XMM Newtons

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XMM Newtons
XMM Newtons
Type: Space telescope
Operator: European space agencyESA ESA
COSPAR-ID : 1999-066A
Mission dates
Dimensions: 3800 kg
Size: Height 10 m, span 16 m
Begin: December 10, 1999, 14:32 UTC
Starting place: Center Spatial Guyanais , ELA-3
Launcher: Ariane 5G V119
Status: in orbit, active
Orbit data
Rotation time : 48 h
Orbit inclination : 63.0 °
Apogee height 105,665 km
Perigee height 15,415 km
XMM Newton model at ESOC , Darmstadt

XMM-Newton (ger .: X -ray M Ultimatum M irror, ie X-ray multi-mirror) is a space observatory of the European Space Agency ESA for observations in X-ray range . It was launched on 10 December 1999 aboard an Ariane-5G - carrier rocket from the Kourou Space Center in French Guiana and stays according to plan until the end of 2022 Template: future / in 2 yearsin operation.

The main task of XMM-Newton is to research the most energetic processes in the universe . These include, for example, the incidence of matter on black holes and the “births” and “deaths” of stars (see supernova ).


The Ariane rocket placed the 3.8-ton satellite in eccentric orbit around the earth with an equatorial inclination of 38.7 ° and an altitude of 850–114,000 km. Further corrections with the on-board engine raised the closest point to 7,000 km. Such an orbit with about 48 hours orbital time enables long uninterrupted observations of variable objects and runs for the largest part of the orbit period outside the disturbing radiation belt of the earth.

XMM-Newton is constantly monitored by the European Space Control Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt . Several radio antennas are used near Perth (Australia), Kourou and Santiago de Chile (Chile). The data collected by the observatory are processed and managed by the XMM-Newton Science Operations Center in Villafranca del Castillo (Spain).

The highly successful scientific mission was extended in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2016. In November 2018, the end of the mission was Template: future / in 2 yearspostponed to December 31, 2022 , subject to a review in late 2020. In September 2018, XMM set a record for ESA satellites with 6843 days in space.

Telescope and experiments

Scheme of a Wolter telescope
1 Parabolic mirror
2 Hyperbolic mirror
3 X-ray path
4 Focal point
Schematic comparison of the Spitzer, Hubble and XMM-Newtonian space telescopes

The telescope was built by a European consortium of companies under the leadership of the German DASA . XMM-Newton was the most massive satellite ever built and launched by Europe. In the meantime, however, this record has been exceeded by the ESA satellite Integral , which started in 2002 and supplements the observations of XMM-Newton in the gamma ray range .

XMM-Newton has three parallel X-ray telescopes of the Wolter telescope type 1, which observe the same area at the same time. In order to increase the effective collecting area, each of these telescopes consists of 58 nested, thin but highly precise mirror shells. The focal length is 7.5 m and the diameter of the largest mirror shells is 70 cm. Compared to NASA's Chandra X-ray observatory, which is operated at the same time , the XMM-Newton has a much larger effective collecting surface, especially for hard X-rays, around 7 keV, but a poorer image quality of around 5 arc seconds half-width for a point source.

XMM-Newton has three types of instruments:

  • The three European Photon Imaging Cameras (EPIC) were built under British management in Italy , France , Germany and Great Britain . There is an EPIC camera behind each of the three telescopes. One of the cameras uses a new type of pn- CCD that was developed by the semiconductor laboratory of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics together with KETEK GmbH . The EPIC cameras provide X-ray images in the range 0.1–15 keV and allow variability studies with high time resolution, as the arrival time of each photon is recorded. Their energy resolution is based solely on the CCDs and is relatively low with about 1/20 to 1/50 of the photon energy, but sufficient for many purposes.
  • The two Reflection Grating Spectrometers (RGS) were built with Dutch and US participation. By using an additional grating spectrometer, they allow investigations of bright sources with a significantly better energy resolution (1/200 to 1/800 of the photon energy) in the energy range 0.35–2.5 keV.
  • The Optical Monitor is a telescope with a mirror diameter of 30 cm, which is mounted parallel to the three X-ray telescopes. It gives the mission the opportunity to examine their targets simultaneously with the X-ray observations in visible and ultraviolet light. It was developed in the UK.


The versatile XMM Newton observatory has produced new results for various areas of astrophysics in the first 6 years of its life. This includes

  • Detailed X-ray spectroscopy of the corona of stars other than the sun.
  • Investigations of hot gas in galaxy clusters , which show that the previously suspected cooling flows , in which the hot gas cools down rapidly, do not exist.
  • The most sensitive hard X-ray image of the sky, which can be used to study the development of active galactic nuclei in the early universe.
  • Determination of the rotation speeds of black holes .

Web links

Commons : XMM-Newton  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Orbit data according to Chris Peat: XMM - Orbit. In: Heavans Above. April 17, 2012, accessed April 18, 2012 .
  2. a b ESA: Extended Life for ESA's Science Missions. November 14, 2018, accessed December 20, 2018 .
  3. ^ XMM-Newton Mission Extension Approved. ESA, December 6, 2005, accessed April 18, 2012 .
  4. ^ XMM-Newton Mission Extension Approved. ESA, November 15, 2007, accessed April 18, 2012 .
  5. Mission extensions approved for science missions. ESA, October 7, 2009, accessed April 18, 2012 .
  6. Europe maintains its presence on the final frontier. ESA, November 22, 2010, accessed April 18, 2012 .
  7. Working life extensions for ESA's science missions. In: sci.esa.int. ESA, November 20, 2014, accessed December 5, 2016 .
  8. Two-year extensions confirmed for ESA's science missions. In: sci.esa.int. ESA, November 22, 2016, accessed December 5, 2016 .
  9. ESA telescope "XMM-Newton" - the Methuselah among all ESA satellites. In: tagesschau.de. September 5, 2018, accessed September 5, 2018 .
  10. MPI HLL XMM-Newton Camera. In: www.hll.mpg.de. Max Planck Gesellschaft eV, accessed on December 20, 2016 .
  11. ^ H. Steinle: XMM-Newton. In: www.mpe.mpg.de. April 25, 2013, accessed December 20, 2016 .
  12. History: KETEK GmbH. In: www.ketek.net. Retrieved December 20, 2016 .
  13. NASA's NuSTAR Helps Solve Riddle of Black Hole Spin . Whitney Clavin, NASA. February 27, 2013. Retrieved March 4, 2013.