AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 45. Instrumentation for Space Observations
Display, Tuesday, January 8, 2002, 9:20am-6:30pm, Monroe/Lincoln

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[45.10] Diffraction-limited astronomical X-ray imaging using multilayer optics

D. L. Windt (Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory), G. E. Sommargren (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

X-ray telescopes constructed from normal-incidence multilayer mirrors have driven the tremendous progress in solar physics made over the last decade. Most notably, high resolution soft X-ray images obtained with the SoHO and TRACE satellites now provide detailed temperature maps of the solar corona; the imaging data are complementary to the high-resolution spectral data obtained with more traditional spectroscopic instrumentation (e.g., grating spectrometers), and together these data sets are being used to unravel the physics of the transition region and the million-degree solar corona.

Now, as a result of major technological achievements made in the past few years, ultra-high-resolution, normal-incidence X-ray imaging can be extended to previously unresolved galactic and extra-galactic sources as well. New multilayer coatings are available that operate at X-ray energies as high as ~0.5 keV, where the interstellar medium begins to become transparent, and optical fabrication and metrology techniques have progressed to the point that large-diameter aspheric mirror substrates having 0.1-0.2 nm rms figure and finish are available as well. We can therefore construct diffraction-limited normal-incidence X-ray telescopes, in principle, that provide sub-milliarcsecond angular resolution and large effective area at judiciously chosen X-ray wavelengths. A number of exciting observations become possible with such instrumentation, including detailed imaging studies of stellar coronae, interacting binaries, globular clusters, and jets in active galactic nuclei, to name just a few examples.

In this presentation we describe the current status of normal-incidence multilayer X-ray optics, and show how this technology can be used for sub-milliarcsecond astronomical X-ray imaging that will complement the high-resolution spectroscopic data now provided by Chandra and XMM, and eventually by Constellation-X and other future high-energy astrophysics missions.

This research is funded by a grant from NASA.

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