LOFT (Large Observatory For x-ray Timing) is one of the four missions selected in 2011 for assessment study for the ESA M3 mission in the Cosmic Vision program, expected to be launched in 2024. The LOFT mission will carry two instruments with their prime sensitivity in the 2-30 keV range: a 10 m2 class large area detector (LAD) with a <1° collimated field of view and a wide field monitor (WFM) instrument based on the coded mask principle, providing coverage of more than 1/3 of the sky. The LAD will provide an effective area ~20 times larger than any previous mission and will by timing studies be able to address fundamental questions about strong gravity in the vicinity of black holes and the equation of state of nuclear matter in neutron stars. The prime goal of the WFM will be to detect transient sources to be observed by the LAD. However, with its wide field of view and good energy resolution of <300 eV, the WFM will be an excellent monitoring instrument to study long term variability of many classes of X-ray sources. The sensitivity of the WFM will be 2.1 mCrab in a one day observation, and 270 mCrab in 3s in observations of in the crowded field of the Galactic Center. The high duty cycle of the instrument will make it an ideal detector of fast transient phenomena, like X-ray bursters, soft gamma repeaters, terrestrial gamma flashes, and not least provide unique capabilities in the study of gamma ray bursts. A dedicated burst alert system will enable the distribution to the community of ~100 gamma ray burst positions per year with a ~1 arcmin location accuracy within 30 s of the burst. This paper provides an overview of the design, configuration, and capabilities of the LOFT WFM instrument.
Proceedings of Spie, the International Society for Optical Engineering, 2012, Vol 8443, Issue PART 2
Main Research Area:
Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2012: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray