Readout Modes and Automated Operation of the Swift X-Ray Telescope

J. E. Hill, D. N. Burrows, J. A. Nousek, A. F. Abbey, R. M. Ambrosi, H. Bräuninger, W. Burkert, S. Campana, C. Cheruvu, G. Cusumano, M. J. Freyberg, G. D. Hartner, R. Klar, C. Mangels, A. Moretti, K. Mori, D. C. Morris, A. D.T. Short, G. Tagliaferri, D. J. WatsonP. Wood, A. Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

217 Scopus citations


The Swift X-ray Telescope (XRT) is designed to make astrometric, spectroscopic, and photometric observations of X-ray emission from Gamma-ray Bursts and their afterglows in the energy band 0.2-10 keV. In order to provide rapid-response, automated observations of these randomly occurring objects without ground intervention, the XRT must be able to observe objects covering some seven orders of magnitude in flux, extracting the maximum possible science from each one. This requires a variety of readout modes designed to optimise the information collected in response to shifting scientific priorities as the flux from the burst diminishes. The XRT will support four major readout modes: imaging, two timing modes and photon-counting, with several sub-modes. We describe in detail the readout modes of the XRT. We describe the flux ranges over which each mode will operate, the automated mode switching that will occur and the methods used for collection of bias information for this instrument. We also discuss the data products produced from each mode.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-231
Number of pages15
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - May 3 2004
EventX-Ray and Gamma-Ray Instrumentation for Astronomy XIII - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 3 2003Aug 5 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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