The Gamow Explorer: a Gamma-Ray Burst Observatory to study the high redshift universe and enable multi-messenger astrophysics
The Gamow Explorer will use Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) to: 1) probe the high redshift universe (z < 6) when the first stars were born, galaxies formed and Hydrogen was reionized; and 2) enable multi-messenger astrophysics by rapidly identifying Electro-Magnetic (IR/Optical/X-ray) counterparts to Gravitational Wave (GW) events. GRBs have been detected out to z ~ 9 and their afterglows are a bright beacon lasting a few days that can be used to observe the spectral fingerprints of the host galaxy and intergalactic medium to map the period of reionization and early metal enrichment. Gamow Explorer is optimized to quickly identify high-z events to trigger follow-up observations with JWST and large ground-based telescopes. A wide field of view Lobster Eye X-ray Telescope (LEXT) will search for GRBs and locate them with arc-minute precision. When a GRB is detected, the rapidly slewing spacecraft will point the 5 photometric channel Photo-z Infra-Red Telescope (PIRT) to identify high redshift (z < 6) long GRBs within 100s and send an alert within 1000s of the GRB trigger. An L2 orbit provides < 95% observing efficiency with pointing optimized for follow up by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and ground observatories. The predicted Gamow Explorer high-z rate is <10 times that of the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory. The instrument and mission capabilities also enable rapid identification of short GRBs and their afterglows associated with GW events. The Gamow Explorer will be proposed to the 2021 NASA MIDEX call and if approved, launched in 2028.
Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series
- Pub Date:
- August 2021
- Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena;
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics
- 14 pages, 8 Figures