Wednesday, September 06, 2023

HESS Telescopes in Namibia Explore High-Energy Sky Sources

HESS Telescopes in Namibia Explore High-Energy Sky Sources

They may look like modern mechanical dinosaurs, but they are enormous swiveling eyes that watch the sky. The High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) Observatory is composed of four 12-meter reflecting-mirror telescopes surrounding a larger telescope housing a 28-meter mirror. They are designed to detect strange flickers of blue light—Cherenkov radiation—emitted when charged particles move slightly faster than the speed of light in air. This light is emitted when a gamma ray from a distant source strikes a molecule in Earth's atmosphere and starts a charged-particle shower. H.E.S.S. is sensitive to some of the highest energy photons (TeV) crossing the universe. 

Operating since 2003 in Namibia, Africa, H.E.S.S. has searched for dark matter and has discovered over 50 sources emitting high energy radiation including supernova remnants and the centers of galaxies that contain supermassive black holes. Pictured in June 2023, H.E.S.S. telescopes swivel and stare in time-lapse sequences shot in front of our Milky Way Galaxy and the Magellanic Clouds—as the occasional Earth-orbiting satellite zips by.

H.E.S.S. is a system of Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescopes that investigates cosmic gamma rays in the energy range from 10s of GeV to 10s of TeV. The name H.E.S.S. is also intended to pay homage to Victor Hess, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1936 for his discovery of cosmic radiation. The instrument allows scientists to explore gamma-ray sources. 

H.E.S.S. is located in Namibia, near the Gamsberg mountain, an area well known for its excellent optical quality. The first of the four telescopes of Phase I of the H.E.S.S. project went into operation in Summer 2002; all four were operational in December 2003, and were officially inaugurated on September 28, 2004. A much larger fifth telescope - H.E.S.S. II - is operational since July 2012, extending the energy coverage towards lower energies and further improving sensitivity.

The H.E.S.S. observatory is operated by a collaboration of more than 260 scientists from about 40 scientific institutions and 13 different countries: Namibia and South Africa, Germany, France, the UK, Ireland, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Armenia, Japan, and Australia. To date, the H.E.S.S. Collaboration has published over 100 articles in high-impact scientific journals, including the top-ranked ‘Nature’ and ‘Science’ journals.

Video Credit: Jeff Dai (TWAN), H.E.S.S. Collaboration

Duration: 2 minutes, 18 seconds

Release Dates: Sept. 4, 2023

#NASA #Astronomy #Space #Science #HESSTelescopes #CherenkovRadiation #GammaRays #HighEnergyPhotons #Namibia #Africa #InternationalCooperation #Stars #SupernovaRemnants #BlackHoles #Galaxies #MilkyWayGalaxy #MagellanicClouds #Cosmos #Universe  #STEM #Education #HD #Video #APoD

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