CTA – Cherenkov Telescope Array

Gamma rays give astrophysicists a completely different perspective on celestial objects than, say, optical light, infrared radiation or radio waves. They provide information on high-energy processes in the universe, such as black holes and supernova remnants.

A new observatory is being built to expand the options for observing gamma rays: The planned Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) consists of 120 individual telescopes that detect different gamma ray ranges, covering a wide energy spectrum. This will make it possible to capture even more details from fascinating celestial objects.
The observatory is being constructed at two locations, in the northern and southern hemispheres, so that the whole night sky is covered. There will be about 20 telescopes arranged near MAGIC on La Palma, and another 100 telescopes at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, operated by ESO.

The project is the responsibility of an international collaboration consisting of some 800 scientists and engineers around the world. The largest telescope type in the array is the LST (Large-Sized Telescope) with a mirror diameter of 23 meters. The MPP has a leading role in the LST development.

The LST records low-energy gamma rays in the range of 20 to 200 gigaelectronvolts. This will be used to study black holes at the center of far distant galaxies, as well as binary star systems and pulsars.

The smaller telescopes of 12 and 8 meters in diameter will capture higher-energy gamma rays.

First prototype on La Palma

The Max Planck Institute for Physics has been involved in the construction of the first LST prototype. The LST-1 was built right beside the two MAGIC telescopes and inaugurated in 2018. Six research institutions from five countries had joined to co-operate in the LST-1 project.

The MPP was responsible for the substructure, the mechanical configuration, the rail system and parts of the camera mounting.

Information on the CTA group



LST receives signals from the Crab Pulsar

The LST-1 on the Canary Island of La Palma (Photo: Otger Ballester/IFAE)

Following its inauguration in October 2018, the first LST (Large-Sized Telescope) is currently in the commissioning phase. The LST-1 will commence research operations in 2021. But the imposing gamma-ray telescope has already provided an important proof of its performance: It recorded the extremely…

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Final agreement for CTA southern hemisphere array in Chile

The telescopes of the CTA observatory on the southern hemisphere (Image: CTAO/M-A. Besel/IAC (G.P. Diaz)/ESO)

On 19 December 2018, the Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory (CTAO) Council and European Southern Observatory (ESO) signed the final agreements needed for CTA’s southern hemisphere array to be hosted near ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile.

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The curtain goes up on the first telescope of the CTA Observatory

The LST-1 on La Palma is the first telescope of the CTA observatory.

On 10 October 2018, the LST-1 (Large-Sized Telescope) will be inaugurated in the Canary Islands in La Palma. It is the first of over 100 planned telescopes overall in the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA). The instruments are designed to capture objects and events that hurl out particles of maximum…

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Mirrors for the Large-Sized Telescope on La Palma

Installation of mirrors nearly completed: The prototype of the Large-Sized Telescope (LST) with mirrors wrapped in protective covers.

The mirrors for the largest telescope in the planned CTA observatory are now largely installed. In recent weeks, most of the 198 mirrors have been mounted. The telescope will be completed in the summer and commence operations in October 2018.

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CTA telescope ready for mounting the mirrors

The first telescope in the CTA observatory is ready for mounting the mirrors. (Photo: Th. Schweizer/MPP)

Things are looking up for the first CTA telescope: A recently installed counterweight now ensures that the telescope dish will remain in a vertical position, meaning that the telescope is now ready for mounting the mirror supports and the mirrors. This effectively marks the end of the principal work…

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CTA telescope with dish

The LST prototype with mounted dish

After only a few months construction time, the CTA project reached an important milestone: Last week, the mirror mountings were installed on the first Large-Sized Telescope (LST) of the CTA observatory. The LST (Large-Sized Telescope) is the largest model of the about 100 telescopes to be built in…

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Agreement on CTA site on La Palma now signed

On September 19, 2016, the Council of the Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory (CTAO) concluded negotiations with the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) to host CTA’s northern hemisphere array at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma, Spain.

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CTA: Laying the first stone of the prototype Large Size Telescope

On October 9th, 2015 the ceremony of the stone laying for the biggest Cherenkov telescope in the northern hemisphere, the prototype of the LST (Large Size Telescope) with a diameter of 23 meters, took place at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma. The LST will be one of…

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Spain and Chile to host the sites of the CTA observatory

The CTA cooperation decided on the future sites of the Cherenkov Telescope Array: The telescopes will be located at the Paranal Observatory of ESO (European Southern Observatory) in Chile and on La Palma, Spain. There the IAC (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias) runs the Roque de los Muchachos…

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Group members

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Arbet-Engels, Axel, Dr.

Postdoc 289 235

Berti, Alessio

Postdoc 227 224

Green, David, Dr.

Postdoc 289 235

Green, Jarred Gershon

PhD-Student 259 233

Hahn, Alexander

PhD-Student 421 234

Heckmann, Lea

PhD-Student 259 233

Mazin, Daniel, Dr.

Scientist 255 110

Mirzoyan, Razmik, Dr.

Scientist 328 232

Paneque, David, Dr.

Scientist 349 231


Pirola, Giorgio

PhD-Student 259 233

Schweizer, Thomas, Dr.

Scientist 291 222

Teshima, Masahiro, Dr.

Director 301 217

Werner, Diana

Secretary 364 215

Will, Martin, Dr.

Postdoc 291 222

Key publications

Search response: 8 publications match your query. Listing starts with latest publication first: (1 - 3)

MPP-2019-267 Gamma-Ray Sensitivity to Dark Matter Subhalo Modelling at High Latitudes, Francesca Calore, Moritz Hütten, Martin Stref, Galaxies 7 (2019) 90, arxiv:1910.13722 (abs), (pdf), (ps), inSPIRE entry.
[CTA], [Article]

MPP-2019-106 γ-ray and ν searches for dark matter subhalos in the Milky Way with a baryonic potential, Moritz Hütten, Martin Stref, Céline Combet, Julien Lavalle, David Maurin, Galaxies 7 (2019) 60, arxiv:1904.10935 (abs), (pdf), (ps), (External full text link), inSPIRE entry.
[CTA], [Article]

MPP-2018-126 Observing small-scale gamma-ray anisotropies with the Cherenkov Telescope Array, Moritz Hütten, Gernot Maier, JCAP 1808 (2018) 032, arxiv:1806.01839 (abs), (pdf), (ps), (External full text link), inSPIRE entry.
[CTA], [Article]

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