Sod cutting ceremony for future gamma-ray telescope

Construction of a telescope prototype for the planned Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) gamma-ray observatory started with a sod cutting ceremony in Berlin this week. At the research campus in Berlin Adlershof, a full-size mechanical prototype will be built in the coming months for the medium-sized of the three different planned CTA telescope types. “This is an important step for extending the astroparticle physics activities at DESY,” emphasised Professor Helmut Dosch, Chairman of the DESY Board of Directors.

Simulation of the prototype at the Adlershof campus in Berlin.

The CTA, built by an international consortium, will be a facility to measure light of highest energies, and it is one of DESY's future projects. “The universe is full of natural particle accelerators, for example supernova explosions, in binary star systems or active galactic nuclei. So far, we only know 150 of these objects and we have an initial physical understanding of these fascinating systems,” said Professor Christian Stegmann, head of the DESY institute in Zeuthen. “The Cherenkov Telescope Array will observe thousands of these accelerators with unprecedented sensitivity. It will be the gamma astronomy observatory of the future.” Its location has not yet been determined.

The CTA consortium consists of more than 1000 members from 27 countries.DESY is responsible for the design and construction of the mechanical structures and the control systems of the telescopes that have a 12-metre mirror surface diameter. It also coordinates the complete construction of these telescopes. Moreover, DESY makes substantial contributions to the control and monitoring systems of the planned telescope array, to the electronics, the optimisation of CTA performance as well as computing-intensive simulations and analyses.

Professor Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Scientific Director at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin, and Professor Stegmann jointly launched the construction phase and, after the first sod cutting, passed the responsibility on to the construction management. In the coming months, the foundation will be laid, followed by the mounting of the individual components of the prototype with a mirror surface area of a total of 100 square metres. After this, a data taking programme lasting several months will be started to understand the properties of the prototype in detail, to optimise the control and security systems, and to work on calibration aspects.

The CTA group at DESY in Zeuthen closely cooperates with the Universität Potsdam and the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin within the framework of the Berlin Brandenburg Cluster, and it is a member of the Helmholtz Alliance Astroparticle Physics in the fields of high-energy sources and search for dark matter.

Mor about CTA: http://www.desy.de/research/projects/cta/index_eng.html