CTA Science

the extreme universe


The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) project will transform our understanding of the γ-ray universe. CTA will address a wide range of major questions in and beyond astrophysics, which can be grouped in to three themes:

Theme 1: Cosmic Particle Acceleration, Propagation and Impact
–  What is the origin of the up to PeV particles observed in our own galaxy?
–  What are the sites of particles acceleration in the jets and lobes of active galaxies?
–  What is the mechanism, or mechanisms, for cosmic particle acceleration up to very high energies in many astrophysical systems?
–  What role do accelerated particles play in feedback on star formation and galaxy evolution?

Theme 2: Probing Extreme Environments
–  What physical process are at work close to neutron stars and black holes?
–  What happens in the relativistic jets, winds and explosions?
–  What are the contents (radiation fields, magnetic fields) of cosmic voids? How are they heated? How do cosmic radiation fields evolve with redshift and what can we learn from them about the star-formation history of the universe?
–  How is the energy fraction stored in relativistic particles in starburst regions, in galaxies, AGN jets and lobes and in galaxies clusters?

Theme 3: Physics Frontiers
– What is the nature of Dark Matter? How is it distributed ?
– Is the speed of light a constant for high energy photons?
– Do axion-like particles exist?

Scientists in the UK are working on many of these areas. Of particular interest are the highest energy photons and what we can learn from them about cosmic particle acceleration and the impact of accelerated particles.

You can learn more about some of these themes, by clicking on the links below. More detailed descriptions are available on the main CTA Web Site. Enjoy your journey through the high energy Universe!