New Mission Concept: Investigation of the Galactic Center with GalacticCenterExplorer (GalCenEx)
2019 July 22
The European Space Observatory INTEGRAL has been providing excellent results on X-ray and γ–ray astronomy since its launch in 2002. Among the most important results are the spectroscopy and imaging measurements of celestial γ-ray sources, including mapping the 511 keV radiation from the Galactic plane. However, the nature of the 511 keV positron annihilation line around the Galactic Center region is still a mystery. Similarly, the structure and nature of the Galactic Center supermassive black hole and its surroundings, as well as the structure of heavily populated sky regions such as Cygnus and Carina in γ-rays, remain unclear. We present a concept of a potential next-generation γ-ray telescope with the major science objectives: a) solve the mystery of the Galactic Center region 511 keV positron annihilation line by mapping the Galactic Center region with high energy (<1% FWHM) and angular (< 10 arcmin) resolution and with line sensitivity <10-5 ph cm-2 s-1; b) understand the nature of the Galactic Center supermassive black hole environment by creating a high-resolution spectral and intensity map of the surrounding region in 0.1 – 20 MeV γ rays; and c) explore Galactic chemical evolution and sites of explosive element synthesis by conducting high-sensitivity measurements of nuclear lines from Type 1a supernovae and other objects. The instrument is based on a novel high- energy and position resolution CdZnTe Imager, coded aperture mask, and heavy-scintillator shield, and can be considered for a NASA Explorer mission.