Performance Studies and Star Tracking for PoGOLite

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: PoGOLite is a balloon-borne experiment, which will study polarized soft ?-ray emissionfrom astrophysical targets in the 25-80 keV energy range by applying well-typephoswich detector technology. Polarized ?-rays are expected from a wide variety of sources including rotation-powered pulsars, accreting black holes and neutron stars,and jet-dominated active galaxies. Polarization measurements provide a powerfulprobe of the ?-ray emission mechanism and the distribution of magnetic and radiation fields around the source. The polarization is determined using Compton scattering and photoelectric absorption in an array of 217 plastic scintillators. The sensitive detector is surrounded by a segmented Bismuth Germanium Oxide (BGO) anticoincidence shield. The function of this shield is to reduce backgrounds from charged cosmic rays, primary and atmospheric ?-rays, and atmospheric and instrumenta lneutrons. The anticoincidence shield consists of 427 BGO crystals with three different geometries. The characteristics of the BGO crystals of the bottom anticoincidence shield have been studied with particular focus on the light yield.The maiden flight of PoGOLite will be with a reduced detector volume “pathfinder” instrument. The flight, lasting about 24 hours, is foreseen from Esrange, Sweden in August 2010. The performance of the pathfinder has been studied using computer simulations. The effect of atmospheric attenuation, both on the signal of theastronomical target and on the background, are studied. These allow an observationstrategy to be developed for the forthcoming flight. A polarization analysis method is described and applied to an observation example. The method sets anupper limit on the accuracy with which the polarimeter will be able to detect polarization the angle and degree. The PoGOLite polarimeter has a relatively small field of view (2.4?×2.4?) which must be kept aligned to objects of interest on the sky. A star tracker forms part of the attitude control system. The star trackersystem comprises a CCD camera, a lens, and a baffle system. Preliminary studiesof the star identification performance are presented and are found to be compatible with the environment around the Crab, which is the main observational target for the first flight.