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Journal Article

Performance of the X-Calibur Hard X-Ray Polarimetry Mission during its 2018/19 Long-Duration Balloon Flight


Beheshtipour,  Banafsheh
Searching for Continuous Gravitational Waves, AEI-Hannover, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Abarr, Q., Beheshtipour, B., Beilicke, M., Bose, R., Braun, D., de Geronimo, G., et al. (2022). Performance of the X-Calibur Hard X-Ray Polarimetry Mission during its 2018/19 Long-Duration Balloon Flight. Astroparticle Physics, 143: 102749. doi:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2022.102749.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-EE6C-2
X-Calibur is a balloon-borne telescope that measures the polarization of
high-energy X-rays in the 15--50keV energy range. The instrument makes use of
the fact that X-rays scatter preferentially perpendicular to the polarization
direction. A beryllium scattering element surrounded by pixellated CZT
detectors is located at the focal point of the InFOC{\mu}S hard X-ray mirror.
The instrument was launched for a long-duration balloon (LDB) flight from
McMurdo (Antarctica) on December 29, 2018, and obtained the first constraints
of the hard X-ray polarization of an accretion-powered pulsar. Here, we
describe the characterization and calibration of the instrument on the ground
and its performance during the flight, as well as simulations of particle
backgrounds and a comparison to measured rates. The pointing system and
polarimeter achieved the excellent projected performance. The energy detection
threshold for the anticoincidence system was found to be higher than expected
and it exhibited unanticipated dead time. Both issues will be remedied for
future flights. Overall, the mission performance was nominal, and results will
inform the design of the follow-up mission XL-Calibur, which is scheduled to be
launched in summer 2022.