Name: Cherenkov Telescope Array – participation of the Czech Republic

Institution: Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Coordinator: RNDr. Petr Trávníček, PhD.; petr.travnicek@fzu.cz


The CTA (Cherenkov Telescope Array) is a research infrastructure of international astroparticle physics, which will enable the discovery of a large number of new astrophysical sources of gamma radiation and the study of their properties. The scientific community of the Czech Republic is playing an important role in the preparation of the CTA, in particular through the development of mirrors for Cherenkov telescopes and the construction of devices for the characterization of atmospheric conditions. The optical laboratory of Palacký University Olomouc and the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences is where the manufacturing and prototype testing of mirrors and optical samples is taking place. Czech opticians are developing technologies for the production of mirrors for the SST (Small Size Telescopes). Throughout this process, they apply the experience they gained at the Pierre Auger Observatory. The manufacturing process includes newly developed technologies of gravitational bending of planar glass and the follow-up machining and quality control using CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines. Regarding the monitoring of the atmosphere above the future observatory, the CTA-CZ has commissioned a complex of all-sky cameras used to determine the cloudiness of the sky in real time during observations. For a detailed analysis of atmospheric conditions, CTA-CZ has further developed the autonomous robotic FRAM telescopes. The uniqueness of the FRAM telescopes lies in their non-invasive measurement method without any interference from the observing conditions of the main telescopes during FRAM operation. One FRAM device is already in operation on the site of the future southern part of the CTA observatory in Chile close to the experimental apparatuses of the ESO (European Organisation for Astronomic Research in the Southern Hemisphere). A further FRAM device is installed at the site of the future northern part of CTA on La Palma Island within the Canary Islands archipelago. The third FRAM will be again deployed in Chile and is currently undergoing testing. The atmospheric monitoring activities are a continuation of the previous work regarding the search for the optimal locations of the CTA sites. CTA-CZ significantly contributed by the development of all-sky cameras and new methods for analysing satellite images. CTA is collaborating with other research infrastructures such as the SKA (Square Kilometer Array) and it is striving to establish a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC).