Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Swift GRB Explorer

The Swift Gamma Ray Burst Explorer
carries three instruments to enable the most detailed observations of gamma ray bursts to date.

Two of these instruments, the X-ray Telescope (XRT) and the UV/Optical Telescope (UVOT) were built by Penn State and collaborators at Leicester University and the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (both in England) and at the Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera (in Italy).

In addition, Penn State is responsible for leading the Education and Public Outreach component of this mission, as well as the Mission Operations Center, which operates the satellite.

The three coaligned instruments are known as the BAT, the XRT, and the UVOT. The XRT and UVOT are X-ray and a UV/optical focusing telescopes respectively which produce sub-arcsecond positions and multiwavelength lightcurves for gamma ray Burst (GRB) afterglows. Broad band afterglow spectroscopy produces redshifts for the majority of GRBs. BAT is a wide Field-Of-View (FOV) coded-aperture gamma ray imager that produces arcminute GRB positions onboard within 10 seconds. The spacecraft executes a rapid autonomous slew that points the focusing telescopes at the BAT position in typically ~ 50s.

The positions and images derived by the various instruments are sent as soon as they are available from the spacecraft via the TDRSS system to the Gamma Ray Coordination Network (GCN). The GCN broadcasts the results to the world via the Internet for rapid response by the world astronomy community for follow up observations by other ground and space based telescopes. At the next satellite pass over Malindi, the more detailed data is sent to the data center where it will be processed for public access within 30 minutes of the pass.

Penn State Swift Guide

Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Swift/Stefan Immler ENLARGE Image

On July 5, 2006, the Swift observatory began observing supernova 2006dm a few days after its explosion. The supernova is the result of the thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf in the galaxy MCG -01-60-21 which is located some 300 million lightyears from Earth. The galaxy is part of a loose group of galaxies which are gravitationally bound and have passed close to each other in the past. Remnants of such a recent nearby encounter are the faint bridges of stars and gas between the two brightest galaxies of this group, stretching from the upper left to the lower right of the image.

The image was obtained with the Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT) onboard Swift in the V, B, and U filters and has been merged from four individual observations obtained between July 5 and 8.
Further reading: swift gsfc nasa gov
Penn State Astrophysics & Astronomy
ICECUBE wisc edu: gallery detector concepts
Famous Quotes: Wisdom begins in wonder. Socrates
Famous Quotes: There is only one success -
to be able to spend your life in your own way. Christopher Morley

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