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R. A. Remillard, A. M. Levine, E. H. Morgan, H. V. Bradt (M.I.T.)
We describe a concept for a NASA SMEX Mission that will provide a comprehensive investigation of cosmic explosions. These range from the short flashes at cosmological distances in Gamma-ray bursts, to the moments of relativistic mass ejections in Galactic microquasars, to the panorama of outbursts used to identify the stellar-scale black holes in our Galaxy. With an equatorial launch, an array of 31 cameras can cover 97% of the sky with an average exposure efficiency of 65%. Coded mask cameras with Xe detectors (1.5-12 keV) are chosen for their ability to distinguish thermal and non-thermal processes, while providing high throughput and msec time resolution to capture the detailed evolution of bright events. This mission, with 1' position accuracy, would provide a long-term solution to the critical needs for monitoring services for Chandra and GLAST, with possible overlap into the time frame for Constellation-X. The sky coverage would create additional science opportunities beyond the X-ray missions: "eyes" for LIGO and partnerships for time-variability with LOFAR and dedicated programs at optical observatories. Compared to the RXTE ASM, AVOX offers improvements by a factor of 40 in instantaneous sky coverage and a factor of 10 in sensitivity to faint X-ray sources (i.e. to 0.8 mCrab at 3 sigma in 1 day).
Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society,
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.