On 1 December 2015, l’Observatoire de Paris hosted the inauguration of the Gamma-ray Cherenkov Telescope (GCT) prototype. The GCT will detect very high-energy gamma rays for the world’s largest gamma ray observatory, the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA).
The event was held at the Observatory’s Meudon site with speeches and presentations by representatives from l’Observatoire de Paris, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Region Ile-de-France, the CTA and GCT consortia.
Photo Credits: Akira Okumura
Claude Catala, President of l’Observatoire de Paris, opened the presentation saying, “The GCT prototype represents an immense step forward in CTA […] Congratulations to all persons involved, and especially those who have worked day and night over the last couple of weeks to make this happen.”
Following the presentation, attendees were given a tour of the telescope and its camera, which captured CTA's first Cherenkov light during testing just days before the event.
The telescope is one of the very first to use the Schwarzschild-Couder dual-mirror optical design, which has recently been recognized as well-suited to ground-based gamma-ray astronomy, providing good image quality over a large field of view and allowing the construction of telescopes and cameras that are more compact than the single-mirror systems that are currently in use.
“This is the very first Cherenkov light for a Schwarzschild-Couder telescope – never before achieved in astronomy,” said Research Director at CNRS Helene Sol.
Another Schwarzschild-Couder prototype, the ASTRI, captured the first optical image in May 2015 with its diagnostic camera.