From European Southern Observatory: “ESO to Host Cherenkov Telescope Array-South at Paranal”

ESO 50 Large

From European Southern Observatory

20 December 2018

Megan Grunewald
Outreach and Communications Officer / CTAO gGmbH
Heidelberg, Germany
Tel: +49 6221 516471
Email: mgrunewald@cta-observatory.org

Calum Turner
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
Email: pio@eso.org

Mariya Lyubenova
ESO Outreach Astronomer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6188
Email: mlyubeno@eso.org

1
ESO’s Director General and the Managing Director of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) Observatory have signed the agreement needed for CTA’s southern hemisphere array to be hosted near ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. In addition, the Chilean Government and ESO have signed the agreement enabling ESO to host this new telescope within ESO’s Paranal Observatory site. This will allow the world’s most ambitious gamma-ray observatory to access not only Chile’s pristine observing conditions, but also ESO’s state-of-the-art infrastructure, expertise, and facilities. ESO will operate the facility on behalf of the CTA Observatory and its Members.

2
ESO’s Director General Xavier Barcons and Federico Ferrini, Managing Director of CTAO, sign the agreement for the construction and operation of CTA’s southern array within ESO’s Paranal site in northern Chile. The ceremony took place on 19 December 2018 at the ESO offices in Santiago, Chile. Credit: ESO/B. Núñez

3
Deputy Minister of Foreign Relations of Chile Carolina Valdivia Torres and ESO’s Director General Xavier Barcons sign an agreement that enables ESO to host CTA-South at the Paranal Observatory site, as an ESO Programme. The ceremony took place on 19 December 2018 in the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Chile in Santiago. Credit: ESO/B. Núñez

Proposed CTA Telescopes
4
Three classes of telescope types are required to cover the full CTA energy range (20 GeV to 300 TeV). For its core energy range (100 GeV to 10 TeV), CTA is planning 40 Medium-Sized Telescopes (MSTs). Eight Large-Sized Telescopes (LSTs) and 70 Small-Sized Telescopes (SSTs) are planned to extend the energy range below 100 GeV and above a few TeV. Credit: CTAO

CTA Array at Night with Air Showers
5
An artist’s rendering of the Cherenkov Telescope Array at night. The CTA is the next generation of ground-based instruments designed to detect gamma-rays. When gamma-rays hit the Earth’s atmosphere, they produce a shower of secondary particles which can travel faster than the speed of light in air, creating short-lived flashes of Cherenkov radiation — which the CTA’s mirrors and high-speed cameras can detect. Credit: CTAO

CTA sites map
6
This map displays the sites of the Cherenkov Telescope Array, spread out across the globe. The northern site of the array is located on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, and southern site is at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. The site decisions were made after years of careful consideration of extensive studies of the environmental conditions, simulations of the science performance and assessments of construction and operation costs. In addition, Bologna is the host site of the CTA Headquarters and the Science Data Management Centre (SDMC) is located in Zeuthen. Credit: ESO/CTAO/M. Kornmesser

Location of the Cherenkov Telescope Array in Chile
7
This image shows the relative locations of ESO’s Very Large Telescope, the site of the future Extremely Large Telescope, and the site of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) — all located at or near ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile’s Atacama desert. Credit: ESO/CTAO/N. Bartmann

8
The Cherenkov Telescope Array will be made up of several telescopes of different designs: Large-Sized Telescopes (LSTs), Medium-Sized Telescopes (MSTs) and Small-Sized Telescopes (SSTs). Their sizes are compared to CTA’s prototype telescopes the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT) and ASTRI, and the proposed Schwarzschild-Couder Telescope (SCT). Credit: ESO

The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is the next-generation ground-based instrument designed to detect very high energy gamma rays, with sites in both the southern and northern hemispheres. Gamma rays are electromagnetic radiation of very high energy, emitted by the hottest and most extreme objects in the Universe — supermassive black holes, supernovae and maybe even remnants of the Big Bang.

On 19 December 2018, Federico Ferrini, Managing Director of the Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory (CTAO), met with ESO’s Director General, Xavier Barcons, at the ESO offices in Santiago, Chile. Together with ESO’s Director for Operations, Andreas Kaufer, and other ESO members of personnel, they signed the agreement for the construction and operation of CTA’s southern array within ESO’s Paranal site in northern Chile.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Relations of Chile Carolina Valdivia Torres and ESO’s Director General also signed the agreement that enables ESO to host CTA-South at the Paranal Observatory site, as an ESO Programme.

A third agreement was already signed on 17 December 2018 between the Chilean National Commission for Science and Technology (CONICYT) and CTAO. This cooperation agreement aims at fostering astronomical research in Chile, capitalising on the opening of a new observational window as enabled by CTA-South.

With these three agreements in place, the CTAO will be able to begin construction on the southern site. The Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias will host CTA’s northern hemisphere array at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos on the island of La Palma, Spain. Construction of both the northern and southern arrays is expected to begin in 2020.

“Operating CTA at Paranal will open a new window on the Universe for astronomers in the ESO Member States, Chile, and worldwide,” commented ESO’s Director General, Xavier Barcons. “ESO’s rich experience of maintaining and operating fleets of telescopes in remote areas will be invaluable for the CTA project.”

The southern site of CTA is only 11 kilometres southeast of the location of the Very Large Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert, and only 16 kilometres from the construction site of the upcoming Extremely Large Telescope. This is one of the driest and most isolated regions on Earth — an astronomical paradise. In addition to the ideal conditions for year-round observation, installing CTA at the Paranal Observatory provides it with the advantages of ESO’s infrastructure. The existing infrastructures and facilities, and ESO’s long-lasting experience spearheading international astronomical projects in Chile, will all support the construction and operation of the new telescope array.

“Thanks to the agreements signed today, the CTAO will not only benefit from Chile’s spectacular night sky but also from ESO’s facilities and deep experience, which will be an invaluable contribution to the realisation of this ambitious system of telescopes,” said Federico Ferrini. “The partnership between ESO and the CTAO will serve as the cornerstone in the fast-growing era of multi-messenger astrophysics, providing an opportunity for further collaboration with other large infrastructures, such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and state-of-the-art gravitational-wave interferometers.”

Current Cherenkov telescope arrays, sensitive to very high-energy gamma rays, consist of only a handful of individual telescopes, but CTA — with its larger collecting area and excellent angular resolution — will be the largest and most sensitive array of gamma-ray telescopes in the world. It will detect gamma rays with unprecedented accuracy and will be 10 times as sensitive as any of its predecessors.

Although the Earth’s atmosphere prevents gamma rays from reaching the surface, CTA’s mirrors and high-speed cameras will capture the short-lived flashes of the eerie blue Cherenkov radiation produced when gamma rays interact with Earth’s atmosphere. By detecting this Cherenkov light, scientists will be able to trace the gamma ray back to its cosmic source.

The scientific scope of CTA is extremely broad: from understanding the role of relativistic cosmic particles to the search for dark matter. CTA will explore the extreme Universe, probing environments from the immediate neighbourhood of black holes to the cosmic voids on the largest scales. It may even lead to brand new physics as it studies the nature of matter and forces beyond the standard model.

CTA will operate across two sites, one in each hemisphere, allowing it to maximise its coverage of the night sky. When construction is complete, the CTAO will comprise 19 telescopes in the northern hemisphere — located at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands — and 99 telescopes in the southern hemisphere.

Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos at La Palma in the Canary Islands Spain

More than 1400 scientists and engineers from countries across five continents are engaged in the scientific and technical development of CTA. The shareholders of the current legal entity — CTAO gGmbH — are the representatives of ministries and funding agencies from Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom [1]. They are currently preparing for the establishment of a European Research Infrastructure Consortium — the CTAO ERIC — which will then construct the immense observatory. The ERIC will be composed of CTAO’s Member States and associated countries.

Notes

[1] The Netherlands and South Africa are participating in the CTAO gGmbH as observers.
More information

CTA is a global initiative to build the world’s largest and most sensitive high energy gamma-ray observatory. More than 1400 scientists and engineers from countries across five continents (Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Namibia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Ukraine) and more than 200 research institutes are participating in the CTA project. CTA will be the foremost global observatory for very high energy gamma-ray astronomy in the next decade and beyond, as well as the first ground-based gamma-ray astronomy observatory open to the astronomical and particle physics communities worldwide.

Links

The Cherenkov Telescope Array website
ESO’s CTA page
Current CTA shareholders

See the full article here .


five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


Stem Education Coalition

Visit ESO in Social Media-

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

ESO Bloc Icon

ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre EEuropean Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

ESO La Silla HELIOS (HARPS Experiment for Light Integrated Over the Sun)

ESO/HARPS at La Silla

ESO 3.6m telescope & HARPS at Cerro LaSilla, Chile, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

ESO 2.2 meter telescope at La Silla, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

ESO/Cerro LaSilla, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

ESO VLT Platform at Cerro Paranal elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft)


ESO VLT 4 lasers on Yepun

Glistening against the awesome backdrop of the night sky above ESO_s Paranal Observatory, four laser beams project out into the darkness from Unit Telescope 4 UT4 of the VLT.

ESO/NTT at Cerro La Silla, Chile, at an altitude of 2400 metres



ESO/Vista Telescope at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 ft).

ESO/APEX high on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile’s Atacama region, at an altitude of over 4,800 m (15,700 ft)

Leiden MASCARA instrument, La Silla, located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

Leiden MASCARA cabinet at ESO Cerro la Silla located in the southern Atacama Desert 600 kilometres (370 mi) north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2,400 metres (7,900 ft)

ESO Next Generation Transit Survey at Cerro Paranel, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

SPECULOOS four 1m-diameter robotic telescopes 2016 in the ESO Paranal Observatory, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

ESO TAROT telescope at Paranal, 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

ESO ExTrA telescopes at Cerro LaSilla at an altitude of 2400 metres