The ESA mission XMM-Newton was launched in 1999. Two of the three X-ray telescopes include reflection grating spectrometers (RGS). These spectrometers consist of a set of reflection gratings and an array of 9 back-illuminated CCDs, optimized for the soft energy response (0.35 - 2 keV). These CCDs can be passively cooled between -80 and -120°C. After a short description of the instrument we compare the performance of these CCD detectors with the pre-flight expectations and discuss the effect of some design choices on the in-flight performance. We concentrate on the effects of radiation damage due to cosmic rays and coronal mass ejections of the Sun, including flickering pixels and the effects of cooling the detector to -110°C. We also address the stability of the detector response including the assessment of possible contamination of these cooled detectors.
We discuss multivariate Monte Carlo methods appropriate for X-ray dispersive spectrometers. Dispersive spectrometers have many advantages for high resolution spectroscopy in the X-ray band. Analysis of data from these instruments is complicated by the fact that the instrument response functions are multi-dimensional and relatively few X-ray photons are detected from astrophysical sources. Monte Carlo methods are the natural solution to these challenges, but techniques for their use are not well developed. We describe a number of methods to produce a highly efficient and flexible multivariate Monte Carlo. These techniques include multi-dimensional response interpolation and multi-dimensional event comparison. We discuss how these methods have been extensively used in the XMM-Newton Reflection Grating Spectrometer in-flight calibration program. We also show several examples of a Monte Carlo applied to observations of clusters of galaxies and elliptical galaxies with the XMM-Newton observatory.
The activities during the instrument calibrations are summarized and first data are presented. The main instrument features, the line-spread function and the effective area, are discussed and the status of the in-flight calibrations is summarized.