Cherenkov Telescope Array

An advanced facility for ground-based gamma-ray astronomy

The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) Project

In recent years ground-based gamma-ray astronomy has experienced a major breakthrough with the impressive astrophysical results (see introduction) obtained mainly by the current generation instruments like CANGAROO, H.E.S.S. , MAGIC, MILAGRO and VERITAS. A clear physics potential of this field has been demonstrated, which is not only restricted to pure astrophysical observations, but also allows significant contributions to the field of particle physics and cosmology. CTA stands for an initiative to build the next generation ground-based gamma-ray instrument, which is supposed to serve as an open observatory to a wide astrophysics community and which will provide the deepest ever insight into the non-thermal high-energy universe. The current baseline design of CTA was presented (PDF) for the first time in fall 2005 to the European ESFRI sub-committee (see also here). It foresees a factor of 5-10 improvement in sensitivity in the current energy domain of about 100 GeV to some 10 TeV and an extension of the accessible energy range well below 100 GeV and to above 100 TeV. The observatory will consist of two arrays: a southern hemisphere array, which covers the full energy range from some 10 GeV to about 100 TeV to allow for a deep investigation of galactic sources, and of the central part of our Galaxy, but also for the observation of extragalactic objects. A northern hemisphere array, consisting of the low energy instrumentation (from some 10 GeV to ~1 TeV) complements the observatory and is dedicated mainly to northern extragalactic objects. The observatory with its two sites will be operated by one single consortium. A significant fraction of the observation time will be open to the general astrophysical community and facilities for user support will be provided. The design of CTA is based on currently available technology, and therefore allows for reliable predictions of the performance parameters of the observatory. At the same time, the option for future upgrades with new technology is kept open.

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. Interested institutions or individuals, who want to contribute to the definition and development of CTA are welcome to join (contact).

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