Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

XMM-Newton scores 1000 top-class science results

25.01.2006


XMM-Newton, ESA’s X-ray observatory, continues its quest for the unknown. This month, after five years of operations, the mission saw the publication of its 1000th scientific paper, corresponding to an equivalent number of results, in top-class scientific journals. This is not the only record-breaking figure for this X-ray ’hunter’ mission.



There are several ways to measure the scientific success of a mission. One is certainly to look at the use the scientific community makes of the data obtained by the mission, and at the number, novelty and significance of the results so produced.

From the very beginning of its operations in early 2000, hundreds of scientists all around the world have been subscribing to ’book’ observing time with XMM-Newton, eager to obtain data and new clues about the hidden and powerful phenomena taking place in the Universe – black holes, birth and death of stars, active galactic nuclei.


Each of the five calls for observation proposals issued so far by ESA towards the scientific community, resulted in a subscription exceeding by seven times the observing slots available. More than 1600 astronomers, an estimated 20 per cent of the world-wide community, had participated to provide their ideas for using XMM-Newton to target highly energetic, exotic and still mysterious space objects.

Scientific results based on XMM-Newton data are now being published at a steady rate of almost 300 papers per year, comparable to the famous Hubble Space Telescope.

Why this huge interest in XMM-Newton? What gives the mission such a world-class profile?

The fact is that XMM-Newton’s capabilities are unprecedented and unique, with optics that are a masterpiece of engineering. Each of its three X-ray telescopes is made of 58 co-axial cylindrical mirrors, capable of reflecting X-rays coming from numerous cosmic sources onto the spacecraft special detectors. This is enabling astronomers to discover in one day more than any other X-ray mission has discovered over weeks of operations.

XMM-Newton is among the X-ray observatories with the highest spectral resolution. It is in fact with X-ray spectroscopy - the spreading of light into its components - that XMM-Newton is revealing the deepest secrets of a source, such as its chemical composition, temperature, and even its velocity.

The huge collective area of the mirrors is fundamental to obtain high-quality spectra of faint and serendipitous objects with the imaging cameras. Furthermore, with its six powerful instruments including an optical monitor with ultraviolet capabilities, this space observatory can have a look at sources in several wavelengths simultaneously.

XMM-Newton has been already unveiling many stars’ secrets. Among its discoveries, it characterised for the first time X-ray spectra and light curves of some classes of proto-stars (stars being born) and provided an unprecedented insight into the X-ray variability of the corona of stars similar to our Sun.

With its capability to respond as quickly as five hours to target-of-opportunity requests for observing elusive gamma-ray bursts, this space observatory detected for the first time an X-ray halo around the bursts, where the halo appeared as concentric ring-like structures centred on the burst location.

XMM-Newton has already shed new light on supernovae remnants, as well as on neutron stars. On the latter, an exciting discovery was that of a bow shock aligned with the supersonic motion of a neutron star (called ’Geminga’), and the detection of hot spots indicating that the configuration of neutron stars magnetic field and surface temperatures are much more complex than previously thought.

These and other fundamental discoveries on clusters of galaxies, dark matter, and the way of determining mass and spin in gigantic black holes in active galactic nuclei, are only a part of the findings obtained thanks to XMM-Newton’s data. "The mission source catalogue contains detailed information on about 50 000 new X-ray sources. This will rise up to 200 000 this year, when a new catalogue is to be released," says Norbert Schartel, ESA Project Scientist for XMM-Newton. "These top-class data are precious material for the astronomical community which is already making an extraordinary use of them."

"We are glad and proud that XMM-Newton results continue to break new ground in many scientific fields, and we are looking forward to the exciting challenges that lie ahead for the mission," he concludes.

Fred Jansen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMAB0NZCIE_index_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers
24.01.2017 | Institut national de la recherche scientifique - INRS

nachricht European XFEL prepares for user operation: Researchers can hand in first proposals for experiments
24.01.2017 | European XFEL GmbH

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>