XMM-Newton Status Report - November 2006
10 November 2006 11:07Mission Status
XMM-Newton operations are continuing smoothly, with the spacecraft, instruments and ground segment all performing nominally. The 6th Announcement of Observing (AO-6) opportunity for observations to be performed between May 2007 and May 2008 has opened.
Operations and archiving
A test revolution consisting of slow (30 degree per hour) scans has recently been performed in order to evaluate spacecraft handling, instrument modes and data processing. This mode could be utilized to study extended sky areas with XMM-Newton.
A preliminary investigation of the scan results is very encouraging and the data will be shortly made available via the archive for scientific exploitation by the community. A preliminary version of the second XMM-Newton serendipitous source catalogue, 2XMMp, has been released. The catalogue has been constructed by the XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre (SSC) on behalf of ESA. It contains over 150 000 source detections making it the largest catalogue of astronomical X-ray sources ever produced. The catalogue is derived from the available pointed observations that XMM-Newton has made so far, and covers less than 1% of the sky.
The completion status of the observing programme is as follows:
It is expected that the AO-5 programme will be completed in April 2007, in line with the planned start of AO-6 observations.
XMM-Newton has observed several Targets-of-Opportunity and discretionary time targets including V504 Cen, GRB060218, RS Oph, XTE J1817-330, Nova SMC 2005, Swift J1753.5-0127, SGR 1900+14, SN 2006bp, GRB060151B, Nova LMC 2005, GRB060729, Westerlund AXP, and IGR J1747-2821.
XMM-Newton has found evidence linking stellar remains to the oldest recorded supernova. By combining images from the Chandra and XMM-Newton X-ray observatories of a supernova remnant called RCW 86 the expanding ring of debris that was created after a massive star in the Milky Way collapsed and exploded can be clearly studied. The new observations reveal that RCW 86 was created by a star that exploded about 2000 years ago. This age matches observations of a new bright star by Chinese (and possibly Roman) astronomers in 185 AD and may be the oldest known recording of a supernova.