A simple design of a soft x-ray polarimeter using multilayer mirrors is presented. A multilayer mirror acts as a linear polarization analyzer for x-rays at incidence angles close to the Brewster angle. The instrument consists of an x-ray concentrator, a set of multilayer mirrors placed at 45 deg from the optical axis, and a detector at Nasmyth focus. The instrument rotating about its optical axis during observations can measure the linear polarization of 0.2- to 0.7-keV x-rays from astronomical sources. The use of a soft x-ray concentrator with geometrical area ∼630 cm2 provides sufficient sensitivity to address key scientific questions. Five different multilayer mirrors placed on a rotating wheel provide the option to measure polarization in any of the five narrow bands spanning the 0.2- to 0.7-keV range. Design and estimated performance of the design are discussed.
The soft x-ray spectrometer (SXS) onboard the Hitomi satellite achieved a high-energy resolution of ∼4.9 eV at 6 keV with an x-ray microcalorimeter array cooled to 50 mK. The cooling system utilizes liquid helium, confined in zero gravity by means of a porous plug (PP) phase separator. For the PP to function, the helium temperature must be kept lower than the λ point of 2.17 K in orbit. To determine the maximum allowable helium temperature at launch, taking into account the uncertainties in both the final ground operations and initial operation in orbit, we constructed a thermal mathematical model of the SXS dewar and PP vent and carried out time-series thermal simulations. Based on the results, the maximum allowable helium temperature at launch was set at 1.7 K. We also conducted a transient thermal calculation using the actual temperatures at launch as initial conditions to determine flow and cooling rates in orbit. From this, the equilibrium helium mass flow rate was estimated to be ∼34 to 42 μg/s, and the lifetime of the helium mode was predicted to be ∼3.9 to 4.7 years. This paper describes the thermal model and presents simulation results and comparisons with temperatures measured in the orbit.
When using superfluid helium in low-gravity environments, porous plug phase separators are commonly used to vent boil-off gas while confining the bulk liquid to the tank. Invariably, there is a flow of superfluid film from the perimeter of the porous plug down the vent line. For the soft x-ray spectrometer onboard ASTRO-H (Hitomi), its approximately 30-liter helium supply has a lifetime requirement of more than 3 years. A nominal vent rate is estimated as ∼30 μg/s, equivalent to ∼0.7 mW heat load. It is, therefore, critical to suppress any film flow whose evaporation would not provide direct cooling of the remaining liquid helium. That is, the porous plug vent system must be designed to both minimize film flow and to ensure maximum extraction of latent heat from the film. The design goal for Hitomi is to reduce the film flow losses to <2 μg/s, corresponding to a loss of cooling capacity of <40 μW. The design adopts the same general design as implemented for Astro-E and E2, using a vent system composed of a porous plug, combined with an orifice, a heat exchanger, and knife-edge devices. Design, on-ground testing results, and in-orbit performance are described.
The soft x-ray spectrometer was designed to operate onboard the Japanese Hitomi (ASTRO-H) satellite. In the beam of this instrument, there was a filter wheel containing x-ray filters and active calibration sources. This paper describes this filter wheel. We show the purpose of the filters and the preflight calibrations performed. In addition, we present the calibration source design and measured performance. Finally, we conclude with prospects for future missions.
We summarize all of the in-orbit operations of the soft x-ray spectrometer (SXS) onboard the ASTRO-H (Hitomi) satellite. The satellite was launched on February 17, 2016, and the communication with the satellite ceased on March 26, 2016. The SXS was still in the commissioning phase, in which the set-ups were progressively changed. This paper is intended to serve as a concise reference of the events in orbit in order to properly interpret the SXS data taken during its short lifetime and as a test case for planning the in-orbit operation for future microcalorimeter missions.