The goal of this research line is to understand the most energetic phenomena in the universe, which generate gamma rays of energies above a few tens of GeV and at least up to hundreds of TeV, as well as to address particle physics open questions through gamma-ray observations.
The Gamma-ray Group is led by J. Rico
The MAGIC telescopes
The two MAGIC telescopes were built and are operated by an international collaboration in the Canary Islands, and have a history of more than 17 years of continued, successful scientific operation. IFAE 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 hosting the MAGIC datacenter at PIC. The group has held many top leadership positions in MAGIC, e.g. three spokespersons (O. Blanch is the current spokesperson), as well as technical, operations, software, analysis and publications coordination positions, and the Chair of MAGIC’s Time Allocation Committee. Since first light, scientists at IFAE have led analyses that 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 Cherenokov Telescope Array
IFAE was one of the founders and leaders of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) project to build a worldwide facility for ground-based Gamma-ray Astronomy, which now includes over 1500 members. IFAE contributed decisively to bring to Spain the CTA-North observatory. Manel Martinez was CTA co-spokesperson for over 5 years. 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. It will provide a ten-fold increase in flux sensitivity and broader energy range compared to MAGIC, thanks to its two large arrays of telescopes of three different diameters: Large-Size Telescopes (23 m), Mid-Size Telescopes (12 m), Small-Size Telescopes (6 m), with 4 LSTs and 15 MSTs in CTA-North, and 4 LSTs, 25 MSTs and 70 SSTs in CTA-South. The CTA project is currently starting production, with the first Large-Size Telescope (LST1) of CTA-North inaugurated at ORM in 2018, and taking now science data.
The IFAE group co-leads the construction of the LSTs, the most complex and relevant for the study of key Fundamental Physics questions. The camera for LST1 was assembled at IFAE, and saw first light in 2019. IFAE members have been serving the project with responsibilities such as the Steering Committee Chair, systems engineer, camera coordinator and software coordinator. The activities are now gradually drifting from commissioning to scientific exploitation, including the combined analysis of MAGIC and LST1 data, for which IFAE is in a privileged position.
In the framework of the ASTERICS and ESCAPE H2020 projects, IFAE is contributing to the design and implementation of public data models and analysis tools for gamma-ray astronomy. In addition, the group has recently embarked into multimessenger activities, aiming to correlate MAGIC signals with public alerts from neutrinos and gravitational waves.
Next generation gamma-rays detectors
Finally, IFAE recently started participating in the design of HERD, a next-generation detector on board the upcoming Chinese space station, for the study of high-energy cosmic- and gamma-rays, complementary to CTA. IFAE has the responsibility of optimizing the performance of the detector for gamma-rays and designing the corresponding trigger system.