A new measurement of the cosmic X-ray background

Research paper by A. Moretti, C. Pagani, G. Cusumano, S. Campana, M. Perri, A. Abbey, M. Ajello, A. P. Beardmore, D. Burrows, G. Chincarini, O. Godet, C. Guidorzi, J. E. Hill, J. Kennea, J. Nousek, et al.

Indexed on: 09 Dec '08Published on: 09 Dec '08Published in: Astrophysics


We present a new measurement of the cosmic X-ray background (CXRB) in the 1.5-7 keV energy band, performed by exploiting the Swift X-ray telescope (XRT) data archive. We also present a CXRB spectral model in a wider energy band (1.5-200 keV), obtained by combining these data with the recently published Swift-BAT measurement. From the XRT archive we collect a complete sample of 126 high Galactic latitude gamma-ray burst (GRB) follow-up observations. This provides a total exposure of 7.5 Ms and a sky-coverage of 7 square degrees which represents a serendipitous survey, well suited for a direct measurement of the CXRB in the 1.5-10 keV interval. Our work is based on a complete characterization of the instrumental background and an accurate measurement of the stray-light contamination and vignetting calibration. We find that the CXRB spectrum in the 1.5-7 keV energy band can be equally well fitted by a single power-law with photon index Gamma=1.47+/-0.07 or a single power-law with photon index Gamma=1.41+/-0.06 and an exponential roll-off at 41 keV. The measured flux in the 2-10 keV energy band is 2.18+/-0.13 E-11 erg/(cm2 s deg2) in the 2-10 keV band. Combining Swift-XRT with Swift-BAT (15-200 keV) we find that, in the 1.5-200 keV band, the CXRB spectrum can be well described by two smoothly-joined power laws with the energy break at 29.0+/-0.5 keV corresponding to a nu F_nu peak located at 22.4+/-0.4 keV. Taking advantage of both the Swift high energy instruments (XRT and BAT), we produce an analytical description of the CXRB spectrum over a wide (1.5-200 keV) energy band. This model is marginally consistent with the HEAO1 measurement (~10% higher at energies higher than 20 keV, while it is significantly (30%) higher at low energies (2-10 keV).