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Published February 15, 2016 | Submitted
Journal Article Open

X-ray polarimetry with the Polarization Spectroscopic Telescope Array (PolSTAR)


This paper describes the Polarization Spectroscopic Telescope Array (PolSTAR), a mission proposed to NASA's 2014 Small Explorer (SMEX) announcement of opportunity. PolSTAR measures the linear polarization of 3–50 keV (requirement; goal: 2.5–70 keV) X-rays probing the behavior of matter, radiation and the very fabric of spacetime under the extreme conditions close to the event horizons of black holes, as well as in and around magnetars and neutron stars. The PolSTAR design is based on the technology developed for the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission launched in June 2012. In particular, it uses the same X-ray optics, extendable telescope boom, optical bench, and CdZnTe detectors as NuSTAR. The mission has the sensitivity to measure ∼1% linear polarization fractions for X-ray sources with fluxes down to ∼5 mCrab. This paper describes the PolSTAR design as well as the science drivers and the potential science return.

Additional Information

© 2015 Elsevier B.V. Received 4 September 2015, Revised 20 October 2015, Accepted 22 October 2015, Available online 30 October 2015. HK thanks the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences at Washington University for sponsoring the design and fabrication of the X-Calibur prototype polarimeter, and NASA grant #NNX14AD19G for the support of the X-Calibur balloon project. MGB acknowledges NASA grants NNX13AQ82G and NNX13AP08G for support. CD acknowledges STFC support from grant ST/L00075X/1. JCM acknowledges NASA/NSF/TCAN grant NNX14AB46G, NSF/XSEDE/TACC (TGPHY120005), and NASA/Pleiades (SMD-14-5451). AI acknowledges support from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) Veni Fellowship. RF acknowledges support from the University of California Office of the President, and from NSF grant AST-1206097.

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