CTA - an advanced facility for ground-based gamma-ray astronomy

In recent years ground-based gamma-ray astronomy has experienced a major breakthrough with the impressive astrophysical results obtained mainly by the current generation instruments like H.E.S.S., MAGIC, MILAGRO and VERITAS. A clear physics potential of this field has been demonstrated, which is not only restricted to pure astrophysical observations, but also allows significant contributions to the field of particle physics and cosmology.The Cherenkov Telescope Array CTA stands for an initiative to build the next generation ground-based gamma-ray instrument, which is supposed to serve as an open observatory to a wide astrophysics community and which will provide the deepest ever insight into the non-thermal high-energy universe. The current baseline design of CTA foresees a factor of 10 improvement in sensitivity in the current energy domain of about 100 GeV to some 10 TeV and an extension of the accessible energy range well below 100 GeV and to above 100 TeV. The observatory will consist of two arrays: a southern hemisphere array, which covers the full energy range from some 10 GeV to about 100 TeV to allow for a deep investigation of galactic sources, and of the central part of our Galaxy, but also for the observation of extragalactic objects. A northern hemisphere array, consisting of the low energy instrumentation (from some 10 GeV to ~1 TeV) complements the observatory and is dedicated mainly to northern extragalactic objects. The observatory with its two sites will be operated by one single consortium. A significant fraction of the observation time will be open to the general astrophysical community and facilities for user support will be provided. The design of CTA is based on currently available technology, and therefore allows for reliable predictions of the performance parameters of the observatory. At the same time, the option for future upgrades with new technology is kept open.

Artists view of CTA

CTA developments at IRAP

At IRAP we concentrate on the development of software for the scientific analysis of CTA high level data - the ctools. This software is of free access and will be provided to the user community for data analysis.

The ctools are based on the GammaLib, a generic multi-mission framework developed by IRAP for the analysis of astronomical gamma-ray data. The GammaLib is free software that is distributed under the GNU public licence. The latest version of the GammaLib can be downloaded from http://cta.irap.omp.eu/gammalib/download.html.