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XMM Survey Science Centre
at Cambridge

[ XID Imaging Program page ] [ Cambridge XIDOPS page ] [ XID Tools page ] [ Cambridge AXIS page ]
[ New Cambridge XMMSSC PloneZone]

The XMM Survey Science Centre is an international collaboration involving a consortium of 8 institutions in the UK, France and Germany. ESA formally selected this consortium to provide the SSC in February 1996. PPARC funding of the UK element of the SSC is currently approved for a 7-year period which commenced in April 1996. XMM was succesfully launched in Dec 1999 and may have a lifetime of upto 10 years.

SSC responsibilities

  • develop science analysis software for XMM (jointly with ESA's XMM Science Operations Centre(SOC) )
  • perform a pipe-line processing of all XMM observations
  • conduct a follow-up/identification programme for the XMM serendipitous X-ray survey.
The Cambridge SSC co-investigators; Richard McMahon, Andy Fabian and Richard Ellis(now at Cal Tech).

Cambridge activities

Prior to launch the main role of the IOA team is to provide multi-colour optical catalogues from the APM in a useful form for the identification program and to work on the development of the optimum strategy for the identification program. The main scientific interests of the Cambridge team in the context of the SSC program are:
  • The origin of the X-ray background
  • Active galaxies at high redshift
  • Obscured AGN
  • Clusters of galaxies
Post launch the IOA SSC work will focus on the screening and exploitation of the XMM Serendipitous catalogue.

The XMM Serendipitous Catalogue

Observations with XMM will bring a massive advance in X-ray sensitivity combined with a large (~30arcmin.) field of view, providing unrivaled "survey" capabilities. Typical XMM observations will reach flux limits 10-15 erg cm-2 s-1 (0.1-10 keV) and contain 100-200 ``serendipitous" X-ray sources. XMM observations will thus provide an unsurpassed resource (the XMM Serendipitous Sky Survey) which, for 500-1000 observations per year covering >100 sq.deg., will grow at a rate of 50000-100000 sources per year, i.e. the annual rate will be comparable in size to the the complete ROSAT All Sky Survey, but will reach fluxes 100-1000 times fainter. XMM has useful sensitivity up to 15 keV, almost a decade higher than the 2 keV limit of ROSAT, and significantly higher also than the Chandra (AXAF) Observatory. XMM will therefore be much more sensitive to obscured and hard-spectrum objects (e.g. obscured AGNs) which are significantly under-represented in earlier studies and which probably dominate the X-ray background.

The XMM SSC X-ray Identification(XID) program

The aim of the SSC optical identification program is to characterise in a objective manner selected samples of source in the XMM Serendipitous catalogue. The short term goal of the program is to systematically optically identify 1,000 XMM sources in each of three flux ranges. The long term aim of the program is to use the results of this study to unlock the potential of the much larger XMM Serendipitous Catalogue of 500,000 to 1,000,000 X-ray sources.

Maintained by Richard G. McMahon <>
Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 OHA
Tel: +44-(0)-1223-337519/337548
FAX: +44-(0)-1223-337523
Last modified: Sat Jun 25 14:43:13 2005