BurstCube Detects Gamma-ray Transients
The first direct detections of Gravitational Waves (GWs) has brought astronomy into a new era of discovery. The search for electromagnetic counterparts to GW sources is now more important than ever before. BurstCube will be a 6U CubeSat (10 cm x 20 cm x 30 cm) composed of 4 scintillator detectors read out by arrays of silicon photomultipliers. BurstCube will automatically detect gamma-ray transients onboard (astrophysical, solar, and terrestrial), sending rapid alerts to the ground to enable follow-up observations. BurstCube is currently in development and will lauch in the early 2020's.
BurstCube Effective Area
Despite the constraints of a CubeSat, BurstCube achieves an effective area of 70% of Fermi-GBM at 100 keV and 15 degree incidence. The effective area as a function of energy, and the corresponding curve for the larger Fermi-GBM NaI detectors are shown for reference.
BurstCube will increase the sky coverage for short (<2 s) gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), especially important in the current era of GW discoveries. The recent coincident detection of a short GRB (by Fermi and other multiwavelength partners) and a GW trigger has provided concrete proof that at least some short GRBs are produced by binary neutron star mergers. BurstCube will provide localizations which will assist wide-field follow-up observers in afterglow detection and redshift measurement. This will lead to additional insight into cosmological parameter estimation, constraints on the neutron star equation of state, and an inventory of r-process elements in the Universe constrained by the faint short GRB kilonova signature (seen in the most recent event). BurstCube will detect GRBs (long and short) from the entire unocculted sky providing broadband spectra for bursts detected elsewhere, rough localizations for follow-up, and accurately timed light curves. BurstCube will also detect solar flares, magnetar flares, and other hard X-ray transients, as well as persistent sources via occultation analysis. In a future without other GRB triggering instruments, BurstCube could provide all-sky coverage for a small fraction of the cost of an Explorer.
Time Until Launch
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