The Gamow Explorer: A Gamma-Ray Burst Observatory to study the high redshift universe and enable multi-messenger astrophysics

N. E. White, F. E. Bauer, W. Baumgartner, M. Bautz, E. Berger, B. Cenko, T. C. Chang, A. Falcone, H. Fausey, C. Feldman, D. Fox, O. Fox, A. Fruchter, C. Fryer, G. Ghirlanda, K. Gorski, C. Grant, S. Guiriec, M. Hart, D. HartmannJ. Hennawi, D. A. Kann, D. Kaplan, J. Kennea, D. Kocevski, C. Kouveliotou, C. Lawrence, A. J. Levan, A. Lidz, A. Lien, T. B. Littenberg, L. Mas-Ribas, M. Moss, P. Obrien, J. Omeara, D. M. Palmer, D. Pasham, J. Racusin, R. Remillard, O. J. Roberts, P. Roming, M. Rud, R. Salvaterra, R. Sambruna, M. Seiffert, G. Sun, N. R. Tanvir, R. Terrile, N. Thomas, A. Van Der Horst, W. T. Verstrand, P. Willems, C. Wilson-Hodge, E. T. Young, L. Amati, E. Bozzo, O. L. Karczewski, C. Hernandez-Monteagudo, R. Rebolo Lopez, R. Genova-Santos, A. Martin, J. Granot, P. Bemiamini, R. Gil, E. Burns

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The Gamow Explorer will use Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) to: 1) probe the high redshift universe (z < 6) when the first stars were born, galaxies formed and Hydrogen was reionized; and 2) enable multi-messenger astrophysics by rapidly identifying Electro-Magnetic (IR/Optical/X-ray) counterparts to Gravitational Wave (GW) events. GRBs have been detected out to z ∼ 9 and their afterglows are a bright beacon lasting a few days that can be used to observe the spectral fingerprints of the host galaxy and intergalactic medium to map the period of reionization and early metal enrichment. Gamow Explorer is optimized to quickly identify high-z events to trigger follow-up observations with JWST and large ground-based telescopes. A wide field of view Lobster Eye X-ray Telescope (LEXT) will search for GRBs and locate them with arc-minute precision. When a GRB is detected, the rapidly slewing spacecraft will point the 5 photometric channel Photo-z Infra-Red Telescope (PIRT) to identify high redshift (z < 6) long GRBs within 100s and send an alert within 1000s of the GRB trigger. An L2 orbit provides < 95% observing efficiency with pointing optimized for follow up by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and ground observatories. The predicted Gamow Explorer high-z rate is <10 times that of the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory. The instrument and mission capabilities also enable rapid identification of short GRBs and their afterglows associated with GW events. The Gamow Explorer will be proposed to the 2021 NASA MIDEX call and if approved, launched in 2028.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUV, X-Ray, and Gamma-Ray Space Instrumentation for Astronomy XXII
EditorsOswald H. Siegmund
ISBN (Electronic)9781510644809
StatePublished - 2021
EventUV, X-Ray, and Gamma-Ray Space Instrumentation for Astronomy XXII 2021 - San Diego, United States
Duration: 1 Aug 20215 Aug 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceUV, X-Ray, and Gamma-Ray Space Instrumentation for Astronomy XXII 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© COPYRIGHT SPIE. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.


  • Cosmology
  • Gamma Ray Bursts
  • Infrared astronomy
  • Intergalactic medium
  • Reionization
  • X-ray astronomy


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