We have proposed the development of X-ray interferometry as part of ESA’s Voyage 2050 programme, to reveal the universe at high energies with ultra-high spatial resolution. With only a 1 m baseline, which could be accommodated on a single spacecraft, X-ray interferometry can reach 100 μas resolution at 10 Å (1.24 keV) and exceed that of the Event Horizon Telescope at 2Å (6.2 keV). A multi-spacecraft ‘constellation’ interferometer would resolve well below 1 μas. Here we focus on the single-spacecraft interferometer design and discuss the process of fringe detection and image reconstruction from multiple baselines, showing simulated images of test cases from our Voyage 2050 White Paper. We also discuss the challenges and feasibility of reaching the technical requirements needed for a single-spacecraft interferometer. Most key requirements are already feasible or within easy reach. Besides a ground-based testbed, covered elsewhere in these proceedings, the most important areas for development include large format, small-pixel X-ray detectors and pointing which is stable or can be reconstructed to tens of µas precision.
XIPE, the X-ray Imaging Polarimetry Explorer, is a mission dedicated to X-ray Astronomy. At the time of
writing XIPE is in a competitive phase A as fourth medium size mission of ESA (M4). It promises to reopen the
polarimetry window in high energy Astrophysics after more than 4 decades thanks to a detector that efficiently
exploits the photoelectric effect and to X-ray optics with large effective area. XIPE uniqueness is time-spectrally-spatially-
resolved X-ray polarimetry as a breakthrough in high energy astrophysics and fundamental physics.
Indeed the payload consists of three Gas Pixel Detectors at the focus of three X-ray optics with a total effective
area larger than one XMM mirror but with a low weight. The payload is compatible with the fairing of the Vega
launcher. XIPE is designed as an observatory for X-ray astronomers with 75 % of the time dedicated to a Guest
Observer competitive program and it is organized as a consortium across Europe with main contributions from
Italy, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, Poland, Sweden.