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Cherenkov Telescope Array

An observatory for ground-based gamma-ray astronomy.CTA_array_sm.jpg

The CTA project is an initiative to build the next generation ground-based very high energy gamma-ray instrument. It will serve as an open observatory to a wide astrophysics community and will provide a deep insight into the non-thermal high-energy universe. A short movie outlining the envisaged arrays is available here. A special edition of the journal Astroparticle Physics with a focus on CTA can be accessed here.

The aims of the CTA can be roughly grouped into three main themes, serving as key science drivers:

  1. Understanding the origin of cosmic rays and their role in the Universe
  2. Understanding the nature and variety of particle acceleration around black holes
  3. Searching for the ultimate nature of matter and physics beyond the Standard Model ​​
The present generation of imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes (H.E.S.S., MAGIC and VERITAS) has in recent years opened the realm of ground-based gamma ray astronomy in the energy range above a few tens of GeV. The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) will explore our Universe in depth in Very High Energy (VHE,  E > 10 GeV) gamma-rays and investigate cosmic non-thermal processes, in close cooperation with observatories operating at other wavelength ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum, and those using other messengers such as cosmic rays and neutrinos.
Besides anticipated high-energy astrophysics results, CTA will have a large discovery potential in key areas of astronomy, astrophysics and fundamental physics research. These include the study of the origin of cosmic rays and their impact on the constituents of the Universe, the investigation of the nature and variety of black hole particle accelerators, and the inquiry into the ultimate nature of matter and physics beyond the Standard Model, searching for dark matter and effects of quantum gravity.

The design foresees a factor of 5-10 improvement in sensitivity in the current very high energy gamma ray domain of about 100 GeV to some 10 TeV, and an extension of the accessible energy range from well below 100 GeV to above 100 TeV.

CTA is included in the 2008 roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). It is one of the “Magnificent Seven” of the European strategy for astroparticle physics published by ASPERA, and highly ranked in the “strategic plan for European astronomy” (leaflet) of ASTRONET. In addition CTA is a recommended project for the next decade in the US National Academies of Sciences Decadal Review.