|Launch date||2022 (if selected)|
|Large Area Detector (LAD)||Energy range: 2 - 30 keV|
|Wide Field Monitor (WFM)||Energy range: 2 - 50 keV|
The Large Observatory for X-ray Timing (LOFT) is a proposed ESA space mission slated to launch around 2022, and devoted to the study of neutron stars, black holes and other compact objects by means of their very rapid X-ray variability. The mission was submitted to the ESA Cosmic Vision M3 call for proposals, and was selected, together with other three missions, for an initial Assessment Phase.
LOFT is supported by a large international collaboration, led by researchers spread over most of the European countries, including Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, United Kingdom, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, and with contributions from Brazil, Canada, Israel, United States and Turkey. SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research acts as principal investigator.
The Large Observatory for X-ray Timing mission comprises two instruments.
- Large Area Detector (LAD), a 10 m2 collimated X-ray detector
- Wide Field Monitor (WFM), a coded-mask wide field X-ray monitor
The Large Area Detector (LAD) achieves an effective area of ~10 m2 (more than an order of magnitude larger than current spaceborne X-ray detectors, e.g. RXTE) in the 2-50 keV range, yet still fitting a conventional platform and small/medium-class launcher, thanks to the monolithic design of its large area Silicon Drift Detectors (SDD).
The Wide Field Monitor (WFM) is a coded mask X-ray monitor with a large field of view (observing about 50% of the sky available to the LAD at any time), and is also based on the Silicon Drift Detector technology. Its operating energy range is the same of the LAD, i.e. 2-50 keV.
The main scientific objectives of LOFT are:
- the determination of the neutron star structure and its equation of state
- the study of the physics in strong gravitational fields, e.g. in the accretion disks around black holes
- the direct measurements of black hole mass and spin
Besides these topics, LOFT will in general study the X-ray spectra and variability for a wide range of astrophysical sources, e.g. magnetars, active galactic nuclei, cataclysmic variables, X-ray transients and gamma-ray bursts.
The unique capabilities of LOFT, make this instruments certainly able to provide new breakthroughs in a wide range of Astrophysical research areas.
- Four candidates selected for the next medium-class mission in ESA's Cosmic Vision
- Official website
- LOFT Supporters Newsletter