Project to provide scientists with access to worlds largest highenergy gammaray observatory

Our University is part of a new project that will provide scientists with access to the world’s largest and most sensitive high-energy gamma-ray observatory.

CTA is a global initiative to build the world’s largest and most sensitive high-energy gamma-ray observatory. More than 1,000 scientists and engineers from 32 countries and more than 200 research institutes participate in the CTA project.

CTA will serve as an open observatory to a wide astrophysics community and provide a deep insight into the non-thermal, high-energy universe. The CTA observatory will detect high-energy radiation with unprecedented accuracy and approximately ten times the sensitivity of current instruments, providing novel insights into some of the most extreme and violent events in the universe

Our University designed and built the first prototype of a camera for the SSTs (small-sized telescopes) here in Leicester, which can detect the highest energy gamma-rays from astrophysical objects, and is currently developing the next camera with collaboration from UK and European partner institutes.

Dr Rhaana Starling, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: “Astronomers in the department plan to use the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) to study sites of high energy particle acceleration in the Universe, in shock fronts sent out by exploding stars and in jets of material emanating from just born black holes.

“The CTA is a large international project, due to start construction at its southern site in Chile in 2017-2018, and the project has now announced the plans to build a counterpart in the northern hemisphere on La Palma allowing whole-sky coverage.”

Duncan Ross, lead CTA engineer at Leicester, said: “The CTA project is a fantastic opportunity for the University of Leicester and its Space Research Centre to be involved in cutting edge science and engineering with a large group of international peers. Developing the camera has been an exciting challenge and seeing the first camera mounted and working as part of the first CTA SST to achieve “first light” at the Observatoire de Paris, France, was tremendously satisfying. I’m looking forward to long term involvement with this project; seeing the full 3km diameter array operating with multiple copies of the camera, will be a major achievement for science at Leicester and one of our largest engineering projects.”