|XMM-Newton pnCCD Camera|
|On December 10th, 1999, the European X-ray astronomy satellite XMM-Newton was successfully launched into orbit and continues to make observations until today. Its scientific goal is the observation of high-energy X-rays emitted from exotic astronomical objects such as pulsars, black holes and active galaxies (Images to the left).|
|One of its very large X-ray telescopes (collection area 1,400 cm² at energy of 1 keV) is equipped with a pnCCD camera built by the MPE. The main component of the European Photon Imaging Camera (EPIC) is the 6 cm by 6 cm large pnCCD device (figure on the right) which was developed, produced and tested in the MPI HLL .|
|The pnCCD camera
performs X-ray spectroscopy and imaging in the energy band from 0.3
keV up to 15 keV. With a large pixel size of 150 µm by 150 µm the
readout time was minimized and the spatial resolution is matched
to the angular resolution of the X-ray telescopes.
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The two images to the top left show supernova 1987A as seen by XMM-Newton. The upper panel shows the field as it appeared in January 2000, as seen by the EPIC-pn camera. The lower panel shows the field in January 2007, 20 years after its initial detection, with the EPICMOS and pn cameras.
The supernova can be seen as a bright source in the center of the field of view. The image is coloured as follows: low energy (0.2- 1.0 keV) photons are shown in red, medium energy (1.0-2.0 keV) in green and high energy (2.0-4.5 keV) in blue. The image to the top is coloured similarly but shows photons between 0.3 keV and 5.0 keV.
The supernova was first detected in 1987 and it is situated in the Large Magellanic Cloud. It is the nearest supernova ever detected since the invention of the telescope, making it an ideal candidate for study. A comparison of the two images confirms that the source is brightening. It was in fact ten times brighter in January 2007 than in January 2000.
The X-rays mainly originate from the interaction of the supernova shock with the circumstellar medium. Detailed analysis of the X-rays will gain further insights into the physics of the explosion and may eventually reveal the presence of a central compact object like a neutron star (Courtesy of F. Haberl, EPIC/MPE and ESA)
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