Prague Synergy 2013: Abstract

Luigi StellaThe LOFT Team40 min

Science with the Large Observatory For x-ray TIming

High-time-resolution and spectroscopic X-ray observations of compact objects provide access to strong-field gravity, the equation of state of ultra-dense matter and black hole masses and spins. A 10 m^2-class instrument in combination with good energy resolution is required to exploit diagnostics and answer two of the fundamental questions of the European Space Agency (ESA) Cosmic Vision Theme "Matter under extreme conditions", namely: does matter orbiting close to the event horizon follow the predictions of general relativity? What is the equation of state of matter in neutron stars? The Large Observatory For X-ray Timing (LOFT), one of five candidate missions for the forthcoming ESA M3 selection, will revolutionise the study of collapsed objects in our galaxy and of the brightest supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei. The Large Area Detector (LAD) on board LOFT will have an effective area of ~10 m^2 (more than an order of magnitude larger than any spaceborne predecessor) in the 2-30 keV range (up to 50 keV in expanded mode), coupled with a CCD-class spectral resolution of ~240 eV (providing a two orders of magnitude higher throughput than any previous instrument solid state instrument). The LAD will yield unprecedented information on strongly curved spacetimes and matter under extreme conditions of density and magnetic field. The Wide Field Monitor onboard LOFT, with its largest ever field of view, and good sensitivity and spectral resolution, will allow innovative spectral monitoring studies of the physics of galactic and extragalactic X-ray sources. The WFM will also monitor the sky down to weak limits and discover many new transients. In addition to it two main science goals LOFT will study hundreds of galactic and extragalactic X-ray sources of different classes addressing a variety of astrophysical problems.