The Survey Science Centre of the XMM-Newton satellite

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ESA has entrusted a Consortium, the Survey Science Centre (SSC), with the responsibility for the development of the analysis software for almost all the instruments on board the XMM-Newton satellite, the execution of the automatic data processing chain (now carried out by ESAC), the extraction, the analysis, the identification and the publication of all the X-ray sources discovered in the fields of view of the EPIC cameras by XMM-Newton.

The function of this consortium is to maximize the scientific return of the mission by providing observers and archives with calibrated products and validated catalogs of sources.

Strasbourg contrinute to the SSC since its creation in 1996, together with other institutes: the University of Leicester, the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, the Institute of Astronomy of Cambridge, the MPE of Garching, the AIP of Potsdam, the CEA-Saclay, the IRAP, the University of Cantabria and the Observatory of Brera. Our SSC team is composed of 5 persons. To this group is added a participation of the CDS corresponding globally to approximately half a person.

The main SSC tasks are :

  • to participate in the definition, the writing and the evolution of the XMM data analysis software. This scientific analysis software (SAS) is used interactively by the astronomers or in the form of chained tasks.
  • systematically analyze all guest observer observations. Until 2012, the SSC performed the automatic analysis of all data and delivers science value-added products (cleaned images, source lists, X-ray spectra, light curves, cross-correlations with astronomical archives, etc.). This task is now performed at ESAC. This information, intended for the guest observer, is, after one year, open to the international astronomical community via the ESA archive as well as via specific SSC databases.
  • to periodically produce the catalog of X-ray sources detected in the fields of view of EPIC cameras using the latest instrumental calibrations and software versions.
  • to identify (individually or statistically) the catalogued sources and to make the observational follow-up. The identification must be elaborated from catalogs and archival images but also with the help of dedicated optical observations carried out by the SSC.