BurstCube and Beyond: Using Scintillators and SiPMs to Detect Gamma-ray Bursts
The first simultaneous detection of a short gamma-ray burst (sGRB) with a gravitational-wave (GW) signal provided direct proof that binary neutron star mergers are a progenitor of short gamma-ray bursts (sGRBs) and propelled astronomy into the multi-messenger era. In order to further study the connection between gravitational waves and sGRBs, and thus enable multi-messenger science, we must increase the number of sGRB-GW simultaneous detections. To accomplish this we require full sky coverage in the gamma-ray regime. BurstCube aims to expand sky coverage in order to detect and localize gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). BurstCube is comprised of 4 Cesium Iodide scintillators coupled to arrays of Silicon photo-multipliers on a 6U bus and is sensitive to gamma-rays between 50 keV and 1MeV, the ideal energy range for GRB prompt emission. BurstCube will complement current observatories, such as Swift and Fermi, in the detection of GRBs as well as provide astronomical context to gravitational wave events detected by LIGO, Virgo, and KAGRA. BurstCube is currently in its development phase with an expected launch date of ~2022. The BurstCube instrumentation is also being included in proposed missions such as Bia (a small sat with significantly better sensitivity than Fermi-GBM) and Nimble (a mission to discover and study kilonova); both of which would fly in the late 2020's if approved.