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Mock-up of the XMM-Newton at the Cité de l'espace, Toulouse
Names High Throughput X-ray Spectroscopy Mission
X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission
Mission type X-ray astronomy
Operator European Space Agency
COSPAR ID 1999-066A
SATCAT № 25989
Mission duration Nominal: 2 years[1]
Elapsed: 16 years, 6 months and 24 days
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer Dornier Satellitensysteme, Carl Zeiss AG, Media Lario, MMS Bristol, BPD Difesa e Spazio, Fokker Space BV[1]
Launch mass 3,764 kg (8,298 lb)[1]
Dry mass 3,234 kg (7,130 lb)
Dimensions Length: 10.8 m (35 ft)[1]
Span: 16.16 m (53.0 ft)[1]
Power 1,600 watts[1]
Start of mission
Launch date 10 December 1999, 14:32 (1999-12-10T14:32) UTC[2]
Rocket Ariane 5G #504[3]
Launch site ELA-3, Guiana Space Centre[3]
Contractor Arianespace
Entered service 1 July 2000[1]
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Semi-major axis 66,769.58 km (41,488.69 mi)[4]
Eccentricity 0.7881804[4]
Perigee 7,772 km (4,829 mi)[4]
Apogee 113,025 km (70,230 mi)[4]
Inclination 65.81 degrees[4]
Period 2861.82 minutes[4]
RAAN 47.81 degrees[4]
Argument of perigee 93.28 degrees[4]
Mean anomaly 0.50 degrees[4]
Mean motion 0.50[4]
Repeat interval 47:51:49.06[4]
Epoch 22 January 2015, 22:43:54 UTC[4]
Revolution number 1,649[4]
Main telescope
Type 3 × Wolter type-1[1]
Diameter Outer mirror: 70 cm (28 in)[1]
Inner mirror: 30.6 cm (12 in)[1]
Focal length 7.5 m (25 ft)[1]
Collecting area 4,425 cm2 (686 sq in) at 1.5 KeV[1]
1,740 cm2 (270 sq in) at 8 KeV[1]
Wavelengths 1 to 120 Ångstroms[1]
Resolution 5 to 14 arcseconds[1]
European Photon Imaging Camera (EPIC)
Reflection Grating Spectrometer (RGS)
Optical Monitor (OM)

The XMM-Newton, also known as the X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission and the High Throughput X-ray Spectroscopy Mission, is an orbiting X-ray observatory launched by ESA in December 1999 on an Ariane 5 rocket. It is named in honor of Sir Isaac Newton. The telescope was placed in a very eccentric 48 hour elliptical orbit at 40°; at its apogee it is nearly 114,000 kilometres (71,000 mi) from Earth, while the perigee is only 7,000 kilometres (4,300 mi).


  • Concept and mission 1
  • Specifications 2
  • Observations and discoveries 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Concept and mission

The observational scope of XMM-Newton includes the detection of X-ray emissions from Solar System objects, detailed studies of star-forming regions, investigation of the formation and evolution of galaxy clusters, the environment of supermassive black holes and the mapping of the mysterious dark matter.[5]

The mission was proposed in 1984 and approved in 1985; a project team was formed in 1993 and development work began in 1996. The satellite was constructed and tested from March 1997 to September 1999. Launched in Dec 1999, in-orbit commissioning started Jan 2000, and the first images were published in February 2000. The original mission lifetime was two years, but it was extended for further observations.[6] Its most recent extension was to 31 December 2016.[7] Technically, the observatory could operate until beyond 2018.[8] Observations are managed and archived at the European Space Astronomy Centre (formerly known as VILSPA) at Villafranca, Spain. Until March 2012 the scientific data placed into the archive and distributed to observers were processed by the XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre led by the University of Leicester, England. After this date, responsibility for data processing transferred to the Science Operations Centre at ESAC.

The European satellite XMM-Newton, built under contract to ESA by a consortium of 35 European companies with Astrium as prime contractor, by far excels its predecessor, the Astrium-built ROSAT satellite.


The satellite weighs 3,800 kilograms (8,400 lb), is 10 metres (33 ft) long and 16 metres (52 ft) in span with its solar arrays deployed. It holds three X-ray telescopes, developed by Media Lario of Italy, each of which contains 58 Wolter-type concentric mirrors. The combined collecting area is 4,425 cm2 (686 sq in) at 1.5 KeV to 1,740 cm2 (270 sq in) at 8 KeV.[1] The three European Photon Imaging Cameras (EPIC) are sensitive over the energy range 0.2 keV to 12 keV. Other instruments onboard are two reflection grating spectrometers which are sensitive below ~2 keV, and a 30 centimetres (12 in) diameter Ritchey-Chretien optical/UV telescope.

Each telescope consists of 58 600 mm-long shells, with diameters from 306 to 700 millimetres, and thickness linearly dependent on the diameter increasing from 470 µm at the small shells to 1070 µm at the large one; the fully assembled telescope has gaps of about one millimetre between the shells. The shells are made by electroforming onto a highly polished aluminium mandrel, starting with a 250 nm layer of vapour-deposited gold that becomes the reflecting surface, then the nickel support; the mandrels are reusable but a different one is needed for each shell. The electroforming deposits nickel at a rate of 10 µm per hour. The mandrels were manufactured at Carl Zeiss AG, and the electroforming and final assembly performed at Media Lario; Kayser-Threde also played a role.[9]

The shells are glued into grooves in an Inconel spider, which keeps them aligned to within the five-micron tolerance required to get adequate X-ray resolution.

Observations and discoveries

The space observatory was used to discover the galaxy cluster XMMXCS 2215-1738, 10 billion light years away from Earth.[10]

The object SCP 06F6, discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in February 2006, was then observed by XMM-Newton in early August 2006, and appeared to show an X-ray glow around it[11] two orders of magnitude more luminous than that of supernovae.[12] In June 2011, a team from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, reported XMM-Newton seeing a flare that lasted four hours at a peak intensity of 10,000 times the normal rate, from an observation of Supergiant Fast X-Ray Transient IGR J18410-0535, where a blue supergiant star shed a plume of matter that was partly ingested by the smaller neutron star with the accompanying X-ray emissions.[13]

In February 2014, different analyses[14][15] have extracted from the spectrum of X-ray emissions observed by XMM-Newton, a monochromatic signal around 3.5 keV. This signal is coming from different galaxy cluster, and several scenarios of dark matter can justify such a line. For example a 3.5 keV candidate annihilating into 2 photons,[16] or a 7 keV dark matter particle decaying into photon and neutrino.[17] In any case, it would be a warm dark matter that could be motivated also by other astrophysical observations (core galactic profiles and missing of small structures around the Milky Way).

In February 2013 it was announced that the XMM-Newton space observatory along with NuSTAR have for the first time measured the spin rate of a supermassive black hole, by observing the black hole at the core of galaxy NGC 1365.[18] At the same time, it verified the model that explains the distortion of X-rays emitted from a black hole.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Wilson, Andrew (November 2001). "XMM-Newton" (PDF). ESA Achievements (2nd ed.). European Space Agency. pp. 162–165.  
  2. ^ "A Faultless Launch". European Space Agency. 10 December 1999. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Ariane-5". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "XMM Satellite details 1999-066A NORAD 25989". N2YO. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  5. ^ Schartel, Norbert; Santos-Lleo, María; Parmar, Arvind; Clavel, Jean (February 2010). "Commemorating XMM-Newton’s first decade". ESA Bulletin 141.  
  6. ^ "Mission extension to 2010". ESA. 6 December 2005. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  7. ^ "Working life extensions for ESA’s science missions". ESA Science & Technology.  
  8. ^ "Astrium-built XMM-Newton telescope with sensational results on exploding stars, black holes and galaxy clusters".  
  9. ^ "Producing the X-Ray Mirrors for ESA's XMM spacecraft". ESA. February 1997. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  10. ^ "Massive galaxy cluster found 10 billion light years away". 6 June 2006. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  11. ^ How they wonder what you are, Nature News, 20 September 2008
  12. ^ Boris, T. G.; Levan, Andrew J.; Marsh, Thomas R.; Wheatley, Peter J. (2009). "SCP?06F6: A CARBON-RICH EXTRAGALACTIC TRANSIENT AT REDSHIFT z sime 0.14?". The Astrophysical Journal Letters 697 (2).  
  13. ^ Staff Writers (29 June 2011). "Neutron star bites off more than it can chew". Paris, France: Space Daily. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  14. ^ E. Bulbul et al. "Detection of An Unidentified Emission Line in the Stacked X-ray spectrum of Galaxy Clusters"
  15. ^ Alexey Boyarsky; Oleg Ruchayskiy; Dmytro Iakubovskyi; Jeroen Franse (17 February 2014). "An unidentified line in X-ray spectra of the Andromeda galaxy and Perseus galaxy cluster".  
  16. ^ Emilian Dudas author2=Lucien Heurtier; Yann Mambrini (8 May 2014). "Generating X-ray lines from annihilating dark matter".  
  17. ^ Hiroyuki Ishida; Kwang Sik Jeong; Fuminobu Takahashi (24 February 2014). "7 keV sterile neutrino dark matter from split flavor mechanism".  
  18. ^ J.D. Harrington; Whitney Clavin (27 February 2013). "NASA's NuSTAR Helps Solve Riddle of Black Hole Spin" (Press release). NASA. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 

External links

  • XMM Mission website (ESA)
  • XMM Mission operations site at ESA
  • XMM-Newton at Airbus Space and Defense website
  • XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre Home Page
  • XMM-Newton Source Catalog website
  • XMM 10th Anniversary Educational Poster
  • Sonoma State University XMM-Newton website
  • XMM Guest Observer Facility at GSFC
  • Image of Ariane 5 on a launch pad with XMM-Newton
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