News & AnalysisHIGH-ENERGY ASTROPHYSICS

Global Gamma Observatory Looks for (Two) Homes

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Science  21 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6139, pp. 1393
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6139.1393

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Summary

Gamma rays arriving at Earth from deep space come from some of the universe's most violent sources and events, such as supernova explosions, stellar collisions, neutron stars, and black holes. But detecting them is hard because they're stopped by collision with air particles in the upper atmosphere. Starting in the 1950s, astronomers have been watching for them with telescopes designed to pick up the flash of blue light, known as Cherenkov radiation, triggered by those high-altitude collisions. Plans are now afoot to build a global Cherenkov observatory at two sites in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. This month, nine candidate sites must file reports about their locations and the project's organizers will then have 6 months to choose the best two.

  • * Nuno Dominguez is a writer in Madrid. With reporting by Daniel Clery.