1996 Chretien Research Grant Sends Bruce To Australia to Hunt Gamma-Ray Bursts

  • The Chretien Grant is a grant administered by the AAS to foster international research. Normally it is split by 2 groups.
  • "An optical Search for Gamma-Ray Bursts:Seed Project" was our (also Saul Perlmutter with very essential collaborators Michael Ashley and John Storey in Australia) winner. The proceeds will send me to Australia to start pointing at gamma-ray bursts sometime in January.

    No emission from a classical gamma-ray burst has ever been detected below a few keV in energy (i.e. except in the X-ray and gamma-ray bands). Our search is based on the ideas that many gamma ray bursts are in the 30-90 sec. range, and it is possible to point a conventional telescope at them while gamma-rays are still being emitted. This is a much more useful pursuit to determine limits of opt/gamma radiation than the current method of pointing at the bursts long after the gamma radiation is undetectable.

    The search will be performed with the APT (Automated Patrol Telescope), a 1-m aperture telescope originally made to track satellites, now located at the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Australia, and modernized to use a CCD camera.

    Optical observations are triggered on alerts from the GRO satellite and transmitted via the internet. Such coordinates are terrible (inaccurrate) but can be improved.

    Bruce's job in this, besides, as usual, writing tons of unappreciated proposals, is to design an improved camera system to get lots of gamma-ray burst images, and to get the appropriate hardware and software necessary to fully automate the system.

    Stay tuned for more details....Including an imminent announcemnt on funding from the Australian Research Council.