PHEMTO : Polarimetric High Energy Modular Telescope Observatory: White Paper submitted to ESA Voyage 2050 Call

P. Laurent, F. Acero, V. Beckmann, S. Brandt, F. Cangemi, M. Civitani, M. Clavel, A. Coleiro, R. Curado, P. Ferrando, C. Ferrigno, F. Frontera, F. Gastaldello, D. Götz, C. Gouiffès, V. Grinberg, L. Hanlon, D. Hartmann, P. Maggi, F. MarinA. Meuris, T. Okajima, G. Pareschi, G. W. Pratt, N. Rea, J. Rodriguez, M. Rossetti, D. Spiga, E. Virgilli, S. Zane

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Abstract

With the opening of the X and gamma--ray windows in the sixties, thanks to to sounding rockets and satellite-borne instruments, extremely energetic and violent phenomena were discovered and subsequently found to be ubiquitous in the Universe. Observations in the high energy domain are fundamental for understanding how matter is organized and behaves around black holes; unravelling how these extreme objects influence their environments on a very large scale; and finding the still elusive obscured massive objects in the centre of galaxies. Other major problems in contemporary astrophysics, such as the understanding of acceleration processes at shocks of all sizes (those of pulsar wind nebulae, supernova remnants, but also at larger scales those of Active Galactic Nuclei radio lobes) in relation to the origin of cosmic-rays, or the definitive characterization of the debated non-thermal X-ray energy content of clusters of galaxies, also requires observations at very high energies. An observatory type medium mission operating from around 1 keV to about 600 keV can provide direct insights into these major questions. The essential characteristics will be coverage of the full energy range by telescopes featuring a large throughput and arc-second resolution optics, coupled to a compact focal plane assembly, with excellent imaging resolution and spectroscopy. In addition, the mission will provide unique polarimetry measurements in the hard X-ray domain, an important new diagnostic tool at energies for which the non-thermal processes dominate. The Polarimetric High-Energy Modular Telescope Observatory (PHEMTO) is designed to have performance several orders of magnitude better than the present hard X-ray instruments. This gives to PHEMTO the improvements in scientific performance needed for a mission in the 2050 era.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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