UK Participation in the Pre-production Phase of the Cherenkov Telescope Array 2015-2017

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

The Universe is full of particles with energies so high that they are travelling at very close to the speed of light. They affect the Universe in many ways, influencing the life-cycles of stars and the evolution of galaxies. These particles are hard to trace, but can reveal their presence by producing gamma rays. Like their lower-energy cousins, X-rays, gamma rays do not penetrate the Earth's atmosphere and usually satellite-based telescopes are used to detect them. However, at very high energies (VHE) there are so few gamma rays that detecting them using spacecraft becomes impossible. Luckily, it is possible to observe them from the ground via the flashes of blue light, Cherenkov radiation, produced when they interact in the atmosphere. The glow from Cherenkov radiation in the atmosphere is 10,000 times fainter than starlight, so large mirrors are required to collect it, and because the flashes last only a few billionths of a second, ultra-fast cameras are needed to record them.
We know from current ground-based gamma-ray telescopes such as HESS that there is a wealth of phenomena to be studied. VHE gamma ray telescopes have detected the remains of supernova explosions, binary star systems, highly energetic jets produced by black holes in distant galaxies, star formation regions, and many other objects. These observations can help us to understand not only what is going on inside these objects, but also answer fundamental physics questions relating to the nature of Dark Matter and of space-time itself. However, we have reached the limit of what can be done with current instruments, and so about 1000 scientists from 29 countries around the world have come together to build a new instrument - the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA).
CTA will offer a dramatic increase in sensitivity over current instruments and extend the energy range of the gamma rays observed to both lower and higher values. It is predicted that the catalogue of known VHE emitting objects will expand from the 130 known now to over 1000, and we can expect many new discoveries in key areas of astrophysics and fundamental physics. To achieve the energy coverage of CTA, telescopes of three different sizes are needed: Small (~4 m diameter), Medium (12 m) and Large (23 m) Sized Telescopes (SSTs, MSTs and LSTs, respectively). CTA will have arrays in the northern and southern hemispheres. The northern array will consist of 4 LSTs and 25 MSTs. The southern array will add to its 4 LSTs and 25 MSTs an extensive array of 70 SSTs, to investigate the highest energy phenomena, visible mainly in the southern sky. We expect construction of the first telescopes on the CTA southern site to start in 2017.
There are currently 12 UK universities and Laboratories involved in CTA. The UK groups are concentrating their efforts on the construction of the SSTs. We have produced an innovative dual-mirror SST design, the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), which is being prototyped in sight of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and are building two prototype cameras, with different sensors, we will test on this device. Here we ask for finding to complete tests of these cameras, use the results to design the final camera for the GCT and to build, with international partners, three of these for installation on GCTs on the CTA southern site. We also want to work with UK industry to provide mirrors for the telescope that are better and cheaper than current designs, as well as improving aspects of the GCT structure. Finally, we want to develop data analysis techniques for CTA, to ensure that UK scientists are ready to analyse the data from CTA as soon as the first telescopes start operation.

Planned Impact

CTA will have an impact on a wide range of scientific questions, from the nature of gravity to how supernovae accelerate particles and how active galaxies work. In doing so, it will use new and innovative methodologies, combining techniques from both astronomy and particle physics. In the process, many highly-skilled researchers will be trained.

UK industry stands to gain both from knowledge transfer and by way of contracts for producing electronics, camera housings, mirrors and structural elements. Much of this work will be undertaken in areas of economic deprivation (e.g. North East England, North Wales) thereby contributing to regeneration and economic development. Initial development work will take place over the next 2 years, with contracts likely being placed in the following 2-3 years.

The atmosphere is an important element of our detectors, and our Monte Carlo simulations already use data from the British Atmospheric Data Centre. Wherever the telescopes are sited, it is likely to be in an area short of detailed weather data for input to climate models. CTA's weather data are therefore likely to be useful to atmospheric modellers.

The public awareness and understanding of science will be enhanced by CTA. Our scientific research covers topics of considerable interest to the public, including black holes, supernova explosions and dark matter. We have already had considerable engagement with the public through events such as Stargazing Live and the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, as well as giving many talks to local interest groups (Women's Institute, astronomical societies etc.) and schools. These activities will be continued and enhanced during the next few years as CTA matures as an observatory.

Early stage researchers will gain a wide range of skills from working on CTA, in areas such as programming, electronics, modelling of complex systems, image analysis etc. In addition, they will gain the 'soft skills' which come from working with people from a wide range of cultural backgrounds in the international CTA Consortium. These skills will fit them for non-academic professions. For example, recent Ph.D. graduates who have worked in CTA have already gone on to careers in teaching and software engineering and we expect many more skilled people to move into non-academic careers over the 30 year lifetime of CTA.

Publications

10 25 50

publication icon
Armstrong T (2017) Fermi-LAT high-z active galactic nuclei and the extragalactic background light in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

publication icon
Dournaux J (2017) Operating performance of the gamma-ray Cherenkov telescope: An end-to-end Schwarzschild-Couder telescope prototype for the Cherenkov Telescope Array in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment

publication icon
Zorn J (2018) Characterisation and testing of CHEC-M-A camera prototype for the small-sized telescopes of the Cherenkov telescope array in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment

 
Description Work which we have embarked on to look at calibrating the entire CTA with our LED flashers (designed for the camera) is providing possibilities for applications in other areas, both within astronomy and outside (e.g. meteorology, agriculture).
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Societal

 
Description UK participation in the pre-production phase of CTA - extension 2018-2019
Amount £242,685 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/S00257X/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2018 
End 12/2019
 
Description Hot-slumped Mirrors for CTA 
Organisation OpTIC Glyndwr Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Expertise in Cherenkov telescope mirror requirements, simulations and testing.
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in optical design & engineering and mirror coatings
Impact Collaboration is just on the point of receiving Mini-IPS funds, so no outputs yet
Start Year 2015
 
Description Hot-slumped Mirrors for CTA 
Organisation Thin Metal Fims Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Expertise in Cherenkov telescope mirror requirements, simulations and testing.
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in optical design & engineering and mirror coatings
Impact Collaboration is just on the point of receiving Mini-IPS funds, so no outputs yet
Start Year 2015
 
Description Hot-slumped Mirrors for CTA 
Organisation University of Liverpool
Department Department of Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Expertise in Cherenkov telescope mirror requirements, simulations and testing.
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in optical design & engineering and mirror coatings
Impact Collaboration is just on the point of receiving Mini-IPS funds, so no outputs yet
Start Year 2015
 
Description CTA & Ireland Workshop - CTA calibration talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk to introduce colleagues in Northern Ireland to CTA in the UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description CTA Calibration Workshop, Barcelona - GCT Calibration talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk at CTA Calibration workshop designed to swap ideas & experience about telescope calibration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description CTA Consortium meeting - talk about mirror test facilities 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Update talk at collaboration meeting relating to mirrors tests and plans.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description CTA talk at University of Newcastle, Australia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk about prospects for CTA and spin-off activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description CTA talk in Sydney 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk about prospects for CTA and spin-off activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Community Science Fair 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Exhibit about the Cherenkov Telescope Array. Many families attended, lots of questions, good feedback from visitors. The exhibit also enabled a final year student to complete project work towards her degree.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.thehermitageacademy.net/site/stemFair/stemFair.html
 
Description Dark Matter UK Workshop talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk about CTA to DM-UK
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Dark Matter talk at Lumley Castle 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk about prospects for dark matter detection with CTA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://conference.ippp.dur.ac.uk/event/555/overview
 
Description Discussion meeting at Royal Astronomical Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Discussion about uses of CTA in wider astronomical community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description European Particle Strategy Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk on indirect dark matter detection, including prospects for CTA. Purpose was to frame UK input to the European Particle Physics Strategy. A report was produced.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description GCT Calibration Campaign 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk outlining calibration for telescope test campaign in Paris
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description GCT Inauguration 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Web-based news article & PR, intended to update people about the progress of the Cherenkov Telescope Array
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.stfc.ac.uk/news/uk-contributes-super-fast-camera-to-international-astronomy-project/
 
Description Interview with Symmetry magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview about CTA with Fermilab/SLAC science magazine, Symmetry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/viewing-our-turbulent-universe
 
Description Introduction to CTA-UK Science Activities 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk and discussion with new CTA members from Armagh Planetarium
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Invited Talk (Brown) - UK DM meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Around 60 scientists attended the talk at the UK Dark Matter meeting. Questions and discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Irish gamma ray meeting (Brown) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk given at a meeting in Ireland on the future of gamma-ray astronomy. Questions and discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Mirror talk at CTA meeting, Japan 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation about suitable tests for CTA mirrors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Mirror testing presentation at Project Committee meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Purpose was to review progress on mirror testing for the Cherenkov Telescope Array.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description STEM Fair, Chester-le-Street 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Display and activities related to the Cherenkov Telescope Array, including posters and an I-pad app.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Saturday Physics Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A talk about gamma ray astronomy and astroparticle physics generally plus workshop to build a gold-leaf electroscope.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Seminar at University of Hertfordshire 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Prestige seminar to Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Hertfordshire. Discussions afterwards led to possible collaboration on aerosol measurments
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk about CHEC window design 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk about camera window design to GCT project members
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk about GCT mirrors 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk about new mirror designs to GCT working group.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk at CTA Ireland Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk about UK CTA science interests to British/Irish audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.dias.ie/2017/07/25/28th-august-2017-workshop-on-cherenkov-telescope-array-ireland/
 
Description Talk at GCT Mirror Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk about progress with glass mirrors (and other optical tests) for GCT telescope.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Talk at HESS Collaboration Meeting (Brown) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk about use of UAVs for telescope calibration. Many questions afterwards, and an agreement to use the HESS telescopes for proof-of-concept tests.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk at IoP APP/HEPP Conference (Brown) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Talk about the status of gamma-ray astronomy and prospects for CTA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://appandhepp2018.iopconfs.org/home
 
Description Talk at NASA Fermi Symposium, Baltimore 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk about gamma-ray emission from globular clusters
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/mtgs/symposia/2018/
 
Description Talk at NE satellite applications centre of excellence 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Talk about UAV instrumentation for the local satellite catapult drones section. Lots of questions and discussion, with possibilities for future industrial involvement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.sacatapultcoe.org/centre/north-east/events/drone-cluster-northeast
 
Description Talk at National Rail Museum, Shildon 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A talk about gamma-ray astronomy associated with the 'Tim Peake's Spaceship' event, given to a small evening audience of about 15 people. Some of the young people asked about entry to university to study physics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk at UK/EU space agencies workshop (Brown) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Talk about drone technologies. Lots of questions, future collaboration with industry discussed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk for STFC at UAV Expo 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Talk about the uses of UAVs in astronomy and other areas
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.terrapinn.com/exhibition/the-commercial-uav-show/index.stm
 
Description Talk to Astrosoc 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Talk to Durham University Astronomical Society. Lots of questions, and a number of requests afterwards from students wanting to work with my group over summer.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk to Royal Meteorological Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk about cosmic rays and gamma ray astronomy, linking to the work of J A Chalmers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.rmets.org/events/atmospheric-electricity-durham-ja-chalmers-anniversary-meeting
 
Description Talk to TMF, Basingstoke 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Talk to TMF to introduce CTA to industrial partners
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk to school children at Ustinov College 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Talk about CTA to schoolchildren and families at a postrgraduate-organised event intended to showcase science to young people.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk to students at Oxford Physics Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation and discussion on VHE gamma ray astronomy to undergraduate students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017