Article

The Advanced X-ray Timing Array (AXTAR)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
09/2008; DOI: 10.1063/1.3031197
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT AXTAR is an X-ray observatory mission concept, currently under study in the U.S., that combines very large collecting area, broadband spectral coverage, high time resolution, highly flexible scheduling, and an ability to respond promptly to time-critical targets of opportunity. It is optimized for submillisecond timing of bright Galactic X-ray sources in order to study phenomena at the natural time scales of neutron star surfaces and black hole event horizons, thus probing the physics of ultradense matter, strongly curved spacetimes, and intense magnetic fields. AXTAR's main instrument is a collimated, thick Si pixel detector with 2-50 keV coverage and 8 square meters collecting area. For timing observations of accreting neutron stars and black holes, AXTAR provides at least an order of magnitude improvement in sensitivity over both RXTE and Constellation-X. AXTAR also carries a sensitive sky monitor that acts as a trigger for pointed observations of X-ray transients and also provides continuous monitoring of the X-ray sky with 20 times the sensitivity of the RXTE ASM. AXTAR builds on detector and electronics technology previously developed for other applications and thus combines high technical readiness and well understood cost. Comment: 4 pages with 1 figure, to appear in the proceedings of "A Decade of Accreting Millisecond X-ray Pulsars", Amsterdam, April 2008, eds. R. Wijnands et al. (AIP Conf. Proc.). Footnote and references added

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