Leicester space scientists developing innovative camera system to detect most luminous objects in universe

The latest iteration of the Cherenkov Telescope Array’s (CTA) science case, Science with the Cherenkov Telescope Array, has been made available via the CTA website library and arXiv and will be published in a special edition of International Journal of Modern Physics D in the coming weeks.

CTA is the foremost global observatory for very high-energy gamma-ray astronomy over the next decade and beyond.

The work includes more than 200 pages that introduce and elaborate on CTA’s major science themes and place CTA in the context of other major observatories.

Professor Jon Lapington and his team at our Department of Physics and Astronomy are developing a camera system for the 70 telescopes proposed for the Small-Sized Telescope (SST) array in CTA, which will be located high on the Andes in South America.

The SST array will be able to detect astroparticles with energies as high as 300 Tera electron volts, or twenty-one times higher than the maximum collision energy of the Large Hadron Collider.

Professor Lapington said: “The most cataclysmic events in the Universe, such as supernovae, black hole and neutron star mergers, produce astroparticles with extreme energies, well in excess of those generated by the world’s most powerful particle accelerators.

“The Cherenkov Telescope Array is a giant array of optical telescopes which will observe this radiation with much more accuracy and speed than before, ushering in a new era in very high energy astronomy.”

Paul O’Brien, Professor of Astrophysics and Space Science, said: “CTA is much more powerful than previous observatories, and hence it will find and characterise the most luminous objects in the Universe using the highest energy light than can be observed.”

The University of Leicester research and hardware is funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Our space interests include the study of cosmic explosive events and their possible link to gravitational wave sources. CTA is designed to respond rapidly to an alert and then observe the sky hunting for a new source of radiation.