[Other -- Oral ]

The International X-ray Observatory

Randall Smith, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
for the IXO team

The International X-ray Observatory (IXO), a joint ESA-JAXA-NASA effort, will address fundamental and timely questions in astrophysics: What happens close to a black hole? How did supermassive black holes grow? How does large scale structure form? What is the connection between these processes? To address these questions IXO will trace orbits close to the event horizon of black holes, measure black hole spin for several hundred active galactic nuclei (AGN), use spectroscopy to characterize outflows and the environment of AGN during their peak activity, search for super-massive black holes out to redshift z = 10, map bulk motions and turbulence in galaxy clusters, find the missing baryons in the cosmic web using background quasars, and observe the process of cosmic feedback where black holes inject energy on galactic and intergalactic scales. IXO will employ optics with 3 sq m collecting area and 5 arc sec angular resolution - 20 times more collecting area at 1 keV than any previous X-ray observatory. Focal plane instruments will deliver a 100-fold increase in effective area for high-resolution spectroscopy, deep spectral imaging over a wide field of view, deep polarimetric sensitivity, microsecond spectroscopic timing, and high count rate capability. The mission is being planned for launch in 2021 to an L2 orbit, with a five-year lifetime and consumables for 10 years. Previous experience assures us that unexpected discoveries will abound a key feature of great observatories.