Whole Object Name
XMM-Newton 1:4 Scale Model
Satellites and Spacecraft
XMM-Newton is an X-ray space observatory launched by ESA in 1999. This model is quarter scale, the real telescope is over ten metres long with solar panels spanning 16 metres. XMM stands for X-ray Multi Mirror which refers to XMM’s three advanced X-ray telescopes, each containing 58 mirrors. The mirrors are extremely thin, about a quarter of the width of a human hair. Their cylindrical shape allows them to fit concentrically inside each other. This creates a total surface area of nearly the size of a tennis court, to capture incoming X-rays.
Studying the X-rays allows astronomers to look back in time at hot objects created when the universe was young. This must be done from space, as X-rays are blocked by the Earth’s atmosphere. XMM Newton is trying to find out many different things; from what happens around and inside black holes, to how galaxies were formed in the early universe.
One of XMM-Newton’s important breakthroughs was measuring for the first time the influence of the gravitational field of a neutron star on the light it emits. This helped astronomers to better understand the composition of these dense remains of exploded stars.