Pioneering Project in Gamma-ray Astronomy Coming to Germany

The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is a project that seeks to build a facility that will allow for the observation of gamma-rays. This facility will be unlike any other in the world, and will consist of more than 100 individual telescopes located at one site in the southern hemisphere and a second site in the northern hemisphere. It has just been announced that the scientific centre of the CTA observatory will be located in Germany.

A major international project in gamma-ray astronomy, the Cherenkov Telescope Array, has taken another important step towards becoming a reality. At a shareholders’ meeting of the company CTAO GmbH in Munich recently, it was decided that the Science Data Management Centre and the seat of the CTA Scientific Director should be located at the DESY research centre in Zeuthen. At the same time, it decided that the administrative headquarters of the CTA organisation would be located in Bologna, Italy.

“We are very pleased that we have won the international bid and managed to bring the scientific coordination of CTA to Germany,” said Beatrix Vierkorn-Rudolph of Germany’s Ministry of Education and Research, and deputy chairperson of the CTAO’s shareholders’ meeting.

Over 1000 scientists and engineers from more than 30 different countries have joined forces to set up the facility over the next five years and to operate it for at least 20 years. Negotiations are currently taking place regarding sites in Chile and on La Palma and are due to be completed by the end of this year. The project will cost some 400 million euros and is part of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research’s (BMBF) national roadmap for future research infrastructures, as well as its European counterpart, the ESFRI roadmap.

“Germany has a long and successful tradition in the field of gamma-ray astronomy, which we can put to excellent use in the scientific coordination of CTA,” explains Werner Hofmann of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, who is spokesman for the international CTA Consortium and founding director of CTAO GmbH.


“CTA is going to revolutionise this field of astronomy. We are expecting CTA to provide profound insights into the role of high-energy processes in the development of the universe and many scientific surprises.”

The proposals for observations put forward by scientists from all over the world will be collected in Zeuthen, under the management of the CTA Scientific Director, and prepared for future measurement campaigns of the telescope array, and the data from the observations will be processed in Germany and then made available to the research community.

Scientists at DESY have for many years been carrying out research in the field of gamma-ray and neutrino astronomy, collaborating closely with the surrounding universities and research institutions in the Berlin-Brandenburg region. This makes it the ideal scientific setting for the Science Data Management Centre of CTA.

A new building is to be erected for the Science Data Management Centre at the DESY Campus on Lake Zeuthen. It will operate in close coordination with the existing centre, making use of available synergies.

Photo credit courtesy of “DESY / (Dahm Architekten & Ingenieure, Berlin)”. Material used in the preparation of this article has been drawn from DESY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron).


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