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  • richardmitnick 12:15 pm on June 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Scientists Detect Crab Nebula Using Innovative Gamma-Ray Telescope Proving Technology Viability", , Laying the groundwork for the future of gamma-ray astrophysics., , The use of secondary mirrors in gamma-ray telescopes is a leap forward in innovation for the relatively young field of very-high-energy gamma-ray astronomy., Čerenkov Telescope Array (CTA)   

    From Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics: “Scientists Detect Crab Nebula Using Innovative Gamma-Ray Telescope, Proving Technology Viability” 

    Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

    From Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

    June 1, 2020

    Project contacts:

    Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
    Wystan Benbow

    University of Wisconsin
    Justin Vandenbroucke

    University of California, Los Angeles
    Vladimir Vassiliev

    Media contact:

    Amy Oliver
    Public Affairs
    Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
    Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory

    Prototype Schwarzschild-Couder Telescope (pSCT), located at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in Amado, Arizona

    Čerenkov Telescope Array, http://www.isdc.unige.ch/cta/ at Cerro Paranal, located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile searches for cosmic rays on Cerro Paranal at 2,635 m (8,645 ft) altitude, 120 km (70 mi) south of Antofagasta; and at at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC), Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma, Spain

    Scientists in the Čerenkov Telescope Array (CTA) consortium today announced at the 236th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) that they have detected gamma rays from the Crab Nebula using a prototype Schwarzschild-Couder Telescope (pSCT), proving the viability of the novel telescope design for use in gamma-ray astrophysics.

    “The Crab Nebula is the brightest steady source of TeV, or very-high-energy, gamma rays in the sky, so detecting it is an excellent way of proving the pSCT technology,” said Justin Vandenbroucke, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin. “Very-high-energy gamma rays are the highest energy photons in the universe and can unveil the physics of extreme objects including black holes and possibly dark matter.”

    Detecting the Crab Nebula with the pSCT is more than just proof-positive for the telescope itself. It lays the groundwork for the future of gamma-ray astrophysics. “We’ve established this new technology, which will measure gamma rays with extraordinary precision, enabling future discoveries,” said Vandenbroucke. “Gamma-ray astronomy is already at the heart of the new multi-messenger astrophysics, and the SCT technology will make it an even more important player.”

    The use of secondary mirrors in gamma-ray telescopes is a leap forward in innovation for the relatively young field of very-high-energy gamma-ray astronomy, which has moved rapidly to the forefront of astrophysics. “Just over three decades ago, TeV gamma rays were first detected in the universe, from the Crab Nebula, on the same mountain where the pSCT sits today,” said Vandenbroucke. “That was a real breakthrough, opening a cosmic window with light that is a trillion times more energetic than we can see with our eyes. Today, we’re using two mirror surfaces instead of one, and state-of-the-art sensors and electronics to study these gamma rays with exquisite resolution.”

    The initial pSCT Crab Nebula detection was made possible by leveraging key simultaneous observations with the co-located VERITAS (Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System) observatory.

    CfA/VERITAS, a major ground-based gamma-ray observatory with an array of four 12m Čerenkov Telescopes for gamma-ray astronomy in the GeV – TeV energy range. Located at Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory,Mount Hopkins, Arizona, US in AZ, USA, Altitude 2,606 m (8,550 ft)

    “We have successfully evolved the way gamma-ray astronomy has been done during the past 50 years, enabling studies to be performed in much less time,” said Wystan Benbow, Director, VERITAS. “Several future programs will particularly benefit, including surveys of the gamma-ray sky, studies of large objects like supernova remnants, and searches for multi-messenger counterparts to astrophysical neutrinos and gravitational wave events.”

    Located at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in Amado, Arizona—the largest field site of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian—the pSCT was inaugurated in January 2019 and saw first light the same week. After a year of commissioning work, scientists began observing the Crab Nebula in January 2020, but the project has been underway for more than a decade.

    “We first proposed the idea of applying this optical system to TeV gamma-ray astronomy nearly 15 years ago, and my colleagues and I built a team in the US and internationally to prove that this technology could work,” said Prof. Vladimir Vassiliev, Principal Investigator, pSCT. “What was once a theoretical limit to this technology is now well within our grasp, and continued improvements to the technology and the electronics will further increase our capability to detect gamma rays at resolutions and rates we once only ever dreamed of.”

    The pSCT was made possible by the contributions of thirty institutions and five critical industry partners across the United States, Italy, Germany, Japan, and Mexico, and by funding through the U.S National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Program.

    “That a prototype of a future facility can yield such a tantalizing result promises great things from the full capability, and exemplifies NSF’s interest in creating new possibilities that can enable a project to attract wide-spread support,” said Nigel Sharp, Program Manager, National Science Foundation.

    Now demonstrated, the pSCT’s current and upcoming innovations will lay the groundwork for use in the future Čerenkov Telescope Array observatory, which will host more than 100 gamma-ray telescopes. “The pSCT, and its innovations, are pathfinding for the future CTA, which will detect gamma-ray sources at around 100 times faster than VERITAS, which is the current state of the art,” said Benbow. “We have demonstrated that this new technology for gamma-ray astronomy unequivocally works. The promise is there for this groundbreaking new observatory, and it opens a tremendous amount of discovery potential.”

    About the pSCT

    The SCT optical design was first conceptualized by U.S. members of CTA in 2006, and the construction of the pSCT was funded in 2012. Preparation of the pSCT site at the base of Mt. Hopkins in Amado, AZ, began in late 2014, and the steel structure was assembled on site in 2016. The installation of the pSCT’s 9.7-m primary mirror surface —consisting of 48 aspheric mirror panels—occurred in early 2018, and was followed by the camera installation in May 2018 and the 5.4-m secondary mirror surface installation—consisting of 24 aspheric mirror panels—in August 2018. Scientists opened the telescope’s optical surfaces and observed first light in January 2019. It began scientific operations in January 2020. The SCT is based on a 114 year-old two-mirror optical system first proposed by Karl Schwarzschild in 1905, but only recently became possible to construct due to the essential research and development progress made at the Brera Astronomical Observatory, the Media Lario Technologies Incorporated and the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, all located in Italy. pSCT operations are funded by the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution.

    For more information visit https://www.cta-observatory.org/project/technology/sct/

    About CTA

    CTA is a global initiative to build the world’s largest and most sensitive very-high-energy gamma-ray observatory consisting of about 120 telescopes split into a southern array at Paranal, Chile and a northern array at La Palma, Spain. More than 1,500 scientists and engineers from 31 countries are engaged in the scientific and technical development of CTA. Plans for the construction of the observatory are managed by the CTAO gGmbH, which is governed by Shareholders and Associate Members from a growing number of countries. CTA will be the first ground-based gamma-ray astronomy observatory open to the worldwide astronomical and particle physics communities.

    For more information visit http://cta-observatory.org/

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Center for Astrophysics combines the resources and research facilities of the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory under a single director to pursue studies of those basic physical processes that determine the nature and evolution of the universe. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution, founded in 1890. The Harvard College Observatory (HCO), founded in 1839, is a research institution of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, and provides facilities and substantial other support for teaching activities of the Department of Astronomy.

  • richardmitnick 9:15 am on November 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , CTA's first Large Size Telescope (LST-1), Gamma-ray emitting binary systems, , MAGIC telescopes at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (ORM, PSR J2032+4127/MT91 213 binary system, , , Čerenkov Telescope Array (CTA)   

    From IAC via Manu: “Cosmic fireworks from a new gamma-ray binary” 

    From Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

    The universe around us.
    Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.


    From Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias – IAC

    Nov. 13, 2018

    Alicia López Oramas

    Javier Herrera Llorente

    A joint observational campaign with the MAGIC telescopes at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (Garafía, La Palma) and the VERITAS array at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (Tucson, Arizona), has detected a new source emitting very-high-energy gamma rays from an unusual system consisting of a massive star and a pulsar. The study has just been published in the prestigious The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    The PSR J2032 + 4127 pulsar at the time of closest approach to the star MT91 213, a blue star with a disk of matter around. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

    MAGIC Cherenkov telescopes at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (Garfia, La Palma, Spain))

    Binary emission according MAGIC on different days during the approach in November 2017. Credit: MAGIC Collaboration.

    CfA/VERITAS, a major ground-based gamma-ray observatory with an array of four 12m optical reflectors for gamma-ray astronomy in the GeV – TeV energy range. Located at Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory,Mount Hopkins, Arizona, US in AZ, USA, Altitude 2,606 m (8,550 ft)

    An international collaboration between the MAGIC telescopes at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (ORM) and the VERITAS array at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (FLWO) has discovered very-high-energy gamma ray emission from the PSR J2032+4127/MT91 213 binary system, an eccentric pair of gravitationally linked stars with an orbital period of 50 years.

    Gamma-ray emitting binary systems are rare objects, likely corresponding to a relatively brief period in the evolution of some massive star binaries. In these systems, a neutron star or black hole, the remaining products of stellar evolution and death, orbits a massive star. Few binaries have been detected within the very-high-energy gamma-ray domain. Up to now, less than 10 have been discovered, and the nature of the compact object or stellar remnant – whether it is a neutron star or a black hole – remains hidden for most of them.

    A unique opportunity

    Back in 2002, gamma-ray emission was detected from an extended source of unidentified nature: TeV J2032+4130. It was not until 2008 that the Fermi-LAT satellite discovered a highly-magnetized neutron star or pulsar, named PSR J2032+4127, which seems to be the cause of the emission of this unknown source.

    NASA/Fermi LAT

    NASA/Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope

    But the final surprise came in 2015, when it was discovered that this pulsar is coupled with the star MT91 213, taking 50 years to complete a full orbit around it. However, the most interesting event for the gamma ray community was that the closest approach between the pulsar and the star was going to happen in November 2017. According to Alicia López Oramas, researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and one of the main authors of the study, “such a unique system was expected to emit very-high-energy gamma rays during this approach, and this opportunity could not be missed”.

    A joint observation campaign was immediately launched to look for some cosmic fireworks from this binary system. During 2016, both observatories started searching for emission from this source, but all they could detect was the extended emission from TeV J2032+4130. “This source is most likely a nebula, the shell of a supernova remnant, which is being powered by the pulsar” -explains Ralph Bird, researcher at the University of California Los Angeles – “during 2016, all we could see was the emission of this weak source, which is detected after 50 hours of observations”.

    The true excitement arrived in 2017. In September of that year, before the planned approach, astronomers detected an enhancement in the emission of the new binary gamma-ray system. “The gamma-ray flux doubled the value measured from the extended source”, says Tyler Williamson, a graduate student at the University of Delaware (UD). However, the most amazing event took place in November. “During the closest approach between the star and the pulsar, the flux increased 10 times in just a single night” says Jamie Holder, a Professor in UD’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

    A promising future

    Prior to this detection, only one other gamma-ray binary with a known pulsar had been detected. In both cases, particles are accelerated in the shock created between the stellar wind and the pulsar wind and produce the gamma-ray emission. “The knowledge of the nature of the compact object allows to properly study particle acceleration mechanisms and gamma-ray emission models”, explains Oscar Blanch Bigas, researcher at the Institut de Física d’Altes Energies (IFAE).

    The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), the next-generation Cherenkov observatory that has just inaugurated the prototype of what may be its first Large Size Telescope (LST-1) at the ORM, will help detect new gamma-ray binaries.

    MAGIC Cherenkov Large Size Telescope LST-1gamma ray telescope on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain, Altitude 2,200 m (7,200 ft)

    “With an estimated population of about 100-200 gamma-ray binaries in the Galaxy, CTA will probably unveil the nature of these systems and reveal new insights into the evolution of binaries”, concludes Javier Herrera Llorente, a researcher who participated in the study and manager of the CTA project at the IAC.

    The Spanish scientific community has been participating in MAGIC since its inception through a number of public research centres, among them the IAC, the IFAE, the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB), the Universidad de Barcelona (UB) and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM). In addition the data centre for MAGIC is the Port d’Informació Científica (PIC), a collaboration between the IFAE and the Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (CIEMAT).

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias(IAC) is an international research centre in Spain which comprises:

    The Instituto de Astrofísica, the headquarters, which is in La Laguna (Tenerife).
    The Centro de Astrofísica en La Palma (CALP)
    The Observatorio del Teide (OT), in Izaña (Tenerife).

    These centres, with all the facilities they bring together, make up the European Northern Observatory(ENO).

    The IAC is constituted administratively as a Public Consortium, created by statute in 1982, with involvement from the Spanish Government, the Government of the Canary Islands, the University of La Laguna and Spain’s Science Research Council (CSIC).

    The International Scientific Committee (CCI) manages participation in the observatories by institutions from other countries. A Time Allocation Committee (CAT) allocates the observing time reserved for Spain at the telescopes in the IAC’s observatories.

    The exceptional quality of the sky over the Canaries for astronomical observations is protected by law. The IAC’s Sky Quality Protection Office (OTPC) regulates the application of the law and its Sky Quality Group continuously monitors the parameters that define observing quality at the IAC Observatories.

    The IAC’s research programme includes astrophysical research and technological development projects.

    The IAC is also involved in researcher training, university teaching and outreachactivities.

    The IAC has devoted much energy to developing technology for the design and construction of a large 10.4 metre diameter telescope, the ( Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC), which is sited at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos.

    Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, Spain Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC

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