The MAGIC Telescopes

IFAE Research Groups

Gamma-ray Group

  • Gamma-ray Astronomy

    Understanding the most energetic phenomena in the Universe and addressing open questions in fundamental physics.

    LST-1 teslescope
    Papers published (2015-2022)
    Publications in Q1 Journals (2015-2022)
    Theses produced (2015-2022)
  • Gamma-ray Group

    The goal of our research group is to understand the most energetic phenomena in the universe and address open questions in particle physics through gamma-ray observations, as well as to lead the design and construction of innovative instrumentation for Gamma-ray Astronomy.

    The Gamma-ray Group is led by J. Rico

    The MAGIC telescopes

    The two MAGIC telescopes in the Canary Islands were built and have been operated since 2004 by an international collaboration of about 200 scientists. IFAE has played a leading role in the design and construction of the MAGIC telescopes, notably by designing and building the whole camera of MAGIC-I and the MAGIC Datacenter, and by developing and maintaining significant parts of the readout electronics, and of the control and analysis software packages. The group has held many leadership positions in MAGIC, namely: three different Spokespersons, Chair of the Collaboration Board, Technical Coordinator, Safety and Operations Coordinator, Software Coordinator, Analysis and Publications Coordinador, and Chair of Time Allocation Committee, among others. Since first light, scientists at IFAE have led the analyses that have produced some of the highest-impact MAGIC results, including 4 out of 6 MAGIC papers published in Science and 2 out of 2 in Nature.

    The MAGIC Telescopes
    The MAGIC Telescopes Credit: Chiara Righi. The MAGIC Collaboration.

    The Cherenokov Telescope Array

    The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is the next-generation, worldwide facility for ground-based Gamma-ray Astronomy, proposed by an international consortium of about 1500 scientists. CTA will have full-sky coverage thanks to a CTA-North observatory at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM) in the Canary Island of La Palma and a CTA-South Observatory at ESO-Paranal in Chile. Our group contributed decisively to bring to Spain the CTA-North observatory. CTA will provide a ten-fold increase in flux sensitivity and broader energy range compared to the current generation of instruments, thanks to its three different diameters: Large-Sized Telescopes (LST, 23 m), Mid-Sized Telescopes (MST, 12 m), and Small-Sized Telescopes (SST, 6 m). The CTA project is currently starting production, with the first LST (LST1) already producing scientific results. IFAE members have held high-level leadership positions in the CTA Consortium, like Co-Spokesperson or Chair of the Speakers and Publications Office. In addition, the IFAE Gamma-ray Group co-leads the construction of the LSTs, the most complex and relevant CTA telescopes for the study of key Fundamental Physics questions. The four LST cameras that will go to the CTA-North Observatory have been assembled at IFAE. IFAE members have been serving the LST project with responsibilities such as the Chair of the Steering Committee, Systems Engineer, Camera Coordinator and Software Coordinator. The activities have been gradually drifting from commissioning to scientific exploitation, including the combined analysis of MAGIC and LST1 data, for which IFAE is in a privileged position.

    LST-1 teslescope
    The LST-1 waits for the sun to set on La Palma before getting to work. Credit: Otger Ballester (IFAE)

    Our group has built a Raman LIDAR for measuring the atmospheric transparency and using the related data in the analysis of gamma-ray observations, thus reducing the systematic uncertainties on the reconstruction of physics parameters down to the level required by CTA. Our LIDAR has been adopted as a CTA pathfinder instrument and was taking data at ORM during 2021. Preliminary results indicate that the requirements are met.

    Towards an open multi-messanger observatory

    We have participated in the ASTERICS and ESCAPE H2020 projects for building the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) section on Particle Physics, Astroparticle Physics and Astrophysics. The pioneering integration of our analysis software contributions and our GammaHub iterative, multi-instrument, big-data analysis tool into the ESFRI Science Analysis Platform has set the standard procedure and help achieve the project objectives. In addition, the group has embarked into multi-messenger related activities aiming at exploiting the synergies between gamma-ray signals with public alerts from neutrino and gravitational wave instruments. A full pipeline to localize transient events using cross-correlations with other instruments and catalogs has been developed and is being tested with the MAGIC telescopes.


    The IFAE Gamma-ray group started in 2020 participating in the design of HERD, a next-generation detector on board the China Space Station, for the study of high-energy cosmic rays and gamma rays. It is foreseen that HERD will be launched in 2027 and that it will operate for at least 10 years. Our group has the responsibility of providing HERD with advanced capabilities for Gamma-ray Astronomy by the design of a dedicated low-energy gamma-ray trigger system, to provide it with sensitivity to gamma rays in the range between ~100 MeV and 10 GeV with unprecedented angular and energy resolutions, and exploiting its capabilities as a wide field of view monitoring detector, complementary to CTA and other multi-messenger instruments in the study of transient events.

    Artist's vision of the HERD cosmic-ray and gamma-ray detector onboard the Chinese Space Station
  • Group Members

    Gamma-ray Group

    Staff Researchers

    • Oscar Blanch

      Oscar Blanch

    • Manel Martinez

      Manel Martinez

    • Abelardo Moralejo

      Abelardo Moralejo

    • Javier Rico

      Javier Rico

    Postdoc Researchers

    • Giulio Lucchetta

      Giulio Lucchetta

    • Cosimo Nigro

      Cosimo Nigro

    PhD Students

    • Deborah Dore

      Deborah Dore

    • Luis Fariña

      Luis Fariña

    • Roger Grau

      Roger Grau

    • Juan Jiménez

      Juan Jiménez

    • Keerthana Rajan Lathika

      Keerthana Rajan Lathika

    Technical Support

    • Victor Acciari

      Victor Acciari

    • Eduardo Colombo

      Eduardo Colombo

    • Patricia Marquez

      Patricia Marquez

  • International Collaborations

    Gamma-ray Group

    The MAGIC Telescopes


    The MAGIC Telescopes

    MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov) is a system of two 17 m diameter, F/1.03 Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescopes (IACT). They are dedicated to the observation of gamma rays from galactic and extragalactic sources in the very high energy range (VHE, 30 GeV to 100 TeV).

      Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma, Spain
    Proposed CTA Telescopes


    The Cherenkov Telescope Array

    The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is the next generation ground-based observatory for gamma-ray astronomy at very-high energies. With more than 100 telescopes located in the northern and southern hemispheres, CTA will be the world's largest and most sensitive high-energy gamma-ray observatory.

      ORM, La Palma & Paranal, Chile


    High Energy cosmic-Radiation Detection

    HERD is the proposed flagship scientific mission onboard China Space Station (CSS). Launch is expected for 2027 with an operation period of at least 10 years. The primary scientific objectives of HERD are: Indirect dark matter search with unprecedented sensitivity; precise cosmic ray spectrum and composition measurements; Gamma-ray monitoring and full sky survey.

  • Research Projects

    Gamma-ray Group

    Proyectos I+D Generación de Conocimiento, 2020

    High Energy Cosmic Radiation Detection

    The High Energy cosmic-Radiation Detection (HERD) facility is a cosmic ray detector that will operate in the Chinese Space Station starting in 2025. It aims to search for signatures of dark matter, study the knee structure in the cosmic ray spectrum, and monitor the high-energy gamma-ray sky. The IFAE Gamma-ray group is participating in the HERD Collaboration to optimize the instrument as a gamma-ray telescope, and will use Monte Carlo simulations to evaluate different design options and lead the elaboration of a White Book of HERD prospects for gamma-ray astronomy. They will also optimize the readout system and design a new trigger system for low energy gamma-ray events. Project coordinated by IFAE.

      The MAGIC Telescopes

      Programa Estatal de I+D+i Orientada a los Retos de la Sociedad, 2019

      Astronomia de Rayos Gamma con MAGIC y CTA-norte

      The MAGIC and Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) are arrays of telescopes that detect very high energy gamma rays. CTA is the reference project for the next generation of telescopes, aiming to detect over 1000 gamma ray sources during its lifetime. The Spanish community ranks among the leading ones worldwide in this field, and this coordinated project aims to ensure their high-impact participation in MAGIC and CTA during the exciting phase when the first telescopes of CTA-North are installed and they start operating in synergy with MAGIC. Project coordinated by IFAE.


        H2020-INFRADEV, 2018

        Astronomy ESFRI and Research Infrastructure Cluster (ASTERICS)

        The ASTERICS project is a collaborative cluster for the next generation ESFRI telescope facilities (ELT, CTA, SKA, KM3NeT, EST) and other relevant research infrastructure initiatives in the area of astronomy, astrophysics and astroparticle physics.


        H2020-INFRAEOSC, 2018

        European Science Cluster of Astronomy & Particle physics ESFRI research infrastructures (ESCAPE)

        ESCAPE aims to address the Open Science challenges shared by ESFRI facilities (CTA, ELT, EST, FAIR, HL-LHC, KM3NeT, SKA) as well as other pan-European research infrastructures (CERN, ESO, JIV-ERIC, EGO-Virgo) in astronomy and particle physics research domains.


        H2020-COST, 2018

        Quantum gravity phenomenology in the multi-messenger approach (QG-MM)

        COST Action to gather theoretical and experimental groups to work in the prediction and possibility of detection of physical phenomena characteristic from quantum gravity theories. Project coordinated by IFAE.

        light trap

        H2020-MSCA-IF, 2014

        Light Trap

        Improving the light-collection efficiency (hence reducing the energy threshold) and field-of-view of CTA cameras is high on the agenda of future upgrades. The primary path to these goals is to replace PhotoMultipliers (PMTs) with Silicon-PMs (SiPM). These new photodetectors will also find multi-disciplinary use in e.g. in fluorescence telescopes for detection of Ultra High Energy Cosmic Rays and PET scanners in medical physics.

          LST-1 teslescope

          FP7-INFRASTRUCTURES, 2010


          • Publications

            Gamma-ray Group

          • Group News


            The installation of LST-4 dish structure begins shaping the Northern Hemisphere Array

            May 20, 2024

            IFAE, together with the IEEC (Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya), has got 2 of the 5 funded infrastructures in the III GINYS call.


            HERD prototype tested at CERN SPS beam

            October 4, 2023

            The HERD prototype is being tested at CERN SPS beam between Oct 2 and 16. This test, together with the one at PS back in September, will be used to validate and optimize the different sub-detector concepts and complete Phase B of the project.


            HERD prototype tested at CERN PS beam

            September 6, 2023

            The HERD prototype is being tested at CERN PS beam between Aug 29 and Sep 12. This test, together with the one happening at SPS next October, will be used to validate and optimize the different sub-detector concepts and complete Phase B of the project.

            New Visitor

            Prof. Harald Kornmayer (DHBW Mannheim), new visitor at IFAE

            May 8, 2023

            Prof. Harald Kornmayer from the DHBW Mannheim university is visiting IFAE-PIC until January 2024.


            The LST Collaboration Publishes its first Scientific Paper with Data from the LST-1

            March 16, 2023

            On March 6, the LST Collaboration published its first scientific paper in the Astronomy & Astrophysics journal. The paper focuses on a multi-wavelength study of the unidentified ultra-high-energy gamma-ray source known as LHAASO J2108+5157.


            Chinese Academy of Science delegation visit IFAE

            March 1, 2023

            A delegation of the Chinese Academy of Science visited IFAE on Monday February 27 2023. The visit was part of a tour for reviewing the status of the collaborations with different European research institutions on space missions. IFAE has been participating in the design of the HERD cosmic-ray/gamma-ray detector for the China Space Station since 2020.