To explore the sub-MeV/MeV gamma-ray window for astronomy, we have developed the Electron-Tracking Compton Camera (ETCC), and carried out the first performance test in laboratory conditions using several gamma-ray sources in the sub-MeV energy band. Using a simple track analysis for a quick first test of the performance, the gamma-ray imaging capability was demonstrated with clear images and 5.3 degrees of angular resolution measure (ARM) measured at 662 keV. As the greatest impact of this work, a gamma-ray detection efficiency on the order of 10-4 was achieved at the sub-MeV gamma-ray band, which is one order of magnitude higher than our previous experiment. This angular resolution and detection efficiency enables us to detect the Crab Nebula at the 5σ level with several hours observation at balloon altitude in middle latitude. Furthermore, good consistency of efficiencies between this performance test and simulation including only physical processes is very important; it means we achieve nearly 100% detection of Compton recoil electrons and means that our predictions of performance enhancement resulting from future upgrades are more realistic. We are planning to confirm the imaging capability of the ETCC by observation of celestial objects in the SMILE-II (Sub-MeV gamma ray Imaging Loaded-on-balloon Experiment II). The SMILE-II and following SMILE-III project will be an important key of sub-MeV/MeV gamma-ray astronomy.
- Baloon instrumentation
- Gamma telescopes
- Gaseous imaging and tracking detectors
- Imaging spectroscopy