THESEUS is a space mission concept aimed at exploiting Gamma-Ray Bursts for investigating the early Universe and at providing a substantial advancement of multi-messenger and time-domain astrophysics. These goals will be achieved through a unique combination of instruments allowing GRBs and X-ray transients detection over a broad FOV (more than 1sr) with 0.5-1 arcmin localization, an energy band extending from several MeVs down to 0.3 keV and high sensitivity to transient sources in the soft X-ray domain, as well as on-board prompt (few minutes) follow-up with a 0.7 m class IR telescope with both imaging and spectroscopic capabilities. THESEUS will be perfectly suited for addressing the main open issues in cosmology such as, e.g., star formation rate and metallicity evolution of the inter-stellar and intra-galactic medium up to redshift $\sim$10, signatures of Pop III stars, sources and physics of re-ionization, and the faint end of the galaxy luminosity function. In addition, it will provide unprecedented capability to monitor the X-ray variable sky, thus detecting, localizing, and identifying the electromagnetic counterparts to sources of gravitational radiation, which may be routinely detected in the late ’20s / early ’30s by next generation facilities like aLIGO/ aVirgo, eLISA, KAGRA, and Einstein Telescope. THESEUS will also provide powerful synergies with the next generation of multi-wavelength observatories (e.g., LSST, ELT, SKA, CTA, ATHENA).
L. Amati, P. OBrien, D. Goetz, et. al.
Fri, 13 Oct 17
Comments: Submitted to Space Science Reviews. Partly based on the proposal submitted on October 2016 in response to the ESA Call for next M5 mission, with expanded and updated science sections