Reflection patterns off a mirror at XMM-Newton
You are looking at the reflection patterns off one of the gold-plated spare mirrors of ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray space telescope shows a side of the mission rarely seen. Image credit: ESA/Patrick Dumas/Look at Sciences
By contrast, this image shows the journey that light particles from these objects might make on their way to the space telescope’s detectors.
In this artistic shot patterns are created by light reflected in one of the gold-plated mirrors. XMM-Newton’s three telescopes each contain 58 mirrors like this, and are among the most powerful ever developed.
The XMM-Newton X-ray space telescope is orbiting Earth since December 1999, when it was launched on board an Ariane 5 rocket. Captivating images of supernova remnants, stellar explosions and black hole environments are just some of the high-energy phenomena that go hand-in-hand with XMM-Newton.
The mirrors are only one millimetre thick and nested inside one another, rather like the layers of a leek. This construction earned the mission its name: X-ray Multi-Mirrors, while also honouring the physicist Sir Isaac Newton.
The mirrors are curved in such a way to ensure that the incoming X-rays are reflected twice and focused onto a detector in a single point.
One of the three XMM mirror modules, seen from the back.
ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray space telescope
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