Brazilians build a telescope to detect gamma rays from the universe

Astronomers from Brazil, Italy and South Africa have begun organising the first of 9 Cherenkov telescopes at the Observatório del Teide in Tenerife, Spain. ASTRI small array. Together, they’ll detect the highest power radiation produced in the Universe: gamma rays.

Installation of the full array of devices needs to be accomplished in the second half of 2023, and the first astronomical photos needs to be taken in 2024. The group is answerable for constructing three of the 9 telescopes.

Brazilian researchers participated in all phases of the first telescope with the assist of Fapesp.

“Brazil’s participation on this challenge is of nice strategic significance for Brazil, because it permits the nation to develop devices for multi-frequency astronomy,” says Elizabeth de Gouveia Dal Pino, a professor at the University’s Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences. of the City of São Paulo (IAG-USP) and challenge coordinator.

“The nation has a sure custom of creating devices for optical and radio telescopes and is now concerned in gamma-ray astronomy. In this manner, we’re protecting the frequencies of the spectrum from radio to gamma radiation.”

The ASTRI Mini Array is an array of 9 Cherenkov telescopes, every 4 meters in diameter, designed to be related to these utilized in the “small-scale telescopes” (SSTs) that make up the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), the world’s largest gamma-ray astronomical observatory—a collaboration that additionally consists of the Dal Pino group. participates.

What are gamma rays?

Estimated to price €400 million (R$2.1 billion) and involving 31 nations (together with Brazil), the CTA is to be constructed utilizing a community of about 100 Cherenkov telescopes able to detecting and imaging thunderstorms. high-energy particles of sunshine produced when gamma rays from area enter the environment.

When gamma rays attain Earth, they collide with air molecules and create subatomic secondary particles (electrons and positrons), which fall in cascades, also called particle showers.

These high-energy particles can journey quicker than the velocity of sunshine, creating a blue glow related to the shock wave produced by a supersonic jet when it breaks the sound barrier.

The impact is named Cherenkov radiation or mild, after the Russian physicist Pavel Cherenkov (1904-1990), who found it experimentally. That’s why telescopes are referred to as that.

“The potential to view the world on this excessive vary of the spectrum has solely not too long ago been made attainable by the Cherenkov radiation-sensitive water vessels and LHAASO put in at the HAWC Gamma-ray Observatory in Mexico. [sigla em inglês de Grande Observatório de Chuveiros Aéreos de Alta Altitude, situado na China]. But the decision of the indicators obtained by these devices is low. Therefore, it’s unimaginable to ensure the place the captured sign got here from,” Dal Pino mentioned.

excessive decision

According to the researcher, CTA will increase the decision of those sources up to ten instances. This is feasible thanks to the mixture of the telescope array assortment space and three courses of Cherenkov telescopes of various sizes unfold over two websites – the largest of which is positioned at Cerro Paranal at the European Southern Observatory (ESO). in Atacama (Chile) and one other at the Los Mujachos Observatory in La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain.

In the first part of development at Cerro Paranal, 14 medium telescopes with a diameter of 12 meters and 37 small telescopes with a diameter of 4 meters will probably be distributed over an space of ​​about three sq. kilometers. This set is primarily targeted on recording energetic and really brilliant occasions in the Milky Way.

In La Palma, Canary Islands, on this first part, 4 giant telescopes with a diameter of 23 meters in an space of ​​about 0.5 km² and one other 9 medium-sized telescopes geared toward decrease and decrease power observations. much less luminous extragalactic occasions.

Larger telescopes goal to seize phenomena that produce low, low mild energies. Small ones, on the different hand, have a very highly effective and brilliant occasion monitoring perform. And common sizes shut the hole between the two extremes.

excessive power

Through a FAPESP-supported challenge, one other group of Brazilian researchers, led by Professor Luiz Vitor de Souza Filho of the San Carlos Institute of Physics at USP, developed a metallic construction used to home the digicam of the medium telescopes.

“With this configuration of telescopes of three totally different sizes, gamma rays will be noticed over a very huge power vary, between 20 gigaelectron volts (GeV) and 300 teraelectron volts (TeV),” explains Dal Pino.

According to the researcher, all checks beginning with the ASTRI telescope array, which is being put in in Tenerife in collaboration with Italian and South African astronomers, will probably be very helpful for CTA. “Testing permits adjustments to be made to appropriate any minor structural errors.”

Construction of the CTA Norte in Cerro Paranal started earlier than the Covid-19 outbreak and is scheduled to start this yr in the south of Spain. The well being disaster, the September 2021 eruption of the Cambrai Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands, and the latest conflict in Ukraine contributed to challenge delays.

“In latest years, there have been a variety of occasions which have affected the schedule of CTA. The conflict in Ukraine, for instance, has diminished the provide and contributed to the enhance in the value of metal, as a result of most of the metallic utilized in Europe is the nation,” defined Dal Pino.

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