RXTE Helpdesk/FAQ RXTE What's New HEASARC Site Map

[RXTE] Rossi XTE Guest Observer Facility

The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE)

What does RXTE offer?

  1. If you want to explore fast and ultra-fast X-ray variability in relatively bright sources, RXTE should be unparalleled. The effective area will give about 15,000 counts/s from the Crab nebula in the energy range 2-200 keV. Events are tagged with microsecond accuracy. Data modes can be chosen to optimize the selection of data transmitted and achieve high rates of information retrieval.

  2. If you want simultaneous information across the 2-200 keV band, RXTE offers co-aligned 2-60 keV and 20-200 keV detectors which all have a 1 degree peak to zero response. The energy resolution is 18% at 6 keV, 10% at 20 keV, and 17% at 60 keV.

  3. If you want to look at AGN of various types (Seyferts, BL Lacs, Quasars), at energies above 10 keV, RXTE offers detectors with background sufficiently low to detect 0.2 milliCrab sources.

  4. If you want X-ray data simultaneous or quasi-simultaneous with radio, optical, UV, other X-ray, or gamma-ray observations, RXTE can point anywhere outside of 30 degrees to the sun and can be scheduled to support other observations within a few days of the observation (although planning ahead will, in general, be necessary).

  5. If you want to observe an unanticipated "target of opportunity", the relatively flexible RXTE observing program will accommodate scientifically compelling TOOs.

The RXTE orbit is at an altitude of 580 km with an inclination of about 23 degrees and a period of about 100 minutes. For many targets there may be 15-30 minute gaps in coverage due to earth occultation and the satellite's passage of the South Atlantic Anomaly regions of high charged particle density. The gaps will be minimized by scheduling when longer, uninterrupted data trains are important.

The three instruments on RXTE are the Proportional Counter Array (PCA), co-pointed with detectors on the High Energy X-Ray Timing Experiment (HEXTE), and the All-Sky Monitor (ASM). HEXTE has half its area co-pointed with the PCA, with the other half accumulating background from nearby positions. Independently, the ASM steps around the sky scanning 70% of it each satellite orbit, each of 3 detectors viewing a 10 degree by 90 degree swath for 100 seconds at a time through a coded mask.

If you have a question about RXTE, please send email to one of our help desks.

This page is maintained by the RXTE GOF and was last modified on Thursday, 30-Mar-2017 14:30:56 EDT.