The thin and medium filters of the EPIC camera on-board XMM-Newton: measured performance after more than 15 years of operation


After more than 15 years of operation of the EPIC camera on board the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory, we have reviewed the status of its Thin and Medium filters. We have selected a set of Thin and Medium back-up filters among those still available in the EPIC consortium and have started a program to investigate their status by different laboratory measurements including: UV/VIS transmission, Raman scattering, X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy, and Atomic Force Microscopy. Furthermore, we have investigated the status of the EPIC flight filters by performing an analysis of the optical loading in the PN offset maps to gauge variations in the optical and UV transmission. We both investigated repeated observations of single optically bright targets and performed a statistical analysis of the extent of loading versus visual magnitude at different epochs. We report the results of the measurements conducted up to now. Most notably, we find no evidence for change in the UV/VIS transmission of the back-up filters in ground tests spanning a 2 year period and we find no evidence for change in the optical transmission of the thin filter of the EPIC-pn camera from 2002 to 2012. We point out some lessons learned for the development and calibration programs of filters for X-ray detectors in future Astronomy missions.

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We acknowledge financial contributions by the Italian Space Agency through ASI/INAF agreements I/023/05/0 and I/088/06/0 for the data analysis and I/032/10/0 for the XMM-Newton operation. We thank M.J.S. Smith and M. Freyberg for help with the analysis of PN offset maps.

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Barbera, M., Gastaldello, F., Sciortino, L. et al. The thin and medium filters of the EPIC camera on-board XMM-Newton: measured performance after more than 15 years of operation. Exp Astron 42, 179–197 (2016).

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  • X-rays: XMM-Newton
  • X-rays: instrumentation
  • X-rays: filters