Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




STELLAR CHEMISTRY
ESA's new X-ray optics for observing the hot Universe
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) May 21, 2014


Artist's impression of a galaxy that is releasing material via two strong jets (shown in red/orange) as well as via wide-angle outflows (shown in gray/blue). Both jets and outflows are being driven by the black hole located at the galaxy's centre. Black holes, which lurk unseen at the centres of almost all galaxies, are regarded as one of the keys to understanding galaxy formation and evolution. Image courtesy ESA/AOES Medialab.

A new idea to use super-polished silicon wafers as the heart of a telescope is set to reveal more of the hot, high-energy Universe, peering back into its turbulent history.

Invisible X-rays tell us about the very hot matter in the Universe - black holes, supernovas and superheated gas clouds. Today's X-ray observatories, ESA's XMM-Newton and NASA's Chandra, were launched in the last century, and are still delivering world-class science. But they are starting to age.

To replace them, ESA is planning a much more capable X-ray observatory for launch in 2028, which would probe 10 to 100 times deeper into the Universe than the current generation of X-ray telescopes.

"This demands a whole new type of X-ray mirror," explains Marcos Bavdaz, leading the technology push for ESA's future science missions. "To reach the kind of size needed, this new mission's mirrors will have to be 10 times lighter than XMM's, while delivering even sharper images."

The problem is that energetic X-rays do not behave like typical light waves - try to reflect them with a standard mirror and they are absorbed inside. Instead, X-rays can only be reflected at shallow angles, like stones skimming along water.

That means multiple mirrors must be stacked together to build a large-enough telescope. XMM has 174 gold-plated nickel mirrors, nested inside one another like Russian dolls.

But to reach the performance required for ESA's next X-ray mission, tens of thousands of densely packed mirror plates will be needed. How can this be done?

A new approach is required. 'Silicon pore optics', developed by ESA, draws on high-tech equipment and materials from the semiconductor industry.

"We make use of industrial silicon wafers, normally used to manufacture microprocessors," adds Eric Wille, optical system engineer for the X-ray optics development.

"We take advantage of their stiffness and super-polished surface, stacking a few dozen at a time together to form a single 'mirror module'."

Many hundreds of these modules will be fitted together to form the optics of the X-ray mission.

Grooves are cut into the wafers, leaving stiffening ribs and paper-thin mirrors, which are then covered with reflective metal. For maximum accuracy, semiconductor manufacturing techniques are applied for the stacking process.

"Stacking is done by a specially designed robot, aiming for micron-scale precision," Eric describes. "We've seen big jumps in quality as the robotics improve."

"All the stacking takes place in a cleanroom, since tiny dust particles risk large deformations in the mirror stack.

"The semiconductor industry is improving the quality of silicon wafers, which will further improve the mirror quality in future."

The company cosine Research, leading the silicon pore optics consortium, has succeeded in the routine production of complete mirror modules.

Hundreds of mirror plates are regularly made by Micronit Microfluidics, a company specialised in micromachining large quantities of glass and silicon products.

Another consortium member, Kayser-Threde, has vibration-tested a mirror module and its mounting system, showing the design is capable of enduring a launch to space.

ESA's mission to the hot, high-energy universe
In November 2013 the science theme 'the hot and energetic Universe' was selected for the second Large-class mission, or L2, in ESA's Cosmic Vision science programme - to be pursued with an advanced X-ray observatory.

With a launch date foreseen for 2028, the mission will address two key questions. How and why does ordinary matter assemble into the galaxies and galactic clusters that we see today, and how do black holes - lurking at the centre of almost all galaxies - grow and influence their surroundings?

Still many years from launch, the underlying optical technology required is being prepared as a joint effort between ESA's Technology Research Programme - turning innovative ideas into working prototypes - and its Science Core Technology Programme - developing enabling technologies for future science missions.

.


Related Links
Technology at ESA
XMM-Newton at ESA
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Magnetar Formation Mystery Solved
Munich, Germany (SPX) May 19, 2014
Magnetars are the bizarre super-dense remnants of supernova explosions. They are the strongest magnets known in the Universe - millions of times more powerful than the strongest magnets on Earth. A team of European astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) now believe they've found the partner star of a magnetar for the first time. This discovery helps to explain how magnetars for ... read more


STELLAR CHEMISTRY
LRO View of Earth

Saturn in opposition tonight, will appear next to the moon

Russia to begin Moon colonization in 2030

Astrobotic Partners With NASA To Develop Robotic Lunar Landing Capability

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Mars Curiosity rover may have transported Earth bacteria to Mars

NASA Rover Gains Martian Vista From Ridgeline

Opportunity Explores Region of Aluminum Clay Minerals

Mars mineral could be linked to microbes

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Pay and go: 'Soyuz' space ticket at US$45-50 million

Staying alive: Rescue mission for disco-era satellite

Airbus design of European service module for Orion approved by ESA

Swiss Space Systems launch the ZeroG experience

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Moon rover Yutu comes closer to public

The Phantom Tiangong

New satellite launch center to conduct joint drill

China issues first assessment on space activities

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
US Senate panel budgets $100 mn for non-Russian rocket

Scientists Seek Answers With Space Station Thyroid Cancer Study

New ISS Expedition Unaffected by Proton Crash

US-Russian Tensions Roiling Outer Space Cooperation

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Halting Russian rocket engine deliveries may cost US $5 billion

India To Launch PSLV On Commercial Mission

Third-stage engine glitch causes Proton-M accident

Russia's Roscosmos plans to launch two more Protons this year

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Starshade Could Help Photograph Distant Planets

Giant telescope tackles orbit and size of exoplanet

Odd planet, so far from its star

New Exomoon Hunting Technique Could Find Solar System-like Moons

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
MIPT Experts Reveal the Secret of Radiation Vulnerability

Russian space agency to create equipment for monitoring space debris

Spiders spin possible solution to 'sticky' problems

Is there really cash in your company's trash?




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.