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An overview of the IXO Observatory

An overview of the IXO Observatory

Publication date: 31 July 2010

Authors: Bookbinder, J., et al.

Journal: Proc. SPIE
Volume: 7732
Year: 2010

Copyright: SPIE

The International X-ray Observatory (IXO) project is the result of a merger between the NASA Con-X and ESA/JAXA XEUS mission concepts. A facility-class mission, IXO will address the leading astrophysical questions in the "hot universe" through its breakthrough optics with 20 times more collecting area at 1 keV than any previous X-ray observatory, its 3 m2 collecting area with 5 arcsec angular resolution will be achieved using a 20m focal length deployable optical bench. To reduce risk, two independent optics technologies are currently under development in the U.S. and in Europe. Focal plane instruments will deliver a 100-fold increase in effective area for high-resolution spectroscopy, deep spectral imaging over a wide field of view, unprecedented polarimetric sensitivity, microsecond spectroscopic timing, and high count rate capability. IXO covers the 0.1-40 keV energy range, complementing the capabilities of the next generation observatories, such as ALMA, LSST, JWST, and 30-m ground-based telescopes. These capabilities will enable studies of a broad range of scientific questions such as what happens close to a black hole, how supermassive black holes grow, how large scale structure forms, and what are the connections between these processes? This paper presents an overview of the IXO mission science drivers, its optics and instrumental capabilities, the status of its technology development programs, and the mission implementation approach.

This paper was presented at the SPIE conference on Astronomical Instrumentation 2010 conference.

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