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B. Wilkes, P. Green, R. Cameron, N. Evans, H. Ghosh, D.W. Kim, H. Tananbaum (SAO), ChaMP Collaboration
The Chandra X-ray Observatory, launched in July 1999, has begun a new era in X-ray astronomy. Its unprecedented, ~ 0.5" spatial resolution and low background provide views of the X-ray sky 10-100 times fainter than previously possible. We have begun a serendipitous X-ray survey using Chandra archival data to flux limits in between those reached by earlier satellites and those of the small area, Chandra deep surveys. The survey will cover ~5 sq.deg. per year to X-ray fluxes (2-10 keV) in the range 10-13-6-16 erg cm2 s-1 and include ~3000 sources per year, ~70% of which are expected to be active galactic nuclei (AGN).
Optical imaging of the ChaMP fields is underway at NOAO and SAO telescopes using SDSS g',r',z' colors with which we will be able to classify the X-ray sources into object types and, in some cases, estimate their redshifts. We are also planning to obtain optical spectroscopy of a well-defined subset of fields to allow confirmation of classification and redshift determination. All X-ray and optical results and supporting optical data will be placed in the ChaMP archive within a year of the completion of our data analysis. Over the five years of Chandra operations, ChaMP will provide both a major resource for Chandra observers and a key research tool for the study of the cosmic X-ray background and the individual source populations which comprise it. ChaMP promises profoundly new science return on a number of key questions at the current frontier of many areas of astronomy including the Cosmic X-ray Background, locating and studying high redshift clusters and so constraining cosmological parameters, defining the true population of quasars and studying coronal emission from late-type stars that are almost fully convective.
An overview of the ChaMP will be presented including an introduction to our methods and early results many of which will be presented in more detail in accompanying papers at this meeting.