Cherenkov Telescope Array: LST1-Large-Sized Telescope makes its debut
The Large-Sized Telescope (LST-1) has been inaugurated in the Canary Islands. It is the first of the large-sized telescopes that – together with small- and medium-sized telescopes – will make up the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), the world’s largest and most sensitive high-energy gamma-ray observatory, currently under construction.
Once the Cherenkov Telescope Array is complete, it will be composed of more than 100 telescopes spread between two sites: one in the northern hemisphere, at the Roque de los Muchachos observatory, and the other in the southern hemisphere, near the existing Southern Observatory at Paranal.
Meanwhile, at the northern hemisphere site on the island of La Palma, at over 2,000 metres above sea level, the prototype large-sized telescope is set to observe in the sky the most energetic cosmic sources known.
Equipped with a 23-metre diameter parabolic mirror, LST-1 is an extremely nimble telescope, i.e. it can be pointed to any part of the sky in less than 20 seconds to capture signals as quickly as possible. With a reflective surface of 415 square metres, the telescope is designed to collect and focus the Cherenkov light into the camera, where photomultiplier tubes convert and amplify the light in electrical signals processed by dedicated electronics.
Italy is involved in the construction of the powerful instrument through researchers at the National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN). The project involves scientists from 10 countries: Brazil, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, Poland, Spain and Sweden.
“The INFN has made a significant contribution to the construction of the LST with the camera calibration system, the acquisition electronics, the system of cables that support the arch of the mechanical structure, the telescope’s anchoring system and the atmospheric monitoring instrumentation”, explained Nicola Giglietto, INFN national spokesperson for the Cherenkov Telescope Array.
The inauguration of the LST-1 is one of the first steps in the implementation of the CTA project: a major scientific effort involving 31 countries, in which Italy is involved through the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), as well as with INFN.
Specifically, INAF plans to contribute to the telescopes for the southern hemisphere site by providing 30 replicas of the Space Surveillance Telescope prototype, built as part of a flagship project funded by the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR).
“The completion of LST-1 is an important moment in the history of the Cherenkov Telescope Array, but this is just the beginning”, commented Federico Ferrini, Managing Director at the CTA Observatory, headquarters of the international collaboration based in Bologna, within the INAF premises. “Now we have 117 more telescopes of the three types to build with the performance standards required by the scientific community, which is eager to use their extraordinary observational efficiency”, concluded Ferrini.