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 great collecting area of the mirrors coupled with the high quantum efficiency of the EPIC detectors have made XMM-Newton the most sensitive X-ray observatory flown to date. This is particularly evident during slew exposures which, while giving only 15 seconds of on-source time, actually constitute a 2-10 keV survey ten times deeper than current "all-sky" catalogues. Here we report on progress towards making a catalogue of slew detections constructed from the full, 0.2-12 keV energy band and discuss the challenges associated with processing the slew data. The fast (90 degrees per hour) slew speed results in images which are smeared, by different amounts depending on the readout mode, effectively changing the form of the point spread function. The extremely low background in slew images changes the optimum source searching criteria such that searching a single image using the full energy band is seen to be more sensitive than splitting the data into discrete energy bands. False detections due to optical loading by bright stars, the wings of the PSF in very bright sources and single-frame detector flashes are considered and techniques for identifying and removing these spurious sources from the final catalogue are outlined. Finally, the attitude reconstruction of the satellite during the slewing maneuver is complex. We discuss the implications of this on the positional accuracy of the catalogue.
ESA's large X-ray space observatory XMM-Newton is in its fifth year of operations. We give a general overview of the status of calibration of the five X-ray instruments and the Optical Monitor. A main point of interest in the last year became the cross-calibration between the instruments. A cross-calibration campaign started at the XMM-Newton Science Operation Centre at the European Space Astronomy Centre in collaboration with the Instrument Principle Investigators provides a first systematic comparison of the X-ray instruments EPIC and RGS for various kind of sources making also an initial assessment in cross calibration with other X-ray observatories.
We describe in-orbit measurements of the mirror vignetting in
the XMM-Newton Observatory, using observations of SNR G21.5-09 with the EPIC imaging cameras. The instrument features that complicate these measurements are briefly described. We show the spatial and energy dependences of measured vignetting, outlining assumptions made in deriving the eventual agreement between theory and measurement. Alternate methods to confirm these are described. We briefly describe an analysis of the stray-light rejection of the telescope.
The XMM-Newton observatory has the largest collecting area flown so
far for an X-ray imaging system, resulting in a very high sensitivity
over a broad spectral range. In order to exploit fully these
performances, an accurate calibration of the XMM-Newton
instruments is required. This calibration is being continuously
updated, in order to refine the stable calibration parameters as well
as to account for the detector response changes induced by radiation damage. We report here on the current overall status of the EPIC/MOS cameras calibrations, and in particular on the recent work involving Charge Transfer Inefficiency evolution and recovery.