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Proceedings Paper

Realistic inexpensive soft x-ray polarimeter and the potential scientific return
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Paper Abstract

Using multilayer coated mirrors to provide high reflectivity at large graze angles, we have proposed to launch a small telescope that is capable of measuring the linear polarization of the soft x-ray fluxes from many astronomical sources. Three identical mirror-detectoer assemblies are designed for maximum efficiency at 0.25 keV, where the photon spectra of many celestial targets peak. In observations lasting 1-3 days using this low risk instrument with proven heritage, we can detect polarizations of 5-10% at 5σ due to Compton scattering or synchrotron processes in the relativistic jets of BL Lac objects, accretion disks or jets in active galactic nuclei and atmospheres of isolated pulsars. Pulsar data can be binned by pulse phase to measure the orientation of the neutron star rotation and magnetic field axes and constrain the mass to radius ratio. This project has been selected for technology development funding by the NASA Explorer Program.

Paper Details

Date Published: 14 February 2003
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4843, Polarimetry in Astronomy, (14 February 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.459486
Show Author Affiliations
Herman L. Marshall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States)
Stephen S. Murray, Harvard-Smithsonian Ctr. for Astrophysics (United States)
John H. Chappell, Harvard-Smithsonian Ctr. for Astrophysics (United States)
Herbert W. Schnopper, Harvard-Smithsonian Ctr. for Astrophysics (United States)
Eric H. Silver, Harvard-Smithsonian Ctr. for Astrophysics (United States)
Martin C. Weisskopf, NASA Marshall Space Flight Ctr. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4843:
Polarimetry in Astronomy
Silvano Fineschi, Editor(s)

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