Cross-calibration of the X-ray instruments onboard the Chandra, INTEGRAL, RXTE, Suzaku, Swift, and XMM-Newton observatories using G21.5–0.9⋆
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Institute of Space and
Astronautical Science, 3-1-1
Yoshino-dai, Chuo-ku, Sagamihara, Kanagawa
2 European Space Agency, European Space Astronomy Centre, 28691 Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain
3 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, MS-70, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
4 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
5 INAF, Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica, via del Fosso del Cavaliere, 100 00133 Roma, Italy
6 National Aeronautics and Space Agency, Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 662, Laboratory for X-ray Astrophysics, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
Accepted: 14 September 2010
Context. For many years, X-ray astronomy missions have used the Crab nebula as a celestial calibration source for the X-ray flux and spectral shape. However, the object is often too bright for current and future missions equipped with instruments with improved sensitivity.
Aims. We use G21.5–0.9, a pulsar-wind nebula with a time-constant power-law spectrum and a flux of a few milli-Crab in the X-ray band, as a viable, fainter substitute to the Crab. Using this source, we conduct a cross-calibration study of the instruments onboard currently active observatories: Chandra ACIS, Suzaku XIS, Swift XRT, and XMM-Newton EPIC (MOS and pn) for the soft-band, and INTEGRAL IBIS-ISGRI, RXTE PCA, and Suzaku HXD-PIN for the hard band.
Methods. We extract spectra from all instruments and fit under the same astrophysical assumptions. We compare the spectral parameters of the G21.5–0.9 model: power-law photon index, H-equivalent column density of the interstellar photoelectric absorption, and flux in the soft (2–8 keV) or hard (15–50 keV) energy band.
Results. We identify systematic differences in the best-fit parameter values unattributable to statistical scatter of the data alone. We interpret these differences as due to residual cross-calibration problems. The differences can be as large as 20% and 9% for the soft-band flux and power-law index, respectively, and 46% for the hard-band flux. The results are plotted and tabulated as a useful reference for future calibration and scientific studies using multiple missions.
Key words: instrumentation: detectors / X-rays: individuals: G21.5 / 0.9
© ESO, 2010