Croatian Scientists Working on a 300 mil Eur Mega Telescope

Total Croatia News

Team of Croatian scientists from across the country and from various educational and scientific institutions including the Ruđer Bošković Institute, University of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture from Split (FESB) as well as Universities of Rijeka and Zagreb are working on the development of the largest CTA Cherenkov Telescope Array on the Northern hemisphere worth 300 million euros.

Official inauguration of the first stone of the future Large Scale Telescope was held on Friday, October 9th at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma on the Canary Islands, with the attendance of some of the greatest scientific minds including the Nobel Prize laureate for physics Takaaki Kajita. 

This event marked the active construction phase of an observatory which will enable us to “hunt” some of the most violent and explosive processes in the cosmos and to monitor high energy radiation with precision that is ten times greater than what we are achieving with current instruments. More than 1500 scientists and engineers from across the globe are actively involved in the project including a Croatian team that will be working on three different aspects of the project.

Split’s FESB is working on a special camera for precise monitoring of the position of the main camera of this Large Scope Telescope, they are developing the software for data quality control and the entire detection system.  LST is an enormous telescope, along with a reflector with 23 m in diameter, it will include a 3 m camera for detection of light created by gamma rays. It will be one of the most complex and fastest cameras ever developed. 

Dr. sc. Dario Hrupec from the Ruđer Bošković Institute, one of 10 Croatian experts working on this project, explained for how this new generation of telescopes will work: “These telescopes are not monitoring the skies in ordinary (visible) light like amateur telescopes or our naked eye. These telescopes probe the cosmos through a light that has an energy greater than x-rays, so we are looking at the skies with gamma rays. Those gamma rays, with such great energy, do not exist on Earth. They are created in processes that exist in deep space in some exotic objects. So, when we observe the space in this new light, through a new data carrier, we see things we cannot see under ordinary light. Just as x-rays show the internal structure such as bones, gamma rays let us see objects that we otherwise would never be able to see. These telescopes are not about seeing further, it’s about seeing cosmos in a completely new dimension.”

These telescopes already exist, and Croatian teams have been working on one of them, “Magic”, for the last 10 years.”We have the expertise and experience in certain areas of this project. Our team is working on a special type of camera that will be installed on the telescopes, on a software for data quality monitoring and some members of our team will help our Japanese and German colleagues with simulations. Is this phase of the project, simulations are used to help determine the optimal number of telescopes and their best locations and later they will be used for better understanding of this complex instrument and t help with subsequent data analyses” dr. sc. Hrupec commented.

Professor dr. sc. Nikola Godinović from FESB revealed who else from this university from Split will participate in the project” Apart from me, professors Damir Lelas and Ivica Puljak are working on it, while one of our students, Darko Zarić, who is working on his PhD on the Magic, will help develop the software on the new telescope. 

Professor Godinović commented on the current support science is receiving in Croatia and t5he relationship of entrepreneurship and science:”It is a pity our industry and economy is not following global scientific trends. Our politicians don’t lobby enough for science and domestic entrepreneurs are focused on making an immediate profit not paying much attention to research and development which is where science plays a key role. Without continuous development industries cannot survive and be successful in the ling run” he stated.  


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