During its first 18 years of operation, the cold (about -60°C) optical blocking filters of the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS), aboard the Chandra X-ray Observatory, has accumulated a growing layer of molecular contamination, which attenuates low-energy x rays. Over the past several years, the accumulation rate, spatial distribution, and composition have changed. This evolution has motivated further analysis of contamination migration within and near the ACIS cavity, in part to evaluate potential bake-out scenarios intended to reduce the level of contamination. This paper, the fourth on this topic, reports the results of recent contamination-migration simulations and their relevance to a decision whether to bake-out the ACIS instrument.
As ACIS on the Chandra X-ray Observatory enters its seventeenth year of operation, it continues to perform well and produce spectacular scientific results. The response of ACIS has evolved over the lifetime of the observatory due to radiation damage and aging of the spacecraft. The ACIS instrument team developed a software tool which applies a correction to each X-ray event and mitigates charge transfer inefficiency (CTI) and spectral resolution degradation. The behavior of the charge traps that cause CTI are temperature dependent, however, and warmer temperatures reduce the effectiveness of the correction algorithm. As the radiator surfaces on Chandra age, ACIS cooling has become less efficient and temperatures can increase by a few degrees. A temperature-dependent component was added to the CTI correction algorithm in 2010. We present an evaluation of the effectiveness of this algorithm as the radiation damage and thermal environment continue to evolve and suggest updates to improve the calibration fidelity.
The Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO) was launched 16 years ago and has been delivering spectacular science over the course of its mission. The Advanced CCD Imager Spectrometer (ACIS) is the prime instrument on the satellite, conducting over 90% of the observations. The CCDs operate at a temperature of -120 C and the optical blocking filter (OBF) in front of the CCDs is at a temperature of approximately −60 C. The surface of the OBF has accumulated a layer of contamination over the course of the mission, as it is the coldest surface exposed to the interior to the spacecraft. We have been characterizing the thickness, chemical composition, and spatial distribution of the contamination layer as a function of time over the mission. All three have exhibited significant changes with time. The calibration team within the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC) generates calibration files that describe the additional absorption produced by the contamination layer as a function of time, position, and energy. We have verified the accuracy of this contamination file for the on-axis aimpoints using the standard model spectrum for the Supernova Remnant 1E 0102.2-7219 in the Small Magellanic Cloud developed by the International Consortium for High Energy Calibration (IACHEC), but we show the model is less accurate for the off-axis positions after 2013. In 2015, the ACIS Detector Housing heater was turned on to increase the temperature of the OBF in the hope that the accumulation rate of the contamination layer would decrease. We show that the accumulation rate of the contaminant is unchanged since the DH heater was turned on.