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MAGIC – Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov Telescope

The MAGIC telescopes at Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma (Image: R. Wagner)
The MAGIC telescopes at Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma (Image: R. Wagner)

With a reflector diameter of 17 meters each, the two MAGIC telescopes are the most sensitive Cherenkov telescopes in the world, especially in the energy range below 200 gigaelectronvolts (GeV). Their line of sight is directed at objects that emit gamma rays ranging from 30 GeV to 100 TeV (teraelectronvolts). This means that MAGIC can cover an enormous energy spectrum.

The twin telescopes are located 2,200 meters above sea level on the Canary Island of La Palma where the clear skies and lack of light pollution make for optimal observing conditions. The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) leads the international collaboration of about 165 astrophysicists from 24 research institutions in eleven countries. Together, they are responsible for the construction, operation and maintenance of the telescopes. MAGIC allows astrophysicists to obtain first class data for gaining scientific insights into enigmatic objects and the most violent processes in the universe.

MAGIC discoveries

The MAGIC telescopes have been in operation since 2003 and 2009 respectively. The MPP played a major role in the development and construction of their mechanical structure, imaging cameras and calibration system.

Since the outset, MAGIC has delivered many valuable scientific discoveries, some of which are described below:

Peak values from the Crab Pulsar

In the Crab Pulsar, MAGIC detected the most energetic pulsed gamma radiation ever measured in a star: The pulses reached energy peak values of up to 1.5 teraelectronvolts. It is still unclear what mechanism accelerates charged particles to such high energy levels.

Sky lab for blazars

Together with other instruments such as the Fermi-LAT satellite, VERITAS and H.E.S.S., MAGIC is scanning the electromagnetic spectra of the nearby Markarian 421 and Markarian 501 blazars. These are a kind of "testing lab" for finding distant active galactic nuclei.

Record emissions from galaxies

Violent processes around black holes in the center of galaxies emit far higher levels of energy than previously assumed, as revealed by observations of the galaxies PKS 1441+25 and QSO B0218+357. They are the most distant galaxies emitting gamma rays at very high energies and allow researchers to study the transparency of the universe. QSO B0218+357 is the first source of radiation discovered at very high energies discovered through gravitational lensing.

Information on the MAGIC Group

News releases

07/11/2018

For the first time, astrophysicists have localized the source of a high energy cosmic neutrino originating outside the Milky Way. It is highly likely that the neutrino comes from a blazar, an active black hole at the center of a distant galaxy in the Orion constellation. How did the scientists reach...

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06/25/2018

15 years ago, the first MAGIC telescope was inaugurated on La Palma in the Canary Islands. In 2009, it was followed by a second telescope of a similar type. Both instruments study cosmic objects that emit high-energy gamma rays, such as supernovae or massive, active black holes in the center of...

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09/20/2017

What gives the particles of cosmic radiation, which permeate the universe, their high energy? It is suspected that supernova remains might act as naturally occurring particle accelerators. Cassiopeia A is one of a handful of such objects in our galaxy and has therefore long been regarded as a...

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11/03/2016

Never before have astrophysicists measured light of such high energy from a celestial object so far away. Around 7 billion years ago, a huge explosion occurred at the black hole in the center of a galaxy. This was followed by a burst of high-intensity gamma rays. A number of telescopes, MAGIC...

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01/13/2016

The most energetic light ever observed from a few kilometres large star

Extremely energetic photons from the Crab Pulsar are discovered — Observations outshine previous measurements

The Crab Pulsar has set a new record: The neutron star in the Crab Nebula is sending out the most energetic light radiation that has ever been measured from a star. This observation could challenge our current understanding of pulsars. Moreover, a new mechanism, little understood up to now, appears...

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12/16/2015

For the first time, scientists have observed gamma radiation from a well-known distant galaxy. In the center of the active galaxy PKS 1441+25 resides a massive black hole, which is surrounded by a luminous disk of matter. The latest observation leads not only to a better understanding of active...

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07/06/2015

Turbulent processes take place close to supermassive black holes, which lurk in the centres of nearly all galaxies. They swallow up matter flowing in from the outside while at the same time producing so-called gas jets which shoot out into space in two opposite directions. Researchers at the Max...

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11/06/2014

The radio galaxy IC 310 in the Perseus constellation is approximately 260 million light years away from Earth. Astronomers assume there is a supermassive black hole at its centre. This black hole was the setting for an extremely powerful outburst of gamma rays which was observed by the MAGIC...

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Group members

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Besenrieder, Jürgen

Engineering 224

Ceribella, Giovanni

PhD Student 259

Chai, Yating

PhD Student 312

Colin, Uta

PhD Student 312

Green, David

Scientist 289

Hahn, Alexander

Student 421

Huetten, Moritz, Dr.

Scientist 289

Ishio, Kazuma

PhD Student 421

Mirzoyan, Razmik, Dr.

Scientist 328

Paneque, David, Dr.

Scientist 349

Peresano, Michele

PhD Student 259

Strom, Derek

Scientist 422

Suda, Yusuke, Dr.

Scientist 575

Vovk, Ievgen, Dr.

Scientist 255

Werner, Diana

Secretary 364

Will, Martin, Dr.

Scientist 291

van Scherpenberg, Juliane

Student 421

Events and meetings

time speaker title

Fri 19. Oct10:00

MAGIC & CTA Group Meeting

Thu 25. Oct10:30

Dr. Saverio Lombardi (OAR-INAF, ASDC),Dr. Monica Vazquez Acosta (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias) APFP Monthly Meeting

Sun 18. Nov18:00

MAGIC Collaboration Meeting Rome 2018 (Preliminary)

Key publications

Detection of very high energy gamma-ray emission from the gravitationally-lensed blazar QSO B0218+357 with the MAGIC telescopes
MAGIC Collaboration
arxiv:1609.01095

Teraelectronvolt pulsed emission from the Crab Pulsar detected by MAGIC
MAGIC Collaboration
Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 585 (January 2016)
doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201526853

Very high Energy γ-Ray from the universe’s middle age: Detection of the z = 0.940 Blazar PKS 1441+25 with MAGIC
Magic Collaboration
The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 815:L23 (8pp), 2015 December 20
doi:10.1088/2041-8205/815/2L23