Observations of the gamma-ray sky reveal the most powerful sources and the most violent events in the Universe. While at lower wavebands the observed emission is generally dominated by thermal processes, the gamma-ray sky provides us with a view on the non-thermal Universe. Here particles are accelerated to extreme relativistic energies by mechanisms which are still poorly understood, and nuclear reactions are synthesizing the basic constituents of our world. Cosmic accelerators and cosmic explosions are major science themes that are addressed in the gamma-ray regime. While Fermi will take the next step in surveying the high-energy (similar to GeV) sky, and NuSTAR will pioneer focusing observations at hard X-ray energies (to similar to 80 keV), there is currently no successor mission planned to ESA's INTEGRAL observatory which currently provides important new insights into the MeV sky, albeit at much more modest sensitivities. There will be clearly a growing need to perform deeper, more focused investigations of gamma-ray sources in the 100-keV to MeV regime. Recent technological advances in the domain of gamma-ray focusing using Lane diffraction and multilayer-coated mirror techniques have paved the way towards a gamma-ray mission, providing major improvements compared to past missions regarding sensitivity and angular resolution. Such a future Gamma-Ray Imager will allow the study of particle acceleration processes and explosion physics in unprecedented detail, providing essential clues on the innermost nature of the most violent and most energetic processes in the Universe.
- Laue lens
- Compton focal plane
- gamma-ray astronomy detectors
- Astronomical satellites