CASTER: A Scintillator-Based Black Hole Finder Probe

Computer Science – Performance

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Scientific paper

As part of NASA's Beyond Einstein program, the Black Hole Finder Probe (BHFP) is designed to survey the local Universe for black holes over a wide range of mass and accretion rate. One approach to such a survey is a hard X-ray coded aperture imaging mission operating in the 10-600 keV energy band, a spectral range considered to be especially useful for detecting black hole sources. In order to maximize sensitivity given the constraints of the mission, we describe the Coded Aperture Survey Telescope for Energetic Radiation (CASTER), a mission concept optimized to meet the BHFP science goals using one or more wide-field-of-view coded aperture instruments with detection planes based on inorganic scintillator technology. The development of new inorganic scintillator materials (e.g., LaBr3) provides improved light output, energy resolution, and timing that is well suited to the BHFP science requirements; a new generation of readout devices represents a major advance in the performance capabilities of scintillator-based gamma cameras; and the use of segmented scintillators coupled to optical fibers promises to reduce the number of electronics channels and simplify the readout complexity.

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