XMM-Newton-NEWS  #84,    14-Nov-2008

XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre at
ESA's European Space Astronomy Centre,
P.O. Box - Apdo. 78, 28691 Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain

SOC Home Page: https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/xmm-newton/
Helpdesk web interface: https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/xmm-newton/xmm-newton-helpdesk
Helpdesk email address: xmmhelp@sciops.esa.int
News Mailing List: https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/xmm-newton/newsletter


XMM-Newton back to science operations

After XMM-Newton loss of contact on October 18 and recovery on October 22 (see Newsletter#83), XMM-Newton successfully resumed scientific operations on November 2. In the days before the re-start of observations, EPIC calibration exposures were taken. Analysis of both calibration and astronomical exposures confirms that there has been no impact on the instruments' performances, all of them performing as well as before October 18.

Patch to SAS (version 8.0.1) and two experimental tasks released

A general patch to SAS 8.0.0 has been released on October 24, 2008. The two main reasons for patching SAS 8.0.0 now are problems related to bugs found in the new task epiclccorr, and a shortcoming of rgscombine. As in former occasions, the opportunity was taken to also release several minor fixes. They are all described in the SAS web pages at:


In addition, two new tasks have been released on November 13, 2008, which can be added to the SAS suite. Both have experimental character and have not been yet fully validated. The two new tasks are:

Further information on these tasks is given at:


User Guide to the XMM-Newton SAS: update

XMM-Newton SOC has updated the User Guide to the XMM-Newton Science Analysis System for SAS version 8.0. The guide is available in different formats (postscript, pdf and html) from the XMM-Newton Proposers Documents & Manuals Web page (Section: Data Analysis) at:


SAS 8.0 validation report

The outcome of the SAS 8.0 scientific validation, a quality control campaign in order to confirm reliability of the software release, has been summarized in a report now available at:


Release of new versions of the instrument calibration status documents for RGS, OM and EPIC

New versions of the instrument calibration status documents for RGS, OM and EPIC have been released.

These documents reflect the improvements in the instruments calibration and include updates such as:

The documents are available from the XMM-Newton Calibration Portal at


New XMM-Newton Optical Monitor effective area and response matrices files

A new effective area file for the Optical Monitor has been released. It includes a better approach for the fudge factor, probably due to molecular contamination, in the UV filters. The new effective area is particularly important for analysis of cool sources in the UV.

The effective area file, the corresponding response matrices for use in XSPECv11, as well as a concise description and guidelines for use, can be obtained from:


These response files will allow users to make a combined spectral fitting of XMM-Newton Optical Monitor and X-ray data using packages such as XSPEC.

New XMM-Newton 'blank sky' background events files

The EPIC Background Working Group announces the release of a major reworking of the blank sky project, such that the entire XMM-Newton EPIC database is being background-processed with the most up-to-date software in a self-consistent manner. Users within the community will then be able to request blank sky files specifically catered for, and precisely tuned to their own particular needs. Users may request for example files from a sky region centred on their own target position, from a period in the mission centred around the date of their own observation, and from observations of similar duration. Files such as these have proved extremely useful in the analysis of diffuse or extended sources which cover a large area of the detector field of view, thus preventing the usage of any 'local' background.

The relevant web page can be found at:


Meeting announcement: IXO Science Meeting

There will be an IXO science meeting on January 28 - 29, 2009 in Cambridge, MA at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in which participation by members of the scientific community is welcomed.
The meeting will focus on preparing for the upcoming U.S. Decadal Survey, and will feature presentations by the Science Definition Team, the Instrument Working Group, the Telescope Working Group, and the ESA, JAXA and NASA projects. There will be updates on the mission configuration from both the recent ESA Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) effort as well as the latest developments in the NASA Mission Studies. The overall science goals of the IXO mission will be discussed and the status of preparing the science case for submission to the Decadal Survey presented.

Please see the mission web sites (http://ixo.gsfc.nasa.gov/ and http://sci.esa.int/ixo) which will be updated shortly with details of the meeting, or contact Mike Garcia (mgarcia@cfa.harvard.edu).

Meeting announcement: Strengthening European Cooperation in High-Energy Astrophysics -
Toward a Proposal for FP7

A call for participation on a European Framework Programme 7 (FP7) proposal on Integrated Activities for the High-Energy Astrophysics Domain (AHEAD) has been issued (see also XMM-Newton Newsletter#77). Following the request of the steering committee for this proposal, a related meeting is announced here:

Strengthening European Cooperation in High-Energy Astrophysics:
Toward a Proposal for FP7

A European FP7 proposal on Integrated Activities for
the High-Energy Astrophysics Domain (AHEAD)

09-10 February 2009, Roma, Italy

This meeting aims to present to the high-energy astrophysics community the current structure of activities of AHEAD. Activities submitted as a response to the call for participation and deemed by the steering committee potentially most interesting for inclusion in the future AHEAD proposal will also be presented. This meeting will be open to the community to increase the dialogue between all interested parties. Therefore, members of the high-energy astrophysics community are encouraged to register and participate.

More information is available at:


Deadline for registration is 31 December 2008.

Yours sincerely,
XMM-Newton SOC