XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre

XMM-Newton is Europe's X-ray space telescope, named in memory of Issac Newton.


The Earth's atmosphere absorbs cosmic X-rays, so space-based instruments are required for X-ray astronomy. XMM-Newton is dedicated to observing the extreme astronomical objects that emit X-rays. X-rays originate from where-ever gas is heated to millions of degrees, or where powerful magnetic fields exist.

To mention just a few examples, XMM-Newton observes:

  • Gas falling into black holes
  • Stars with powerful magnetic fields
  • Shock fronts surrounding supernovae explosions and comets
  • Aurora around planets
  • Compact objects, like neutron stars and white dwarfs
  • Glowing nebula left behind by dying stars

The telescope itself was launched from Kourou in French Guiana on Ariane 504 on Friday 10 December 1999. XMM-Newton is the most sensitive X-ray telescope ever built, thanks to its 58 mirrors collecting more X-rays than any other X-ray observatory to date.

The EPIC-MOS cameras on-board XMM-Newton were designed and built in the Department's Space Projects and Instrumentation group. Researchers in the X-ray and Observational Astronomy Group use XMM-Newton to observe a wide variety of astronomical sources. Part of the XMM-Newton calibration team is also based in the Department.

For further information, go to our XMM-Newton web page.














An observation of the Vela Pulsar Wind Nebula. The second image has been deconvolved to show the shock structure.

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