Today the scientific community is facing an increasing complexity of the scientific projects, from both a technological and a management point of view. The reason for this is in the advance of science itself, where new experiments with unprecedented levels of accuracy, precision and coverage (time and spatial) are realised. Astronomy is one of the fields of the physical sciences where a strong interaction between the scientists, the instrument and software developers is necessary to achieve the goals of any Big Science Project. The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) will be the largest ground-based very high-energy gamma-ray observatory of the next decades. To achieve the full potential of the CTA Observatory, the system must be put into place to enable users to operate the telescopes productively. The software will cover all stages of the CTA system, from the preparation of the observing proposals to the final data reduction, and must also fit into the overall system. Scientists, engineers, operators and others will use the system to operate the Observatory, hence they should be involved in the design process from the beginning. We have organised a workgroup and a workflow for the definition of the CTA Top Level Use Cases in the context of the Requirement Management activities of the CTA Observatory. Scientists, instrument and software developers are collaborating and sharing information to provide a common and general understanding of the Observatory from a functional point of view. Scientists that will use the CTA Observatory will provide mainly Science Driven Use Cases, whereas software engineers will subsequently provide more detailed Use Cases, comments and feedbacks. The main purposes are to define observing modes and strategies, and to provide a framework for the flow down of the Use Cases and requirements to check missing requirements and the already developed Use-Case models at CTA sub-system level. Use Cases will also provide the basis for the definition of the Acceptance Test Plan for the validation of the overall CTA system. In this contribution we present the organisation and the workflow of the Top Level Use Cases workgroup.
High-energy muons constitute a very useful tool to calibrate the total optical throughput of any telescope of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA). Differences in precision and efficiency can however be present due to the variety of telescope types and sizes. In this contribution we present some preliminary results on simulated muon ring images collected by the ASTRI small sized dual-mirror (SST-2M) telescope in the basic configuration installed in Italy at the Serra La Nave observing station. ASTRI SST-2M is able, using 6% of the detected muon events, to calibrate with muons the optical throughput down to a degradation of the optical efficiency of 30%. Moreover, its precision in reconstructing the muon arrival direction is about one camera pixel, and its error on the reconstructed ring radius is ~ 6.3%. The adopted procedures will be tested and validated with real data acquired by the prototype after the commissioning phase. The nine telescopes that will form the ASTRI mini-array, proposed to be installed at the final CTA southern site during the pre-production phase, will improve these results thanks to the higher detection efficiency and the lower optical cross-talk and after-pulse of their updated silicon photomultipliers.
The Large Observatory For x-ray Timing (LOFT) is a mission concept which was proposed to ESA as M3 and M4 candidate in the framework of the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program. Thanks to the unprecedented combination of effective area and spectral resolution of its main instrument and the uniquely large field of view of its wide field monitor, LOFT will be able to study the behaviour of matter in extreme conditions such as the strong gravitational field in the innermost regions close to black holes and neutron stars and the supra-nuclear densities in the interiors of neutron stars. The science payload is based on a Large Area Detector (LAD, >8m<sup>2</sup> effective area, 2-30 keV, 240 eV spectral resolution, 1 degree collimated field of view) and a Wide Field Monitor (WFM, 2-50 keV, 4 steradian field of view, 1 arcmin source location accuracy, 300 eV spectral resolution). The WFM is equipped with an on-board system for bright events (e.g., GRB) localization. The trigger time and position of these events are broadcast to the ground within 30 s from discovery. In this paper we present the current technical and programmatic status of the mission.
The LOFT mission concept is one of four candidates selected by ESA for the M3 launch opportunity as Medium Size missions of the Cosmic Vision programme. The launch window is currently planned for between 2022 and 2024. LOFT is designed to exploit the diagnostics of rapid X-ray flux and spectral variability that directly probe the motion of matter down to distances very close to black holes and neutron stars, as well as the physical state of ultradense matter. These primary science goals will be addressed by a payload composed of a Large Area Detector (LAD) and a Wide Field Monitor (WFM). The LAD is a collimated (<1 degree field of view) experiment operating in the energy range 2-50 keV, with a 10 m<sup>2</sup> peak effective area and an energy resolution of 260 eV at 6 keV. The WFM will operate in the same energy range as the LAD, enabling simultaneous monitoring of a few-steradian wide field of view, with an angular resolution of <5 arcmin. The LAD and WFM experiments will allow us to investigate variability from submillisecond QPO’s to yearlong transient outbursts. In this paper we report the current status of the project.
We are exploiting the Swift X-ray Telescope (XRT) deepest GRB follow-up observations to study the cosmic
X-Ray Background (XRB) population in the 0.2-10 keV energy band. We present some preliminary results of a
serendipitous survey performed on 221 fields observed with exposure longer than 10 ks. We show that the XRT is
a profitable instrument for surveys and that it is particularly suitable for the search and observation of extended
objects like clusters of galaxies. We used the brightest serendipitous sources and the longest observations to test
the XRT optics performance and the background characteristics all over the field of view, in different energy
bands during the first 2.5 years of fully operational mission.
The Swift X-ray Telescope (XRT) is a CCD based X-ray telescope designed for localization, spectroscopy and long term
light curve monitoring of Gamma-Ray Bursts and their X-ray afterglows. Since the launch of Swift in November 2004,
the XRT has undergone significant evolution in the way it is operated. Shortly after launch there was a failure of the
CCD thermo-electric cooling system, which led to the XRT team being required to devise a method of keeping the CCD
temperature below −50C utilizing only passive cooling by minimizing the exposure of the XRT radiator to the Earth. We
present in this paper an update on how the modeling of this passive cooling method has improved in first ~1000 days
since the method was devised, and the success rate of this method in day-to-day planning. We also discuss the changes
to the operational modes and onboard software of the XRT. These changes include improved rapid data product
generation in order to improve speed of rapid Gamma-Ray Burst response and localization to the community; changes to
the way XRT observation modes are chosen in order to better fine tune data acquisition to a particular science goal;
reduction of "mode switching" caused by the contamination of the CCD by Earth light or high temperature effects.
We present science highlights and performance from the Swift X-ray Telescope (XRT), which was launched on November
20, 2004. The XRT covers the 0.2-10 keV band, and spends most of its time observing gamma-ray burst (GRB)
afterglows, though it has also performed observations of many other objects. By mid-August 2007, the XRT had observed
over 220 GRB afterglows, detecting about 96% of them. The XRT positions enable followup ground-based optical
observations, with roughly 60% of the afterglows detected at optical or near IR wavelengths. Redshifts are measured
for 33% of X-ray afterglows. Science highlights include the discovery of flaring behavior at quite late times, with
implications for GRB central engines; localization of short GRBs, leading to observational support for compact merger
progenitors for this class of bursts; a mysterious plateau phase to GRB afterglows; as well as many other interesting
observations such as X-ray emission from comets, novae, galactic transients, and other objects.
The X-ray telescope (XRT) on board the Swift Gamma Ray Burst Explorer has successfully operated since the spacecraft
launch on 20 November 2004, automatically locating GRB afterglows, measuring their spectra and lightcurves and
performing observations of high-energy sources. In this work we investigate the properties of the instrumental
background, focusing on its dynamic behavior on both long and short timescales. The operational temperature of the
CCD is the main factor that influences the XRT background level. After the failure of the Swift active on-board
temperature control system, the XRT detector now operates at a temperature range between -75C and -45C thanks to a
passive cooling Heat Rejection System. We report on the long-term effects on the background caused by radiation,
consisting mainly of proton irradiation in Swift's low Earth orbit and on the short-term effects of transits through the
South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA), which expose the detector to periods of intense proton flux. We have determined the
fraction of the detector background that is due to the internal, instrumental background and the part that is due to
unresolved astrophysical sources (the cosmic X-ray background) by investigating the degree of vignetting of the
measured background and comparing it to the expected value from calibration data.
The Swift X-ray Telescope (XRT) focal plane camera is a front-illuminated MOS CCD, providing a spectral response kernel of 144 eV FWHM at 6.5 keV. We describe the CCD calibration program based on celestial and on-board calibration sources, relevant in-flight experiences, and developments in the CCD response model. We illustrate how the revised response model describes the calibration sources well. Loss of temperature control motivated a laboratory program to re-optimize the CCD substrate voltage, we describe the small changes in the CCD response that would result from use of a substrate voltage of 6V.
The Swift X-ray Telescope (XRT) is designed to make astrometric,
spectroscopic and photometric observations of the X-ray emission from Gamma-ray bursts and their afterglows in the 0.2-10 keV energy band. Here we report the initial results of the analysis of Swift XRT effective area as measured both on-axis and off-axis during the in-flight calibration phase using the laboratory results and ray-tracing simulations as a starting point. Our analysis includes the study of the effective area at a range of energies, for different event grade selection and operating modes using two astronomical sources characterized by different intrinsic spectra.
The X-ray telescope (XRT) on board Swift, launched on 2004 Nov 20, is performing astrometric, spectroscopic and photometric observations of the X-ray emission from Gamma-ray burst afterglows in the energy band 0.2-10 keV. In this paper, we describe the results of the in-flight calibration relative to the XRT timing resolution and absolute timing capabilities. The timing calibration has been performed comparing the main pulse phases of the Crab profile obtained from several XRT observations in Low Rate Photodiode and Windowed Timing mode with those from contemporaneous RXTE observations. The XRT absolute timing is well reproduced with an accuracy of 200 μs for the Low Rate Photodiode and 300 μs for the Windowed Timing mode.
The Swift X-ray Telescope (XRT) is designed to make astrometric, spectroscopic and photometric observations of the X-ray emission from
Gamma-ray bursts and their afterglows, in the energy band 0.2-10 keV.
Swift was successfully launched on 2004 November 20. Here we report the results of the analysis of Swift XRT Point Spread Function (PSF) as measured in the first four months of the mission during the instrument calibration phase.
The analysis includes the study of the PSF of different point-like sources both on-axis and off-axis with different spectral properties. We compare the in-flight data with the expectations from the on-ground calibration. On the basis of the calibration data we built an analytical model to reproduce the PSF as a function of the energy and the source position within the detector which can be applied in the PSF correction calculation for any extraction region geometry.