XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre

Introduction to the SSC:

The XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre (SSC) has responsibilities within the XMM-Newton project in four main areas:

  • the follow-up/identification programme for the XMM-Newton serendipitous X-ray sky survey: the XID Programme
  • the compilation of the XMM-Newton Serendipitous Source Catalogue
  • the "pipe-line processing" of all XMM-Newton observations.
  • the development of science analysis software for XMM-Newton

In the last 2 tasks the SSC is working closely with the ESA team at the XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre (SOC).


The XID Programme:

The SSC has a major responsibility towards the identification and follow-up of serendipitous X-ray sources detected in the EPIC CCD cameras, i.e. the XMM-Newton serendipitous sky survey. This is being  pursued via the SSC XID programme. The XID programme aims to ensure that the full potential of the XMM-Newton serendipitous source survey is achieved for benefit of scientific community.

The programme is exclusively based on public XMM data, or on XMM data for which the observer has granted the SSC rights to utilise serendipitous content of data.

All the results from the programme will be publicly accessible through the XMM science archive at the SOC.

The main programme components are:

  • CORE PROGRAMME: optical imaging and spectroscopy of well-defined samples from selected XMM-Newton fields, in order to characterise their X-ray source population. Analysis of these samples will be used to establish statistical identification criteria to characterise the complete XID database.
The core programme aims to provide large enough samples to characterise XMM source population with sample size sufficient to get 10 objects per sample even for minority objects present at the 1% level.

The core programme (at high galactic latitudes) will be based on sample of 1000 objects in each of 3 broad flux ranges:

      FAINT      (> 10-15 erg cm -2 s - 1 )
      MEDIUM (> 10-14 erg cm -2 s - 1 )
      BRIGHT    (> 10-13 erg cm -2 s - 1 )

There is a comparable programme at low galactic latitudes - but based on studies of selected regions. The current emphasis of the XID programme is on the MEDIUM FLUX range sample.
  • IMAGING PROGRAMME: more extensive optical imaging programme based on a large fraction of all XMM-Newton fields, providing the optical magnitudes and colours which are essential parameters for statistical identification.


Pipeline Processing Overview:

  • For each XMM-Newton observation , the ESA Science Operations Centre (SOC) at Vilspa produces an 'ODF ' which contains the science telemetry and housekeeping for each instrument and a range of auxilliary information, including the attitude and orbit data (supplied by ESOC). In normal operations ODF creation takes place on a timescale of 10-14 days.
  • The SSC processes all ODFs through an automatic analysis pipeline on behalf of ESA. The products of this process are returned to the SOC for distribution together with the original ODF. The pipeline products include calibrated event lists for the EPIC and RGS cameras and calibrated OM images as well as a number of high-level derived data products such as EPIC images and source lists & extracted RGS spectra.
  • After extensive testing over the period mid-October to December 2000, XMM-Newton pipeline processing started in December 2000 with the `SV Datasets'. The first pipeline products were delivered to the SOC in December 2000, with first public release by ESA on Dec. 27th 2000.
  • ESA commenced distribution of CDs containing the ODF and SSC pipeline products to observation PIs on 16/2/2001.


This information is provided courtesy of the XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre and consists of excerpts taken from their webpages. To view this information in full, please go to http://xmmssc-www.star.le.ac.uk/.

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