SOXS: a spectrometer to exploit transient sky surveys in the next decade

Lead Research Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Department Name: Sch of Mathematics and Physics


The next decade (2020-2030) in astronomy will be defined by time domain and transient science. The promise of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (first light ~2019) combined with sensitive searches for gravitational waves from explosive transients and synergies with high energy experiments and radio facilities will truly revolutionise discoveries. A critical requirement is fast follow-up of discoveries (within minutes to hours) with dedicated optical telescopes. These telescopes do not necessarily need to be the largest aperture facilities, but they must be dedicated, fast, and flexible. The European Southern Observatory, the UK's premier facility, has strategically chosen the SOXS spectrometer to be built and installed on the New Technology Telescope. It will be the prime transient follow-up instrument in the southern hemisphere. UK scientists are currently leaders in this field, holding key positions within ESO and space mission surveys. This SoI requests modest funding (£294k over 3 years) for the UK to maintain its leadership role in ESO's future strategy. It will exploit our major investments in the next decade's premier time domain facilities, located mainly in the southern hemisphere. The broad European SOXS consortium will dominate the use of the NTT for transient follow-up, and make the critical decisions on how it is scientifically run and exploited. This means it is essential the UK join this project to continue our established leadership roles and shape the future. While our UK contribution is of order 10%, our track record and involvement in the discovery surveys (LSST, gamma-rays, gravitational wave follow-up teams) puts us in a prime position to exploit the most high profile discoveries in the next decade. STFC approval will leverage substantial University funding (£100k to date, contingent on the success of this proposal), thereby increasing our stake in SOXS at no extra cost to STFC.

Planned Impact

We are committed to outreach and public engagement. Stellar explosions, gamma-ray bursts, solar system bodies and the dynamic Universe enthuse the public and school children and we involve the amateur astronomy community in observing. A recent example is PESSTO's link with the BBC's Stargazing live to confirm public supernova discoveries, and Leicester's hosting of the main 2015 BBC Stargazing public event (~5000 people attended). The SOXS project has great potential to engage further. We aim to ensure that the optical detector will be a UK manufactured E2V detector. The purchase of the E2V detector will ensure UK industrial and technology return, consolidating E2V's leading role in the market.


10 25 50
Description Engaged with industry for purchase of hardware - detector technology
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Electronics,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

Description The SOXS consortium : Data Flow Architecture Work Package
Amount £239,079 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/S002693/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2021
Description SOXS Science Team 
Organisation National Institute for Astrophysics
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am the UK member of the SOXS Science Board. This has allowed me to leverage the PI position for the new ePESSTO consortium, which was awarded 90N per year on the ESO NTT. I am an important member of the SOXS team, and now lead this new european consortium
Collaborator Contribution Support for me becoming PI of this consortium.
Impact None so far
Start Year 2016