XMM-Newton Status Report - February 2004
10 February 2004 09:34
XMM-Newton operations continue to run smoothly. Five full revolutions (around 0.5 Msec of observing time) were lost due to the solar outbursts from 26 October to 7 November but there was no damage to the satellite. The use of the Santiago antenna from 15 - 25 Dec (Kourou was required in support of Mars Express) led to some more telemetry drops than usual. However, almost none of these affected the science return. Preparations for the spring 2004 eclipse season have started.
Operations and archiving
The completion status of the observing programme is as follows:
During AO-2, some 12% of the approved category C targets have been observed. Completion of all of the above observing programmes is expected by early 2005. Currently, over 3060 observation sequences have been executed and the data for 2970 of these have been shipped.
Version 2.5 of the XSA (XMM-Newton Science Archive) will be released mid-January 2004. This version will contain, amongst others, on-the-fly event list extraction. The next release of the XMM-Newton data analysis software, SAS 6.0, is expected in March 2004 and will contain many improvements, including more extended and robust processing of OM data.
Several Targets-of-Opportunity (ToO) and discretionary time targets were observed:
The first of these (GRB031203) was triggered by an INTEGRAL detection and followed up by XMM-Newton with its fastest response to date: within 6 hours of the trigger XMM-Newton was on target and observing.
In December 2003, an XMM-Newton X-ray image of Mars was released, linking together the research done by XMM-Newton and Mars-Express.
The above-mentioned observation of GRB031203 showed a time-dependent, dust-scattered X-ray halo around the GRB source. The halo appeared as concentric ring-like structures centered on the GRB location. The expansion of the radius of these structures is consistent with small-angle X-ray scattering caused by a large column of dust along the line of sight to a cosmologically distant GRB. The rings are due to dust concentrated in two distinct slabs in the Galaxy located at distances of 880 and 1390 pc, consistent with known Galactic features (Vaughan et al. astro-ph/0312603).
Some 436 papers have been published in the refereed literature, either directly or indirectly based on XMM-Newton observations.