High-energy astrophysics

Definition

High-energy astrophysics is the study of the processes that occur within stars, black holes and supernovae. These processes can be monitored by measuring the high-energy electromagnetic radiation and particles that they emit including x-rays, ultraviolet light and gamma rays. These observations are supplemented with computer simulations.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research |

    Using an innovative method, the mass of a pulsar can be constrained using the maximum ‘glitch’ in the star’s rotational frequency: the bigger the glitch, the lower the mass. This method is used to estimate the mass of all observed glitchers.

    • P. M. Pizzochero
    • , M. Antonelli
    • , B. Haskell
    •  & S. Seveso
  • Research |

    The origin of Galactic positrons that produce gamma ray emission when annihilated is still debated. Mergers of two white dwarfs are likely to be the main source of these positrons. Such mergers produce sub-luminous, thermonuclear supernovae.

    • Roland M. Crocker
    • , Ashley J. Ruiter
    • , Ivo R. Seitenzahl
    • , Fiona H. Panther
    • , Stuart Sim
    • , Holger Baumgardt
    • , Anais Möller
    • , David M. Nataf
    • , Lilia Ferrario
    • , J. J. Eldridge
    • , Martin White
    • , Brad E. Tucker
    •  & Felix Aharonian
  • Research |

    The detection of a metal-polluted G star in a binary system with an invisible X-ray source offset from the centre of a supernova remnant leads to the suggestion that this was the progenitor pair behind a core-collapse supernova in RCW 86.

    • Vasilii V. Gvaramadze
    • , Norbert Langer
    • , Luca Fossati
    • , Douglas C.-J. Bock
    • , Norberto Castro
    • , Iskren Y. Georgiev
    • , Jochen Greiner
    • , Simon Johnston
    • , Arne Rau
    •  & Thomas M. Tauris
  • Research | | open

    Advanced LIGO has detected gravitational waves from two binary black hole mergers, plus a merger candidate. Here the authors use the COMPAS code to show that all three events can be explained by a single evolutionary channel via a common envelope phase, and characterize the progenitor metallicity and masses.

    • Simon Stevenson
    • , Alejandro Vigna-Gómez
    • , Ilya Mandel
    • , Jim W. Barrett
    • , Coenraad J. Neijssel
    • , David Perkins
    •  & Selma E. de Mink
  • Research |

    A magnetohydrodynamic model for outflows around supermassive black holes can also reproduce the X-ray properties of an outflow around a stellar black hole. This indicates that magnetic forces have a universal role to play in driving these winds.

    • Keigo Fukumura
    • , Demosthenes Kazanas
    • , Chris Shrader
    • , Ehud Behar
    • , Francesco Tombesi
    •  & Ioannis Contopoulos
  • Research |

    X-ray detection of an ultrafast outflow of gas is strongly linked with energy emission from the inner accretion disk of a black hole, suggesting that X-rays ionize the outflowing disk wind.

    • Michael L. Parker
    • , Ciro Pinto
    • , Andrew C. Fabian
    • , Anne Lohfink
    • , Douglas J. K. Buisson
    • , William N. Alston
    • , Erin Kara
    • , Edward M. Cackett
    • , Chia-Ying Chiang
    • , Thomas Dauser
    • , Barbara De Marco
    • , Luigi C. Gallo
    • , Javier Garcia
    • , Fiona A. Harrison
    • , Ashley L. King
    • , Matthew J. Middleton
    • , Jon M. Miller
    • , Giovanni Miniutti
    • , Christopher S. Reynolds
    • , Phil Uttley
    • , Ranjan Vasudevan
    • , Dominic J. Walton
    • , Daniel R. Wilkins
    •  & Abderahmen Zoghbi
    Nature 543, 83–86

News and Comment

  • Comments and Opinion |

    That we now live in the grip of post-factualism would seem naturally repellent to most physicists. But in championing theory without demanding empirical evidence, we're guilty of ignoring the facts ourselves.

    • Sabine Hossenfelder
    Nature Physics 13, 316–317
  • Comments and Opinion |

    The scientific aims of the European Space Agency's International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory are considerably extended because of its unique capability to identify electromagnetic counterparts to sources of gravitational waves and ultra-high-energy neutrinos.

    • Edward P. J. van den Heuvel
  • News |

    First the neutrinos arrived, then the burst of light: messengers of a cataclysmic event in the galaxy next door. Alak Ray recounts IAUS 331, a conference that celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the supernova of a lifetime, SN1987A, and explored the critical role of asymmetry in the explosions, surroundings and initial conditions.

    • Alak Ray
  • News and Views |

    The biggest black holes in the Universe were in place soon after the Big Bang. Explaining how they formed so rapidly is a daunting challenge, but the latest simulations give clues to how this may have occurred.

    • Lucio Mayer
  • Comments and Opinion |

    Black holes present a profound challenge to our current foundations of physics, and an exciting era of astronomy is just opening in which gravitational-wave observation and very-long-baseline interferometry may provide important hints about the new principles of physics needed.

    • Steven B. Giddings
  • Editorial |

    We think dark matter exists because measurements of ‘normal’ matter would not otherwise make sense. In this Insight on dark matter — offered jointly by Nature Astronomy and Nature Physics — we showcase the various techniques trying to make sense of it.