High angular-resolution imagery (~1” or better) together with good off-axis scattering performance (<1/1000 of the PSF peak at 10” off-axis position) are essential ingredients for revealing energetic plasma processes ongoing in the solar corona during flares. However, imagery of the corona has never been performed with such performance due to severe technical difficulty in fabricating precision Wolter mirrors with a wide field of view exceeding several 100”.
We are attempting to realize Wolter mirrors with the above-mentioned performance for future X-ray observations of the Sun. The attempt includes fabrication of engineering mirrors of segmented type to which state-of-the-art precision polish and measurements are applied, followed by X-ray evaluation of focusing performance using BL29XUL parallel X-ray beam line at SPring-8 synchrotron facility. Results of the evaluation are then fed-back to polish/measurements for the subsequent mirrors.
Thus far we have successfully fabricated an engineering mirror whose Wolter surfaces 32.5mm x 10mm each for the parabola and hyperbola segments. The mirror focused 8 keV X-rays with the PSF core size ~0.2” HPD (~0.1” FWHM) and with ~3 x 10^(-4) scattering level at 10” off-axis position. Effort has currently been made to increase the area size of the Wolter surfaces towards application to space-borne optics for solar X-ray observations.
Status of the current development on the precision Wolter mirrors will be reported together with some future prospects.
A full-field X-ray microscope utilizing advanced Kirkpatrick–Baez optics, which comprises four concave mirrors, provides high-resolution X-ray images without chromatic aberration. However, a large distance is required between the mirrors and the detector to obtain sufficiently high magnification factor. To achieve reduce this distance, this paper proposes a novel X-ray imaging mirror system consisting of two pairs of concave and convex mirrors, which enables the effective focal length to be decreased by shifting the principal surface. For developing the proposed optics, the mirrors were fabricated with an ion beam figuring system and stitching interferometer, developed by our group, with a peak-to-valley accuracy of ~2 nm. Analysis results indicate that the fabricated mirrors can achieve nearly diffraction-limited imaging performance. We report the mirror fabrication results and the characteristics of the fabricated mirrors.
High resolution imagery of the Sun's X-ray corona provides an essential clue in understanding dynamics and heating processes of plasma particles there. However, X-ray imagery of the Sun with sub-arcsecond resolution has so far never been conducted due to severe technical difficulty in fabricating precision Wolter mirrors. For future X-ray observations of the solar corona, we are attempting to realize precision Wolter mirrors with sub-arcsecond resolution by adopting advanced surface polish and metrology methods to sector mirrors which consist of a portion of an entire annulus, by direct polishing onto the mirror substrate. Based on the knowledge obtained through fabrication of the first (in 2013) and second (in 2014) engineering Wolter mirrors and subsequent evaluations on their X-ray focusing performance, the third engineering mirror was made in 2015−2016. The primary target of improvement over the second mirror was to suppress figure error amplitude especially for spatial frequencies around 1 mm-1 and to suppress the large astigmatism that was present in the second mirror, by introducing improved deterministic polish and smoothing on the precision mirror surfaces (32.5 mm × 10 mm in area for both parabola and hyperbola segments), as well as by careful characterization of the systematic error in the figure measurement system for the precision polish. Measurements on the focusing performance of thus-fabricated third Wolter mirror at SPring-8 synchrotron facility with 8 keV X-rays demonstrated that the mirror attained sub-arcsecond focusing performance with its HPD (half-power diameter) size reaching as small as ~0.2 arcsec for meridional focusing while ~0.1 arcsec for sagittal focusing. The meridional focusing achieved nearly diffraction limited performance (~0.12 arcsec FWHM for the PSF core). We also confirmed that the large astigmatism noted in the second mirror was correctly removed in the third mirror with the correction of the above-mentioned systematic error.