context. GRS 1915+105 has been in a bright flux state for more than two decades, but in 2018 a significant drop in flux was observed, partly due to changes in the central engine along with increased X-ray absorption. Aims. The aim of this work is to explore how X-ray spectro-polarimetry can be used to derive the basic geometrical properties of the...
Preprint
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Due to be launched in late 2021, the Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) is a NASA Small Explorer mission designed to perform polarization measurements in the 2-8 keV band, complemented with imaging, spectroscopy and timing capabilities. At the heart of the focal plane is a set of three polarization-sensitive Gas Pixel Detectors (GPD), each b...
Article
Due to be launched in late 2021, the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) is a NASA Small Explorer mission designed to perform polarization measurements in the 2–8 keV band, complemented with imaging, spectroscopy and timing capabilities. At the heart of the focal plane is a set of three polarization-sensitive Gas Pixel Detectors (GPD), each b...
Preprint
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In review of the White Papers from the Voyage 2050 process and after the public presentation of a number of these papers in October 2019 in Madrid, we as White Paper lead authors have identified a coherent science theme that transcends the divisions around which the Topical Teams are structured. This note aims to highlight this synergistic science...
Article
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Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are millisecond radio pulses originating from powerful enigmatic sources at extragalactic distances. Neutron stars with large magnetic fields (magnetars) have been considered as the sources powering the FRBs, but the connection requires further substantiation. Here we report the detection by the AGILE satellite on 28 April...
Article
Focal plane X-ray polarimetry is intended for relatively bright sources with a negligible impact of background. However this might not be always possible for IXPE (Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer) when observing faint extended sources like supernova remnants. We present for the first time the expected background of IXPE by Monte Carlo simulation...
Article
Context. GRS 1915+105 being one of the brightest transient black hole binaries (BHBs) in the X-rays offers a unique testbed for the study of the connection between accretion and ejection mechanisms in BHBs. In particular, this source can be used to study the accretion disc wind and its dependence on the state changes in BHBs. Aims. Our aim is to in...
Article
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The X-ray polarization properties of the reflection nebulae in the Galactic center inform us about the direction of the illuminating source (through the polarization angle) and the cloud position along the line of sight (through the polarization degree). However, the detected polarization degree is expected to be lowered because the polarized emiss...
Preprint
Full-text available
The X-ray polarization of the reflection nebulae in the Galactic Center inform us about the direction of the illuminating source (through the polarization angle) and the cloud position along the line of sight (through the polarization degree). However, the detected polarization degree is expected to be lowered because of the mixing of the emission...
Preprint
Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are short (millisecond) radio pulses originating from enigmatic sources at extragalactic distances so far lacking a detection in other energy bands. Magnetized neutron stars (magnetars) have been considered as the sources powering the FRBs, but the connection is controversial because of differing energetics and the lack of...
Article
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On 2017 August 17 a binary neutron star coalescence candidate (later designated GW170817) with merger time 12:41:04 UTC was observed through gravitational waves by the Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo detectors. The Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor independently detected a gamma-ray burst (GRB 170817A) with a time delay of with respect to the merger t...
Article
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The LIGO/Virgo Collaboration (LVC) detected on August 17, 2017 an exceptional gravitational wave (GW) event temporally consistent within $\sim\,2 \, \rm s$ with the GRB 1708117A observed by Fermi/GBM and INTEGRAL. The event turns out to be compatible with a neutron star--neutron star (NS--NS) coalescence that subsequently produced a radio/optical/X...
Article
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eXTP is a science mission designed to study the state of matter under extreme conditions of density, gravity and magnetism. Primary targets include isolated and binary neutron stars, strong magnetic field systems like magnetars, and stellar-mass and supermassive black holes. The mission carries a unique and unprecedented suite of state-of-the-art s...
Conference Paper
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The Large Observatory For x-ray Timing (LOFT) is a mission concept which was proposed to ESA as M3 and M4 candidate in the framework of the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program. Thanks to the unprecedented combination of effective area and spectral resolution of its main instrument and the uniquely large field of view of its wide field monitor, LOFT wil...
Article
The calibration system for XIPE is aimed at providing a way to check and correct possible variations of performance of the Gas Pixel Detector during the three years of operation in orbit (plus two years of possible extended operation), while facilitating the observation of the celestial sources. This will be performed by using a filter wheel with a...
Conference Paper
X-ray polarimetric measurements are based on the study of distributions of the directions of scattered photons or photoelectrons and the search of a sinusoidal modulation with a period of π. We present a new simple tool based on a scatter plot of the modulation curve in which the counts in each angular bin are reported after a shifting by 1/4 of th...
Article
The gas pixel detector (GPD) dedicated for photoelectric X-ray polarimetry is selected as the focal plane detector for the ESA medium-class mission concept X-ray Imaging and Polarimetry Explorer (XIPE). Here we show the design, assembly, and preliminary test results of a small GPD for the purpose of gas mixture optimization needed for the phase A s...
Article
The origin of irradiation and fluorescence of the 6.4 keV bright giant molecular clouds surrounding Sgr A*, the central supermassive black hole of our Galaxy, remains enigmatic. Testing the theory of a past active period of Sgr A* requires X-ray polarimetry. In this paper, we show how modern imaging polarimeters could revolutionize our understandin...
Article
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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 gamma-ray bursts. For a summary, we refer to the paper.
Article
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LOFT (Large Observatory for X-ray Timing) is one of the five candidates that were considered by ESA as an M3 mission (with launch in 2022-2024) and has been studied during an extensive assessment phase. It is specifically designed to perform fast X-ray timing and probe the status of the matter near black holes and neutron stars. Its pointed instrum...
Article
The Galactic center (GC) holds the closest-to-Earth supermassive black hole (SMBH), which makes it the best laboratory to study the close environment of extremely massive compact objects. Polarimetry is sensitive to geometry of the source, which makes it a particularly suitable technique to probe the medium surrounding the GC SMBH. The detection of...
Article
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X-rays are particularly suited to probing the physics of extreme objects. However, despite the enormous improvements of X-ray astronomy in imaging, spectroscopy, and timing, polarimetry remains largely unexplored. We propose the photoelectric polarimeter Gas Pixel Detector (GPD) as a candidate instrument to fill the gap created by more than 30 yr w...
Article
The detection of Energetic Neutral Particles (ENP) above 10 eV can unequivocally relate a surface-bound exosphere to surface features and can monitor instantaneously the effect of plasma precipitation onto the surface. In the framework of a mission to Jupiter's moons, 2D imaging of plasma precipitation will provide important information on the plas...
Article
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We present a variability study of a sample of bright gamma-ray (30 MeV -- 50 GeV) sources. This sample is an extension of the first AGILE catalogue of gamma-ray sources (1AGL), obtained using the complete set of AGILE observations in pointing mode performed during a 2.3 year period from July 9, 2007 until October 30, 2009. The dataset of AGILE poin...
Article
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Context: AGILE is a gamma-ray astrophysics mission which has been in orbit since 23 April 2007 and continues to operate reliably. The gamma-ray detector, AGILE-GRID, has observed Galactic and extragalactic sources, many of which were collected in the first AGILE Catalog. Aims: We present the calibration of the AGILE-GRID using in-flight data and Mo...
Article
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Between the launch of the Global Geospace Science Wind spacecraft in 1994 November and the end of 2010, the Konus-Wind experiment detected 296 short-duration gamma-ray bursts (including 23 bursts which can be classified as short bursts with extended emission). During this period, the Interplanetary Network (IPN) consisted of up to 11 spacecraft, an...
Article
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Gamma-ray emission from the Crab Nebula has been recently shown to be unsteady. In this paper, we study the flux and spectral variability of the Crab above 100 MeV on different timescales ranging from days to weeks. In addition to the four main intense and day-long flares detected by AGILE and Fermi-LAT between Sept. 2007 and Sept. 2012, we find ev...
Article
The measurement of X-ray polarization from solar flares is a scientific challenge which did not give any exhaustive result so far. X-ray polarimetry would be a probe of the solar flares physics making possible to study directly the magnetic reconnection and particle acceleration in the solar atmosphere of active regions where flares take place. New...
Article
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Context. The detection and the characterization of the high energy emission component from individual gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) is one of the key science objectives of the currently operating gamma-ray satellite AGILE, launched in April 2007. In its first two years of operation AGILE detected three GRBs with photons of energy larger than 30 MeV. One...
Article
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In the history of X-ray astronomy the only polarimetric measurement obtained with high significance dates back to the late '70s, when the Crab Pulsar Wind Nebula was observed. X-ray polarimetry remains a widely unexplored scientific field so far. The new 2-10 keV polarimetry era will be opened by GEMS satellite in the next future, while the extensi...
Article
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We present the AGILE-GRID monitoring of Cygnus X-3, during the period between November 2007 and July 2009. We report here the whole AGILE-GRID monitoring of Cygnus X-3 in the AGILE "pointing" mode data-taking, in order to confirm that the gamma-ray activity occurs in coincidence with the same repetitive pattern of multiwavelength emission and to an...
Article
Full-text available
The LOFT mission concept is one of four candidates selected by ESA for the M3 launch opportunity as Medium Size missions of the Cosmic Vision programme. The launch window is currently planned for between 2022 and 2024. LOFT is designed to exploit the diagnostics of rapid X-ray flux and spectral variability that directly probe the motion of matter d...
Article
Full-text available
The Large Observatory for X-ray Timing (LOFT) is one of the four candidate ESA M3 missions considered for launch in the 2022 time-frame. It is specifically designed to perform fast X-ray timing and probe the status of the matter near black holes and neutron stars. The LOFT scientific payload is composed of a Large Area Detector (LAD) and a Wide Fie...
Article
Full-text available
The Large Observatory For X-ray Timing (LOFT), selected by ESA as one of the four Cosmic Vision M3 candidate missions to undergo an assessment phase, will revolutionize the study of compact objects in our galaxy and of the brightest supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei. The Large Area Detector (LAD), carrying an unprecedented effectiv...
Article
The possibility to perform polarimetry in the soft X-ray energy band (2-10 keV) with the Gas Pixel Detector, filled with low Z mixtures, has been widely explored so far. The possibility to extend the technique to higher energies, in combination with multilayer optics, has been also hypothesized in the past, on the basis of simulations. Here we pres...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Subjects: Gamma Ray, >GeV, AGN, Blazar, Transient The AGILE satellite detected gamma-ray emission above 100 MeV from the position(l,b)=(60.25,42.60) +/- 0.5 deg (95% stat.) +/- 0.1 deg (syst.) (R.A., Dec.=248.44, 37.54deg, J2000), positionally consistent with the flat spectrum radio quasar 4C +38.41 (alsoknown as BZQ J1635+3808/3EG J1635+3813). R...
Conference Paper
At the core of the AGILE scientific instrument, designed to operate on a satellite, there is the Gamma Ray Imaging Detector (GRID) consisting of a Silicon Tracker (ST), a Cesium Iodide Mini-Calorimeter and an Anti-Coincidence system of plastic scintillator bars. The ST needs an on-ground calibration with a gamma-ray beam to validate the simulation...
Article
In 2008 AGILE and Fermi detected gamma-ray flaring activity from the unidentified EGRET source 3EG J1236+0457, recently associated with a flat spectrum radio quasar GB6 J1239+0443 at z=1.762. The optical counterpart of the gamma-ray source underwent a flux enhancement of a factor 15-30 in 6 years, and of ~10 in six months. We interpret this flare-u...