Cherenkov Telescope Array Press Briefing Thursday, 29 June – 12:30 – Press Room

The Science Case for CTA
Presented by: Prof. Werner Hofmann, CTA Spokesperson and Director, Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, Heidelberg

As the project to build CTA nears the pre-production phase, more than 1,350 scientists from 32 countries in CTA’s Consortium have been working to fine-tune CTA’s scientific goals and performance expectations. The result is the highly-anticipated publication of the CTA science case: “Science with CTA.” With an expected release date in the coming weeks, this will be the first public presentation of CTA’s science goals and expected performance since a collection of 24 publications was published in a special CTA edition of the Journal of Astroparticle Physics in 2013.

Ground-based gamma-ray astronomy is a young field with enormous scientific potential, as demonstrated by the current generation of instruments. With its superior performance, the prospects for CTA combine the in-depth understanding of known objects with the anticipated detection of new classes of gamma-ray emitters and a great potential for fundamentally new discoveries. CTA will transform our understanding of the high-energy Universe by seeking to address a wide range of questions in astrophysics and fundamental physics. These questions fall under three major study themes:

1. Understanding the origin and role of relativistic particles
2. Probing extreme environments
3. Exploring frontiers in physics

In our own Galaxy, CTA will look for the remnants of supernova explosions, wind nebulae produced by rapidly spinning pulsars and for stars in binary systems or in large clusters. Beyond our Galaxy, CTA will detect star-forming galaxies and galaxies with supermassive black holes at their centres (active galactic nuclei) and, possibly, whole clusters of galaxies. The gamma rays detected with CTA may also provide a direct signature of dark matter, evidence for deviations from Einstein’s theory of special relativity and more definitive answers to the contents of cosmic voids.

Prof. Hofmann will present a brief background on CTA and highlight some of the discoveries expected as detailed in the science case.
About CTA

CTA is a global initiative to build the world’s largest and most sensitive high-energy gamma-ray observatory. More than 1,350 scientists and engineers from 32 countries are engaged in the scientific and technical development of CTA. The Observatory will be constructed by the CTAO gGmbH, which is governed by Shareholders and Associate Members from a growing number of countries.
CTA will serve as an open observatory to the world-wide physics and astrophysics communities. The CTA Observatory will detect high-energy radiation with unprecedented accuracy and approximately 10 times better sensitivity than current instruments, providing novel insights into the most extreme events in the Universe.
The project to build CTA is well advanced: working prototypes exist or are under construction for all the proposed telescope designs and significant site characterization has been undertaken. The southern hemisphere site will be located close to the existing European Southern Observatory site at Paranal, Chile. The northern array will be located at the Roque de los Muchachos astronomical observatory on the island of La Palma. Construction is set to begin in 2019.