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January 9, 2012. Most HEASARC web services are unavailable but the HEASARC archive is up.

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The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer Mission

Daisy, dai-sy, give me your answer, do ... The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) is a satellite that observes the fast-moving, high-energy worlds of black holes, neutron stars, X-ray pulsars and bursts of X-rays that light up the sky and then disappear forever.

How fast and how energetic are they? Well, some pulsars spin faster than a thousand times a second. And a neutron star produces a gravitational pull so powerful that a marshmallow striking the star's surface would hit with the force of a thousand hydrogen bombs. Astronomers study changes that happen from microseconds to months in cosmic objects to learn about how gravity works near black holes, how pulsars in binary systems are affected by mass transferring from one star to the other, and how the giant engines in distant galaxies are powered. RXTE was launched into low-Earth orbit on December 30, 1995, and is still going strong, making unique contributions to our understanding of these extreme objects.

For RXTE, the trick to observing these kinds of objects is all in the timing -- an ability to observe changes in X-ray brightness that occur in a mere thousandths of a second, or over several years. Learn more about how this one-of-a-kind satellite has reshaped our understanding of what goes on in the most violent and bizarre regions of the Universe.

Enter here for images, videos and tales from the world of extremes.

Latest News
  • The RXTE Mission is Approaching the End of Science Operations (3 January 2012)
    After nearly 16 years of discovery, the RXTE mission is approaching the end of science operations. The spacecraft will be decommissioned during the week beginning Monday, January 2, 2012, and science observations will conclude at the end of the day on January 3, 2012 (UT). The last observations will be of Sco X-1.
  • RXTE Detects "Heartbeat" of Smallest Black Hole Candidate (21 December 2011)
    May be less than three solar masses.
  • Interruption to RXTE Planned Observation Schedule (14 December 2011)
    Gyro anomaly disrupted planned observations on Dec. 1-2
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    RXTE-related Astronomical Notices
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