A Panchromatic Gamma Ray Burst MIDEX Mission
The discovery of afterglow
bursts has revolutionised our understanding of these
enigmatic events. We now know that they are produced
at cosmological distances and involve the most powerful
and relativistic explosions known, resulting in an
afterglow that cascades down in energy from g-rays to radio. The
Swift MIDEX is a rapid-response, multiwavelength observatory
that exploits the newly discovered afterglow characteristics
bursts to make a comprehensive study of ~1000 bursts.
It will determine the origin of the g-ray bursts, tell us how the blast wave evolves and interacts
with its surroundings, and identify different classes
of bursts and their associated physical processes.
In addition, Swift will allow g-ray bursts to be used as probes of the early Universe.
Swift will include a wide-field
Burst Alert Telescope, plus narrow-field X-ray and
ultraviolet/optical telescopes to study the afterglow
emission. Based on a g-ray trigger, the
observatory will be repointed to study a g-ray burst with the narrow-field
telescopes within seconds of the initial event. The
proposed UK role in Swift will be to provide core elements
of the narrow field instruments, which can be done
very cost effectively by utilising mature technology
already developed for the ESA XMM mission, and the
JeT-X instrument that is to fly on the Russian Spectrum-X
spacecraft. This contribution is key to the success
of SWIFT and will facilitate a leading role for the
UK in a major emerging astrophysics area.
Swift was selected for
flight by NASA in November 1999, one of two MIDEX missions
so selected from a group of five that underwent Phase-A
study during 1999. Swift is scheduled for launch in
the second half of 2003. UK involvement in Swift was
approved by PPARC Council in December 1999.
MSSL role: UVOT (UltraViolet
and Optical Telescope)
to view Swift team photo.
for a link to NASA's SWIFT homepage.
for a link to the XMM-Optical Monitor homepage.
to return to the MSSL homepage.
This page was last updated by Martin
de la Nougerede16th December 1999