Generation-X: An X-ray observatory designed to observe first light objects

Rogier Windhorst, R. A. Cameron, R. J. Brissenden, M. S. Elvis, G. Fabbiano, P. Gorenstein, P. B. Reid, D. A. Schwartz, M. W. Bautz, E. Figueroa-Feliciano, R. Petre, N. E. White, W. W. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The new cosmological frontier will be the study of the very first stars, galaxies and black holes in the early Universe. These objects are invisible to the current generation of X-ray telescopes, such as Chandra. In response, the Generation-X ("Gen-X") Vision Mission has been proposed as a future X-ray observatory which will be capable of detecting the earliest objects. X-ray imaging and spectroscopy of such faint objects demands a large collecting area and high angular resolution. The Gen-X mission plans 100 m2 collecting area at 1 keV (1000× that of Chandra), and with an angular resolution of 0.1″. The Gen-X mission will operate at Sun-Earth L2, and might involve four 8 m diameter telescopes or even a single 20 m diameter telescope. To achieve the required effective area with reasonable mass, very lightweight grazing incidence X-ray optics must be developed, having an areal density 100× lower than in Chandra, with mirrors as thin as 0.1 mm requiring active on-orbit figure control. The suite of available detectors for Gen-X should include a large-area high resolution imager, a cryogenic imaging spectrometer, and a grating spectrometer. We discuss use of Gen-X to observe the birth of the first black holes, stars and galaxies, and trace their cosmic evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-126
Number of pages6
JournalNew Astronomy Reviews
Issue number1-3 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Active optics
  • Gen-X
  • Lightweight optics
  • Vision Mission
  • X-ray astronomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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