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Session 53 - Gamma Ray Investigations.
Oral session, Thursday, June 12
North Main Hall F/G,
The recent breakthrough discovery of a weak, fading x-ray/optical source possibly associated with a gamma-ray burst (GRB 970228) highlights the critical need for rapid and accurate burst locations. While this need has long been recognized by GRB researchers, its realization has been difficult to achieve technically. For the past four years the BACODINE system has been providing roughly-determined (accurate to \sim4 degrees, at best) BATSE burst locations in near-real-time (a few seconds) to a network of counterpart searchers. Unfortunately, BACODINE locations are too inaccurate to allow sensitive follow-up observations with current instruments. To facilitate sensitive and timely counterpart search efforts, we have developed the BATSE Rapid Burst Response (RBR) system, which provides locations with improved accuracy (\sim2 degrees) for several GRBs per month within \sim10--30 minutes of burst onset. The BATSE RBR system uses continuous real-time telemetry data, captured by BACODINE and transferred to NASA/MSFC, where the burst location algorithm employed for ``best and final'' BATSE locations is applied. The improved burst locations are then distributed to observers through the existing BACODINE world-wide network. The BATSE RBR system, combined with wide-field or scanning instruments, offers a good chance of detecting fading x-ray/optical counterparts if their lightcurves are similar to the recently discovered object. A coordinated follow-up effort using the RXTE-PCA is in progress which could localize fading x-ray emission to \sim0.1 degrees within a day. We will discuss the operation and performance of the new BATSE RBR system with particular emphasis on measures of burst location accuracy.
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