The ASTENA mission, conceived within the AHEAD framework, consists of two coaligned instruments, a broad band Wide Field Monitor/Spectrometer WFM/S and a broad band Narrow Field Telescope (NFT). In the NFT a large geometric area Laue lens (3 m maximum diameter with a 20 m focal length) allows to focus the radiation of the 50 - 700 keV energy pass-band. Differently from other proposed Laue lenses in the past, the NFT is made of optimized thickness bent crystal tiles, made with Silicon (for the lower energy part of the lens pass-band) and Germanium (dedicated to the upper energy threshold). With these assumption we have optimized the NFT Field of View (FoV) to 3.5 arcmin with the angular resolution of 20”. The Laue lens is coupled with a high efficiency (>80% above 600 keV) focal plane position sensitive detector, with 3D spatial resolution of at least 300 µm in the (X,Y) plane and fine spectroscopic response (1% @511 keV) and with polarization sensitivity. In this SPIE contribution we will discuss the NFI geometry simulated with the MEGAlib toolkit and we will discuss its performances by simulating broad band and narrow energy typical sources, giving finally the instrument performances.
Within the AHEAD consortium a mission concept named ASTENA (Advanced Surveyor of Transient Events and Nuclear Astrophysics) is proposed to address the top-priority themes identified by the AHEAD Science Advisory Group: Gamma-Ray Bursts and Nuclear Astrophysics. GRBs are among the most intriguing phenomena of the Universe, which thanks to their vast luminosities can be used to probe the first billion years of cosmic history, i.e. the era of first stars and black-holes. In spite of great advancements in the GRB astronomy since the BeppoSAX discovery of afterglows, several issues concerning both the prompt emission and the afterglow are still open. Concerning the prompt emission, for example, the emission mechanism of the radiation and the energy dissipation site (internal shocks? external shocks? photosphere?) are far from being understood. What is required is an accurate determination of the photon spectrum from few keV up to tens of MeV, and importantly, a measurement of the polarization of the radiation. The emission of the afterglow has been deeply investigated with Swift in the energy band from 0.5 to 10 keV, showing that an understanding of the origin of the emission mechanism requires spectral information extending to much higher energies, as already suggested by a few studies at < 60 keV (e.g., Kouveliotou et al. 2013, ApJ 779, L1). Landmark progress on this issue therefore requires polarization capabilities and a passband extending well beyond 60 keV.
Concerning nuclear astrophysics, a fundamental issue concerns the origin of the 511 keV positron annihilation line discovered with INTEGRAL/SPI in the Galactic center. According to the INTEGRAL results the emission is diffuse, but the poor imaging capability of INTEGRAL (at the best with a resolution of 12 arcmin with ISGRI) does not allow one to establish whether what appears diffuse is indeed the superposition of the emission from point-like sources, such as micro-quasars. The important role played by micro-quasars as sources of positron annihilation line emission has also been established with INTEGRAL (Siegert et al. 2016, Nature 531, 341). Another open issue in nuclear astrophysics concerns the determination and understanding of the nuclear burning processes in Type-1a supernovae. This requires a study of the intensity and time behavior of the expected lines emitted by the heavy elements produced in supernova explosions. Instrument concept to address the IWG requirements.
With the above considerations in mind, we propose to perform a feasibility study of a configuration of two instruments:
a) a wide field monitor/spectrometer (WFM/S), with a passband from 1 keV to 20 MeV, made of a
suitable number of detection modules, each consisting of an array of long bars of scintillator with very small cross section, and readout from both sides with solid state thin detectors (e.g. Silicon Drift Detectors, SDD). One of the SDD is used as soft X-ray Position Sensitive Detector. A possible crystal material is CsI(Tl), but also other faster crystals such as LSO(Ce) or CeBr3 should be examined. The detector modules are coupled to a light coded mask, for obtaining a GRB localization accuracy of order of ~1 arcmin between 1 and 30/50 keV. The number of modules, equipped with collimators, should be sufficient to achieve the required sensitivity to GRBs. The order of magnitude of the total detection area is 18000 cm2. The modules are slightly misaligned with each other tin order o achieve a wide FOV (> 1 sr).
b) a narrow field telescope (NFT), made of a broad-band Laue lens (50 – 600/700 keV) of a 20 m focal length, based on the exploitation of bent crystals, like those under development in Ferrara (FOV= 3.5 arcmin, angular resolution ≈20”). The NFT is coupled to a high efficiency (>80% above 600 keV) focal plane position sensitive detector, with 3D spatial resolution of at least 300 µm in the (X,Y) plane, fine spectroscopic response (1% @511 keV) and with polarization sensitivity.
With the WFM/S, we expect to accurately determine the energy spectrum of GRB prompt emission in the broadest band ever achieved with a single instrument, to measure the gamma-ray polarization of, at least, the brightest GRBs and to search for electromagnetic counterparts of Gravitational Wave events. In addition, with adequate scintillator bars and fast electronics, the Lorentz invariance for the brightest events can be tested. With the NFT, which is >~100 times more sensitive at a few hundred keV than any other past or planned mission, we can carry out for the first time a long-sought study of the afterglow spectrum of GRBs up to high energies (600/700 keV), including its polarization level. We can also establish, thanks to its high angular resolution (about 20”), whether the 511 keV positron annihilation line is due to the superposition of emission from point-like sources. In addition, we can address many Legacy Science topics mentioned in the Call, such as the origin of the high energy emission from magnetars, the first determination of the spectrum of blazars out to z~8 in between the two Synchrotron and Compton bumps, the determination of the sources that give rise to the gamma-ray diffuse background. For example, one could determine the high-energy cutoff from spectra of relatively bright AGN and study how this depends on the physics of the accretion (e.g. BH mass, Eddington ratio). We emphasize that the unprecedented sensitivity of the NFT and the combination with the WFM/S implies a large discovery space of this configuration. Moreover, such an instrument concept, thanks to the lightweight of the Laue lens and compactness of the wide field instrument, is expected to be within the limits imposed by an ESA Medium Size Mission.
e-ASTROGAM is a concept for a breakthrough observatory space mission carrying a γ-ray telescope dedicated to the study of the non-thermal Universe in the photon energy range from 0.15 MeV to 3 GeV. The lower energy limit can be pushed down to energies as low as 30 keV for gamma-ray burst detection with the calorimeter. The mission is based on an advanced space-proven detector technology, with unprecedented sensitivity, angular and energy resolution, combined with remarkable polarimetric capability. Thanks to its performance in the MeV–GeV domain, substantially improving its predecessors, e-ASTROGAM will open a new window on the non-thermal Universe, making pioneering observations of the most powerful Galactic and extragalactic sources, elucidating the nature of their relativistic outflows and their effects on the surroundings. With a line sensitivity in the MeV energy range one to two orders of magnitude better than previous and current generation instruments, e-ASTROGAM will determine the origin of key isotopes fundamental for the understanding of supernova explosion and the chemical evolution of our Galaxy. The mission will be a major player of the multiwavelength, multimessenger time-domain astronomy of the 2030s, and provide unique data of significant interest to a broad astronomical community, complementary to powerful observatories such as LISA, LIGO, Virgo, KAGRA, the Einstein Telescope and the Cosmic Explorer, IceCube-Gen2 and KM3NeT, SKA, ALMA, JWST, E-ELT, LSST, Athena, and the Cherenkov Telescope Array.
The Large Observatory For x-ray Timing (LOFT) is a mission concept which was proposed to ESA as M3 and M4 candidate in the framework of the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program. Thanks to the unprecedented combination of effective area and spectral resolution of its main instrument and the uniquely large field of view of its wide field monitor, LOFT will be able to study the behaviour of matter in extreme conditions such as the strong gravitational field in the innermost regions close to black holes and neutron stars and the supra-nuclear densities in the interiors of neutron stars. The science payload is based on a Large Area Detector (LAD, >8m2 effective area, 2-30 keV, 240 eV spectral resolution, 1 degree collimated field of view) and a Wide Field Monitor (WFM, 2-50 keV, 4 steradian field of view, 1 arcmin source location accuracy, 300 eV spectral resolution). The WFM is equipped with an on-board system for bright events (e.g., GRB) localization. The trigger time and position of these events are broadcast to the ground within 30 s from discovery. In this paper we present the current technical and programmatic status of the mission.
The Wide Field Imager is one of two instruments on-board the future ATHENA X-ray observatory. Its main scientific objective is to perform a sky survey in the energy range of 0.2 keV up to 15 keV with an end-of-life spectral resolution (FWHM) better than 170 eV (at 7 keV) and a frame rate of at least 200 Hz. The field of view will be 40 arcmin squared wherefore a focal plane array with 4 large sensors each with a size of 512 times 512 pixels will be developed. Additionally, a fast detector with a size of 64 times 64 pixels and a frame rate of 12.5 kHz will be implemented in order to enhance the instrument with high count rate detection of bright sources.
The data processing electronics within the WFI instrument is distributed over several subsystems: DEPFET sensors sensitive in the x-ray energy regime and front-end electronics are located inside the Camera Head. Data pre-processing inside the Detector Electronics will be performed in an FPGA-based frame-processor. FPGA external memory will be used to store offset and noise maps wherefore memory controllers have to be developed. Fast read and write access to the maps combined with robustness against radiation damage (e.g. bit-flips) has to be ensured by the frame-processor design.
At DTU Space we have developed a high resolution three dimensional (3D) position sensitive CZT detector for high energy astronomy. The design of the 3D CZT detector is based on the CZT Drift Strip detector principle. The position determination perpendicular to the anode strips is performed using a novel interpolating technique based on the drift strip signals. The position determination in the detector depth direction, is made using the DOI technique based the detector cathode and anode signals. The position determination along the anode strips is made with the help of 10 cathode strips orthogonal to the anode strips. The position resolutions are at low energies dominated by the electronic noise and improve therefore with increased signal to noise ratio as the energy increases. The achievable position resolution at higher energies will however be dominated by the extended spatial distribution of the photon produced ionization charge. The main sources of noise contribution of the drift signals are the leakage current between the strips and the strip capacitance. For the leakage current, we used a metallization process that reduces the leakage current by means of a high resistive thin layer between the drift strip electrodes and CZT detector material. This method was applied to all the proto type detectors and was a very effective method to reduce the surface leakage current between the strips. The proto type detector was recently investigated at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble which provided a fine 50 × 50 μm2 collimated X-ray beam covering an energy band up to 600 keV. The Beam positions are resolved very well with a ~ 0.2 mm position resolution (FWHM ) at 400 keV in all directions.
The Large Observatory For x-ray Timing (LOFT) was studied within ESA M3 Cosmic Vision framework and participated in the final downselection for a launch slot in 2022-2024. Thanks to the unprecedented combination of effective area and spectral resolution of its main instrument, LOFT will study the behaviour of matter under extreme conditions, such as the strong gravitational field in the innermost regions of accretion flows close to black holes and neutron stars, and the supranuclear densities in the interior of neutron stars. The science payload is based on a Large Area Detector (LAD, 10 m2 effective area, 2-30 keV, 240 eV spectral resolution, 1° collimated field of view) and a Wide Field Monitor (WFM, 2-50 keV, 4 steradian field of view, 1 arcmin source location accuracy, 300 eV spectral resolution). The WFM is equipped with an on-board system for bright events (e.g. GRB) localization. The trigger time and position of these events are broadcast to the ground within 30 s from discovery. In this paper we present the status of the mission at the end of its Phase A study.
The LOFT mission concept is one of four candidates selected by ESA for the M3 launch opportunity as Medium Size missions of the Cosmic Vision programme. The launch window is currently planned for between 2022 and 2024. LOFT is designed to exploit the diagnostics of rapid X-ray flux and spectral variability that directly probe the motion of matter down to distances very close to black holes and neutron stars, as well as the physical state of ultradense matter. These primary science goals will be addressed by a payload composed of a Large Area Detector (LAD) and a Wide Field Monitor (WFM). The LAD is a collimated (<1 degree field of view) experiment operating in the energy range 2-50 keV, with a 10 m2 peak effective area and an energy resolution of 260 eV at 6 keV. The WFM will operate in the same energy range as the LAD, enabling simultaneous monitoring of a few-steradian wide field of view, with an angular resolution of <5 arcmin. The LAD and WFM experiments will allow us to investigate variability from submillisecond QPO’s to yearlong transient outbursts. In this paper we report the current status of the project.
The development of new focusing optics based on wide band Laue lenses operating from ~60 keV up to several hundred
keV is particularly challenging. This type of hard X-ray or gamma ray optics requires a high performance focal plane
detector in order to exploit to the best their intrinsic capabilities. We describe a three dimensional (3D) position sensitive
detector prototype suitable as the basic module for a high efficiency Laue lens focal plane detector. This detector
configuration is currently under study for use in a balloon payload dedicated to performing a high significance
measurement of the polarization status of the Crab between 100 and 500 keV. The prototype is made by packing 8 linear
modules, each composed of one basic sensitive unit bonded onto a thin supporting ceramic layer. Each unit is a drift strip
detector based on a CZT crystal, irradiated transversally to the electric field direction. The anode is segmented into 8
detection cells, each comprising one collecting strip and 8 surrounding drift strips. The drift strips are biased by a voltage
divider. The cathode is divided into 4 horizontal strips for the reconstruction of the Z interaction position. The detector
readout electronics is based on RENA-3 ASIC and the data handling system uses a custom electronics based on FPGA to
provide the ASIC setting, the event handling logic, and the data acquisition. This paper mainly describes the components
and the status of the undergoing activities for the construction of the proposed 3D CZT prototype and shows the results
of the electronics tests.
Today it is widely recognised that a measurement of the polarization status of cosmic sources high energy emission is a
key observational parameter to understand the active production mechanism and its geometry. Therefore new
instrumentation operating in the hard X/soft γ rays energy range should be optimized also for this type of measurement.
In this framework, we present the concept of a small high-performance spectrometer designed for polarimetry between
100 and 1000 keV suitable as a stratospheric balloon-borne payload dedicated to perform an accurate and reliable
measurement of the polarization status of the Crab pulsar, i.e. the polarization level and direction. The detector with 3D
spatial resolution is based on a CZT spectrometer in a highly segmented configuration designed to operate as a high
performance scattering polarimeter. We discuss different configurations based on recent development results and
possible improvements currently under study. Furthermore we describe a possible baseline design of the payload, which
can be also seen as a pathfinder for a high performance focal plane detector in new hard X and soft gamma ray focussing
telescopes and/or advanced Compton instruments. Finally we present preliminary data from Montecarlo undergoing
studies to determine the best trade-off between polarimetric performance and detector design complexity.
We report on the development of a 3D position sensitive prototype suitable as focal plane detector for Laue lens
telescope. The basic sensitive unit is a drift strip detector based on a CZT crystal, (~19×8 mm2 area, 2.4 mm thick),
irradiated transversally to the electric field direction. The anode side is segmented in 64 strips, that divide the crystal in 8
independent sensor (pixel), each composed by one collecting strip and 7 (one in common) adjacent drift strips. The drift
strips are biased by a voltage divider, whereas the anode strips are held at ground. Furthermore, the cathode is divided in
4 horizontal strips for the reconstruction of the third interaction position coordinate. The 3D prototype will be made by
packing 8 linear modules, each composed by one basic sensitive unit, bonded on a ceramic layer. The linear modules
readout is provided by a custom front end electronics implementing a set of three RENA-3 for a total of 128 channels.
The front-end electronics and the operating logics (in particular coincidence logics for polarisation measurements) are
handled by a versatile and modular multi-parametric back end electronics developed using FPGA technology.
The importance of hard X-ray astronomy (>10 keV) is now widely recognized. Recently both ESA and NASA have
indicated in their guidelines for the progress of X- and γ-ray astronomy in the next decade the development of new
instrumentation working in the energy range from the keV to the MeV region, where important scientific issues are still
open, exploiting high sensitivity for spectroscopic imaging and polarimetry observations. The development of new
concentrating (e.g. multilayer mirror) telescopes for hard X-rays (10 -100 keV) and focusing instruments based on Laue
lenses operating from ~60 keV up to a few MeV is particularly challenging. We describe the design of a threedimensional
(3D) depth-sensing position sensitive device suitable for use as the basic unit of a high efficiency focal
plane detector for a Laue lens telescope. The sensitive unit is a drift strip detector based on a CZT crystal, (10×10 mm2
area, 2.5 mm thick), irradiated transversally to the electric field direction. The anode is segmented into 4 detection cells,
each comprising one collecting strip and 8 drift strips. The drift strips are biased by a voltage divider, whereas the anode
strips are held at 0 V. The cathode is divided in 4 horizontal strips for the reconstruction of the Z interaction position.
The 3D prototype will be made by packing 8 linear modules, each composed of 2 basic sensitive units, bonded onto a
ceramic layer together with the readout electronics.
The excellent room temperature spectral performance of cadmium zinc telluride detectors grown via the Traveling
Heater Method (THM) makes this approach suitable for the mass deployment of radiation detectors for applications in
homeland security and medical imaging. This paper reports our progress in fabricating thicker and larger area detectors
from THM grown CZT. We discuss the performance of such 20x20x10 mm3, and 10x10x10 mm3 monolithic pixellated
detectors and virtual Frisch-Grid 4x4x12 mm3 devices, and describe the various physical properties of the materials.
The high-energy response of XEUS will be of crucial importance for a number of astrophysical topics, e.g.: highly obscured AGNs, non-thermal emissions from SNRs, AGNs and clusters of galaxies, nuclear line emission from SNRs and hard X-ray emission in GRB afterglows. The XEUS telescope will achieve high-energy response (up to 90 keV) employing super mirror technology whereby the inner mirrors will be coated with graded multi layers. The detectors will be implemented as part of the Wide Field Imager which also has DEPFET and CCDs to cover the soft-X-ray survey science. Solutions for the associated focal plane Hard X-ray Imaging Camera have been investigated by the XEUS Instrument Working Group and will be discussed in the present contribution.
At DSRI, in collaboration with the cyclotron facility at Copenhagen University Hospital, we have performed a study of radiation effects exposing a 2.7 mm thick CZT drift strip detector to 30 MeV protons. The detector characteristics were evaluated after exposure to a number of dose loads in the range from 2*108 to 60*108 p+/cm2. Even for the highest dose loads, which had a dramatic effect on the spectroscopic performance, we were able to recover the detectors after an appropriate annealing procedure. The radiation damage was studied as function of depth inside the detector material. A numerical model that emulates the physical processes of the charge transport in the CZT detector was used to derive the charge trapping parameter , μτe (the product of charge mobility and trapping time) as function of dose. The analysis showed that the electron trapping increased proportional with the proton dose. The radiation contribution to the electron trapping was found to obey the following relation: (μτe)-1rad =(2.5±0.2)*10-7*Φ (V/cm2) with the proton fluence, Φ in p+/cm2. The trapping depth dependence, however, did not agree well the damage profile calculated using the standard Monte Carlo simulations, TRIM for the proton induced radiation effects. The present results suggest that proton induced nuclear reactions contribute significantly to the radiation damage. Further work will elaborate on these effects. The detector energy resolution was investigated as function of proton dose. It was found that the observed degradation is well explained by the decrease of μτe when the fluctuations of the electron path length are taken into account. The proton irradiation produced In meta stable isotopes in the CZT material. Their decay and production yield as function of depth were analyzed.
DSRI has initiated a development program of CZT x-ray and gamma ray detectors employing strip readout techniques. A dramatic improvement of the energy response was found operating the detectors as so-called drift detectors. For the electronic readout, modern ASIC chips were investigated. Modular design and the low power electronics will make large area detectors using the drift strip method feasible. The performance of a prototype CZT system will be presented and discussed.
This paper describes the x-ray camera for the Atmospheric X- ray Observatory (AXO) proposed for the Danish Small Satellite Program, which is under evaluation for the next mission in 2003. AXO is aimed at localizing the origin of the Terrestrial Gamma Flashes (TGF) that have been observed with BATSE. An additional objective is a detailed mapping of the auroral x-ray and optical emission. The x-ray camera to be used must be capable of detecting quite weak and pointlike, short-duration emission from TGF, and also to handle with the rather intense and extended radiation from auroral activity. The x-ray energy range is 5-200 keV and the angular resolution about 2 degrees. The requested satellite orbit is polar with an altitude of 500 km so that the phenomena can be seen from a close range. The design of a coded mask camera matching these requirements is discussed in terms of energy and angular resolution, sensitivity, count rates, and time resolution. Detailed simulations of the camera imaging capabilities are presented.