Presentation #305.04 in the session “The Future is Here: Transient High-Energy Astrophysics with Small Satellites”.
High redshift gamma ray bursts offer the possibility to study star formation at early ages of the universe. A wide field of view soft X-ray telescope enables the detection of these bursts whose non-redshifted peaks would otherwise be in the hard X-ray to gamma-ray regime. A wide field of view soft X-ray sky monitor would also enable other time domain astrophysical studies of events such as potential X-ray counterparts to gravity wave events and blazar/AGN flares that may be associated with astrophysical neutrino generation at the sites of potential hadron acceleration. The BlackCAT (Black hole Coded Aperture Telescope) CubeSat is an X-ray coded aperture telescope observatory, with an expected launch in 2024, that is designed for observations of bright X-ray sources in the 0.5–20 keV band. The instrument will have a wide field of view (~0.9 steradian) and be capable of catching gamma ray bursts from the distant universe, galactic transients, and flares from blazars, while simultaneously monitoring the X-ray sky for rare and exciting events including gravitational wave X-ray counterparts, magnetar flares, supernova shock breakouts, and tidal disruption events. The mission will thus function as a multi-wavelength and multi-messenger complement to multiple present and future facilities including LIGO, VIRGO, KAGRA, IceCube, KM3NET, LSST, LOFAR, SKA, and CTA. Rapid notifications of burst positions would be transmitted to the ground and relayed to the GCN network. In addition to carrying out its mission lifetime science programs related to distant GRBs, transients, and X-ray sky monitoring, BlackCAT will also serve as a pathfinder for future economical missions combining multiple BlackCAT modules on either a single small satellite or on multiple CubeSats. BlackCAT will also serve as a pathfinder for new detector technologies. The BlackCAT design, as well as an overview of mission plans and science, will be presented.