If the heart of the SVOM mission is to guarantee the observation of approximately one hundred gamma-ray bursts per year, it is above all a formidable tool designed to scrutinize the transient sky as a whole.
Various astronomical objects are called « transient » because they change over time. These changes are distinguished in particular by a variation in their luminosity or their observed position and can be caused by movement or by transformation of the source itself. The time scales of transient phenomena are diverse, from seconds, to hours or days, and require appropriate observational strategies. Gamma-ray bursts are among the most studied transient phenomena, but there are many others, such as supernovae, eruptive stars (mostly red dwarfs and potentially some brown dwarfs) or active galactic nuclei.
This field of research is rapidly expanding and it could yield potential discoveries on the physics associated with violent cosmic phenomena . However, this requires significant detections and monitoring devices. SVOM is able to meet these expectations.
Like its sister mission SWIFT developed by NASA, SVOM includes in its program significant room for non-gamma-ray burst related science. The field of gamma-ray observation is rich in transient events. Sweeping the sky with its multi-wavelength instruments, SVOM can issue an alert following the detection of transient phenomena, communicating the information to ground-based telescopes.
Conversely, the SVOM mission may react to alerts generated by transient sky observatories, on the ground or in space. SVOM will thus be a partner of choice for other observational programs, such as IceCube and its neutrino telescope, LIGO and Virgo for the detection of gravitational waves, LSST and SKA for transient sky in the visible and radio range.