Dec 2013, Volume 8 Issue 6
    

Cover illustration

  • High-energy astrophysics is one of the most active branches in the contemporary astrophysics. It studies astrophysical objects that emit X-ray and γ-ray photons, such as accreting super-massive and stellar-size black holes, and various species of neutron stars. With the operations of many space-borne and ground-based observational facilities, high-energy astrophysics has enjoyed rapid development in the past decades. It is foreseen that the field will continue to advanc [Detail] ...


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  • EDITORIAL
    Bing Zhang, Peter Mésáros

    High energy astrophysics is one of the most active branches in the contemporary astrophysics. It studies astrophysical objects that emit X-ray and γ-ray photons, such as accreting super-massive and stellar-size black holes, and various species of neutron stars. With the operations of many space-borne and ground-based observational facilities, high energy astrophysics has enjoyed rapid development in the past decades. It is foreseen that the field will continue to advance rapidly in the coming decade, with possible ground-breaking discoveries of astrophysical sources in the high-energy neutrino and gravitational wave channels. This Special Issue of Frontiers of Physics is dedicated to a systematic survey of the field of high energy astrophysics as it stands in 2013.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Henric Krawczynski, Ezequiel Treister

    In this paper we give a brief review of the astrophysics of active galactic nuclei (AGNs). After a general introduction motivating the study of AGNs, we discuss our present understanding of the inner workings of the central engines, most likely accreting black holes with masses between 106 and 1010 M. We highlight recent results concerning the jets (collimated outflows) of AGNs derived from X-ray observations (Chandra) of kpc-scale jets and γ-ray observations of AGNs (Fermi, Cherenkov telescopes) with jets closely aligned with the lines of sight (blazars), and discuss the interpretation of these observations. Subsequently, we summarize our knowledge about the cosmic history of AGN formation and evolution. We conclude with a description of upcoming observational opportunities.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Shuang-Nan Zhang

    This is a general review on the observations and physics of black hole X-ray binaries and microquasars, with the emphasize on recent developments in the high energy regime. The focus is put on understanding the accretion flows and measuring the parameters of black holes in them. It includes mainly two parts: i) Brief review of several recent review article on this subject; ii) Further development on several topics, including black hole spin measurements, hot accretion flows, corona formation, state transitions and thermal stability of standard think disk. This is thus not a regular bottom-up approach, which I feel not necessary at this stage. Major effort is made in making and incorporating from many sources useful plots and illustrations, in order to make this article more comprehensible to non-expert readers. In the end I attempt to make a unification scheme on the accretion-outflow (wind/jet) connections of all types of accreting BHs of all accretion rates and all BH mass scales, and finally provide a brief outlook.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Neil Gehrels, Soebur Razzaque

    Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are among the most violent occurrences in the universe. They are powerful explosions, visible to high redshift, and thought to be the signature of black hole birth. They are highly luminous events and provide excellent probes of the distant universe. GRB research has greatly advanced over the past 10 years with the results from Swift, Fermi and an active follow-up community. In this review we survey the interplay between these recent observations and the theoretical models of the prompt GRB emission and the subsequent afterglows.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Alice K. Harding

    Neutron stars are a very diverse population, both in their observational and their physical properties. They prefer to radiate most of their energy at X-ray and gamma-ray wavelengths. But whether their emission is powered by rotation, accretion, heat, magnetic fields or nuclear reactions, they are all different species of the same animal whose magnetic field evolution and interior composition remain a mystery. This article will broadly review the properties of inhabitants of the neutron star zoo, with emphasis on their high-energy emission.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Steven Ritz

    The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, formerly called GLAST, measures the cosmic gamma-ray flux in the energy range 8 keV to>300 GeV. In addition to breakthrough capabilities in energy coverage and localization, the very large field of view enables observations of 20% of the sky at any instant, and the entire sky on a timescale of a few hours. With its launch in 2008, Fermi opens a new and important window on a wide variety of phenomena, including pulsars, black holes and active galactic nuclei, gamma-ray bursts, supernova remnants and the origins of cosmic rays, and searches for hypothetical new phenomena such as particle dark matter annihilations. A brief overview and selected science highlights from the first four years are provided.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Frank M. Rieger, Emma de O?a-Wilhelmi, Felix A. Aharonian

    With the successful realization of the current-generation of ground-based detectors, TeV Astronomy has entered into a new era. We review recent advances in VHE astronomy, focusing on the potential of Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescopes (IACTs), and highlight astrophysical implications of the results obtained within recent years.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    T. K. Gaisser, T. Stanev, S. Tilav

    This review focuses on high-energy cosmic rays in the PeV energy range and above. Of particular interest is the knee of the spectrum around 3 PeV and the transition from cosmic rays of Galactic origin to particles from extra-galactic sources. Our goal is to establish a baseline spectrum from 1014 to 1020 eV by combining the results of many measurements at different energies. In combination with measurements of the nuclear composition of the primaries, the shape of the energy spectrum places constraints on the number and spectra of sources that may contribute to the observed spectrum.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Francis Halzen

    Detecting neutrinos associated with the still enigmatic sources of cosmic rays has reached a new watershed with the completion of IceCube, the first detector with sensitivity to the anticipated fluxes. In this review, we will briefly revisit the rationale for constructing kilometer-scale neutrino detectors and summarize the status of the field.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Gabriela González, Andrea Viceré, Linqing Wen

    We are entering a new era of gravitational-wave astronomy. The ground-based interferometers have reached their initial design sensitivity in the audio band. Several upper limits have been set for anticipated astrophysical sources from the science data. The advanced detectors in the US and in Europe are expected to be operational around 2015. New advanced detectors are also planned in Japan and in India. The first direct detections of gravitational waves are expected within this decade. In the meanwhile, three pulsar timing array projects are forming an international collaboration to detect gravitational waves directly in the nanoHertz range using timing data from millisecond pulsars. The first direct detection of nanoHertz gravitational waves are also expected within this decade. In this paper, we review the status of current gravitational-wave detectors, possible types of sources, observational upper limits achieved, and future prospects for direct detection of gravitational waves.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Xiao-Jun Bi, Peng-Fei Yin, Qiang Yuan

    The detection of dark matter has made great progresses in recent years. We give a brief review on the status and progress in dark matter detection, including the progresses in direct detection, collider detection at LHC and focus on the indirect detection. The results from PAMELA, ATIC, Fermi-LAT and relevant studies on these results are introduced. Then we give the progress on indirect detection of gamma rays from Fermi-LAT and ground based Cerenkov telescopes. Finally the detection of neutrinos and constraints on the nature of dark matter are reviewed briefly.

  • REVIEW ARTICLE
    Miao Li, Xiao-Dong Li, Shuang Wang, Yi Wang

    The problem of dark energy is briefly reviewed in both theoretical and observational aspects. In the theoretical aspect, dark energy scenarios are classified into symmetry, anthropic principle, tuning mechanism, modified gravity, quantum cosmology, holographic principle, back-reaction and phenomenological types. In the observational aspect, we introduce cosmic probes, dark energy related projects, observational constraints on theoretical models and model independent reconstructions.

  • ERRATUM
    Yuan Liang (梁源), Guang Yang (杨光), Ji-Ping Huang (黄吉平)