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The Athena X-ray Observatory: Community Support Portal

  • Athena: revealing the Hot and Energetic Universe

    Athena: revealing the Hot and Energetic Universe

  • Where are the hot baryons and how do they evolve?

  • Reveal the causes and effects of cosmic feedback

  • Track obscured accretion through the epoch of galaxy formation

  • Understand the physics of accretion onto compact objects

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180427ECucchettiAbstract: "With its array of 3840 Transition Edge Sensors (TESs), the Athena X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) will provide spatially resolved high-resolution spectroscopy (2.5 eV up to 7 keV) from 0.2 to 12 keV, with an absolute energy scale accuracy of 0.4 eV. Slight changes in the TES operating environment can cause significant variations in its energy response function, which may result in systematic errors in the absolute energy scale. We plan to monitor such changes at pixel level via onboard X-ray calibration sources and correct the energy scale accordingly using a linear or quadratic interpolation of gain curves obtained during ground calibration. However, this may not be sufficient to meet the 0.4 eV accuracy required for the X-IFU. In this contribution, we introduce a new two-parameter gain correction technique, based on both the pulse-height estimate of a fiducial line and the baseline value of the pixels. Using gain functions that simulate ground calibration data, we show that this technique can accurately correct deviations in detector gain due to changes in TES operating conditions such as heat sink temperature, bias voltage, thermal radiation loading and linear amplifier gain. We also address potential optimisations of the onboard calibration source and compare the performance of this new technique with those previously used."

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Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics

 

Athena (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) is the X-ray observatory mission selected by ESA, within its Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme, to address the Hot and Energetic Universe scientific theme. It is the second L(large)-class mission within that programme and is due for launch in 2028.

Athena will study how hot baryons assemble into groups and clusters of galaxies, determine their chemical enrichment across cosmic time, measure their mechanical energy and characterise the missing baryons which are expected to reside in intergalactic filamentary structures. At the same time, it will study the physics of accretion into compact objects, find the earliest accreting supermassive black holes and trace their growth even when in very obscured environment, and show how they influence the evolution of galaxies and clusters through feedback processes. Athena will also have a fast target of opportunity observational capability, enabling studies and usage of GRBs and other transient phenomena. As an observatory, Athena will offer vital information on high-energy phenomena on all classes of astrophysical objects, from solar system bodies to the most distant objects known. See Science chapter for more details.

Athena will consist of a single large-aperture grazing-incidence X-ray telescope, utilizing a novel technology (High-performance Si pore optics) developed in Europe, with 12m focal length and 5 arcsec HEW on-axis angular resolution. The focal plane contains two instruments. One is the Wide Field Imager (WFI) providing sensitive wide field imaging and spectroscopy and high count-rate capability. The other one is the X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) delivering spatially resolved high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy over a limited field of view. See Mission chapter for more details.

With its unparalleled capabilities, Athena will be a truly transformational observatory, operating in conjunction with other large observatories across the electromagnetic spectrum available in the late 2020s (like ALMA, ELT, JWST, SKA, CTA, etc).