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PheniX: a new vision for the hard X-ray sky

Roques, Jean-Pierre and Jourdain, Elisabeth and Bassani, Loredana and Bazzano, Angela and Belmont, Renaud and Bird, A. J. and Caroli, E. and Chauvin, M. and Clark, D. and Gehrels, N. and Goerlach, U. and Harrisson, F. and Laurent, P. and Malzac, J. and Medina, P. and Merloni, A. and Paltani, S. and Stephen, J. and Ubertini, P. and Wilms, J. (2012) PheniX: a new vision for the hard X-ray sky. Experimental Astronomy, 34 (2). pp. 489-517. ISSN 0922-6435.

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We are proposing a mission devoted to high energy X-ray astronomy that is based on a focusing telescope operating in the 1–200 keV energy range but optimized for the hard X-ray range. The main scientific topics concern: Physics of compact objects: The proximity of compact objects provides a unique laboratory to study matter and radiation in extreme conditions of temperature and density in strong gravitational environment. The emission of high energy photons from these objects is far from being understood. The unprecedented sensitivity in the high energy domain will allow a precise determination of the non-thermal processes at work in the vicinity of compact objects. The full 1–200 keV energy coverage will be ideal to disentangle the emission processes produced in the spacetime regions most affected by strong-gravity, as well as the physical links: disk–thermal emission–iron line–comptonisation– reflection–non-thermal emission–jets. Neutron stars–magnetic field–cyclotron lines: Time resolved spectroscopy (and polarimetry) at ultra-high sensitivity of AXP, milliseconds pulsars and magnetars will give new tools to study the role of the synchrotron processes at work in these objects. Cyclotron lines–direct measurement of magnetic filed–equation of state constraints–short bursts–giant flares could all be studied with great details. AGN: The large sensitivity improvement will provide detailed spectral properties of the high energy emission of AGN’s. This will give a fresh look to the connection between accretion and jet emission and will provide a new understanding of the physical processes at work. Detection of high-redshift active nuclei in this energy range will allow to introduce an evolutionary aspect to high-energy studies of AGN, probing directly the origin of the Cosmic X-ray Background also in the non-thermal range (> 20 keV). Element formation–Supernovae: The energy resolution achievable for this mission (<0.5 keV) and a large high energy effective area are ideally suited for the 44Ti line study (68 and 78 keV). This radioactive nuclei emission will give an estimate of their quantities and speed in their environment. In addition the study of the spatial structure and spectral emission of SNR will advance our knowledge of the dynamics of supernovae explosions, of particles acceleration mechanisms and how the elements are released in the interstellar medium. Instrumental design: The progress of X-ray focusing optics techniques allows a major step in the instrumental design: the collecting area becomes independent of the detection area. This drastically reduces the instrumental background and will open a new era. The optics will be based on depth-graded multi-layer mirrors in a Wolter I configuration. To obtain a significant effective area in the hundred of keV range a focal length in the 40–50 meters range (attainable with a deployable mast) is needed. In addition such a mission could benefit from recent progress made on mirror coating. We propose to cover the 1–200 keV energy range with a single detector, a double-sided Germanium strip detector operating at 80 K. The main features will be: (a) good energy resolution (.150 keV at 5 keV and <.5 keV at 100 keV), (b) 3 dimensional event localization with a low number of electronic chains, (c) background rejection by the 3D localization, (d) polarisation capabilities in the Compton regime.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Bazzano, Angela0000-0002-2017-4396
Paltani, S.0000-0002-8108-9179
Wilms, J.0000-0003-2065-5410
Additional Information:© 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Received: 16 May 2011; Accepted: 27 June 2011; Published online: 2 August 2011.
Subject Keywords:Hard X-rays; Germanium; Grazing incidence optics; Space instrument
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20121114-143103857
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:35465
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:15 Nov 2012 21:16
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

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