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.
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.
The most energetic light ever observed from a few kilometres large star
Detection of very high energy gamma-ray emission from the gravitationally-lensed blazar QSO B0218+357 with the MAGIC telescopes
Teraelectronvolt pulsed emission from the Crab Pulsar detected by MAGIC
Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 585 (January 2016)
Very high Energy γ-Ray from the universe’s middle age: Detection of the z = 0.940 Blazar PKS 1441+25 with MAGIC
The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 815:L23 (8pp), 2015 December 20