This paper introduces a second-generation balloon-borne hard X-ray polarimetry mission, XL-Calibur. X-ray polarimetry promises to give qualitatively new information about high-energy astrophysical sources, such as pulsars and binary black hole systems. The XL-Calibur contains a grazing incidence X-ray telescope with a focal plane detector unit that is sensitive to linear polarization. The telescope is very similar in design to the ASTRO-H HXT telescopes that has the world’s largest effective area above ~10 keV. The detector unit combines a low atomic number Compton scatterer with a CdZnTe detector assembly to measure the polarization making use of the fact that polarized photons Compton scatter preferentially perpendicular to the electric field orientation. It also contains a CdZnTe imager at the bottom. The detector assembly is surrounded by the improved anti-coincidence shielding, giving a better sensitivity. The pointing system with arcsecond accuracy will be achieved.
XL-Calibur is a balloon-borne hard X-ray polarimetry mission, the first flight of which is currently foreseen for 2021. XL-Calibur carries an X-ray telescope consists of consists of 213 Wolter I grazing-incidence mirrors which are nested in a coaxial and cofocal configuration. The optics design is nearly identical to the Hard X-ray Telescope (HXT) on board the ASTRO-H satellite. The telescope was originally fabricated for the Formation Flying Astronomical Survey Telescope (FFAST) project. However, the telescope can be used for XL-Calibur, since the FFAST project was terminated before completion. The mirror surfaces are coated with Pt/C depth-graded multilayers to reflect hard X-rays above 10 keV by Bragg reflection. The effective area of the telescope is larger than 300 cm^2 at 30 keV. The mirrors are supported by alignment bars in the housing, and each of the bars has a series of 213 grooves to hold the mirrors. To obtain the best focus of the optics, the positions of the mirrors have to be adjusted by tuning the positions of the alignment bars. The tuning of the mirror positions is conducted using the X-ray beam at the synchrotron facility SPring-8 BL20B2, and this process is called optical tuning. First the positions of the second reflectors are tuned, and then those of the first reflectors are tuned. We did the first optical tuning in Jan 2020. The second tuning will be planned between April to July, 2020. This paper reports the current status of the hard X-ray telescope for XL-Calibur.
SPHiNX is a proposed gamma-ray burst (GRB) polarimeter mission operating in the energy range 50 to 600 keV with the aim of studying the prompt emission phase. The polarization sensitivity of SPHiNX reduces as the uncertainty on the GRB sky position increases. The stand-alone ability of the SPHiNX design to localize GRB positions is explored via Geant4 simulations. Localization at the level of a few degrees is possible using three different routines. This results in a large fraction (>80 % ) of observed GRBs having a negligible (<5 % ) reduction in polarization sensitivity due to the uncertainty in localization.
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.
The Polarized Gamma-ray Observer, PoGOLite, is a balloon experiment with the capability of detecting 10% polarization from a 200 mCrab celestial object between the energy-range 25–80 keV in one 6 hour flight. Polarization measurements in soft gamma-rays are expected to provide a powerful probe into high-energy emission mechanisms in/around neutron stars, black holes, supernova remnants, active-galactic nuclei etc. The “pathfinder” flight was performed in July 2013 for 14 days from Sweden to Russia. The polarization is measured using Compton scattering and photoelectric absorption in an array of 61 well-type phoswich detector cells (PDCs) for the pathfinder instrument. The PDCs are surrounded by 30 BGO crystals which form a side anti-coincidence shield (SAS) and passive polyethylene neutron shield. There is a neutron detector consisting of LiCaAlF6 (LiCAF) scintillator covered with BGOs to measure the background contribution of atmospheric neutrons. The data acquisition system treats 92 PMT signals from 61 PDCs + 30 SASs + 1 neutron detector, and it is developed based on SpaceWire spacecraft communication network. Most of the signal processing is done by digital circuits in Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). This enables the reduction of the mass, the space and the power consumption. The performance was calibrated before the launch.