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Gamma Ray Instrumentation

The group at Durham has pioneered the field of ground-based gamma-ray astronomy, and is presently involved in two projects: the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) and the Southern Wide-field Gamma-ray Observatory (SWGO). CTA will consist of two arrays, one in the southern hemisphere and one in the north. CTA will have sensitivity around 10 times better than any gamma ray telescope now in operation, will cover 4 orders of magnitude in energy and have better angular resolution than anything we have built before. Prototyping and construction of the first telescopes and instrumentation has already begun; the first telescope of the northern array is already in place, and construction of the southern array is expected to start in 2024.

The international SWGO project was founded in 2019. This will be a gamma-ray observatory based on ground-level particle detection, located in South America at a latitude between 10 and 30 degrees south and at an altitude of 4.4 km or higher. It will cover an energy range from 100s of GeV to 100s of TeV, and aims to provide survey and wide-angle capability to complement observatories like the Cherenkov Telescope Array.

As founder members of CTA and SWGO, the Durham group is involved in many different aspects of the telescopes, including telescope calibration for both CTA and SWGO, simulations of array performance, and the construction of cameras for the small telescopes of CTA. We also work on science topics relating to active galactic nuclei, multi-messenger (gamma-ray/neutrino) studies, dark matter etc. in preparation for CTA, primarily using data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

Prototype camera for the small-sized telescopes of the Cherenkov Telescope Array