The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is the next generation ground-based observatory for gamma-ray astronomy at very-high energies. With more than 100 telescopes located in the northern (ORM Observatory, La Palma) and southern (ESO Paranal Observatory, Chile) hemispheres in its full configuration, CTA shall be the world’s largest and most sensitive high-energy gamma-ray observatory.
CTA will observe the sky at an unprecedented very high energy. In fact, the cosmic particle accelerators CTA will probe can reach energies inaccessible to man-made accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider.
CTA’s unique capabilities will help us address some of the most perplexing questions in astrophysics. CTA will seek to understand the impact of high-energy particles in the evolution of cosmic systems and to gain insight into the most extreme and unusual phenomena in the Universe. CTA will search for annihilating dark matter particles and deviations from Einstein’s theory of relativity and even conduct a census of particle accelerators in the Universe.
During 2020 the gamma ray group at IFAE was composed by about 15 physicists with similar proportion of senior scientists, postdocs and PhD students and shared its time between the CTA project and the MAGIC Telescopes. In addition, about 8 engineers and technicians (software, mechanics and electronics) invested a good fraction of their time for the CTA project at IFAE.
Along 2020 IFAE has held important responsibilities at the highest management level of the LST Collaboration: M. Martinez has served as the Chair of its Steering Committee, O. Ballester has been the LST Systems Engineer, O. Blanch the Camera Coordinator and A. Moralejo the Software Coordinator. All them have been members of the Executive Board of the LST project.
In addition, the activities to build part of the cameras and integrate them for the next 3 LSTs started. They were conducted in the framework of a bidding awarded to an “Union Temporal de Empresas” formed by IFAE and IEEC. Both members of the gamma ray group and engineers are involved, and the activity will intensify in the next two years when three cameras need to be delivered
Through 2020 the IFAE team coordinated and contributed to the development of the analysis tools for the LST telescope, with a focus on the camera calibration, data quality checks and production of high-level data (gamma candidates event lists) for spectral analysis.
An important highlight showing the overall progress in the operation of the LST1 and in its data analysis, is that the runs between January and February 2020 allowed an unambiguous detection of the Crab Pulsar, the neutron star at the centre of the Crab Nebula (see fig 1).