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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Active x-ray optics for high resolution space telescopes
Author(s): Peter Doel; Carolyn Atkins; D. Brooks; Charlotte Feldman; Richard Willingale; Tim Button; Daniel Rodriguez Sanmartin; Carl Meggs; Ady James; Graham Willis; Andy Smith

Paper Abstract

The Smart X-ray Optics (SXO) Basic Technology project started in April 2006 and will end in October 2010. The aim is to develop new technologies in the field of X-ray focusing, in particular the application of active and adaptive optics. While very major advances have been made in active/adaptive astronomical optics for visible light, little was previously achieved for X-ray optics where the technological challenges differ because of the much shorter wavelengths involved.

The field of X-ray astronomy has been characterized by the development and launch of ever larger observatories with the culmination in the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton and NASA's Chandra missions which are currently operational. XMM-Newton uses a multi-nested structure to provide modest angular resolution (∼10 arcsec) but large effective area, while Chandra sacrifices effective area to achieve the optical stability necessary to provide sub-arc second resolution. Currently the European Space Agency (ESA) is engaged in studies of the next generation of X-ray space observatories, with the aim of producing telescopes with increased sensitivity and resolution. To achieve these aims several telescopes have been proposed, for example ESA and NASA’s combined International X-ray Observatory (IXO), aimed at spectroscopy, and NASA’s Generation-X. In the field of X-ray astronomy sub 0.2 arcsecond resolution with high efficiency would be very exciting. Such resolution is unlikely to be achieved by anything other than an active system. The benefits of a such a high resolution would be important for a range of astrophysics subjects, for example the potential angular resolution offered by active X-ray optics could provide unprecedented structural imaging detail of the Solar Wind bowshock interaction of comets, planets and similar objects and auroral phenomena throughout the Solar system using an observing platform in low Earth orbit.

A major aim of the SXO project was to investigate the production of thin actively controlled grazing incident optics for the next generation of X-ray space telescopes. Currently telescope systems are limited in the resolution and sensitivity by the optical quality of the thin shell optics used. As part of its research programme an actively controlled prototype X-ray thin shell telescope optic of dimensions 30x10cm has been developed to bench test the technology. The design is based on thin nickel shells bonded to shaped piezo-electric unimorph actuators made from lead zirconate titanate (PZT).

Paper Details

Date Published: 20 November 2017
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 10565, International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2010, 105652V (20 November 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2309202
Show Author Affiliations
Peter Doel, Univ. College London (United Kingdom)
Carolyn Atkins, Univ. College London (United Kingdom)
D. Brooks, Cornell Univ. (United States)
Charlotte Feldman, Univ. of Leicester (United Kingdom)
Richard Willingale, Univ. of Leicester (United Kingdom)
Tim Button, Univ. of Birmingham (United Kingdom)
Daniel Rodriguez Sanmartin, Univ. of Birmingham (United Kingdom)
Carl Meggs, Univ. of Birmingham (United Kingdom)
Ady James, Univ. College London (United Kingdom)
Graham Willis, Univ. College London (United Kingdom)
Andy Smith, STFC (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10565:
International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2010
Errico Armandillo; Bruno Cugny; Nikos Karafolas, Editor(s)

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