117 research outputs found

    Oxygen Abundances in the Milky Way Using X-ray Absorption Measurements Towards Galaxy Clusters

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    We present measurements of the oxygen abundance of the Milky Way's ISM by observing the K-shell X-ray photoionization edge towards galaxy clusters. This effect is most easily observed towards objects with galactic columns (n_H) of a few times 1e21 cm^-2. We measure X-ray column densities towards 11 clusters and find that at high galactic columns above approximately 1e21 cm^-2 the X-ray columns are generally 1.5--3.0 times greater than the 21 cm H II columns, indicating that molecular clouds become an important contributor to n_H at higher columns. We find the average ISM oxygen abundance to be (O/H) = (4.85 +/- 0.06) x 10^-4, or 0.99 solar when using the most recent solar photospheric values. Since X-ray observations are sensitive to the total amount of oxygen present (gas + dust), these results indicate a high gas to dust ratio. Also, the oxygen abundances along lines of sight through high galactic columns (n_H) are the same as abundances through low columns, suggesting that the composition of denser clouds is similar to that of the more diffuse ISM.Comment: submitted to Ap

    The Infocus Hard X-ray Telescope: Pixellated CZT Detector/Shield Performance and Flight Results

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    The CZT detector on the Infocus hard X-ray telescope is a pixellated solid-state device capable of imaging spectroscopy by measuring the position and energy of each incoming photon. The detector sits at the focal point of an 8m focal length multilayered grazing incidence X-ray mirror which has significant effective area between 20--40 keV. The detector has an energy resolution of 4.0keV at 32keV, and the Infocus telescope has an angular resolution of 2.2 arcminute and a field of view of about 10 arcminutes. Infocus flew on a balloon mission in July 2001 and observed Cygnus X-1. We present results from laboratory testing of the detector to measure the uniformity of response across the detector, to determine the spectral resolution, and to perform a simple noise decomposition. We also present a hard X-ray spectrum and image of Cygnus X-1, and measurements of the hard X-ray CZT background obtained with the SWIN detector on Infocus.Comment: To appear in the proceedings of the SPIE conference "Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation", #4851-116, Kona, Hawaii, Aug. 22-28, 2002. 12 pages, 9 figure

    An Efficient, FPGA-Based, Cluster Detection Algorithm Implementation for a Strip Detector Readout System in a Time Projection Chamber Polarimeter

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    A fundamental challenge in a spaceborne application of a gas-based Time Projection Chamber (TPC) for observation of X-ray polarization is handling the large amount of data collected. The TPC polarimeter described uses the APV-25 Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) to readout a strip detector. Two dimensional photoelectron track images are created with a time projection technique and used to determine the polarization of the incident X-rays. The detector produces a 128x30 pixel image per photon interaction with each pixel registering 12 bits of collected charge. This creates challenging requirements for data storage and downlink bandwidth with only a modest incidence of photons and can have a significant impact on the overall mission cost. An approach is described for locating and isolating the photoelectron track within the detector image, yielding a much smaller data product, typically between 8x8 pixels and 20x20 pixels. This approach is implemented using a Microsemi RT-ProASIC3-3000 Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), clocked at 20 MHz and utilizing 10.7k logic gates (14% of FPGA), 20 Block RAMs (17% of FPGA), and no external RAM. Results will be presented, demonstrating successful photoelectron track cluster detection with minimal impact to detector dead-time

    GEMS X-ray Polarimeter Performance Simulations

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    The Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small explorer (GEMS) is an X-ray polarization telescope selected as a NASA small explorer satellite mission. The X-ray Polarimeter on GEMS uses a Time Projection Chamber gas proportional counter to measure the polarization of astrophysical X-rays in the 2-10 keV band by sensing the direction of the track of the primary photoelectron excited by the incident X-ray. We have simulated the expected sensitivity of the polarimeter to polarized X-rays. We use the simulation package Penelope to model the physics of the interaction of the initial photoelectron with the detector gas and to determine the distribution of charge deposited in the detector volume. We then model the charge diffusion in the detector,and produce simulated track images. Within the track reconstruction algorithm we apply cuts on the track shape and focus on the initial photoelectron direction in order to maximize the overall sensitivity of the instrument, using this technique we have predicted instrument modulation factors nu(sub 100) for 100% polarized X-rays ranging from 10% to over 60% across the 2-10 keV X-ray band. We also discuss the simulation program used to develop and model some of the algorithms used for triggering, and energy measurement of events in the polarimeter

    Hard X-ray properties of radio-selected blazars

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    Hard X-ray properties of beamed AGN have been published in the 105-month Swift/BAT catalog, but there have not been any studies carried out so far on a well-defined, radio-selected sample of low-peaked blazars in the hard X-ray band. Using the statistically complete MOJAVE-1 sample, we aim to determine the hard X-ray properties of radio-selected blazars, including the enigmatic gamma-ray-faint type. Also, we aim to determine the contribution of radio-selected low-peaked blazars to the diffuse CXB. We determined photon indices, fluxes, and luminosities in the range of 20 keV - 100 keV of blazars and other extragalactic jets from the MOJAVE-1 sample, derived from the 105-month Swift/BAT survey. We calculated log N-log S distributions and the luminosity functions. The majority of the MOJAVE-1 blazars are found to be hard X-ray emitters albeit many at low count rates. The log N-log S distribution for the hard X-ray emission of radio-selected blazars is clearly non-Euclidean, in contrast to the radio flux density distribution. Approximately 0.2% of the CXB in the 20 keV - 100 keV band can be resolved into MOJAVE-1 blazars. The peculiar log N-log S distribution disparity might be attributed to different evolutionary paths in the X-ray and radio bands, as tested by luminosity-function modeling. X-ray variability can be ruled out as the dominant contributor. Low-peaked blazars constitute an intrinsically different source population in terms of CXB contribution compared to similar studies of X-ray-selected blazars. The hard X-ray flux and spectral index can serve as a good proxy for the gamma-ray detection probability of individual sources. Future observations combining deep X-ray survey, for example, with eROSITA, and targeted gamma-ray observations with CTA can benefit strongly from the tight connection between these high-energy bands for the different blazar sub-classes

    Ground calibration of the Silicon Drift Detectors for NICER

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    The Neutron star Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER) is set to be deployed on the International Space Station (ISS) in early 2017. It will use an array of 56 Silicon Drift Detectors (SDDs) to detect soft X-rays (0.2 - 12 keV) with 100 nanosecond timing resolution. Here we describe the effort to calibrate the detectors in the lab primarily using a Modulated X-ray Source (MXS). The MXS that was customized for NICER provides more than a dozen emission lines spread over the instrument bandwidth, providing calibration measurements for detector gain and spectral resolution. In addition, the fluorescence source in the MXS was pulsed at high frequency to enable measurement of the delay due to charge collection in the silicon and signal processing in the detector electronics. A second chamber, designed to illuminate detectors with either 55 Fe, an optical LED, or neither, provided additional calibration of detector response, optical blocking, and effectiveness of background rejection techniques. The overall ground calibration achieved total operating time that was generally in the range of 500-1500 hours for each of the 56 detectors. Keywords: Silicon Drift Detectors; X-rays; timing spectroscopy; calibrationUnited States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Contract NNG14PJ13C
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