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News

23 July 2013
Release of the XMM-Newton 3XMM-DR4 X-ray source catalogue. 3XMM-DR4 contains 50% more detections than its predecessor, 2XMMi-DR3
30 June 2013
End of an era: Leicester has led the SSC Consortium since its inception in 1995. This week marks the end of Leicester's active role in the XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre (SSC) as its funding for participation comes to an end. This is, in effect, the last phase of the "managed withdrawal" announced by the UK funding agency (then STFC) for many projects in late 2009. The SSC Consortium will nevertheless continue to exist, and contribute to the XMM-Newton project, particularly in creating new XMM catalogues in the coming years. The focus of continuing SSC activities will pass to the French and German groups within the SSC, with Natalie Webb (IRAP, Toulouse) taking over as SSC Project Manager from Simon Rosen.
1 March 2012
Routine pipeline processing of XMM-Newton science data, an SSC responsibility since launch, has now been fully transferred to the Science Operations Centre (SOC) at ESAC. This is this first step in a change of responsibilities necessitated by the ramp-down of the UK funding available for the SSC Leicester team. The SSC team developed the pipeline processing system and operated it on behalf of ESA for almost 12 years. The SSC will continue to operate the pipeline into 2013 to carry out a complete re-processing of all of the XMM-Newton data from which the 3XMM serendipitous source catalogue will be produced.
28 April 2010
Incremental catalogue, 2XMMi-DR3, released, containing 353,000 detections, an expansion of 22% on 2XMMi.
6 January 2009
The 2XMM catalogue paper is published in Astronomy & Astrophysics: "The XMM-Newton serendipitous survey. V. The second XMM-Newton serendipitous source catalogue", M. G. Watson et al., A&A 493, p. 339

SSC overview

Launched in 1999, the XMM-Newton satellite is the major European X-ray observatory-class telescope, carrying also a co-aligned UV/optical monitor telescope, that is operated by the European Space Agency (ESA). The XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre (SSC) has responsibilities within the XMM-Newton project in four main areas:

  • The compilation of the XMM-Newton Serendipitous Source Catalogue.
  • The follow-up/identification programme for the XMM-Newton serendipitous X-ray sky survey: the XID Programme
  • The pipeline processing of all XMM-Newton observations.
  • The development of science analysis software for XMM-Newton.

In the last 2 tasks the SSC is working closely with the ESA team at the XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre (SOC) based at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) in Spain. As part of a planned evolution of responsibilities, the pipeline processing system was migrated to the SOC at ESAC in 2011/2012 and ESAC have operated the pipeline for routine processing of XMM-Newton observations since 1 March 2012.

The SSC represents a consortium of 10 institutes in the ESA community, led by Prof Mike Watson at the University of Leicester and based within the X-ray and Observational Astronomy group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. A full description of the role of the SSC is given in Watson et al. 2001.