Micro-X Science


The Future of X-ray Astronomy

The Micro-X mission is a rocket-borne telescope with a new type of X-ray detector that will revolutionize X-ray astrophysics and the use of high resolution X-ray spectroscopy. Our detectors, called Transition-Edge Sensor (TES) Microcalorimeters, measure the energy of a photon by sensing the small change in temperature when the photon is absorbed in the TES. With TESs, the combination of high energy resolution, high efficiency, precise timing, and potential for true imaging spectroscopy at X-ray energies is unparalleled by any other technology today. TESs are being developed for future NASA missions like IXO, and will open up new frontiers in our ability to study black holes and strong gravity, dark matter, dark energy, the evolution of structure formation in our universe and the cycles of matter and energy.

Micro-X stands to advance the science of spaceborne X-ray detectors and, with the first flight, the understanding of the complex Cassiopeia A remnant.

Micro-X will be a multi-flight program. Future flights may study a varied set of astrophysical problems, among them the physics of the cores of clusters of galaxies, and the physics of accretion, jets, and outflows in neutron stars and black holes in bright X-ray binaries.

These are the specifications for the Micro-X telescope and detector:

Energy resolution
<4 eV at 1 keV
Effective area
300 cm2 at 1 keV
Half power diameter
2.6 arcmin
Focal length
2100 mm
Field of view
11.8 arcmin
Detector array
128 pixel (quasi-circular)
Pixel size
600 μm (0.8 arcmin)
0.2 - 3.0 keV

Next: TES's