The X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) is the high resolution X-ray spectrometer of the ESA Athena X-ray observatory. Over a field of view of 5’ equivalent diameter, it will deliver X-ray spectra from 0.2 to 12 keV with a spectral resolution of 2.5 eV up to 7 keV on ∼ 5” pixels. The X-IFU is based on a large format array of super-conducting molybdenum-gold Transition Edge Sensors cooled at ∼ 90 mK, each coupled with an absorber made of gold and bismuth with a pitch of 249 μm. A cryogenic anti-coincidence detector located underneath the prime TES array enables the non X-ray background to be reduced. A bath temperature of ∼ 50 mK is obtained by a series of mechanical coolers combining 15K Pulse Tubes, 4K and 2K Joule-Thomson coolers which pre-cool a sub Kelvin cooler made of a 3He sorption cooler coupled with an Adiabatic Demagnetization Refrigerator. Frequency domain multiplexing enables to read out 40 pixels in one single channel. A photon interacting with an absorber leads to a current pulse, amplified by the readout electronics and whose shape is reconstructed on board to recover its energy with high accuracy. The defocusing capability offered by the Athena movable mirror assembly enables the X-IFU to observe the brightest X-ray sources of the sky (up to Crab-like intensities) by spreading the telescope point spread function over hundreds of pixels. Thus the X-IFU delivers low pile-up, high throughput (< 50%), and typically 10 eV spectral resolution at 1 Crab intensities, i.e. a factor of 10 or more better than Silicon based X-ray detectors. In this paper, the current X-IFU baseline is presented, together with an assessment of its anticipated performance in terms of spectral resolution, background, and count rate capability. The X-IFU baseline configuration will be subject to a preliminary requirement review that is scheduled at the end of 2018.
The Resolve instrument onboard the X-ray Astronomy Recovery Mission (XARM) consists of
an array of 6x6 silicon-thermistor microcalorimeters cooled down to 50 mK
and a high-throughput X-ray mirror assembly with a focal length of 5.6 m.
The XARM is a recovery mission of ASTRO-H/Hitomi,
and is developed by international collaboration of Japan, USA, and Europe.
The Soft X-ray Spectrometer (SXS) onboard Hitomi demonstrated high resolution
X-ray spectroscopy of ~ 5 eV FWHM in orbit for most of the microcalorimeter pixels.
The Resolve instrument is planned to mostly be a copy of the Hitomi SXS and
Soft X-ray Telescope designs, though several changes are planned
based on the lessons learned of Hitomi.
The energy resolution budget of the microcalorimeters is updated,
reflecting the Hitomi SXS results.
We report the current status of the Resolve instrument.
We are working on an updated program of the future Japanese X-ray satellite mission DIOS (Diffuse Intergalactic Oxygen Surveyor), called Super DIOS. We keep the main aim of searching for dark baryons in the form of warmhot intergalactic medium (WHIM) with high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy. The mission will detect redshifted emission lines from OVII, OVIII and other ions, leading to an overall understanding of the physical nature and spatial distribution of dark baryons as a function of cosmological timescale. We are working on the conceptual design of the satellite and onboard instruments, with a provisional launch time in the early 2030s. The major changes will be improved angular resolution of the X-ray telescope and increased number of TES calorimeter pixels. Super DIOS will have a 10-arcsecond resolution and a few tens of thousand TES pixels. Most contaminating X-ray sources will be resolved, and the level of diffuse X-ray background will be reduced after subtraction of point sources. This will give us very high sensitivity to map out the WHIM in emission. The status of the spacecraft study will be presented: the development plan of TES calorimeters, on-board cooling system, X- ray telescope, and the satellite system. The previous study results for DIOS and technical achievements reached by the Hitomi (ASTRO-H) mission provide baseline technology for Super DIOS. We will also consider large scale international collaboration for all the on-board instruments.
The ASTRO-H mission was designed and developed through an international collaboration of JAXA, NASA, ESA, and the CSA. It was successfully launched on February 17, 2016, and then named Hitomi. During the in-orbit verification phase, the on-board observational instruments functioned as expected. The intricate coolant and refrigeration systems for soft X-ray spectrometer (SXS, a quantum micro-calorimeter) and soft X-ray imager (SXI, an X-ray CCD) also functioned as expected. However, on March 26, 2016, operations were prematurely terminated by a series of abnormal events and mishaps triggered by the attitude control system. These errors led to a fatal event: the loss of the solar panels on the Hitomi mission. The X-ray Astronomy Recovery Mission (or, XARM) is proposed to regain the key scientific advances anticipated by the international collaboration behind Hitomi. XARM will recover this science in the shortest time possible by focusing on one of the main science goals of Hitomi,“Resolving astrophysical problems by precise high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy”.1 This decision was reached after evaluating the performance of the instruments aboard Hitomi and the mission’s initial scientific results, and considering the landscape of planned international X-ray astrophysics missions in 2020’s and 2030’s. Hitomi opened the door to high-resolution spectroscopy in the X-ray universe. It revealed a number of discrepancies between new observational results and prior theoretical predictions. Yet, the resolution pioneered by Hitomi is also the key to answering these and other fundamental questions. The high spectral resolution realized by XARM will not offer mere refinements; rather, it will enable qualitative leaps in astrophysics and plasma physics. XARM has therefore been given a broad scientific charge: “Revealing material circulation and energy transfer in cosmic plasmas and elucidating evolution of cosmic structures and objects”. To fulfill this charge, four categories of science objectives that were defined for Hitomi will also be pursued by XARM; these include (1) Structure formation of the Universe and evolution of clusters of galaxies; (2) Circulation history of baryonic matters in the Universe; (3) Transport and circulation of energy in the Universe; (4) New science with unprecedented high resolution X-ray spectroscopy. In order to achieve these scientific objectives, XARM will carry a 6 × 6 pixelized X-ray micro-calorimeter on the focal plane of an X-ray mirror assembly, and an aligned X-ray CCD camera covering the same energy band and a wider field of view. This paper introduces the science objectives, mission concept, and observing plan of XARM.
The Hitomi (ASTRO-H) mission is the sixth Japanese x-ray astronomy satellite developed by a large international collaboration, including Japan, USA, Canada, and Europe. The mission aimed to provide the highest energy resolution ever achieved at E > 2 keV, using a microcalorimeter instrument, and to cover a wide energy range spanning four decades in energy from soft x-rays to gamma rays. After a successful launch on February 17, 2016, the spacecraft lost its function on March 26, 2016, but the commissioning phase for about a month provided valuable information on the onboard instruments and the spacecraft system, including astrophysical results obtained from first light observations. The paper describes the Hitomi (ASTRO-H) mission, its capabilities, the initial operation, and the instruments/spacecraft performances confirmed during the commissioning operations for about a month.