Enhanced simulations on the ATHENA/WFI instrumental background

Eraerds, Tanja; Antonelli, Valeria; Davis, Chris; Hall, David; Hetherington, Oliver; Holland, Andrew; Keelan, Jonathan; Meidinger, Norbert; Miller, Eric D.; Molendi, Silvano; Perinati, Emanuele; pietschner@mpe.mpg.de, Daniel; Rau, Arne; den Herder, Jan-Willem A.; Nakazawa, Kazuhiro and Nikzad, Shouleh (2020). Enhanced simulations on the ATHENA/WFI instrumental background. In: Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2020: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray, p. 49.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2560932


The Wide Field Imager (WFI) is one of two focal plane instruments of the Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics (Athena), ESA’s next large X-ray observatory, planned for launch in the early 2030’s. The current baseline halo orbit is around L2, the first Lagrangian point of the Sun-Earth system, L1 is under consideration. For both potential halo orbits the radiation environment, solar and cosmic protons, electrons and He-ions will affect the performance of the instruments. A further critical contribution to the instrument background arises from the unfocused cosmic hard X-ray background. It is important to understand and estimate the expected instrumental background and to investigate measures, like design modifications or analysis methods, which could improve the expected background level in order to achieve the challenging scientific requirement (< 5 × 10−3 cts/cm2/keV/s at 2 - 7 keV). Previous WFI background simulations1 done in Geant4 have been improved by taking into account new information about the proton flux at L2. In addition, the simulation model of the WFI instrument and its surroundings employed in GEANT4 simulations has been refined to follow the technological development of the WFI camera.

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