XMM-Newton Users Handbook


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3.1 Basic characteristics

The most important characteristics of XMM-Newton are compiled in Table 1. More detailed numbers will follow in the chapters on the individual instruments (below) and a comparison with other X-ray satellites is provided in § 3.7. The basic characteristics of XMM-Newton are:


Table 1: XMM-Newton characteristics - an overview
Instrument EPIC MOS EPIC pn RGS OM
Bandpass 0.15-12 keV 0.15-12 keV 0.35-2.5 keV$^{~(1)}$ 180-600 nm
Orbital target vis.$^{(2)}$ 5-135 ks 5-135 ks 5-135 ks 5-145 ks
Sensitivity$^{(3)}$ $\sim $10$^{-14~(4)}$ $\sim $10$^{-14~(4)}$ $\sim $8$\times $10$^{-5~(5)}$ 20.7 mag$^{~(6)}$
Field of view (FOV) 30'$^{~(7)}$ 30'$^{~(7)}$ $\sim $5' 17'
PSF (FWHM/HEW)$^{(8)}$ 5''/14'' 6''/15'' N/A 1.4''-2.0''
Pixel size 40 $\mu$m (1.1'') 150 $\mu$m (4.1'') 81 $\mu$m (9$\times $10$^{-3}$ Å)$^{(9)}$ 0.476513''$^{~(10)}$
Timing resolution$^{(11)}$ 1.75 ms 0.03 ms 0.6 s 0.5 s
Spectral resolution$^{(12)}$ $\sim $70 eV $\sim $80 eV 0.04/0.025 Å$^{(13)}$ 180$^{~(14)}$
Notes to Table 1:
1) In the -1. grating order (wavelength range: 5-35 Å; $\lambda$ [Å] $\times $ E [keV] = 12.3984).
2) Total time available for science per orbit; minimum of 5 ks (excl. overheads, see § 4.5.2) in order to ensure observatory efficiency. XMM-Newton science observations can only be performed outside the Earth's radiation belts (see § 4.2.1).
3) After 10 ks; cf. overview tables on the individual instruments.
4) In the range 0.15-12.0 keV, in units of erg s$^{-1}$ cm$^{-2}$, see § 3.3.8 for details.
5) OVII 0.57 keV line flux in photons cm$^{-2}$ s$^{-1}$, for an integration time of 10 ks and a background of $10^{-4}$ photons cm$^{-2}$ s$^{-1}$ keV$^{-1}$. More details are provided in § 3.4.4.7.
6) 5-$\sigma $ detection of an A0 star in 1000 s.
7) See Figs. 17, 18 and 19 for the detailed shape of the FOV.
8) See Fig. 4 and 103 for an in-flight point source measurement for EPIC and OM, respectively. Table 2 lists in orbit and on ground PSF values for all three EPIC cameras separately.
9) In spectroscopy mode (standard $3\times3$ pixel on-chip binning applied).
10) $1''$ with $2\times2$ binning in default configuration mode.
11) In fast data acquisition mode (i.e., fast mode for OM and timing mode for EPIC, spectroscopy mode for RGS1 [1.2 s for RGS2], reading out only one of nine CCDs). The EPIC pn burst mode offers an even higher timing resolution of 7$\mu$s, but has a very low duty cycle of 3%.
12) At 1 keV energy. At the energy of Fe K$\alpha $ (6.4 keV), the energy resolution of both EPIC cameras is ca. 150 eV.
13) In -1. and -2. order, resp.; at 1 keV, this corresponds to 3.2/2.0 eV (HEW).
14) Resolving power $(\lambda/\Delta\lambda)$ with UV and optical grism.

For a comparison of these basic characteristics with those of other past or contemporaneous X-ray satellite missions, see § 3.7.

More detailed information on the mirrors and on the instruments listed in Table 1 and their observing modes is provided in the following sections (§ 3.2 - § 3.5).


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Next: 3.2 X-ray Telescopes Up: 3 XMM-Newton - a concise overview Previous: 3 XMM-Newton - a concise overview
European Space Agency - XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre