The Swift gamma-ray mission is a space based observatory
designed for prompt multi-wavelength observations of gamma-ray bursts
(GRBs) and their associated afterglows.
It has been launched on 2004 November 20 from Cape Canaveral.
It carries three instruments on-board, covering the gamma-ray (BAT),
X-ray (XRT) and UV/optical bands (UVOT). Using these instruments,
Swift measures GRB positions with arc-second accuracy, within a few
minutes since their discovery, and automatically sends the information
to ground based observatories for further follow up.
It is the first satellite able to observe GRBs in the X-ray band
during the crucial first hours of the afterglow evolution.
Swift has been realised by an international team of scientists
from United States, Italy and United Kingdom.
The Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) is the instrument that detects the
bright initial gamma-ray emission of GRBs. The BAT has
a large field of view, allowing it to detect gamma-rays from a
large portion of the sky at one time, and locate the source.
After the initial detection, Swift slews rapidly and autonomously,
bringing the detected burst into the field of view of the sensitive
narrow field instruments (XRT and UVOT) that start observing the
afterglow. The refined positions determined by XRT and UVOT are
transmitted to the ground for optical, infrared and radio follow up.
Swift provides spectra and multi-wavelength light-curves
for all the duration of the afterglow.
Its fast pointing capability allows very early spectroscopy of the
bright part of the optical afterglow which is critical for distance
The combined Swift and ground based telescopes observations
are enabling the most comprehensive study of GRBs and their host
galaxies up to date.
The main goals of the Swift mission are:
- the determination of the origin of gamma-ray bursts
- the classification of gamma-ray bursts and search for new types
- the investigation on how the blast-wave evolves and interacts with the surroundings
- probing the early Universe by means of very distant gamma-ray bursts
- to perform the first sensitive hard X-ray survey of the sky
What Swift does:
- The Burst Alert Telescope triggers on GRB and calculates position
to within ~4-arc-min.
- The Spacecraft autonomously slews to GRB position in 20-70 seconds.
- The X-ray Telescope determines position to within ~5-arc-sec.
- The UV/Optical Telescope images the field and transmits a finding chart to ground.
Giancarlo Cusumano |
Valentina La Parola |
Teresa Mineo |
Vanessa Mangano |
Alessandro Maselli |
Contact person at IASF-Palermo:
As an example of the Swift team activity at our Institute,
you can see the lists of selected publications produced
during the last years in the following pages:
IASF Palermo Publications on Gamma-ray Bursts & X-ray Transients
IASF Palermo Publications on Supergiant Fast X-ray Transients
IASF Palermo Publications on the BAT survey
Gamma-ray burst Circular Network
Swift NASA Official Site
Swift Mission Operations Center in PennState
Swift Catching Gamma-Ray Bursts on the Fly in OAB
The Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission in ASDC
The Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission in UL
Swift Catching Gamma-Ray Bursts on the Fly in MSSL
ASDC Swift data archive
ASDC Multi-Mission Interactive Archive