The Advanced Telescope for High-energy Astrophysics (Athena+) is being proposed to ESA as the L2 mission (for a launch in 2028) and is specifically designed to answer two of the most pressing questions for astrophysics in the forthcoming decade: How did ordinary matter assemble into the large scale structures we see today? and how do black holes grow and shape the Universe? For addressing these two issues, Athena+ will provide transformational capabilities in terms of angular resolution, effective area, spectral resolution, grasp, that will make it the most powerful X-ray observatory ever flown. Such an observatory, when opened to the astronomical community, will be used for virtually all classes of astrophysical objects, from high-z gamma-ray bursts to the closest planets in our solar neighborhood. In this paper, we briefly review the core science objectives of Athena+, present the science requirements and the foreseen implementation of the mission, and illustrate its transformational capabilities compared to existing facilities.
Date added: Tue, 15 Oct 13