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Optimizing mission science: The read-out modes of the EPIC for X-ray astronomy

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Abstract

The European Photon Imaging Camera (EPIC), which will fly onboard the ESA X-ray Multi Mirror (XMM) satellite, is an X-ray imaging and spectroscopy instrument based on CCD technology. The detectors placed in the three focal plane cameras will provide images and spectra in the energy band from 0.1 to ∼ 10 keV. In order to observe sources within a wide range of intensities, several read-out modes have been planned for the detectors. Each of these modes works well up to some value of the intensity of the source, above which pile-up, i.e. the interaction of more than one photon with the same pixel or two adjacent pixels, in a single frame, becomes relevant.

After a brief description of the read-out modes, the simulations performed to establish a quantitative criterion for the limiting rates are presented. The results are discussed and compared with those reported by Chiappetti (1994a). Finally, some comments are made on the impact of these results on the scientific objectives of the mission.

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References

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Musso, C., Chiappetti, L. & Bignami, G.F. Optimizing mission science: The read-out modes of the EPIC for X-ray astronomy. Experimental Astronomy 6, 235–248 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00418322

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Keywords

  • Spectroscopy
  • Energy Band
  • Focal Plane
  • Image Camera
  • Adjacent Pixel