The Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory: a new eye on the most extreme Universe
17 March @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm GMT
Talk by Dr Roberta Zanin
The Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory will be open to the worldwide astronomical and particle physics communities, as a resource to provide unique observations of the unexplored Universe at very high energies (VHE) – a region of the electromagnetic spectrum covering four decades in energy above 20 GeV. Gamma-ray astroparticle physics is a relatively young field, and observations over the past decade have revealed the surprising discovery of more than two hundred VHE emitters which appear to act as cosmic particle accelerators. These sources are an important component of the Universe, influencing the evolution of stars and galaxies. At the same time, they also act as a probe of physics in the most extreme environments known – such as in supernova explosions and around, or after the merging of black holes and neutron stars. CTAO will provide a new census of the VHE sky, increasing the number of VHE sources by an order of magnitude, and thus allowing for detailed population studies which will tackle longstanding questions on these objects.
With its greatly improved sensitivity when compared to the currently running facilities, as well as significantly enhanced angular and spectral resolution, CTAO will bring a significant increase in discovery space, paving the way to new questions, and likely paradigm-changing discoveries. The CTAO’s unparalleled accuracy and unprecedented energy range (20 GeV- 300 TeV) will provide novel insights into the most extreme and powerful events in the Universe, addressing questions in and beyond astrophysics falling under three major themes: Understanding the origin and role of relativistic cosmic particles, probing extreme environments (such as the vicinity of black holes) and exploring frontiers in physics (including the study of dark matter). In particular, CTAO has an unprecedented sensitivity to short (sub-minute) timescale phenomena, placing it as a key instrument in the future of multi-messenger and multi-wavelength time domain astronomy. Transient phenomena are of great scientific interest, being associated with catastrophic events involving relativistic compact objects such as neutron stars and black holes. The proposed targets comprise gamma-ray bursts, gravitational wave alerts, neutrino alerts, optical/radio transient events and serendipitous VHE transients.
In this talk I will briefly present the status of this upcoming observatory, and I will focus on its scientific capabilities in answering the still open astronomical questions.
Roberta Zanin has devoted her entire scientific career to imaging Cherenkov astronomy during which she has taken part in all the three major currently-running instruments of this kind, as an active member of MAGIC and H.E.S.S. and as a visiting scientist at VERITAS. Cultivating her research interests between Padua (Italy), Barcelona (Spain) and Heidelberg (Germany), she has built great experience in data analysis and interpretation, software development, operations and commissioning of the telescopes – all aspects in which she has been successfully involved, with increasing leadership responsibilities. As a former member of the CTA Consortium, she served as a convener of the Galactic Science working group.
As a member of the CTAO, the CTAO Project Scientist has a fundamental role in all science related aspects of the CTAO Construction and Operation. Roberta works with the Project Manager and System Engineers, in tandem with In-Kind Contributors and the CTA Consortium, to ensure that the design, implementation and science verification of the CTAO achieves the science goals of the Project.