Lynx is a concept under study for prioritization in the 2020 Astrophysics Decadal Survey. Providing orders of magnitude increase in sensitivity over Chandra, Lynx will examine the first black holes and their galaxies, map the large-scale structure and galactic halos, and shed new light on the environments of young stars and their planetary systems. In order to meet the Lynx science goals, the telescope consists of a high-angular resolution optical assembly complemented by an instrument suite that may include a High Definition X-ray Imager, X-ray Microcalorimeter and an X-ray Grating Spectrometer. The telescope is integrated onto the spacecraft to form a comprehensive observatory concept. Progress on the formulation of the Lynx telescope and observatory configuration is reported in this paper.
X-rays are particularly suited to probing the physics of extreme objects. However, despite the enormous improvements of X-ray astronomy in imaging, spectroscopy, and timing, polarimetry remains largely unexplored. We propose the photoelectric polarimeter Gas Pixel Detector (GPD) as a candidate instrument to fill the gap created by more than 30 yr without measurements. The GPD, in the focus of a telescope, will increase the sensitivity of orders of magnitude. Moreover, since it can measure the energy, the position, the arrival time, and the polarization angle of every single photon, it allows us to perform polarimetry of subsets of data singled out from the spectrum, the light curve, or an image of the source. The GPD has an intrinsic, very fine imaging capability, and in this work we report on the calibration campaign carried out in 2012 at the PANTER X-ray testing facility of the Max-PlanckInstitut für extraterrestrische Physik of Garching (Germany) in which, for the first time, we coupled it with a JET-X optics module with a focal length of 3.5 m and an angular resolution of 18 arcsec at 4.5 keV. This configuration was proposed in 2012 aboard the X-ray Imaging Polarimetry Explorer (XIPE) in response to the ESA call for a small mission. We derived the imaging and polarimetric performance for extended sources like pulsar wind nebulae and supernova remnants as case studies for the XIPE configuration and also discuss possible improvements by coupling the detector with advanced optics that have a finer angular resolution and larger effective areas to study extended objects with more detail.
The optics of a number of future X-ray telescopes will have very long focal lengths (10 -20 m), and will consist of a number of nested/stacked thin, grazing-incidence mirrors. The optical quality characterization of a real mirror can be obtained via profile metrology, and the Point Spread Function of the mirror can be derived via one of the standard computation methods. However, in practical cases it can be difficult to access the optical surfaces of densely stacked mirror shells, after they have been assembled, using the widespread metrological tools. For this reason, the assessment of the imaging resolution of a system of mirrors is better obtained via a direct, full-illumination test in X-rays. If the focus cannot be reached, an intra-focus test can be performed, and the image can be compared with the simulation results based on the metrology, if available. However, until today no quantitative information was extracted from a full-illumination, intra-focal exposure. In this work we show that, if the detector is located at an optimal distance from the mirror, the intensity variations of the intra-focal, full-illumination image in single reflection can be used to reconstruct the profile of the mirror surface, without the need of a wavefront sensor. The Point Spread Function can be subsequently computed from the reconstructed mirror shape. We show the application of this method to an intra-focal (8 m distance from mirror) test performed at PANTER on an optical module prototype made of hot-slumped glass foils with a 20 m focal length, from which we could derive an expected imaging quality near 16 arcsec HEW.
Abstract. Simbol-X will push grazing incidence imaging up to 80 keV, providing a strong improvement both in sensitivity and angular resolution compared to all instruments that have operated so far above 10 keV. The superb hard X-ray imaging capability will be guaranteed by a mirror module of 100 electroformed Nickel shells with a multilayer reflecting coating. Here we will describe the technogical development and solutions adopted for the fabrication of the mirror module, that must guarantee an Half Energy Width (HEW) better than 20 arcsec from 0.5 up to 30 keV and a goal of 40 arcsec at 60 keV. During the phase A, terminated at the end of 2008, we have developed three engineering models with two, two and three shells, respectively. The most critical aspects in the development of the Simbol-X mirrors are i) the production of the 100 mandrels with very good surface quality within the timeline of the mission, ii) the replication of shells that must be very thin (a factor of 2 thinner than those of XMM-Newton) and still have very good image quality up to 80 keV, iii) the development of an integration process that allows us to integrate these very thin mirrors maintaining their intrinsic good image quality. The Phase A study has shown that we can fabricate the mandrels with the needed quality and that we have developed a valid integration process. The shells that we have produced so far have a quite good image quality, e.g. HEW < ∼ 30 arcsec at 30 keV, and effective area. However, we still need to make some improvements to reach the requirements. We will briefly present these results and discuss the possible improvements that we will investigate during phase B.
The realization of X-ray telescopes with imaging capabilities in the hard (> 10 keV) X-ray band requires the adoption of optics with shallow (< 0.25 deg) grazing angles to enhance the reflectivity of reflective coatings. On the other hand, to obtain large collecting area, large mirror diameters (< 350 mm) are necessary. This implies that mirrors with focal lengths ≥10 m shall be produced and tested. Full-illumination tests of such mirrors are usually performed with onground X-ray facilities, aimed at measuring their effective area and the angular resolution; however, they in general suffer from effects of the finite distance of the X-ray source, e.g. a loss of effective area for double reflection. These effects increase with the focal length of the mirror under test; hence a "partial" full-illumination measurement might not be fully representative of the in-flight performances. Indeed, a pencil beam test can be adopted to overcome this shortcoming, because a sector at a time is exposed to the X-ray flux, and the compensation of the beam divergence is achieved by tilting the optic. In this work we present the result of a hard X-ray test campaign performed at the BL20B2 beamline of the SPring-8 synchrotron radiation facility, aimed at characterizing the Point Spread Function (PSF) of a multilayer-coated Wolter-I mirror shell manufactured by Nickel electroforming. The mirror shell is a demonstrator for the NHXM hard X-ray imaging telescope (0.3 -80 keV), with a predicted HEW (Half Energy Width) close to 20 arcsec. We show some reconstructed PSFs at monochromatic X-ray energies of 15 to 63 keV, and compare them with the PSFs computed from post-campaign metrology data, self-consistently treating profile and roughness data by means of a method based on the Fresnel diffraction theory. The modeling matches the measured PSFs accurately.
Future hard (10 -100 keV) X-ray telescopes (SIMBOL-X, Con-X, HEXIT-SAT, XEUS) will implement focusing optics with multilayer coatings: in view of the production of these optics we are exploring several deposition techniques for the reflective coatings. In order to evaluate the achievable optical performance X-Ray Reflectivity (XRR) measurements are performed, which are powerful tools for the in-depth characterization of multilayer properties (roughness, thickness and density distribution). An exact extraction of the stack parameters is however difficult because the XRR scans depend on them in a complex way. The PPM code, developed at ERSF in the past years, is able to derive the layer-by-layer properties of multilayer structures from semi-automatic XRR scan fittings by means of a global minimization procedure in the parameters space. In this work we will present the PPM modeling of some multilayer stacks (Pt/C and Ni/C) deposited by simple e-beam evaporation. Moreover, in order to verify the predictions of PPM, the obtained results are compared with TEM profiles taken on the same set of samples. As we will show, PPM results are in good agreement with the TEM findings. In addition, we show that the accurate fitting returns a physically correct evaluation of the variation of layers thickness through the stack, whereas the thickness trend derived from TEM profiles can be altered by the superposition of roughness profiles in the sample image.
Future hard X-ray telescopes (e.g. SIMBOL-X and Constellation-X) will make use of hard X-ray optics with multilayer coatings, with angular resolutions comparable to the achieved ones in the soft X-rays. One of the crucial points in X-ray optics, indeed, is multilayer interfacial microroughness that causes effective area reduction and X-Ray Scattering (XRS). The latter, in particular, is responsible for image quality degradation. Interfacial smoothness deterioration in multilayer deposition processes is commonly observed as a result of substrate profile replication and intrinsic random deposition noise. For this reason, roughness growth should be carefully investigated by surface topographic analysis, X-ray reflectivity and XRS measurements. It is convenient to express the roughness evolution in terms of interface Power Spectral Densities (PSD), that are directly related to XRS and, in turn, in affecting the optic HEW (Half Energy Width). In order to interpret roughness amplification and to help us to predict the imaging performance of hard X-ray optics, we have implemented a well known kinetic continuum equation model in a IDL language program (MPES, Multilayer PSDs Evolution Simulator), allowing us the determination of characteristic growth parameters in multilayer coatings. In this paper we present some results from analysis we performed on several samples coated with hard X-ray multilayers (W/Si, Pt/C, Mo/Si) using different deposition techniques. We show also the XRS predictions resulting from the obtained modelizations, in comparison to the experimental XRS measurements performed at the energy of 8.05 keV.
Future large X-ray observatories like ATHENA will be equipped with very large optics, obtained by assembling modular optical elements, named X-ray Optical Units (XOU) based on the technology of either Silicon Pore Optics or Slumped Glass Optics. In both cases, the final quality of the modular optic (a 5 arcsec HEW requirement for ATHENA) is determined by the accuracy alignment of the XOUs within the assembly, but also by the angular resolution of the individual XOU. This is affected by the mirror shape accuracy, its surface roughness, and the mutual alignment of the mirrors within the XOU itself. Because of the large number of XOUs to be produced, quality tests need to be routinely done to select the most performing stacked blocks, to be integrated into the final optic. In addition to the usual metrology based on profile and roughness measurements, a direct measurement with a broad, parallel, collimated and uniform Xray beam would be the most reliable test, without the need of a focal spot reconstruction as usually done in synchrotron light. To this end, we designed the BEaTriX (Beam Expander Testing X-ray facility) to be realized at INAF-OAB, devoted to the functional tests of the XOUs. A grazing incidence parabolic mirror and an asymmetrically cut crystal will produce a parallel X-ray beam broad enough to illuminate the entire aperture of the focusing elements. An X-ray camera at the focal distance from the mirrors will directly record the image. The selection of different crystals will enable to test the XOUs in the 1 -5 keV range, included in the X-ray energy band of ATHENA (0.2-12 keV). In this paper we discuss a possible BEaTriX facility implementation. We also show a preliminary performance simulation of the optical system.
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