The LOFT mission: new perspectives in the research field of (accreting) compact objects
1 ISDC, department of Astronomy, University of Geneva, Chemin d’Ecogia 16, CH-1290 Versoix, Switzerland
2 INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, Via Frascati 33, I-00044 Roma, Italy
3 Astronomical Institute Anton Pannekoek, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, 1090GE Amsterdam, The Netherlands
4 Université de Toulouse, UPS-OMP, IRAP, Toulouse, France & CNRS, Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie, 9 Av. colonel Roche, BP 44346 F-31028 Toulouse cedex 4, France
5 Dr. Karl-Remeis-Sternwarte and ECAP, Stemwartstr. 7, 96049 Bamberg, Germany
6 SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Sorbonnelaan 2, 3584 CA Utrecht, Netherlands
7 INAF-IASF, Via del Fosso del Cavaliere 100, I-00133 Roma, Italy
Published online: 8 January 2014
LOFT, the Large Observatory For X-ray Timing, is one of five ESA M3 candidate missions. It will address the Cosmic Vision theme: “Matter under Extreme Conditions”. By coupling for the first time a huge collecting area for the detection of X-ray photons with CCD-quality spectral resolution (15 times bigger in area than any previously flown X-ray instrument and >100 times bigger for spectroscopy than any similar-resolution instrument), the instruments onboard LOFT have been designed to (i) determine the properties of ultradense matter by reconstructing its Equation of State through neutron star mass and radius measurements of unprecedented accuracy; (ii) measure General Relativity effects in the strong field regime in the stationary spacetimes of neutron stars and black holes of all masses down to a few gravitational radii. Besides the above two themes, LOFT’s observations will be devoted to “observatory science”, providing new insights in a number of research fields in high energy astrophysics (e.g. Gamma-ray Bursts). The assessment study phase of LOFT, which ended in September 2013, demonstrated that the mission is low risk and the required Technology Readiness Level can be easily reached in time for a launch by the end of 2022.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2014
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