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), the CTAO will be between five and 10 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 the CTAO, as the first open ground-based gamma-ray observatory, 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 CTAO’s two arrays of telescopes, its Science Data Management Centre and Headquarters will constitute the first observatory of its kind to be open to the worldwide astronomical and particle physics communities as a resource for data from unique, high-energy astronomical observations.
- The CTAO will be the first open ground-based gamma-ray observatory in the world, and the largest instrument for the detection of very high-energy radiation with more than 60 telescopes in the northern and southern hemispheres.
- The CTAO will look at the very high energy gamma-ray sky at higher energy resolution than ever measured before.
- The CTAO will have unprecedented accuracy and will be between five and 10 times more sensitive than existing instruments.
- The CTAO will have a broad energy coverage from billions to trillions the energy of visible light.
- The CTAO will have a large collection area and a gamma-ray detection rate 10 times that of current instruments.
- The 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 the CTAO access to all of the night sky.
- The Observatory is expected to generate hundreds of petabytes (PB) of data in a year (a few PB after compression).
- The CTAO data will provide new insights into how cosmic particle accelerators work. These naturally occurring cosmic accelerators reach energies and efficiencies much higher than those that can be reached by human-made accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider and have contributed to shaping the evolution of our Universe. (Read more in our Science section.)
- The 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.
- The CTAO data will help to explore physics frontiers, searching for the nature of Dark Matter and for tell-tale signs of the quantum nature of space and time.
- The 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” of ASTRONET. In addition the CTAO is a recommended project for the next decade in the U.S. National Academies of Sciences Decadal Review.