LOFT (Large area Observatory For x-ray Timing) is an innovative mission concept for the next generation of X-ray experiments, submitted to the ESA Call for Medium size missions “M3”. Recent developments in the field of Silicon detectors allowed us to design a realistic observatory devoted to X-ray timing studies with an effective area above 10 m2, operating in the energy range 2-30 keV with an energy resolution of ∼250 eV. Such an exceedingly large area (20 times that of RXTE/PCA), with a time resolution better than 10 µs, will enable unprecedently fast and accurate time variability studies related to accreting collapsed objects (e.g. fast coherent pulsations and QPOs). The scientific payload is complemented by a coded-mask wide field monitor based on similar detectors. In this paper we present the mission concept, the payload design and the expected performances. © Copyright owned by the author(s).
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