HEA: Missions: Gen-X: Science

Early Universe

The first black holes, stars and galaxies

  • X-rays penetrate the haze of the high redshift IGM and gas and dust around objects
  • Provide a channel to redshifts z > 6 and the epoch of reionization
The first epoch of energy injection is known to be at redshift z ~ 10-20 from WMAP, during which time fast burning massive stars yield SN and the first black holes. These must grow at the Eddington limit to reach the observed quasar masses. Detecting the first black holes (1000 solar masses) at z=15 requires a flux sensitivity of 3x10-20 erg/cm2/s. This is a key driver for the 50 m2 and 0.1" angular resolution requirement for Gen-X.


Evolution of black holes, galaxies and the production of the elements versus cosmic time

  • X-ray observations trace baryon abundances and dark matter since much baryonic matter is in the form of hot gas (elliptical halos, clusters)
  • Merger history gives insight into structure formation and evolution
  • Gen-X will enable study of high-redshift galaxy evolution

Extreme Physics

Probe the behaviour of matter in extreme environments

  • Density: Neutron Star (NS), Quark and Hyperon Condensates
    • Gen-X will give accurate gravitational redshifts and temperatures of isolated or quiescent NS surfaces, determine the mass/radius relation, strongly constraining the equation of state, and probe forms of ultra-dense matter.
  • Gravity: At the BH Event Horizon
    • Gen-X will study rapid change of the Doppler and gravitational distortions in X-ray line profiles on a dynamical crossing time, 30 times faster than IXO, determining masses and spins for SMBHs as a function of z.
  • Magnetic Field
    • X-ray radiation from the surface of magnetars carries spectral signatures of Quantum Electro-Dynamics.
    • Regions between light cylinder and termination shock where pulsar winds change from Poynting flux to particle dominated
  • Kinetic Energy: Relativistic Jets in AGN and micro-quasars
    • Gen-X images of jets will measure knot speeds and probe energy conversion through resolving the energy loss scale.
    • Spectroscopy and wider field imaging will help to unravel how relativistic jets are launched.

Section Photo