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XTRA – Fast Timing X-Ray Astronomy with Silicon Drift Detectors

 

 

  XTRA – Fast Timing X-Ray Astronomy with Silicon Drift Detectors  
         
         
  The next generation X-ray satellite XEUS (X-ray evolving universe spectroscopy) has currently the status of a mission under assessment within the“Cosmic Vision” program of the European Space Agency (ESA) with a projected launch date around 2020. XEUS will investigate objects at extreme distances, e.g. objects of the young universe. Among the scientific targets will be early black holes, early galaxies and their   Energy resolution graph in terms of
the width of the 5.9 keV line as a function of the input count rate measured by a SDD
Energy resolution in terms of the width of the 5.9 keV line as a function of the input count rate measured by an SDD.
 
  formation to clusters, and the evolution of chemical element synthesis.      
         
  On the other hand the telescope’s large aperture of several square meters is necessary to pursue those primary scientific goals and can as well be used to collect X-rays from time-variable objects with a periodicity in the millisecond range. These so-called quasiperiodic oscillations in the X-ray range are generated in the inner accretion flows around the most extreme compact massive objects, black holes and neutron stars, and carry information about regions of strongly curved space-time. This is a regime in which important predictions of Einstein’s theory of general relativity are to be tested. To perform timing studies the dedicated instrument XTRA (XEUS timing for relativistic astronomy) is under study as high priority science of the XEUS payload.  
     
  As the time-variable objects are among the brightest point-like sources in the X-ray sky the requirements for the detection system are extreme: Count rates exceeding one million photons per second with a time resolution of 10 microseconds have to be handled. Simultaneously, the energy resolution should be in the order of 200 eV (FWHM at 6 keV) to exploit the spectroscopic effects of strong gravity, e.g. relativistic line broadening and wavelength shift. To meet these specifications SDDs and readout electronics are developed and investigated in a collaboration of the MPI HLL, PNSensor and the Center d’Etudes Spatiale des Rayonnements in Toulouse.
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Schematic layout plot of a 19-cell SDD with a total area of one square centimeter