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  • richardmitnick 3:18 pm on October 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Cherenkov Telescope Array, ,   

    From Symmetry: “Scientists mull potential gamma-ray study sites” 

    Symmetry

    October 28, 2014
    Kelen Tuttle

    An international panel is working to determine the two locations from which the Cherenkov Telescope Array will observe the gamma-ray sky.

    Cherenkov Telescope Array
    Cherenkov Telescope Array

    Somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, about 100 state-of-the-art telescopes will dot the otherwise empty landscape for half a kilometer in every direction. Meanwhile, in the Northern Hemisphere, a swath of land a little over a third the size will house about 20 additional telescopes, every one of them pointing toward the heavens each night for a full-sky view of the most energetic—and enigmatic—processes in the universe.

    This is the plan for the Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory, the world’s largest and most sensitive gamma-ray detector. The first of the two arrays is scheduled to begin taking data in 2016, with the other coming online in by 2020. At that point, CTA’s telescopes will observe gamma rays produced in some of the universe’s most violent events—everything from supernovas to supermassive black holes.

    Yet where exactly the telescopes will be built remains to be seen.

    Scientists representing the 29-country CTA consortium met last week to discuss the next steps toward narrowing down potential sites in the Northern Hemisphere: two in the United States (both in Arizona) and two others in Mexico and the Canary Islands. Although details from that meeting remain confidential, the CTA resource board is expected to begin negotiations with the potential host countries within the next few months. That will be the final step before the board makes its decision, says Rene Ong, co-spokesperson of CTA and a professor of physics and astronomy at UCLA.

    “Whichever site it goes to, it will be very important in that country,” Ong says. “It’s a major facility, and it will bring with it a huge amount of intellectual capital.”

    Site selection for the Southern Hemisphere is a bit further along. Last April, the CTA resource board narrowed down that list to two potential sites: one in Southern Namibia and one in Northern Chile. The board is now in the process of choosing between the sites based on factors including weather, operating costs, existing infrastructure like roads and utilities, and host country contributions. A final decision is expected soon.

    sites
    Artwork by: Sandbox Studio, Chicago

    “The consortium went through an exhaustive 3-year process of examining the potential sites, and all of the sites now being considered will deliver on the science,” says CTA Project Scientist Jim Hinton, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Leicester. “We’re happy that we have so many really good potential sites. If we reach an impasse with one, we can still keep moving forward with the others.”

    Scientists do not completely understand how high-energy gamma rays are created. Previous studies suggest that they stream from jets of plasma pouring out of enormous black holes, supernovae and other extreme environments, but the processes that create the rays—as well as the harsh environments where they are produced—remain mysterious.

    To reach its goal of better understanding high-energy gamma rays, CTA needs to select two sites—one in the Northern Hemisphere and one in the Southern Hemisphere—to see the widest possible swath of sky. In addition, the view from the two sites will overlap just enough to allow experimenters to better calibrate their instruments, reducing error and ensuring accurate measurements.

    With 10 times the sensitivity of previous experiments, CTA will fill in the many blank regions in our gamma-ray map of the universe. Gamma-rays with energies up to 100 gigaelectronvolts have already been mapped by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and others; CTA will cover energies up to 100,000 gigaelectronvolts. It will survey more of the sky than any previous such experiment and be significantly better at determining the origin of each gamma ray, allowing researchers to finally understand the astrophysical processes that produce these energetic rays.

    NASA Fermi Telescope
    NASA/Fermi

    CTA may also offer insight into dark matter. If a dark matter particle were to naturally decay or interact with its antimatter partner to release a flash of energy, the telescope array could theoretically detect that flash. In fact, CTA is one of very few instruments that could see such flashes with energies above 100 gigaelectronvolts.

    “I’m optimistic that we’ll see something totally new and unexpected,” Ong says. “Obviously I can’t tell you what it will be—otherwise it wouldn’t be unexpected—but history tells us that when you make a big step forward in capability, you tend to see something totally new. And that’s just what we’re doing here.”

    See the full article here.

    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.


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  • richardmitnick 12:04 pm on April 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Cherenkov Telescope Array, ,   

    From ESO: “ESO Site Shortlisted for Cherenkov Telescope Array” 


    European Southern Observatory

    15 April 2014
    Contacts

    Lars Lindberg Christensen
    Head of ESO ePOD
    ESO ePOD, Garching, Germany
    Tel: +49 89 3200 6761
    Cellular: +49 173 3872 621
    E-mail: lars@eso.org

    ESO’s Paranal–Armazones site in Chile has been shortlisted as one of two potential sites in the southern hemisphere for the international Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) — a large array for ground-based gamma-ray astronomy. This is an important step towards the realisation of the project and if the site is selected, this will open up a new frontier for ESO.

    cta

    On 10 April 2014 Government representatives from the 12 of the countries involved in the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) project met in Munich and decided to start negotiations with the two sites — Aar in Namibia and ESO’s Paranal–Armazones site in Chile — keeping Leoncito in Argentina as a third option.

    The CTA project is an initiative to build the next generation of ground-based, very high energy gamma-ray instruments. The CTA project aims to use detection of high-energy gamma-rays to provide a deeper insight into the high-energy Universe.

    The representatives received consultation from an international Site Selection Committee as well as the CTA consortium’s extensive input on the merits of the proposed sites. The Consortium expects to close the site selection by the end of 2014.

    The spokesperson of the CTA Consortium, Professor Werner Hofmann said: “The site choice is on the critical path towards implementing CTA; this decision represents a major step forward and we appreciate very much the engagement and support of the funding agencies and the country delegates involved in the decision.”

    Gamma-rays are emitted by the hottest and most powerful objects in our Universe — such as supermassive black holes, supernovae and possibly remnants of the Big Bang. When a high-energy gamma photon hits the Earth’s atmosphere, it may produce a cascade of secondary particles and cause emission of what is known as Cherenkov radiation — a characteristic faint blue visible-light flash. This flash may last only a few billionths of a second so must be imaged with super-fast and sensitive cameras and with telescopes of enormous light gathering power.

    The Cherenkov Telescope Array is a multinational, world-wide project with which 1000 scientists and engineers from 28 countries and over 170 research institutes are involved. The CTA will provide an order-of-magnitude jump in sensitivity over current instruments, providing novel insights into some of the most extreme processes in the Universe. Most systems measuring Cherenkov radiation use only a handful of telescopes, but the CTA will consist of about 100 Cherenkov telescopes of 23-metre, 12-metre and 4-metre dish sizes located in the southern hemisphere, plus a smaller site in the northern hemisphere. An array of this size will increase the number of detected flashes, it will also cover the full energy range [3] and improve drastically upon the angular resolution [4], allowing for identification of the emitting objects at other wavelengths.

    “Although formal discussions have not yet started, the shortlisting of Paranal-Armazones as a potential site for CTA illustrates the excellence of the site and the infrastructure for the Very Large Telescope and European Extremely Large Telescope. If chosen, CTA would take advantage of ESO’s great expertise in ground-based astronomy.” said ESO’s Director General, Tim de Zeeuw. “We look forward to the discussions with CTA.”

    See the full article, with notes here.

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    ESO, European Southern Observatory, builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.


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  • richardmitnick 11:07 am on June 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Cherenkov Telescope Array,   

    From ISGTW: “The grand vision of the Cherenkov Telescope Array” 

    June 27, 2012
    Adrian Giordani

    The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) will consist of two arrays of telescopes in two different hemispheres, allowing full coverage of the sky. The south CTA will cover about one square kilometer (0.39 square miles) of land with around 60 telescopes that will monitor all the energy ranges in the center of the Milky Way’s galactic plane. The north CTA will cover three square kilometers (1.16 square miles) and be composed of 30 telescopes. These telescopes will be targeted at extragalactic astronomy.

    array
    An artist’s impression of the final constructed Cherenkov Telescope Array. Image courtesy G. Perez, SMM, IAC.

    ‘CTA opens a new window of essentially unexplored photon energies,’ said Giovanni Bignami, president of the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF). ‘Its potential impact is enormous: part of it, we imagine, will consist in discovering thousands of new [very-high-energy photon] sources, and part of it will be surprises. It’s the surprises we like best, and it’s the surprises that will most appeal to the public at large.’

    The project represents a major global effort with research groups from Africa, Argentina, Brazil, India, Japan, Mexico, and the US. There are currently more than 27 countries, and over 1,000 scientists involved.

    What is the goal of the CTA?

    The project will be composed of a collection of Cherenkov telescopes that will scan the universe at very-high-energy gamma-rays from 100 giga-electronvolts to about 100 tera-electronvolts; energies which are one hundred billion to one hundred trillion times higher than of visible light.The CTA will also investigate cosmic processes that create particles travelling close to the speed of light.

    The CTA combines the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, and fundamental physics research. Studies will include the origin of cosmic rays and their impact on other bodies within the universe. Researchers will investigate galactic particle accelerators, black holes, extragalactic gamma rays, dark matter, and the effects of quantum gravity.”

    See the full article here.

     
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