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Recent News


Explore@NASA Goddard, Saturday, May 14

Come to meet IXO scientists at Explore@NASA Goddard– a free open house event at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Saturday, May 14, 11am – 5pm rain or shine.

Main event page»


An update on IXO from Nick White and Jay Bookbinder

US IXO Team,

This is an update on the discussions with the European Space Agency (ESA) at the recent ESA-NASA bilateral meeting. This was reported by Jon Morse (HQ Astrophysics Division Director), first, to the IXO and LISA teams on Tuesday, and then, at the Astrophysics NASA Advisory Committee (NAC) sub-committee meeting on Thursday afternoon.

IXO was one of three candidates competing for the L1 opportunity in ESA´s Cosmic Vision Program (2015-2025). The Astrophysics and Planetary decadal rankings and NASA´s constrained out-year resources projected in the President's FY12 budget request led ESA to conclude that none of the three mission concepts were feasible within the Cosmic Vision L1 schedule. Consequently, ESA has ended consideration of IXO and the other concepts as partnerships at the scale proposed in the New Worlds New Horizons decadal survey (NWNH) and EJSM/Laplace in Visions and Voyages for Planetary Science. Instead, ESA has begun a rapid definition effort that includes the formation of a new science team (to be announced shortly). That effort will identify science goals and a mission concept that can be implemented as part of an ESA-led mission launching in the early 2020´s for a cost to ESA of about 800M Euro. Revised mission concepts from the three science areas will be considered in a selection process tentatively foreseen in February 2012.

A future minor role for NASA in the new ESA-led X-ray mission, in particular contributions at the instrument level, has not been ruled out. NASA will participate in the new ESA science team through a "NASA HQ-empowered scientist." This will be a NASA civil servant scientist who will be the conduit for any engagement with the new ESA team.

Currently the decadal survey recommendations are centered on the IXO (and LISA) concept and partnerships. NASA HQ will NOT disband the current NASA IXO (and LISA) teams immediately, but will follow a deliberate path towards redirecting the NASA efforts in the context of the decadal survey recommendations. NASA's Astrophysics Division plans to continue base funding (assuming not-larger-than-anticipated cuts from Congress) for the IXO (and LISA) study team(s) through FY11 to continue the technology development and so that NASA can support any effort requested by ESA through the NASA representative. The HQ Astrophysics Division may at some point in the future engage the community about strategic investments in X-ray astrophysics and possible solicitations for new concept studies in the context of the NWNH priorities.

It is expected that in about one year´s time NASA will ask the NRC to prioritize possible NWNH investments for the rest of the decade, including funding possible NASA participation in an ESA L1 mission – which we hope will be the X-ray mission. This would be in the context of not only the ESA L1 mission selection, but also the M1 and M2 mission selections, and the JWST re-plan.

We plan to keep in communication with the US IXO team as this unfolds. And seek input from the community at the appropriate times.

Feel free to forward this note to all interested parties.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Nick White,

Jay Bookbinder


Presentations for the IXO Science Team Meeting, held on March 14–16, 2011 in Rome, are available for download.


A new schedule for Cosmic Vision selections was announced at the IXO Science Meeting in Rome

The explanation letter was sent by Paul Nandra

Dear IXO Science Associates,

For those of you who weren´t at the Rome meeting, please note this important message from Fabio Favata regarding the ESA selection process. The essence of this is that ESA intend to delay the L-class decision until February 2012, to allow a team to study whether the L-class candidates can be rescoped so that they are largely affordable by Europe alone.

This is excellent news for IXO. While such a mission would necessarily have to be considerably less ambitious than the current concept, there is at least now a clear path forward towards a possible launch for IXO in the early 2020s.

Please, stay tuned for more information as this process evolves: there will be be a strong need for input from the Science Associates over the coming months to help shape the revised mission, and update the science case for the new concept that emerges.

Best Wishes,

Paul Nandra

We will post updates as more information becomes known.

Meeting page »


Read about IXO on the BBC's Science and Technology blog page »


We will have our next IXO Science Team Meeting in March 14—16, 2011, in Rome, Italy hosted by our ESA colleagues

This meeting will bring together the X-ray astronomical community worldwide to discuss the following key science topics of IXO:

– Co-evolution of galaxies and their supermassive black holes
– Large scale structure and the creation of chemical elements
– Matter under extreme conditions
– Life cycles of matter and energy in the Universe

We plan to have both invited and contributed talks, as well as a poster session.

Meeting location: CNR, Headquarter, P.le Aldo Moro, 7, Rome.

Meeting page »
Meeting poster – [.ppt], [.jpg]


217th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, January 9—13, 2011, Seattle, WA

Mike Garcia´s talk "IXO Absolute Astrometry Requirements" is available for download.

Download the talk – [.pdf], [.ppt]
AAS #217 meeting page »
See pictures from the meeting »


IXO will take part in the AAS # 217 meeting held on January 9—13, 2011 in Seattle, WA. Please come by to see us at our booth # 218.


New IXO response matrices are available for download »

The most recent Segmented Glass optics responses are given here »


The IXO team will make an initial presentation on October 6th to the ESA Cosmic Vision review

Cosmic Vision 2015—2025 »


Astro2010 Update: the decadal report recommends IXO as one of three defined flight missions

The Astro2010 Decadal Survey report was released in pre-publication form today. Astro2010 panels of experts, working under the auspices of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences,undertook a comprehensive review of the astrophysics and made recommendations for both space- and ground-based efforts for the next decade.

The report recommends only three large space missions to be launched or studied in the next decade. The W-FIRST mission (a wide-field near-infrared telescope aimed at understanding dark energy and exoplanet populations that is a re-incarnation of JDEM) is followed by LISA and IXO. The prioritization of LISA above IXO in the decadal is, however, contingent on two specific "tripwires" – in the near term, LISA must be ranked first in the Cosmic Vision L-class missions and, following that, the Pathfinder must be fully successful. Finally, the report recommended that there should be a 50/50 ESA/NASA cost split.

The report specifically recognizes "IXO’s high scientific importance" as a "powerful X-ray telescope that will transform our understanding of hot gas associated with stars and galaxies in all evolutionary stages" and also states that IXO is "central to many of the science questions identified by this survey." The report summarizes that NASA should "determine an appropriate path forward to realize IXO as soon as possible" if IXO is selected by ESA as an L-class mission, and that IXO has been recommended for approximately $200M in technology development funding for this decade.

Also included in the top space mission recommendations is strong support for the ongoing Explorer program of small and medium-sized missions. The full pre-publication version of the report is available on the Decadal website.

IXO Astro2010 resources »


Randall Smith gave a talk on "The Potential of Future X-ray Missions" at the Accretion Processes Workshop

Accretion studies will be dramatically changed by the next generation of high-spectral resolution X-ray observatories such as Astro-H and the International X-ray Observatory (IXO). Astro-H will provide the first high-resolution data around the key 6 keV Fe K complex combined with a significantly larger area for spectroscopy at lower energies and simultaneous hard X-ray coverage. IXO will expand these capabilities with higher resolution across the entire 0.3—12 keV band combined with hard X-ray capabilities. Taken together, these capabilities will enable spectroscopic studies, including time-resolved studies, that are simply impossible today. I will discuss the mission parameters and some of the science of accretion disks expected to be revealed by these upcoming missions.

Download the talk – [.pdf], [.ppt]
Accretion Processes Workshop »


Several members of the IXO Team gave presentations at the SPIE meeting in San Diego, June 28 – July 2, 2010

Read more »


An update on the status of the International X-ray Observatory

Overall, the project is in excellent shape, with studies by all three agencies indicating a feasible mission, and steady progress on technology development. One of our great strengths is the large, broad-based community who define and support IXO´s science goals, so your continued involvement is crucial to the success of the mission.
Download the update in PDF


Presentations for the IXO Science Team Meeting held on April 27—29, in Paris, France available for download

Read more »


On Saturday, April 24th, IXO team members including Olga Vovk, Megan Eckart, and Catherine Bailey participated in Maryland Day as part of the Joint Space Sciences Institute (JSI) with the University of Maryland

The IXO display included a 1/40 scale IXO model, the IXO poster covering IXO science and recent technology progress, and a couple of family hands-on educational activities. The last included a model that illustrated why astronomers need to put telescopes in space and a spectroscopy activity that explained how astronomers use spectroscopy to determine the composition of stars and other objects in space. These activities attracted a constant stream of visitors in a wide range of ages from 5 to 65 who enjoyed them very much.

Maryland Day 2010  »
UM and NASA-Goddard Create Space Science Institute and Sign Broad Agreement  »


The First Galaxies, Quasars & Gamma-Ray Bursts, June 6—10, 2010 Pennsylvania State University

The first generation of galaxies, quasars and GRBs is an exciting new field, and a major science goal of all upcoming and planned missions, including IXO. Niel Brandt will give a talk about IXO. The other conference topics include:

– The transition from PopIII stars to PopII and PopI star formation;
– The first galaxies and quasars, and SMBH -- host relations in the early Universe;
– The most distant gamma ray bursts;
– Feedback and impact of the first objects, re-ionization, and metal enrichment;
– Current observations and future missions with ALMA, JWST, JANUS, IXO, MWA...

Learn more from the conference site »
Download the poster – [.jpg]


The 11th HEAD meeting was held on Kailua-Kona coast of Hawaii´s Big Island

– Randall Smith´s talk "Detecting the WHIM with IXO" – [.pdf], [.ppt];
– Mike Garcia´s talk "Single and Binary BH Science with IXO" – [.pdf], [.ppt], [.mp4]


2010 Winter Conference on Astrophysics

A poster, covering IXO science and recent technology progress, was presented at the February 2010 Winter Conference in Astrophysics held in the Aspen Center for Physics, Aspen, CO. This poster has now been posted to the web site.

Download the poster – [.pdf], [.ppt]


IXO Science Team Meeting, April 27—29, 2010

We will have our next big science team meeting on April 27—29, 2010 in Paris, France, hosted by our ESA colleagues. During this meeting it is planned to:

– Update the community on the status of the IXO mission following the decadal survey activities and the on-going studies in Europe;
– Review/(update where necessary) the science goals of IXO;
– Gather any further science topics that could be addressed by IXO within current payload baseline;
– Discuss synergies with other planned or proposed facilities e.g. JWST, EUCLID, SPICA, ELTs, ALMA, SKA;
– Discuss the timetable for presenting IXO to the Cosmic Vision down selection process and ensuring feedback from the community to support IXO through mission selection.

Meeting program and schedule »


The IXO team took part in the 215th AAS meeting held in Washington, DC

Meeting page »


The latest progress in IXO technology development

Tests on a limited section of a stack of silicon pore optics have shown an improvement in the angular resolution up to 10 arcsec from the earlier 17 arcsec. Mandrels used to form the segmented glass mirror segments have been polished up to the 2 arcsec level, and the best mirror segments are now approaching the 5 arcsec level. The calorimeter team has manufactured the first sets of flight-sized «inner» arrays (32×32 pixel, 2 arcmin FOV) and measured 2.7 eV resolution on them. The team now is investigating several designs to populate the «outer» array which will bring the FOV up to 5×5 arcmin.

See Recent Technology Milestones »


X-ray astronomy 2009: Present status, multi-wavelength approach and future perspectives, September 7–11, 2009, Bologna, Italy

Nicholas E. White´s talk about IXO is available for download – [.pdf], [.ppt], [movie]

Meeting page »


AIAA SPACE 2009 Conference & Exposition, 14—17 September, 2009, Pasadena, CA

Ann Hornschemeier´s talk about IXO is available for download [.pdf], [.ppt], [movie]


We´ve added the IXO Quick Reference Guide to our web site

Read more »


The full list of all IXO Astro2010 Decadal RFI#1 submissions is available for download

Read more »


Presentations for the IXO Science Team Meeting held on July 3rd, 2009, in Otaru, Japan available for download

Read more »


The original written IXO response to the Astro2010´s four questions for IXO is available

Download PDF »


The IXO team gave a requested presentation to the Astro2010 Program Prioritization Panel

Download PDF »


IXO Science Team Meeting, July 3, 2009

We will have our next big science team meeting on July 3, 2009 in Otaru, Japan, hosted by our JAXA colleagues.

Read more »


214th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS)

Sunday, 7 June 2009–Thursday, 11 June 2009, Pasadena, CA. The IXO Team is giving a requested presentation to the Astro2010 Program Prioritization Panel.

Download PDF »


Astro2010 March meeting agenda is available for download

Download the agenda »


2009 APS April Meeting, Denver, Colorado

Joel Bregman´s science talk is available for download.

Download PDF »


Check out our Recent Technology Milestones page for the HXI and HTRS updates

Read more »


The IXO Team has submitted a Request For Information document to the Astro2010 Decadal Survey Committee

Download PDF »


View the IXO poster from the Irvine IMBH meeting

Download the poster »

More news »

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