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) developed, 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 completed the 3rd of a planned 8 all-sky surveys on 12 June 2021. 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 will be repeated 5 more times over the next 2.5 years, building up exposure to detect ever-fainter sources and allowing scientists to monitor changes in the X-ray sky. ART-XC will find thousands of hard X-ray sources from nearby catalysmic variables to distant supermassive black holes by the end of its mission 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. 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.