XMM-Newton (X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission) was at the time of launch the largest scientific satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA). It is the second of ESA's four “cornerstone” missions defined in the Horizon 2000 Programme. Its telescope mirrors were amongst the most powerful ever developed in the world, and with its sensitive cameras it sees much more than any previous X-ray satellite. Until 2002 XMM-Newton was the most massive satellite that was ever built and launched by Europeans. By now the record was beaten by another ESA-Satellite INTEGRAL, which was started in 2002 and adds the γ-ray range to the observations of XMM-Newton.
The satellite is still in orbit and stays operational prospectively until at least the end of 2018.
Launch: December 10th, 1999 (10th anniversary 2009).
- European Photon Imaging Camera (EPIC): 0.15 - 15 keV
- Reflection Grating Spectrometer (RGS): 0.35 - 2.5 keV
- Optical Monitor (OM): 180 - 600 nm
Scientific goal: Imaging of cosmic X-ray sources with high sensitivity and high spectral resolution.
There are two telescopes on XMM-Newton:
- Three Wolter type-1 X-ray telescopes with different detectors in their foci.
- 30-cm optical/UV telescope with a microchannel-plate pre-amplified CCD detector in its focal plane → simultaneous access to X-ray and optical/UV.
The scientific instruments on XMM-Newton are:
- European Photon Imaging Camera (EPIC): 3 CCD cameras for X-ray Imaging, moderate resolution spectroscopy and X-ray photometry. 2 of them are MOS cameras and one pn.
- Reflection Grating Spectrometer (RGS): 2 spectrometers for high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy and spectro-photometry.
- Optical Monitor (OM): for optical/UV imaging and grism spectroscopy
The control and readout electronics for the CCD-pn camera was developed at our institute. Due to the high radiation exposure in the orbit only slower radiation hard processors could be used. That is why a so called ASIC was developed. It is a special module, which is able to provide the required processing power. The CCD-array gets read out completely every 70 ms, so that in the end more than two million pixels per second have to be processed.
Some characteristic featurs of XMM-Newton are:
- Simultaneous operation of all science instruments
- High sensitivity
- Good angular resolution
- High spectral resolution
- Simultaneous optical/UV observations
- Long and continuous target visibility
More basic characteristic values for the different instruments can be seen in table 1.
|Instrument||EPIC MOS||EPIC pn||RGS||OM|
|Bandpass||0.15-12 keV||0.15-15 keV||0.35-2.5 keV||180-600 nm|
|Orbital target vis.||5-135 ks||5-135 ks||5-135 ks||5-145 ks|
|Field of View||30'||30'||~5'||17'|
|Pixel size||40 μm (1.1")||150 μm (4.1")||81 μm (9*10e-3 Å)||0.476513"|
|Timing resolution||1.75 ms||0.03 ms||0.6 s||0.5 s|
|Spectral resolution||~70 eV||~80 eV||0.04/0.025 Å|| |
XMM observed the X-ray sky for the first time January 19, 2000. The observation was done with the pn-CCD camera, which was developed by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestial Physics (MPE) in collaboration with our institute.
As XMM-Newton was launched on 10 December 1999 on a mission to peer into the most energetic phenomena in the Universe, XMM-Newtons 10th anniversary was celebrated at the end of 2009.
For 10 years XMM-Newton has simultaneously collected X-rays, visible and ultarviolet light and consistently demonstrated its role as one of the most imortant astronomical observatories of the time. XMM-Newton will continue to keep watching the ever changing X-ray sky and to make exciting discoveries to further our understanding of the universe.
The Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Tübingen (IAAT) participates in the following tasks for XMM-Newton:
- Development and manufacturing of parts of the electronics that read out the pn-CCD camera.
- Development of a special electronic module (ASIC) in collaboration with the industry (TEMIC and DD&T, Reutlingen) to reduce the data on board.
- Development of the on-board software to run the event processor.
- Measurements to test the pn-CCDs with the help of vacuum measuring equipment of the institute.
- Calibration of the pn-CCD camera on ground (Panter Testcenter of the MPE, BESSY and Synchrotron in Orsay).
- Calibration of the pn-CCD camera in orbit.
- Preparation and analysis of scientific observations, especially X-ray binary systems (neutron stars, black holes) and active galaxies.
The EPIC cameras were built by a consortium of 13 European institutes (GB, F, I, D). Tübingen collaborated closely with :
- Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching
- European Space Technology Center (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, NL
- European Satellite Operation Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt
- European Space Astronomy Center (ESAC) near Madrid, E
Last Update 08/2018: Inga Saathoff, Chris Tenzer