LOFT, the Large Observatory For X-ray Timing

Left panel: Sketch of the LOFT satellite. The 6 deployable panels of the LAD, the WFM and the solar array are indicated. Right panel: effective area of the LOFT/LAD as a function of energy

E. Bozzo, J. W. den Herder, M. Feroci, L. Stella, on the behalf of the LOFT consortium

The Large Observatory For X-ray Timing, LOFT, was selected by the European Space Agency as one of the four Cosmic Vision M3 candidate missions to compete for a launch opportunity at the start of the 2020s.
Thanks to an innovative design and the development of large-area monolithic silicon drift detectors, the Large Area Detector (LAD) on board LOFT will operate in the 2-30 keV range (up to 50 keV in expanded mode), and achieve an effective area of ~10 m2 at 8 keV, a time resolution of ~10 μs, and a spectral resolution of ~260 eV (FWHM at 6 keV). These characteristics make LOFT a perfectly suited instrument to perform high-time-resolution X-ray observations of collapsed objects in our galaxy and brightest supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei.
LOFT will yield unprecedented information on strongly curved spacetimes and matter under extreme conditions of pressure and magnetic field strength, thus addressing two of the fundamental questions of the Cosmic Vision Theme “Matter under extreme conditions”: 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?
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