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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.
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.
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