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The Future of Very High Energy Astrophysics

KMI Experiment Seminar
2016-09-15 16:00
Rene A. Ong
KMI Science Symposia (ES635)
The field of very high energy (VHE) astrophysics had been revolutionized by the results from ground-based gamma-ray telescopes, including the current imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescope (IACT) arrays: HESS, MAGIC and VERITAS.  A worldwide consortium of scientists from 32 countries has formed to develop the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) that will capitalize on the power of this technique to greatly expand the scientific reach of ground-based gamma-ray telescopes.  CTA science topics will include the origin of cosmic rays and cosmic particle acceleration, understanding extreme environments in regions close to neutron stars and black holes, and exploring physics frontiers through, e.g., the search for WIMP dark matter, axion-like particles and Lorentz invariance violation.

CTA is envisioned to consist of two large arrays of Cherenkov telescopes, one in the southern hemisphere and one in the north. Each array will contain telescopes of different sizes to provide a balance between cost and array performance over an energy range from 20 GeV to above 100 TeV. Compared to the existing IACT arrays, CTA will have substantially better angular resolution and energy resolution, will cover a much wider energy range, and will have up to an order of magnitude better sensitivity. CTA will also be operated as an open observatory and high-level CTA data will be placed into the public domain; these aspects will enable broad participation in CTA science from the worldwide scientific community.

This talk will review the scientific motivation and capabilities of CTA, provide an overview of the technical design and the status of prototype development, and summarize the current status of the project in terms of its proposed organization and timeline.