Science

Exploring the most extreme phenomena in the universe

CTA will look at the sky in higher energy photons than ever measured before. 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 to 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 acceleration in the Universe.

 

CTA’s unique capabilities will include:

  • CTA will have unprecedented accuracy and will be 10 times more sensitive than existing instruments
  • An energy resolution of 10 percent will improve CTA’s ability to look for spectral features and lines associated with the annihilation of dark matter particles
  • Rapid slewing in as low as 20 seconds will allow CTA to catch gamma-ray bursts ‘in the act’ of exploding
  • Energies as low as 20 GeV will allow CTA to probe transient and time-variable gamma-ray phenomena in the very distant universe with unprecedented precision
  • Energies up to 300 TeV will push CTA beyond the edge of the known electromagnetic spectrum, providing a completely new view of the sky and allowing us to search for extreme particle accelerators
  • A field of view of eight degrees will allow CTA to survey the sky much faster and measure very extended regions of gamma-ray emission
  • An angluar resolution approaching one arcminute will allow CTA to resolve many cosmic sources to understand how ultra-relativistic particles are distributed in and around these systems

Top Background Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

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Observing the highest energy processes in the Universe

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Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech