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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Instrument Development to Study the Highest Energy Photons in the Universe

The highest energy photons in the universe are gamma rays that carry essential information capable of answering leading questions in astrophysics and particle physics. This proposal will support development of low-noise, nanosecond-resolution electronics for very-high-energy gamma-ray astronomy.The technology will enable detection of single optical photons produced by astrophysical gamma rays. Thanks to an innovative technique combining aspects of astronomy and particle physics, it is possible to detect gamma rays from the ground, when they collide with Earth’s atmosphere and produce a fleeting (a few billionths of a second in duration) flash of blue Cherenkov light. The technology development can be exploited by the international Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) project. When complete, CTA will consist of a large array of telescopes that will be specially instrumented to exploit the Cherenkov technique.

These activities lay the groundwork for significant University of Wisconsin involvement in this highly visible and intellectually rich international project. The Cherenkov Telescope Array will investigate some of the most important mysteries at the heart of multi-messenger astronomy, including the origins of gravitational waves and astrophysical neutrinos, and the nature of dark matter.

Principal Investigator

  • Justin Vandenbroucke
    Assistant Professor of Physics


  • John Gallagher
    Professor of Astronomy