IXO and SIMBOL-X are planned satellite-based X-ray observatories. In contrast to the momentarily available observatories such as XMM and Chandra IXO and SIMBOL-X will also be capable of efficiently imaging the hard X-ray region above around 10 keV. This neccessitates Wolter type optics with focal length around 20m, leading to a satellite size exceeding current launch vehicle capacities. Because of this SIMBOL-X is planned as a two satellite concept - mirrors and detectors separeted aboard two spacecraft in close formation flight. IXO which is part of the ESA Cosmic Visions program and NASA's Decadal White Papers uses a different approach and places the detectors at the end of an extendable bench. Both main detectors of SIMBOL-X, a silicon (DEPFET) macro pixel detector for the lower energy range and a CdTe pixel detector for the higher energy range are also part of the IXO instrumentation. Because the science requirements include the observation of very faint source, both detectors for both projects need to have a very low detector background. Our group participates in the development of the macro pixel detector for both projects.

Simbol-X (artists rendition) IXO (artists rendition)
planned launch date ca. 2013 ca. 2020
instruments Low Energy Detector, High Energy Detector Wide Field Imager, Hard X-Ray Imager, X-Ray Microcalorimeter Spectrometer, X-ray Grating Spectrometer, High Timing Resolution Spectrometer, X-ray Polarimeter
focal length 25m, two satellites 20m, expandable
effective area > 0.05m2(< 35 keV), 0.015m2(50 keV), 0.001m2(67 keV) 3m2(1.25 keV), 0.65m2(6 keV), 0.015m2(30 keV)
energy range (LED/WFI) 0.5 - 20 keV 0.1 - 15 keV
energy range (HED/HXI) 5 - 80 (100) keV ≤ 40 keV
pixels 128x128 1024x1024
spatial resolution 30" 1"/ 30"
energy resolution (LED/WFI) ≤ 300 eV 50 -150 eV
energy resolution (HED/HXI) ca. 1 keV ca. 1 keV

Weitere Informationen

ESA page on IXO NASA page on IXO


GEANT4 geometry of IXO WFI

GEANT4 is a software tool kit developed at CERN for Monte Carlo simulations of high energy particle physics processes. Over the years it has continiously been improved and extendend and can now be used to model a variety of particle and radiation interactions with matter. As part of the work for SIMBOL-X and IXO projects our group uses this tool kit for simulation, optimisation and analysis of the expected on orbit detector background. The work also involve development and validation efforts for the tool kit itself, especially regarding radioactive decay and activation.


Technische Universität Darmstadt

Dr. Markus Kuster

+49 6151 16-2321
+49 6151 16-4321

Institut für Kernphysik

S2|14 219
Schlossgartenstraße 9
64289 Darmstadt

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