X-ray and gamma-ray polarimetry is a promising tool to study the geometry and the magnetic configuration of various celestial objects, such as binary black holes or gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). However, statistically significant polarizations have been detected in few of the brightest objects. Even though future polarimeters using X-ray telescopes are expected to observe weak persistent sources, there are no effective approaches to survey transient and serendipitous sources with a wide field of view (FoV). Here we present an electron-tracking Compton camera (ETCC) as a highly sensitive gamma-ray imaging polarimeter. The ETCC provides powerful background rejection and a high modulation factor over an FoV of up to 2π sr thanks to its excellent imaging based on a well-defined point-spread function. Importantly, we demonstrated for the first time the stability of the modulation factor under realistic conditions of off-axis incidence and huge backgrounds using the SPring-8 polarized X-ray beam. The measured modulation factor of the ETCC was 0.65 ±0.01 at 150 keV for an off-axis incidence with an oblique angle of 30° and was not degraded compared to the 0.58 ±0.02 at 130 keV for on-axis incidence. These measured results are consistent with the simulation results. Consequently, we found that the satellite-ETCC proposed in Tanimori et al. would provide all-sky surveys of weak persistent sources of 13 mCrab with 10% polarization for a 107 s exposure and over 20 GRBs down to a 6 ×10-6 erg cm-2 fluence and 10% polarization during a one-year observation.
- instrumentation: polarimeters
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science