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Gas at different temperatures emit packets of light (photons) at different energies. Gas between 1-100 million degrees emit highly energetic photons, which we call X-ray photons, as shown on the thermometer to the right. The cameras on board XMM-Newton are designed specifically to detect these highly energetic photons, coming from the very hottest places in our Universe. (Thermometer courtesy of the Chandra homepage)

5 Years of XMM-Newton... in pictures and movies

The development of XMM-Newton... in pictures and movies

What does XMM-Newton look like? - View the 3D model

3D model courtesy of the European Space Agency

Latest News from XMM-EPIC

Secrets of the X-ray sky revealed - between observations!

(4th of April, 2006)

An innovative new approach analyses X-rays detected during the times that the XMM-Newton observatory manoeuvres between targets - originally considered to be unusable periods - to reveal some 4,000 intensely brilliant X-ray stars and galaxies.

An initial study has identified these with a host of highly energetic celestial phenomena. These include close binary stars, where matter is being pulled away from one star to explode onto the surface of the companion; and distant quasars, super-luminous galaxies up to 10 billion light years from Earth, which are being slowly consumed by a voracious central black hole.

Since its launch in December 1999, XMM-Newton has observed thousands of objects, gazing at a particular X-ray source for hours, before turning or 'slewing' away at a great speed to observe its next target. Since September 2001, the XMM-Newton 'shutter' has been open during these slews, and this has yielded hundreds of extremely long snapshot strips of the X-ray sky.

Though the slews are so quick that XMM-Newton passes over each point in the sky in only 10 seconds (compared to a normal .pointed. observation of a few hours), this 10 second exposure is enough time for XMM-Newton to detect thousands of sources in the sky.

"The area of the sky that is covered is enormous," said Andy Read. "Over a quarter of the entire sky has already been covered in the 400 or so slews so far performed, and many more slews are continually taking place. The entire sky will be covered - even at the present extremely slow rate - over the lifetime of the XMM-Newton mission."

"A wonderful variety of X-ray sources has been seen in the Slew Survey, including black holes, quasars, active galaxies and stars - many of which have been observed for the first time."

"Multiple slews that are criss-crossing large areas of the sky are now giving us new, large-scale views of the biggest X-ray objects in the sky," said Dr Andy Read.

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