CTA Bridging Proposal

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy

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 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 Institutes, 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

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Lapington J (2017) The GCT camera for the Cherenkov Telescope Array in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment

 
Description This three month bridging funding maintains the effort developing the CHEC-M camera for CTA. Without this funding, the assembly , commissioning and test of the CHEC-M camera could not have taken place in time for the GCT telescope inauguration in December 2015 together with the first on-telescope tests, which resulted in the very first detection of Cherenkov light by any CTA camera; a milestone for the UK CTA collaboration.
Exploitation Route The work undertaken during this period leads the project into the second phase of CTA funding, which has now been awarded.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Environment,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description The Cherenkov Telescope Array is an international facility run by an international team of researchers that will provide unparalleled astronomical observations of astroparticles at extreme energies for analysis by research groups worldwide, bringing employment to astronomers, associated researchers, research support staff, engineers, component manufacturers and local services both at the telescope site in Chile and at the many participating institutes throughout the world. CTA has a well developed public outreach arm which will inform the general public and educators alike, bringing novel and fundamental knowledge about extreme events and processes in the universe to the public gaze. Camera and telescope technologies developed for CTA have application in many other research and commercial sectors.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description PPRP
Amount £630,317 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/M007588/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2015 
End 06/2018
 
Description Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope 
Organisation Aix-Marseille University
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UK contribution is to lead the development, manufacture and characterisation of the camera which includes the photon-counting sensor array, electronics system and the mechnical design.
Collaborator Contribution International collaboration to jointly develop and deply the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), a Small-Sized Telescope (SST) design for the CHerenkov Telescope Array. Contributions to the development and deployment of GCT in all areas, including design and development, including exchange of research and techcical staff, provision of required skills and expertise, training of personnel, support of component and system testing, manufacture and procurement of hardware, software and firmware, support for field trials. and eventual deployment of many (30+) GCT telescopes at final site in Chile.
Impact Development and manufacture of the GCT telescope (several tens+) for deployment on the Cherenkov Telescope Array facility in Chile. Multi-disciplinary: Telescope optics, detector system design, mechanical engineering, Monte Carlo modelling of physics.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope 
Organisation Durham University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UK contribution is to lead the development, manufacture and characterisation of the camera which includes the photon-counting sensor array, electronics system and the mechnical design.
Collaborator Contribution International collaboration to jointly develop and deply the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), a Small-Sized Telescope (SST) design for the CHerenkov Telescope Array. Contributions to the development and deployment of GCT in all areas, including design and development, including exchange of research and techcical staff, provision of required skills and expertise, training of personnel, support of component and system testing, manufacture and procurement of hardware, software and firmware, support for field trials. and eventual deployment of many (30+) GCT telescopes at final site in Chile.
Impact Development and manufacture of the GCT telescope (several tens+) for deployment on the Cherenkov Telescope Array facility in Chile. Multi-disciplinary: Telescope optics, detector system design, mechanical engineering, Monte Carlo modelling of physics.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope 
Organisation Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg
Department Erlangen Centre for Astroparticle Physics
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UK contribution is to lead the development, manufacture and characterisation of the camera which includes the photon-counting sensor array, electronics system and the mechnical design.
Collaborator Contribution International collaboration to jointly develop and deply the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), a Small-Sized Telescope (SST) design for the CHerenkov Telescope Array. Contributions to the development and deployment of GCT in all areas, including design and development, including exchange of research and techcical staff, provision of required skills and expertise, training of personnel, support of component and system testing, manufacture and procurement of hardware, software and firmware, support for field trials. and eventual deployment of many (30+) GCT telescopes at final site in Chile.
Impact Development and manufacture of the GCT telescope (several tens+) for deployment on the Cherenkov Telescope Array facility in Chile. Multi-disciplinary: Telescope optics, detector system design, mechanical engineering, Monte Carlo modelling of physics.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope 
Organisation Leiden University
Department Leiden Observatory
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UK contribution is to lead the development, manufacture and characterisation of the camera which includes the photon-counting sensor array, electronics system and the mechnical design.
Collaborator Contribution International collaboration to jointly develop and deply the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), a Small-Sized Telescope (SST) design for the CHerenkov Telescope Array. Contributions to the development and deployment of GCT in all areas, including design and development, including exchange of research and techcical staff, provision of required skills and expertise, training of personnel, support of component and system testing, manufacture and procurement of hardware, software and firmware, support for field trials. and eventual deployment of many (30+) GCT telescopes at final site in Chile.
Impact Development and manufacture of the GCT telescope (several tens+) for deployment on the Cherenkov Telescope Array facility in Chile. Multi-disciplinary: Telescope optics, detector system design, mechanical engineering, Monte Carlo modelling of physics.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Department Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics
Country Germany 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution UK contribution is to lead the development, manufacture and characterisation of the camera which includes the photon-counting sensor array, electronics system and the mechnical design.
Collaborator Contribution International collaboration to jointly develop and deply the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), a Small-Sized Telescope (SST) design for the CHerenkov Telescope Array. Contributions to the development and deployment of GCT in all areas, including design and development, including exchange of research and techcical staff, provision of required skills and expertise, training of personnel, support of component and system testing, manufacture and procurement of hardware, software and firmware, support for field trials. and eventual deployment of many (30+) GCT telescopes at final site in Chile.
Impact Development and manufacture of the GCT telescope (several tens+) for deployment on the Cherenkov Telescope Array facility in Chile. Multi-disciplinary: Telescope optics, detector system design, mechanical engineering, Monte Carlo modelling of physics.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope 
Organisation Nagoya University
Department Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research
Country Japan 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UK contribution is to lead the development, manufacture and characterisation of the camera which includes the photon-counting sensor array, electronics system and the mechnical design.
Collaborator Contribution International collaboration to jointly develop and deply the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), a Small-Sized Telescope (SST) design for the CHerenkov Telescope Array. Contributions to the development and deployment of GCT in all areas, including design and development, including exchange of research and techcical staff, provision of required skills and expertise, training of personnel, support of component and system testing, manufacture and procurement of hardware, software and firmware, support for field trials. and eventual deployment of many (30+) GCT telescopes at final site in Chile.
Impact Development and manufacture of the GCT telescope (several tens+) for deployment on the Cherenkov Telescope Array facility in Chile. Multi-disciplinary: Telescope optics, detector system design, mechanical engineering, Monte Carlo modelling of physics.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope 
Organisation Observatory of Paris
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UK contribution is to lead the development, manufacture and characterisation of the camera which includes the photon-counting sensor array, electronics system and the mechnical design.
Collaborator Contribution International collaboration to jointly develop and deply the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), a Small-Sized Telescope (SST) design for the CHerenkov Telescope Array. Contributions to the development and deployment of GCT in all areas, including design and development, including exchange of research and techcical staff, provision of required skills and expertise, training of personnel, support of component and system testing, manufacture and procurement of hardware, software and firmware, support for field trials. and eventual deployment of many (30+) GCT telescopes at final site in Chile.
Impact Development and manufacture of the GCT telescope (several tens+) for deployment on the Cherenkov Telescope Array facility in Chile. Multi-disciplinary: Telescope optics, detector system design, mechanical engineering, Monte Carlo modelling of physics.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope 
Organisation University of Adelaide
Department School of Chemistry and Physics
Country Australia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UK contribution is to lead the development, manufacture and characterisation of the camera which includes the photon-counting sensor array, electronics system and the mechnical design.
Collaborator Contribution International collaboration to jointly develop and deply the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), a Small-Sized Telescope (SST) design for the CHerenkov Telescope Array. Contributions to the development and deployment of GCT in all areas, including design and development, including exchange of research and techcical staff, provision of required skills and expertise, training of personnel, support of component and system testing, manufacture and procurement of hardware, software and firmware, support for field trials. and eventual deployment of many (30+) GCT telescopes at final site in Chile.
Impact Development and manufacture of the GCT telescope (several tens+) for deployment on the Cherenkov Telescope Array facility in Chile. Multi-disciplinary: Telescope optics, detector system design, mechanical engineering, Monte Carlo modelling of physics.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope 
Organisation University of Amsterdam
Department Center of Excellence for Gravitation and Astroparticle Physics
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UK contribution is to lead the development, manufacture and characterisation of the camera which includes the photon-counting sensor array, electronics system and the mechnical design.
Collaborator Contribution International collaboration to jointly develop and deply the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), a Small-Sized Telescope (SST) design for the CHerenkov Telescope Array. Contributions to the development and deployment of GCT in all areas, including design and development, including exchange of research and techcical staff, provision of required skills and expertise, training of personnel, support of component and system testing, manufacture and procurement of hardware, software and firmware, support for field trials. and eventual deployment of many (30+) GCT telescopes at final site in Chile.
Impact Development and manufacture of the GCT telescope (several tens+) for deployment on the Cherenkov Telescope Array facility in Chile. Multi-disciplinary: Telescope optics, detector system design, mechanical engineering, Monte Carlo modelling of physics.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope 
Organisation University of Hawaii
Department Department of Physics and Astronomy
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UK contribution is to lead the development, manufacture and characterisation of the camera which includes the photon-counting sensor array, electronics system and the mechnical design.
Collaborator Contribution International collaboration to jointly develop and deply the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), a Small-Sized Telescope (SST) design for the CHerenkov Telescope Array. Contributions to the development and deployment of GCT in all areas, including design and development, including exchange of research and techcical staff, provision of required skills and expertise, training of personnel, support of component and system testing, manufacture and procurement of hardware, software and firmware, support for field trials. and eventual deployment of many (30+) GCT telescopes at final site in Chile.
Impact Development and manufacture of the GCT telescope (several tens+) for deployment on the Cherenkov Telescope Array facility in Chile. Multi-disciplinary: Telescope optics, detector system design, mechanical engineering, Monte Carlo modelling of physics.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope 
Organisation University of Liverpool
Department Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UK contribution is to lead the development, manufacture and characterisation of the camera which includes the photon-counting sensor array, electronics system and the mechnical design.
Collaborator Contribution International collaboration to jointly develop and deply the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), a Small-Sized Telescope (SST) design for the CHerenkov Telescope Array. Contributions to the development and deployment of GCT in all areas, including design and development, including exchange of research and techcical staff, provision of required skills and expertise, training of personnel, support of component and system testing, manufacture and procurement of hardware, software and firmware, support for field trials. and eventual deployment of many (30+) GCT telescopes at final site in Chile.
Impact Development and manufacture of the GCT telescope (several tens+) for deployment on the Cherenkov Telescope Array facility in Chile. Multi-disciplinary: Telescope optics, detector system design, mechanical engineering, Monte Carlo modelling of physics.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Division of Structural Biology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UK contribution is to lead the development, manufacture and characterisation of the camera which includes the photon-counting sensor array, electronics system and the mechnical design.
Collaborator Contribution International collaboration to jointly develop and deply the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), a Small-Sized Telescope (SST) design for the CHerenkov Telescope Array. Contributions to the development and deployment of GCT in all areas, including design and development, including exchange of research and techcical staff, provision of required skills and expertise, training of personnel, support of component and system testing, manufacture and procurement of hardware, software and firmware, support for field trials. and eventual deployment of many (30+) GCT telescopes at final site in Chile.
Impact Development and manufacture of the GCT telescope (several tens+) for deployment on the Cherenkov Telescope Array facility in Chile. Multi-disciplinary: Telescope optics, detector system design, mechanical engineering, Monte Carlo modelling of physics.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope 
Organisation Washington University in St Louis
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UK contribution is to lead the development, manufacture and characterisation of the camera which includes the photon-counting sensor array, electronics system and the mechnical design.
Collaborator Contribution International collaboration to jointly develop and deply the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT), a Small-Sized Telescope (SST) design for the CHerenkov Telescope Array. Contributions to the development and deployment of GCT in all areas, including design and development, including exchange of research and techcical staff, provision of required skills and expertise, training of personnel, support of component and system testing, manufacture and procurement of hardware, software and firmware, support for field trials. and eventual deployment of many (30+) GCT telescopes at final site in Chile.
Impact Development and manufacture of the GCT telescope (several tens+) for deployment on the Cherenkov Telescope Array facility in Chile. Multi-disciplinary: Telescope optics, detector system design, mechanical engineering, Monte Carlo modelling of physics.
Start Year 2012