Microcombs for X-ray telescopes

Microcombs for X-ray telescopes

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This image is part of the feature Small Is Beautiful

Credit: VOLKER STEGER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Microcombs. Researcher holding several microcombs designed to hold the foil "mirrors" in orbiting X- ray telescopes. These tiny, lightweight devices must be accurate on the nanometre scale to give the desired image quality. X-ray telescopes, such as the XMM-Newton, do not use lenses or conventio- nal mirrors. Instead they use arrays of concentric tubular mirrors that taper slightly towards the detector, focusing X-rays on it by grazing- incidence reflection. The quality of the resulting image depends on the precision of the mounting of the mirrors. It is hoped that these microcombs will allow much greater resolution to be achieved. Photographed at MIT, USA, in 2002.

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