Astronomers from the BRITE (BRight Target Explorer) Constellation project and Ritter Observatory have discovered a repeating one-per-cent spike in the light of a very massive star which could change our understanding of such stars. Iota Orionis is a binary star system and is easily visible with the naked eye, being the brightest star in the constellation Orion's sword. Its unique variability, reported in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, was discovered using the world's smallest astronomical space satellites, referred to as "nanosats". "As the first functional nanosatellite astronomy mission, the BRITE-Constellation is at the vanguard of this coming space revolution," said Canadian BRITE-Constellation principal investigator Gregg Wade, of Royal Military College of Canada, Ont. Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-03-iota-orionis-pulsating-beacon-constellation.html.
In late 2016/early 2017 several new publications related to BRITE have
appeared. H. Pablo et al. The BRITE Constellation Nanosatellite Mission: Testing, Commissioning, and Operations describe the testing, commissioning and operations of the BRITE satellites. In particular, they show how unexpected technical problems related to high-energy cosmic radiation were mitigated.
Another science paper by G. Handler et al.
Combining BRITE and ground-based photometry for the beta Cephei
star ni Eridani: impact on photometric pulsation mode identification and detection of several g modes reports BRITE observations of the previously well-studied pulsating star Nu Eridani and the detection of several long-period oscillations that had not been known before. J. Daszyńska-Daszkiewicz et al. interpret these findings (https://arxiv.org/pdf/1612.05820v1.pdf) and suggest that the opacities, one of the most important ingredients used in stellar model computations, are still underestimated.
The first three scientific papers presenting results of the BRITE satellite mission have been published in the April 2016 issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics. The BRITE mission consists of six nanosatellites of which two, Lem and Heweliusz, are the first Polish scientific satellites.
The papers are devoted to four bright stars of the southern sky located in the second stellar field observed by BRITE, the Centaurus field. These are alfa Circini, beta, eta and mi Centauri. alfa Circini is a rapidly oscillating Ap star, the brightest representative of this interesting class of pulsating stars having strong magneting fields and explained by the model of oblique rotator. With BRITE data, two known pulsation modes were confirmed, but for the first time it was shown that rotational variability is different in blue and red passbands. (Weiss et al., A&A 588, A54: The roAp star alfa Circinus as seen by BRITE-Constellation).
The next studied star, beta Centauri (Agena or Hadar), is a triple system with two massive components in a 357-day eccentric orbit. BRITE data allowed to discover as many as 17 pulsation modes, including both acoustic and gravity modes, which makes it a hybrid ß Cephei/SPB star. Prior to the study with BRITE data, only two modes were known. Since ß Cen has a very rich set of archival observations, the analysis of combined spectroscopic and interferometric data allowed to derive masses of the two massive components, equal to 12.0 i 10.6 solar masses, with a precision of the order of one per cent. The masses were subsequently used in modelling pulsations of the components. In view of a rich spectroscopic archive, ß Cen may become a key object in future studies of ß Cephei and SPB pulsations in fast-rotating stars. Undoubtedly, owing to the BRITE observations, a sample of massive pulsating stars for which seismic modelling will become possible, will be increased several times. This opens a possibility of a widespread application of asteroseismology in these stars that can bring a breaktrough in our understanding of the internal structure of massive stars. (Pigulski et al., A&A 588, A55: Massive pulsating stars observed by BRITE-Constellation).
Finally, the third paper (Baade et al., A&A 588, A56: Short-term variability and mass loss in Be stars) is devoted to two bright Be stars, eta and mi Centauri. Be stars are fast-rotating stars having circumstellar discs. The mechanism of feeding disk with matter is still not explained. The analysis of BRITE data of eta Cen showed that interaction of closely spaced in frequency g modes may play a crucial role in this process. In order to verify this hypothesis, analysis of the photometry of the other Be stars will be required. Fortunately, there are many Be stars among BRITE targets.
The first scientific paper produced using data collected by the nanosatellites forming the BRITE-Constellation (BRIght Target Explorer), to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, is revealing new information about a well-studied star, Alpha Circini.
"Our analysis of the BRITE data revealed behaviour in this star that has not been observed before," said Professor Werner Weiss from the University of Vienna, Austrian Principal Investigator for BRITE and lead author of the paper. "BRITE-Constellation showed complex behaviour in Alpha Cir due to both rotation and pulsation. Moreover, that behaviour is different when observed in different colours. This result clearly demonstrates the power of BRITE-Constellation and the unique science that is possible using these tiny two-colour precision instruments in space." (more)
A few groups of children visited the Centrum Badań Kosmicznych in the autumn 2015. The young students listen to the lectures about space, learned about the instruments, so that we can explore the universe, they participated in the thematic workshops, and they saw the clean-room and laboratories where the Polish instruments intended for use in space are built and tested.
President of Poland has conferred the Order of Polonia Restituta to Professor Sławomir Ruciński for his outstanding achievements in the field of astronomy. Sławomir Ruciński initiated the project of BRITE satellites in Canada in 2003. In following years, through his scientific and engineering contacts, he facilitated sharing of the concept and its technological and scientific documentation with Austrian and Polish astronomy communities which led to a broadening of the scope of the project and creation of the international project of the BRITE Constellation. The ceremony, with the participation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education, Professor Lena Kolarska-Bobińska, took place at the Centrum Badań Kosmicznych PAN in Warsaw on September 25, 2015.
16 Febuary 2015, the pupils from first grade of elementary school of Przymierze Rodzin visited the Centrum Badań Kosmicznych. The young guest listened to interesting history, among others info about the planets, stars and satellites. They learnt the names of Polish astronomers and space researchers, then they viewed a model of the first Polish scientific satellites BRITE-PL. The pupils looked also to the clean-room and laboratories, where the Polish instruments intended for use in space, are build and tested. At the end of a visit all the guests took part in the workshop, during which each of them had built their own model of BRITE-PL satellite(...)
Happy Birthday for Lem!
On 21 November 2014, the first Polish scientific satellite BRITE-PL "Lem" celebrated its first year of operation in orbit. Within this year the spacecraft has completed 5270 orbits around the Earth and has travelled over 230 million kilometers since its launch. "Lem" operates as planned and performs a regular research and observations according to the BRITE mission plan. The photo on the left presents the part of sky with Orion constellation captured by the satellite's telescope, the Pleiades star cluster is shown on the part of the enlarged image.
The 5th Forum of Mazovian Voivodship Development was held on 4-5 November 2014 at the National Stadiun. The organizer - Mazovian Unit of EU Programmes Implementation - has invited dozens of exhibitors-beneficiaries of EU programmes, for which dedicated exhibition position were set up. One of them presented the model of BRITE-PL satellite and other projects and research studies carried out in Centrum Badań Kosmicznych PAN especially in the Laboratory of Satellite Applications of FPGA. Mazovian Development Fund covered the infrastructure's upgrade and the purchase of specialized software and tools for the new Laboratory of Final Functional Tests of Space Instruments, where the first Polish scientific satellites Lem and Heweliusz have been built and tested.
The Polish scientific satellites BRITE-PL "Lem" and "Heweliusz" were presented in the Centrum Badań Kosmicznych on 21 September 2014 under the 18th Science Festival. The both satellites have been already working in space. Visitors had the opportunity to learn more about the design of the satellites and to see a working model of the Polish dispenser "Dragon" that services the satellite "Heweliusz". The children were very happy to glue their own satellite models.
All subsystems of the satellite "Heweliusz" have been successfully checked within the first week after its launch. Now the operating modes are under testing phase.
Diplomats, scientists and journalists from Poland, China and other countries had a meeting on 20 August 2014 at the Polish Embassy in Beijing, to sum up the successful mission to launch Hevelius, a Polish scientific satellite, into the Earth's orbit by a Chinese "Long March 4B" rocket. The event's special guests included: Director of Centrum Badań Kosmicznych Polskiej Akademii Nauk - prof. dr hab. Marek Banaszkiewicz and Director of Centrum Astronomiczne im. Mikołaja Kopernika Polskiej Akademii Nauk - prof. dr hab. Marek Sarna, scientists and construction engineers from the both institutes, as well as representatives of the rocket's manufacturer - China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) and Chinese Space Agency.
On the first day in orbit Ground Station operating in CAMK established communication session with "Heweliusz" each time when it was in the range: three times in the morning and three times in the evening. The LFFT test (Long Form Functional Test) has been started today.
The BRITE-PL team present in CBK on "Heweliusz" launch day is on the right.
The first connection to "Heweliusz" was established at 10:02 am during the first pass of the satellite over Europe. The first signal from "Heweliusz" was received, which was quite strong and stable. Communication in both directions (up and downlink) was fine, practically without any downtime and delays. The House Keeping onboard computer (HKC) was switched on and housekeeping data was received. All the main operating parameters are OK.
BRITE-PL "Heweliusz" satellite was seperated from Long March-4B rocket 14 minutes after launch. The second Polish scientific satellite was placed into orbit.
|"Heweliusz" satellite operates on its orbit around the Earth!|
On 19 August 2014 roku, the second Polish scientific satellite BRITE-PL "Heweliusz" was launched at 3:15:00 UTC (at 5:15:00 CET) by a Chinese Long March-4B rocket from the launch complex of Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, 600 km on south-west from Beijing. The main contractor for the Chinese space program - China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) - was responsible for rocket launching. Polish satellite BRITE-PL "Heweliusz" was launched according to a contract signed by the Polish consortium of the BRITE project and China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC).
"Heweliusz" satellite joined on-orbit constellation of BRITE scientific satellites: two Austrian satellites "TUGSAT-1" and "UniBRITE", one Canadian satellite "Toronto" and Polish satellite "Lem". The photo on the right presents the covers removed from the "Heweliusz" receiving antennas 3 hours before the launch.
Telescopes of BRITE constellation satellites have an aperture of 30 mm and they are considered to be the smallest telescopes operating on orbit. "Heweliusz" differs from other satellites of BRITE constellation a few relevant details: telescope designed in CBK and experimental payload, composed of devices that engineers from CBK have designed for another future space missions. These are among others: a small antenna boom and mechanism for securing and releasing the satellite subsystems. The anti-radiation cover has been aslo installed on "Heweliusz" to shield the CCD matrix from harmful space radiation. The shield was designed in cooperation with scientists from Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, National Centre for Nuclear Research in Świerk and Institute of Nuclear Physics of Polish Academy of Sciences. Radio amateurs around the world will be able to track of "Heweliusz" in orbit due to the signal identifier sent from beacon.
"Heweliusz" is already mounted on the rocket structure after testing all the subsystems. All of them work correctly. Tests of the cable connecting rocket with a satellite have been completed successfully. The satellite is ready to be launched.
On Sunday August 10, 2014 the main payload - satellite Gaofen2 - will be assembled to the same mechanical structure where "Dragon" and "Heweliusz" are mounted. Now we are looking forward to August 19 - the date when China's famous Long March-4B carrier rocket will launch the Polish satellite.
Heweliusz mounted in Dragon
Satellite's transferto integration room
Dragon mounted to rocket structure
Heweliusz satellite on rocket structure
The more information about BRITE-PL.