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XMM-Newton-NEWS  #59,    24-Jul-2006

XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre at
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  • Pre-release of 2XMM Serendipitous Source Catalogue
  • XMM-Newton Users' Handbook update for AO-6
  • 6th ESAC SAS Workshop

Pre-release of 2XMM Serendipitous Source Catalogue

We are pleased to announce the pre-release of the second XMM-Newton Serendipitous Source Catalogue: 2XMMp.

2XMMp is the pre-release of the second comprehensive catalogue of serendipitous X-ray sources from the European Space Agency's (ESA) XMM-Newton observatory. The catalogue has been constructed by the XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre (SSC) on behalf of ESA.

The catalogue contains 153105 X-ray source detections (above the processing likelihood threshold of 6) which relate to 123170 unique X-ray sources, making it the largest catalogue of astronomical X-ray sources ever produced.

The catalogue contains source detections drawn from 2400 XMM-Newton EPIC observations made between 2000 February 4 and 2006 April 20; all the datasets used were publicly available by 2006 May 31, though not all public observations are included in this catalogue. The median flux (in the total photon energy band 0.2 - 12 keV) of the catalogue sources is ~2.4E-14 erg cm-2 s-1; ~20% have fluxes below 1.0E-14 erg cm-2 s-1. A significant number of sources, namely 46796, have more than one detection in the catalogue. The positional accuracy of the catalogue detections is generally <2 arcsec (68% confidence radius). The flux values from the three EPIC cameras are overall in agreement to ~2% for on-axis sources, and ~6% off-axis.

The total area of the catalogue fields is ~400 deg2, but taking account of the substantial overlaps between observations, the net sky area covered independently is ~285 deg2.

The 2XMMp catalogue is essentially a subset of the full 2XMM catalogue due to be released later this year. It differs from the final catalogue mainly by the exclusion of the fraction of observations (about 17%) which, upon initial visual screening, exhibit deficiencies in the automatic processing which will require full visual screening to properly flag affected source detections. In this way the overall quality of the 2XMMp catalogue is maintained at the expense of excluding these problematic observations. These observations will, of course, be included in the full 2XMM catalogue once the detailed (and time-consuming) visual screening is completed.

The processing to generate the catalogue is largely based on the pipeline developed for the re-processing of all observations to date and includes a number of significant improvements over the previous data processing system (as used by the SSC in routine processing of XMM-Newton data on behalf of ESA). These improvements include a more sensitive source detection scheme using exposures of all cameras, the detection and parameterization of extended sources and the extraction of spectra and time series for the brightest sources.

In association with the catalogue itself, various data products will also be available (including images, exposure maps, source spectra and time-series).

The catalogue file itself is currently available, in binary FITS and ASCII CSV formats, from:
The catalogue and selected data products will shortly (early to mid August 2006) be available in several other forms and from several servers:
XSA and LEDAS provide a Web-based user interface allowing filtering and searching of the catalogue, and links to associated data products.

XMM-Newton Users' Handbook update for AO-6

The XMM-Newton Users' Handbook (UHB) has been updated to version 2.4 in preparation for the next Announcement of Opportunity (AO-6) and reflecting latest in-flight experience.

The AO-6 will open on the 28th of August 2006 with a due date for proposals on the 6th of October 2006 (12:00 UT) (for further details, see XMM-NEWTON NEWS #54).

The UHB contains information on the instrumentation on board XMM-Newton and serves as the main technical support document for proposal preparation, based on which potential XMM-Newton users can assess the technical feasibility of their planned observations.

The XMM-Newton Users' Handbook is available on-line at:

Alternatively, postscript and PDF versions of the UHB can be downloaded from the "XMM-Newton Proposer's Info and Manuals" portal at:

6th ESAC SAS Workshop

Presentations given at the 6th Science Analysis System (SAS) Workshop, which was held at ESAC from the 30th of May to 2st of June 2006 (cf. XMM-Newton NEWS #54) have been made available on-line at:

Yours sincerely,
XMM-Newton SOC

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