The Astronomical Roentgen Telescope – X-ray Concentrator (ART-XC) is one of two instruments aboard the Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma (SRG; aka Spektr-RG) high-energy astrophysics observatory. SRG is a joint Russian - German mission launched from the Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Cosmodrome 13 July 2019. The ART-XC instrument is an array of seven nearly identical, co-aligned, X-ray grazing incidence mirror telescopes developed by the Russian Space Research Institute (IKI) and the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Experimental Physics (VNIIEF). NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) designed, fabricated, and calibrated the X-ray mirrors. ART-XC is providing the first-ever high spatial resolution survey of the sky in the 4-30 keV hard X-ray energy range.
ART-XC is in a halo orbit about the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange point. As the Earth orbits around the Sun, ART-XC completes an all-sky survey of the hard X-ray universe every 6 months. It has completed about 4 such all-sky surveys. The completion of the first survey was commemorated with the release of the image of the 4 - 12 keV X-ray sky shown in the above banner. The sky in this image is oriented such that the plane of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, runs horizontally through the center of the map. Note the abundance of sources in the Milky Way as well as many more beyond our Galaxy. ART-XC has already detected nearly 600 objects. The bright areas in the upper left and lower right of the image are the ecliptic poles which are more highly exposed because ART-XC's survey motion (right) rotates the telescopes about an axis nearly along the Sun-Earth line.
The all-sky survey has been suspended for the time being. However, the North Ecliptic Pole (NEP) region has had additional exposures taken in a scanning mode that built up exposure to the depth intended from the full 4-year all-sky survey. The ART-XC NEP region reveals hard X-ray sources from nearby catalysmic variables to distant supermassive black holes providing a unique census of these and other exotic populations.
Since launch, the ART-XC team at Marshall Space Flight Center has been developing various software tools to process the raw X-ray data to aid ART-XC end users in performing ART-XC science including cleaned event lists, exposure maps, and background images. In addition, our software suite include modules for simulating ART-XC performance and a complete calibration database and related documentation. These will be made available as they are developed.