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13.08.2012 14:14

New eye sweeps the gamma sky: Tübingen Researchers participate

H.E.S.S. II in Namibia observes the most violent and extreme phenomena of the Universe in very high energy gamma-rays.

New gamma-eye for the H.E.S.S family: The telescope has an antenna with a diameter of 28 meters and weighs over 6000 tons. © H.E.S.S. Collaboration, Clementina Medina/Irfu-CEA

End of July, the four 12 meter-telescopes of the H.E.S.S. observatory (High Energy Stereoscopic System), dedicated to investigating cosmic gamma-rays in Namibia, received reinforcement: The new telescope H.E.S.S. II has a 28-meter-sized mirror and is therefore the largest Cherenkov telescope ever built. With such telescopes, researchers observe the most violent and extreme phenomena of the Universe in very high energy gamma-rays. The University of Tübingen is part of the international H.E.S.S. collaboration, which builds and runs the telescopes, through the High Energy Astrophysics Section of the Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics Tübingen (IAAT), financially supported by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research.

 

Today, scientists know well over one hundred cosmic sources of very high-energy gamma rays. With the new instrument near the Gamsberg in Namibia, the astrophysicists not only want to investigate these objects in superior detail, but also detect many new sources. The researchers hope for a deeper understanding of known high-energy cosmic sources such as supermassive black holes, pulsars and supernovae, but also to detect new classes of high-energy cosmic sources.

 

The new telescope has a mass of almost 600 tons, and its 28-meter mirror corresponds to the area of two tennis courts. It saw its first light at 0:43 a.m. (German time zone) on 26 July 2012, detecting its very first images of atmospheric particle cascades generated by cosmic gamma rays and by cosmic rays. “The new telescope resolves the cascade images at unprecedented detail, with four times more pixels per sky area compared to the smaller telescopes” states Dr. Pascal Vincent from the French team responsible for the photo sensor package (camera) at the focus of the mirror.

 

The astrophysicists from Tübingen collaborated with the Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics Heidelberg and Polish groups to provide the machinery that supports and aligns all 875 individual mirror facets. Those finally form the telescope’s reflecting surface. “The sheer amount of individual parts was a challenge for the institute” states Gerd Pühlhofer who is coordinating the institute’s high energy gamma-ray activities. “Not only did we design and produce the electronics and software for the mirror alignment system. We also equipped all 1750 actuators, that is the mirror alignment units, with our electronics, tested them, shipped them to Namibia and mounted them at the telescope. In addition, also all glass mirror facets went through our institute, for quality tests in our 70m testing ground in the basement of our institute, amongst other things.”

 

“I’m glad that the mirror system works as expected” says Stefan Schwarzburg, who had to return from Namibia to take his PhD examination at the University. Together with Dr. Eckhard Kendziorra, he has been scientifically and technically responsible for the H.E.S.S. mirror-related hardware work at IAAT.

 

“A lot of our workshop people, students, and scientists worked hard and tirelessly to get this done” says Prof. Dr. Andrea Santangelo, leader of the High Energy Astrophysics Section at IAAT.


“Also at the preparation of the next generation of telescopes, the Cherenkov Telescope Array CTA, the University of Tübingen is strongly involved in the development of this exciting branch of astroparticle physics.”

 

More information: http://www.mpi-hd.mpg.de/hfm/HESS

 

Tübingen crew members climbing in the new telescope dish during the mirror actuator installation campaign at the H.E.S.S. site end of 2011. All mirror actuators of the H.E.S.S. II telescope have been prepared by the H.E.S.S. group of the Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics Tübingen. © H.E.S.S. Collaboration, Eckhard Kendziorra/IAAT

 

Contact:

Prof. Dr. Andrea Santangelo
Universität Tübingen
Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik/Kepler Center for Astro and Particle Physics
Telefon +49 7071 29-78128
Santangelo[at]astro.uni-tuebingen.de

 

Dr. Gerd Pühlhofer
Universität Tübingen
Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik/Kepler Center for Astro and Particle Physics
Telefon +49 7071 29-74982
Gerd.Puehlhofer[at]astro.uni-tuebingen.de

Dr. Chris Tenzer


Universität Tübingen
Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Institut für Astronomie und Astrophysik/Kepler Center for Astro and Particle Physics
Telefon +49 7071 29-75473
tenzer[at]astro.uni-tuebingen.de

 

 

 

 

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Hochschulkommunikation
Myriam Hönig
Leitung

 

Michael Seifert
Abteilung Presse, Forschungsberichterstattung, Information
Telefon +49 7071 29-76789
Telefax +49 7071 29-5566
Michael.Seifert[at]uni-tuebingen.de

www.uni-tuebingen.de/aktuelles

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