A multinational initiative founded on its exceptional scientific potential

Building on the technology of current generation ground-based gamma-ray detectors (H.E.S.S., MAGIC and VERITAS), CTAO will be ten times more sensitive and have unprecedented accuracy in its detection of high-energy gamma rays. Current gamma-ray telescope arrays host up to five individual telescopes, but CTAO is designed to detect gamma rays over a larger area and a wider range of views with more than 60 telescopes located in the northern and southern hemispheres.
Together, the northern and southern CTAO arrays will constitute the Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory (CTAO), which will be the first ground-based gamma-ray observatory open to the worldwide astronomical and particle physics communities as a resource for data from unique, high-energy astronomical observations.


Quick Facts:

  • CTAO will be the largest ground-based gamma-ray detection observatory in the world, with more than 60 telescopes in the northern and southern hemispheres
  • CTAO will look at the very high energy gamma-ray sky at higher energy resolution than ever measured before
  • CTAO will have unprecedented accuracy and will be up to 10 times more sensitive than existing instruments.
  • CTAO will have a broad energy coverage from billions to trillions the energy of visible light.
  • CTAO will have a large collection area and a gamma-ray detection rate 10 times that of current instruments.
  • CTAO will have a large field of view, which, in combination with its superior sensitivity, allows the performance of a sky survey several hundreds of times faster than current telescopes.
  • Its two array sites give CTAO access to almost all of the night sky.
  • The Observatory is expected to generate hundreds of petabytes (PB) of data in a year (~3 PB after compression).
  • CTAO data will provide new insights into how cosmic particle accelerators work. These naturally occurring cosmic accelerators reach energies and efficiencies much higher than man-made accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider and have contributed to shaping the evolution of our Universe. (Read more in our Science section.)
  • CTAO data will probe extreme cosmic environments, such as the violent regions around neutron stars and black holes, but also the extreme cosmic voids between galaxies.
  • CTAO data will help to explore physics frontiers, searching for the nature of Dark Matter and for tell-tale signs of a quantum nature of space and time.
  • CTAO was conceived and its science goals developed by the CTA Consortium.
  • The CTAO was founded to manage the construction and operation of the instrument; the current interim legal entity, the CTAO gGmbH with shareholders from 11 countries plus ESO, is charged with preparing the design and the implementation of the Observatory and will give way to the CTAO European Research Infrastructure consortium (ERIC) with governments as shareholders.
  • CTAO was included in the 2008 roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) and promoted to a Landmark project in 2018. It is one of the “Magnificent Seven” of the European strategy for astroparticle physics published by ASPERA, and highly ranked in the “strategic plan for European astronomy” (leaflet) of ASTRONET. In addition CTAO is a recommended project for the next decade in the US National Academies of Sciences Decadal Review.


How CTAO Works

Funding Sources

CTA Consortium