Experimental Astronomy

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 23–44 | Cite as

A suborbital payload for soft X-ray spectroscopy of extended sources

  • Phillip H. H. OakleyEmail author
  • Randall L. McEntaffer
  • Webster Cash
Original Article


We present a suborbital rocket payload capable of performing soft X-ray spectroscopy on extended sources. The payload can reach resolutions of ∼100 (λ/ Δλ) over sources as large as 3.25° in diameter in the 17–107 Å bandpass. This permits analysis of the overall energy balance of nearby supernova remnants and the detailed nature of the diffuse soft X-ray background. The main components of the instrument are: wire grid collimators, off-plane grating arrays and gaseous electron multiplier detectors. This payload is adaptable to longer duration orbital rockets given its comparatively simple pointing and telemetry requirements and an abundance of potential science targets.


Suborbital rockets X-ray spectroscopy Gaseous electron multipliers Off-plane gratings X-ray detectors Grazing incidence optics 



This project was funded by NASA grant NNX09AC23G. We thank the Wallops and White Sands Missile Range support personnel from flights 36.224 and 36.252 for all of their critical work on the project. We would also like to thank Luxel for their help in improving our GEM windows, Toru Tamagawa for his assistance with our GEM plates, Charlie Zabel for his constant help with our gas system and the Hodgsons and JILA machine shop for cutting our metal. The success of these missions was reliant on the work done by Travis Curtis, Mike Kaiser, Nico Nell, Eric Schindhelm, Ted Schultz, Ann Shipley and Ben Zeiger.


  1. 1.
    Blair, W.P., Sankrit, R., Raymond, J.C., Long, K.S.: Distance to the Cygnus loop from the hubble space telescope imaging of the primary shock front. Astron. J. 118, 942–947 (1999)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Borkowski, K.J., Sarazin, C.L., Blondin, J.M.: On the X-ray spectrum of Kepler’s supernova remnant. Astrophys. J. 429, 710–725 (1994)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Borkowski Kazimierz, J., Lyerly, W.J., Reynolds, S.P.: Supernova remnants in the sedov expanion phase: thermal X-ray emission. Astrophys. J. 548, 820–835 (2001)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Casement, S., McEntaffer, R.L., Cash, W., Johnson, T., Lillie, C., Dailey, D.: A tower concept for the off-plane X-ray grating spectrometer for the international X-ray observatory. Instrumentation 7732, 77323W–77323W-8 (2010)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Cash, W.: Echelle spectrographs at grazing incidence. Appl. Opt. 21(4), 710–717 (1982)ADSCrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cash, W.: X-ray optics: a technique for high resolution imaging. Appl. Opt. 30, 1749–1759 (1991)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Chandra X-ray Center: The Chandra Proposers’ Observatory Guide. Chandra Project 12 (2009)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cox, Donald, P.: The three-phase interstellar medium revisited. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 43(1), 337–385 (2005)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cravens, T.E.: Comet Hyakutake X-ray source: charge transfer of solar wind heavy ions. Geophys. Res. Lett. 24(1), 105108 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cravens, T.E., Robertson, I.P., Snowden, S.L.: Temporal variation of geocoronal and heliospheric X-ray emission associated with the solar wind interaction with neutrals. J. Geophys. Res. 106(A11), 24883–24892 (2001)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Flanagan, K.A., Canizares, C.R., Dewey, D., Houck, J.C., Fredericks, A.C., Schattenburg, M.L., Markert, T.H., Davis, D.S.: Chandra High Resolution X-Ray Spectrum of Supernova Remnant 1E 0102.27219. Astrophys. J. 605(1), 230–246 (2004)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Fujimoto, R., Mitsuda, K., McCammon, D., Takei, Y., Bauer, M., Ishisaki, Y., Porter, F.S., Yamaguchi, H., Hayashida, K., Yamasaki, N.Y.: Evidence for solar-wind charge-exchange X-ray emission from the earth’s magnetosheath. Publ. Astron. Soc. Jpn. 59, S133–S140 (2007)ADSGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Garmire, Gordon, P.: Advanced CCD imaging spectrometer (ACIS) instrument on the Chandra X-ray observatory. Proc. SPIE 4851, 28–44 (2003)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gunderson, K.S., Wilkinson, E., Green, J.: Calibrations and flight performance of the extreme ultraviolet opacity rocket. Proc. SPIE 4013, 421–425 (2000)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hamilton, A., Sarazin, C., Chevalier, R.: X-ray line emission from supernova remnants. I. Models for adiabatic remnants. Astrophys. J. Suppl. Ser. 51, 115–148 (1983)ADSGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Katsuda, S., Tsunemi, H.: XMM-Newton observations across the Cygnus Loop from northeastern rim to southwestern rim. Adv. Space Res. 41(3), 383–389 (2008)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Koyama, K., Petre, R., Ev Gotthelf, Hwang, U., Matsuura, M., Ozaki, M., Holt, S.S.: Evidence for shock acceleration of high-energy electrons in the supernova remnant SN1006. Nature 378, 255–258 (1995)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Levenson, N.A., Graham, J.R., Keller, L.D., Richter, M.J.: Panoramic views of the Cygnus loop. Astrophys. J. Suppl. Ser. 118, 541–561 (1998)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Levenson, N.A., Graham, J.R.: Environmental impact on the southeast limb of the Cygnus loop. Astrophys. J. 622, 366–376 (2005)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Liedahl, D.A., Osterheld, A.L., Goldstein, W.H.: New calculations of the Fe L-shell X-ray spectra in high-temperature plasmas. Astrophys. J. 438, 115–118 (1995)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lisse, C.M., Dennerl, K., Englehauser, J., et al.: Discovery of X-ray and extreme ultraviolet emission from comet C/Hyakutake 1996 B2. Science 274, 205 (1996)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    McCammon, D., Almy, R., Apodaca, E., Bergmann, W., Tiest, Cui, W., Deiker, S., Galeazzi, M., et al.: A high spectral resolution observation of the soft X-ray diffuse background with thermal detectors. Astrophys. J. 576, 188–203 (2002)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    McEntaffer, R.L., Cash, W., Shipley, A., Schindhelm, E.: A sounding rocket payload for X-ray observations of the Cygnus loop. Proc. SPIE, 6266, 44 (2006)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    McEntaffer, R.L., Cash, W.: Soft X-ray spectroscopy of the cygnus loop supernova remnant. Astrophys. J. 680, 328–335 (2008)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    McEntaffer, R.L., Cash, W., Shipley, A.: Off-plane reflection gratings for constellation-X. Proc. SPIE 7011, 701107-1–701107-8 (2008)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    McEntaffer, R.L., Murray, N., Holland, A., Lillie, C., Casement, S., Dailey, D., Johnson, T., et al.: Off-plane grating spectrometer for the international X-ray observatory. Proc. SPIE 7437(319), 74370H–74370H-13(2009)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    McEntaffer, R.L., Murray, N.J., Holland, A.D., Tutt, J., Barber, S.J., Harriss, R., Schultz, T., et al.: Developments of the off-plane X-ray grating spectrometer for IXO. Instrumentation 7732, 77321K–77321K-13 (2010)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Oakley, P.H.H., Cash, W., McEntaffer, R.L., Shipley, A., Schultz, T.: The EXOS sounding rocket payload. Proc. SPIE 7437, 74370I (2009)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Oakley, P.H.H., Zeiger, B., Kaiser, M., Shipley, A., Cash, W., McEntaffer, R.L., Schultz, T.: Results from the extended X-ray off-plane spectrometer (EXOS) sounding rocket payload. Instrumentation 7732(2008), 77321R–77321R-8 (2010)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Osterman, S., McEntaffer, R.L., Cash, W., Shipley, A.: Off-plane grating performance for constellation-X. Proc. SPIE 5488, 302–312 (2004)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Reynolds, S.P., Keohane, J.W.: Maximum energies of shock-accelerated electrons in young shell supernova remnants. Astrophys. J. 525, 368–374 (1999)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Sanders, W., Edgar, R., Liedahl, D., Morgenthaler, J.: The soft X-ray background spectrum from DXS. Lect. Notes Phys. 506, 8390 (1998)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Sanders, W.T., Richard Edgar, J., Kraushaar, W.L., McCammon, D., Morgenthaler, J.P.: Spectra of the 1/4 keV X-ray diffuse background from the diffuse X-ray spectrometer experiment. Astrophys. J. 554, 694–709 (2001)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Snowden, S.L., Collier, M.R., Kuntz, K.D.: XMM-newton observation of solar wind charge exchange emission. Astrophys. J. 610(2), 1182–1190 (2004)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Snowden, S.L., Freyberg, M.J., Plucinsky, P.P., Schmitt, J., Trümper, J., Voges, W., Edgar, R.J., McCammon, D., Sanders, W.T.: First maps of the soft X-ray diffuse background from the ROSAT XRT/PSPC all-sky survey. Astrophys. J. 454, 643 (1995)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Snowden, S.L., Egger, R., Freyberg, M.J., Mccammon, D., Plucinsky, P.P., Sanders, W.T., Schmitt, J.H.M.M., Tru, J., Voges, W.: ROSAT survey diffuse X-ray background maps. II. Astrophys. J. 485, 125–135 (1997)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Tamagawa, T.: Fine-pitch and thick-foil gas electron multipliers for cosmic X-ray polarimeters. Proc. SPIE 6266(2006), 62663W–62663W-10 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Tamagawa, T., Hayato, A., Abe, K., Iwamoto, S., Nakamura, S., Harayama, A., Iwahashi, T., Makishima, K., Hamagaki, H., Yamaguchi, Y.: Gain properties of gas electron multipliers (GEMs) for space applications. Proc. SPIE 7011, 1–8 (2008)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Tamagawa, T., Hayato, A., Asami, F., Abe, K., Iwamoto, S., Nakamura, S., Harayama, A., et al.: Development of thick-foil and fine-pitch GEMs with a laser etching technique. Nucl. Instrum. Methods Phys. Res. 608, 390–396 (2009)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Tsunemi, H., Kimura, M., Uchida, H., Mori, K., Katsuda, S.: Another abundance inhomogeneity in the south east limb of the Cygnus loop. Publ. Astron. Soc. Jpn. 61, S147–S153 (2009)Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Werner, W.: X-ray efficiencies of blazed gratings in extreme off-plane mountings. Appl. Opt. 16(8), 2078–2080 (1977)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phillip H. H. Oakley
    • 1
    Email author
  • Randall L. McEntaffer
    • 2
  • Webster Cash
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Astrophysics and Space AstronomyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physics & AstronomyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

Personalised recommendations