Francesco Conte

Francesco Conte  (Italy)

francesco.conte @

Development of an experimental setup for galactic gamma-ray detection in the TeV-PeV range

Discovered in the first years of the 20th century, cosmic rays constitute a source of information about particle acceleration mechanisms of astrophysical origin, up to energies that couldn’t be reached with any experimental setup on Earth. This means, on one hand, that CRs provide invaluable information on poorly understood astrophysical processes (e.g. EBL absorption), and on the other hand that their detection can be used to constrain hypotheses (e.g. test of Lorenz invariance, dark matter self-annihilation gamma-ray emission, axions, and other exotic physics). And of course, generally speaking, gamma-ray detection is a unique way to map high-energy emitters inside and outside the Milky Way, since photons don’t interact with magnetic fields – and the same holds for galactic high-energy ions, deflected very little by the MW magnetic field.

Due to the interactions with atmospheric particles (which cause showers of charged nuclei, leptons and photons), CRs cannot be directly detected by ground observatories. What we can collect on the ground is the Cherenkov radiation due to the shower of fast charged particles passing through the atmosphere, and by using an array of telescopes we can cover a large enough collection area (this is the core method adopted by the so-called IACTs telescopes like MAGIC and HESS). In particular, the new generation Cherenkov Telescope Array is currently under construction: it will consist of more than one hundred telescopes of different sizes to optimize the sensitivity in a vast range of energies (from 10s of GeV to 100s of TeV). CTA will have a sensitivity higher by an order of magnitude with respect to previous Cherenkov telescopes.

The aim of this PhD project is to help developing the Compact High-Energy Camera for the Small-Sized Telescopes, extending the higher end of CTA energy range up to 300 TeV which will allow for a better characterization of PeVatron candidates. The first on-sky data taking should occur during the 3 years of my PhD, and will involve massive testing and performance improving.

Supervisor:  Jim Hinton (MPIK)

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