Wide field monitoring is of particular interest in X-ray astronomy due to the strong time-variability of most X-ray sources. Not only does the time-profiles of the persistent sources contain characteristic signatures of the underlying physical systems, but, additionally, some of the most intriguing sources have long periods of quiesense in which they are almost undetectable as X-ray sources, interspersed with relatively brief periods of intense outbursts, where we have unique opportunities of studying dynamical effects, in, for instance, the evolution of accretion discs. Another question for which wide field monitors may provide key information, is the origin and nature of the cosmic gamma ray bursts.Rotation Modulation Collimators (RMC's) were originally introduced in X-ray astronomy to provide accurate source localizations over extended fields. This role has since been taken over by the grazing incidence telescope systems. The potential of the RMC's as wide field monitors have recently been demonstrated by the WATCH instruments on GRANAT and EURECA. It now appears likely, that for use on large, 3-axis stabilized spacecraft, a pinhole camera system may provide better sensitivity than an RMC-system of corresponding physical dimensions. But due to its simplicity, low data rate, and ability to work on spin stabilized (micro)satellites, the RMC wide field monitor may still have a role to play in the X-ray astronomy of the future.
Experimental Astronomy, 1995, Vol 6, Issue 4, p. 19-24