1,115 research outputs found

    Recent laboratory tests of a hard x-ray solar flare polarimeter

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    We report on the development of a Compton scatter polarimeter for measuring the linear polarization of hard X-rays (50 - 300 keV) from solar flares. Such measurements would be useful for studying the directivity (or beaming) of the electrons that are accelerated in solar flares. We initially used a simple prototype polarimeter to successfully demonstrate the reliability of our Monte Carlo simulation code and to demonstrate our ability to generate a polarized photon source in the lab. We have recently fabricated a science model based on a modular design concept that places a self-contained polarimeter module on the front-end of a 5-inch position- sensitive PMT (PSPMT). The PSPMT is used to determine the Compton interaction location within an annular array of small plastic scintillator elements. Some of the photons that scatter within the plastic scintillator array are subsequently absorbed by a small centrally-located array of CsI(Tl) crystals that is read out by an independent multi-anode PMT. The independence of the two PMT readout schemes provides appropriate timing information for event triggering. We are currently testing this new polarimeter design in the laboratory to evaluate the performance characteristics of this design. Here we present the initial results from these laboratory tests. The modular nature of this design lends itself toward its accommodation on a balloon or spacecraft platform. A small array of such modules can provide a minimum detectable polarization (MDP) of less than 1% in the integrated 50 - 300 keV energy range for X-class solar flares

    SONTRAC—a scintillating plastic fiber tracking detector for neutron and proton imaging spectroscopy

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    SONTRAC (SOlar Neutron TRACking imager and spectrometer) is a conceptual instrument intended to measure the energy and incident direction of 20–150 MeV neutrons produced in solar flares. The intense neutron background in a low-Earth orbit requires that imaging techniques be employed to maximize an instrument’s signal-to-noise ratio. The instrument is comprised of mutually perpendicular, alternating layers of parallel, scintillating, plastic fibers that are viewed by optoelectronic devices. Two stereoscopic views of recoil proton tracks are necessary to determine the incident neutron’s direction and energy. The instrument can also be used as a powerful energetic proton imager. Data from a fully functional 3-d prototype are presented. Early results indicate that the instrument’s neutron energy resolution is approximately 10% with the neutron incident direction determined to within a few degrees

    The Development of GRAPE, a Gamma Ray Polarimeter Experiment

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    The measurement of hard X‐ray polarization in γ‐ray bursts (GRBs) would add yet another piece of information in our effort to resolve the true nature of these enigmatic objects. Here we report on the development of a dedicated polarimeter design with a relatively large FoV that is capable of studying hard X‐ray polarization (50–300 keV) from GRBs. This compact design, based on the use of a large area position‐sensitive PMT (PSPMT), is referred to as GRAPE (Gamma‐RAy Polarimeter Experiment). The feature of GRAPE that is especially attractive for studies of GRBs is the significant off‐axis polarization response (at angles greater than 60°). For an array of GRAPE modules, current sensitivity estimates give minimum detectable polarization (MDP) levels of a few percent for the brightest GRBs

    Hard x-ray polarimeter for gamma-ray bursts and solar flares

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    We report on the development of a dedicated polarimeter design that is capable of studying the linear polarization of hard X-rays (50-300 keV) from gamma-ray bursts and solar flares. This compact design, based on the use of a large area position-sensitive PMT (PSPMT), is referred to as GRAPE (Gamma-RAy Polarimeter Experiment). The PSPMT is used to determine the Compton interaction location within an array of small plastic scintillator elements. Some of the photons that scatter within the plastic scintillator array are subsequently absorbed by a small centrally-located array of CsI(Tl) crystals that is read out by an independent multi-anode PMT. One feature of GRAPE that is especially attractive for studies of gamma-ray bursts is the significant off-axis response (at angles \u3e 60 degrees). The modular nature of this design lends itself toward its accomodation on a balloon or spacecraft platform. For an array of GRAPE modules, sensitivity levels below a few percent can be achieved for both gamma-ray bursts and solar flares. Here we report on the latest results from the testing of a laboratory science model

    Dedicated polarimeter design for hard x-ray and soft gamma-ray astronomy

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    We have developed a modular design for a hard X-ray and soft gamma-ray polrimeter that we call GRAPE (Gamma RAy Polarimeter Experiment). Optimized for the energy range of 50-300 keV, the GRAPE design is a Compton polarimeter based on the use of an array of plastic scintillator scattering elements in conjunction with a centrally positioned high-Z calorimeter detector. Here we shall review the results from a laboratory model of the baseline GRAPE design. The baseline design uses a 5-inch diameter position sensitive PMT (PSPMT) for readout of the plastic scintillator array and a small array of CsI detectors for measurement of the scattered photon. An improved design, based on the use of large area multi-anode PMTs (MAPMTs), is also discussed along with plans for laboratory testing of a prototype. An array of GRAPE modules could be used as the basis for a dedicated science mission, either on a long duration balloon or on an orbital mission. With a large effective FoV, a non-imaging GRAPE mission would be ideal for studying polarization in transient sources (gamma ray bursts and solar flares). It may also prove useful for studying periodically varying sources, such as pulsars. An imaging system would improve the sensitivity of the polarization measurements for transient and periodic sources and may also permit the measurement of polarization in steady-state sources

    Using LaX scintillator in a new low-background Compton telescope

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    The ability of Compton telescopes to perform imaging and spectroscopy in space depends directly on the speed and energy resolution of the calorimeter detectors in the telescope. The calorimeter detectors flown on space-borne or balloon-borne Compton telescopes have included NaI(Tl), CsI(Na), HPGe and liquid organic scintillator. By employing LaX scintillators for the calorimeter, one can take advantage of the unique speed and resolving power of the material to improve the instrument sensitivity and simultaneously enhance its spectroscopic performance and thus its imaging performance. We present a concept for a space-borne Compton telescope that employs LaX as a calorimeter and estimate the improvement in sensitivity over past realizations of Compton telescopes. With some preliminary laboratory measurements, we estimate that in key energy bands, typically corrupted with neutron-induced internal nuclear emissions, this design enjoys a twenty-fold improvement in background rejection

    A Compton telescope for remote location and identification of radioactive material

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    The spare detectors from NASA Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory COMPTEL instrument have been reconfigured to demonstrate the capability at ground level to remotely locate and identify sources of g radiation or the movement of material that might shield γ-ray sources. The Gamma-Ray Experimental Telescope Assembly (GRETA) employs two 28 cm diameter scintillation detectors separated by 81 cm: one 8.5 cm thick liquid scintillator detector and one 7.5 cm thick NaI(Tl) detector. The assembly electronics and real-time data acquisition system measures the energy deposits and time-of- flight for each coincident detection and compiles histograms of total energy and incident angle as computed using the kinematics of Compton scattering. The GRETA field of view is a cone with full angle approximately 120°. The sensitive energy range is 0.3 to 2.6 MeV. Energy resolution is ~10% FWHM. The angular resolution, ~19° in the simplified configuration tested, will improve to better than 5° with well-defined enhancements to the data acquisition hardware and data analysis routines. When operated in the mode that was used in space, the instrument is capable of measuring and imaging up to 30 MeV with an angular resolution of 1.5°. The response of the instrument was mapped in the laboratory with 14 Ci 22Na source 3 m from the instrument. Later, we conducted demonstrations under two measurement scenarios. In one, the remotely located instrument observed an increase of background radiation counts at 1.4 MeV when a large amount of lead was removed from a building and a corresponding decrease when the lead was replaced. In the other scenario, the location and isotope-identifying energy spectrum of a 500 μCi137Cs source 3-5 m from the instrument with two intervening walls was determined in less than one minute. We report details of the instrument design and these measurements

    Position Resolution in LaBr3 and LaCl3 Scintillators Using Position-Sensitive Photomultiplier Tubes

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    Advanced scintillator materials such as LaBr3:Ce and LaCl3:Ce hold great promise for future hard X-ray and gamma-ray astrophysics missions due to their high density, high light output, good linearity, and fast decay times. Of particular importance for future space-based imaging instruments, such as coded-aperture telescopes, is the precise spatial location of individual gamma-ray interactions. We have investigated the position and energy resolution achievable within monolithic (5 cm × 5 cm × 1 cm) LaBr3:Ce and LaCl3:Ce crystals using position-sensitive light readout devices, including a position-sensitive photomultiplier tube and a multi-anode photomultiplier tube. We present the results of these tests and discuss the applicability of such advanced scintillators to future high-energy imaging astrophysics missions

    Gas micro-well track imaging detectors for gamma-ray astronomy

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    We describe our program to develop gas micro-well detectors (MWDs) as three-dimensional charged particle trackers for use in advanced gamma-ray telescope concepts. A micro-well detector consists of an array of individual micro-patterned gas proportional counters opposite a planar drift electrode. The well anodes and cathodes may be connected in X and Y strips, respectively, to provide two-dimensional imaging. When combined with transient digitizer electronics, which record the time signature of the charge collected in the wells of each strip, full three-dimensional reconstruction of charged-particle tracks in large gas volumes is possible. Such detectors hold great promise for advanced Compton telescope (ACT) and advanced pair telescope (APT) concepts due to the very precise measurement of charged particle momenta that is possible (Compton recoil electrons and electron-positron pairs, respectively). We present preliminary lab results, including detector fabrication, prototype electronics, and initial detector testing. We also discuss applications to the ACT and APT mission concepts, based on GEANT3 and GEANT4 simulations

    A hard X-ray polarimeter designed for transient astrophysical sources

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    — This paper discusses the latest progress in the development of GRAPE (Gamma-Ray Polarimeter Experiment), a hard X-ray Compton Polarimeter. The purpose of GRAPE is to measure the polarization of hard X-rays in the 50-300 keV energy range. We are particularly interested in X-rays that are emitted from solar flares and gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). Accurately measuring the polarization of the emitted radiation from these sources will lead, to a better understating of both the emission mechanisms and source geometries. The GRAPE design consists of an array of plastic scintillators surrounding a central high-Z crystal scintillator. We can monitor individual Compton scatters that occur in the plastics and determine whether the photon is photo absorbed by the high-Z crystal or not. A Compton scattered photon that is immediately photo absorbed by the high-Z crystal constitutes a valid event. These valid events provide us with the interaction locations of each incident photon and ultimately produces a modulation pattern for the Compton scattering of the polarized radiation. Comparing with Monte Carlo simulations of a 100% polarized beam, the level of polarization of the measured beam can then be determined. The complete array is mounted on a flat-panel multi-anode photomultiplier tube (MAPMT) that can measure the deposited energies resulting from the photon interactions. The design of the detector allows for a large field-ofview (\u3e π steradian), at the same time offering the ability to be close-packed with multiple modules in order to reduce deadspace. We plan to present in this paper the latest laboratory results obtained from GRAPE using partially polarized radiation sources
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