X-ray Astronomy Recovery Mission (XARM) scheduled to be launched in early 2020’s carries two soft X-ray telescopes. One is Resolve consisting of a soft X-ray mirror and a micro calorimeter array, and the other is Soft X-ray Imaging Telescope (Xtend), a combination of an X-ray mirror assembly (XMA) and an X-ray CCD camera (SXI). Xtend covers a field of view (FOV) of 38′ × 38′ , much larger than that of Resolve (3′ × 3 ′ ) with moderate energy resolution in the energy band from 0.4 keV to 13 keV, which is similar to that of Resolve (from 0.3 keV to 12 keV). Simultaneous observations of both telescopes provide complimentary data of X-ray sources in their FOV. In particular, monitoring X-ray sources outside the Resolve FOV but inside the Xtend FOV is important to enhance the reliability of super high resolution spectra obtained with Resolve. Xtend is also expected to be one of the best instruments for low surface brightness X-ray emissions with its low non X-ray background level, which is comparable to that of Suzaku XIS. The design of Xtend is almost identical to those of Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT) and Soft X-ray Imager (SXI) both on board the Hitomi satellite. However, several mandatory updates are included. Updates for the CCD chips are verified with experiment using test CCD chips before finalizing the design of the flight model CCD. Fabrication of the foils for XMA has started, and flight model production of the SXI is almost ready.
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 hard x-ray imaging spectroscopy system of “Hitomi” x-ray observatory is composed of two sets of hard x-ray imagers (HXI) coupled with hard x-ray telescopes (HXT). With a 12-m focal length, the system provides fine (1 ′ . 7 half-power diameter) imaging spectroscopy covering about 5 to 80 keV. The HXI sensor consists of a camera, which is composed of four layers of Si and one layer of CdTe semiconductor imagers, and an active shield composed of nine Bi4Ge3O12 scintillators to provide low background. The two HXIs started observation on March 8 and 14, 2016 and were operational until 26 March. Using a Crab observation, 5 to 80 keV energy coverage and good detection efficiency were confirmed. The detector background level of 1 to 3 × 10 − 4 counts s − 1 keV − 1 cm − 2 (in detector geometrical area) at 5 to 80 keV was achieved, by cutting the high-background time-intervals, adopting sophisticated energy-dependent imager layer selection, and baffling of the cosmic x-ray background and active-shielding. This level is among the lowest of detectors working in this energy band. By comparing the effective area and the background, it was shown that the HXI had a sensitivity that is same to that of NuSTAR for point sources and 3 to 4 times better for largely extended diffuse sources.
The Hard X-ray Imager (HXI) onboard Hitomi (ASTRO-H) is an imaging spectrometer covering hard x-ray energies of 5 to 80 keV. Combined with the Hard X-ray Telescope, it enables imaging spectroscopy with an angular resolution of 1′.7 half-power diameter, in a field of view of 9′ × 9′. The main imager is composed of four layers of Si detectors and one layer of CdTe detector, stacked to cover a wide energy band up to 80 keV, surrounded by an active shield made of Bi4Ge3O12 scintillator to reduce the background. The HXI started observations 12 days before the Hitomi loss and successfully obtained data from G21.5–0.9, Crab, and blank sky. Utilizing these data, we calibrate the detector response and study properties of in-orbit background. The observed Crab spectra agree well with a powerlaw model convolved with the detector response, within 5% accuracy. We find that albedo electrons in specified orbit strongly affect the background of the Si top layer and establish a screening method to reduce it. The background level over the full field of view after all the processing and screening is as low as the preflight requirement of 1 − 3 × 10−4 counts s−1 cm−2 keV−1.