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Proceedings Paper

Large Observatory for x-ray Timing (LOFT-P): a Probe-class mission concept study
Author(s): Colleen A. Wilson-Hodge; Paul S. Ray; Deepto Chakrabarty; Marco Feroci; Laura Alvarez; Michael Baysinger; Chris Becker; Enrico Bozzo; Soren Brandt; Billy Carson; Jack Chapman; Alexandra Dominguez; Leo Fabisinski; Bert Gangl; Jay Garcia; Christopher Griffith; Margarita Hernanz; Robert Hickman; Randall Hopkins; Michelle Hui; Luster Ingram; Peter Jenke; Seppo Korpela; Tom Maccarone; Malgorzata Michalska; Martin Pohl; Andrea Santangelo; Stephane Schanne; Andrew Schnell; Luigi Stella; Michiel van der Klis; Anna Watts; Berend Winter; Silvia Zane
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Paper Abstract

LOFT-P is a mission concept for a NASA Astrophysics Probe-Class (<$1B) X-ray timing mission, based on the LOFT M-class concept originally proposed to ESAs M3 and M4 calls. LOFT-P requires very large collecting area, high time resolution, good spectral resolution, broad-band spectral coverage (2-30 keV), highly flexible scheduling, and an ability to detect and respond promptly to time-critical targets of opportunity. It addresses science questions such as: What is the equation of state of ultra dense matter? What are the effects of strong gravity on matter spiraling into black holes? It would be optimized for sub-millisecond timing of bright Galactic X-ray sources including X-ray bursters, black hole binaries, and magnetars to study phenomena at the natural timescales of neutron star surfaces and black hole event horizons and to measure mass and spin of black holes. These measurements are synergistic to imaging and high-resolution spectroscopy instruments, addressing much smaller distance scales than are possible without very long baseline X-ray interferometry, and using complementary techniques to address the geometry and dynamics of emission regions. LOFT-P would have an effective area of >6 m2, > 10x that of the highly successful Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE). A sky monitor (2-50 keV) acts as a trigger for pointed observations, providing high duty cycle, high time resolution monitoring of the X-ray sky with ~20 times the sensitivity of the RXTE All-Sky Monitor, enabling multi-wavelength and multimessenger studies. A probe-class mission concept would employ lightweight collimator technology and large-area solid-state detectors, segmented into pixels or strips, technologies which have been recently greatly advanced during the ESA M3 Phase A study of LOFT. Given the large community interested in LOFT (>800 supporters*, the scientific productivity of this mission is expected to be very high, similar to or greater than RXTE (~ 2000 refereed publications). We describe the results of a study, recently completed by the MSFC Advanced Concepts Office, that demonstrates that such a mission is feasible within a NASA probe-class mission budget.

Paper Details

Date Published: 18 July 2016
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 9905, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray, 99054Y (18 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2232944
Show Author Affiliations
Colleen A. Wilson-Hodge, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Paul S. Ray, U.S. Naval Research Lab. (United States)
Deepto Chakrabarty, MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research (United States)
Marco Feroci, INAF-IASF (Italy)
INFN Roma Tor Vergata (Italy)
Laura Alvarez, ICE (CSIC-IEEC) (Spain)
Michael Baysinger, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Chris Becker, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Enrico Bozzo, ISDC (Switzerland)
Soren Brandt, DTU (Denmark)
Billy Carson, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Jack Chapman, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Alexandra Dominguez, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Leo Fabisinski, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Bert Gangl, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Jay Garcia, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Christopher Griffith, NRC Research Associate, U.S. Naval Research Lab. (United States)
Margarita Hernanz, ICE (CSIC-IEEC) (Spain)
Robert Hickman, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Randall Hopkins, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Michelle Hui, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Luster Ingram, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Peter Jenke, Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville (United States)
Seppo Korpela, Univ. of Helsinki (Finland)
Tom Maccarone, Texas Tech Univ. (United States)
Malgorzata Michalska, Space Research Ctr. (Poland)
Martin Pohl, DPNC (Switzerland)
Andrea Santangelo, Tuebingen Univ. (Germany)
Stephane Schanne, IRFU, CEA Saclay (France)
Andrew Schnell, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Luigi Stella, INAF-OA (Italy)
Michiel van der Klis, Univ. of Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Anna Watts, Univ. of Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Berend Winter, Mullard Space Science Lab., Univ. College London (United Kingdom)
Silvia Zane, Mullard Space Science Lab., Univ. College London (United Kingdom)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9905:
Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray
Jan-Willem A. den Herder; Tadayuki Takahashi; Marshall Bautz, Editor(s)

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