The telescope MACE | Bhabha Atomic Research Centre
Text Size:

New Delhi: India’s largest and the world’s highest gamma-ray telescope is set to go live later this year, aiming to provide a new window into distant stars and galaxies in the universe.

The Major Atmospheric Cherenkov Experiment Telescope (MACE) in Hanle, Ladakh, is placed at an altitude of 4,300 metres above sea level.

It is the world’s second-largest, ground-based gamma-ray telescope with a 21-metre-diameter dish. The largest telescope of the same class is the 28-metre-diameter telescope, which is part of the High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) in Namibia.

“The installation of the telescope is complete and trial runs are being carried out. It will go live later this year. The first science results from this project will come in a year or two,” Nilay Bhatt, a researcher at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), told ThePrint.

The project is a collaboration of scientists from BARC, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, along with the Electronics Corporation of India Limited.


Also read: NASA telescope finds exoplanet trio that can unravel mysteries of planet formation


Will study Cherenkov radiation

MACE is named after Russian scientist Pavel Cherenkov, who discovered that charged particles glow when they pass through a non-conducting medium under certain conditions. This phenomenon known as the Cherenkov radiation causes the characteristic blue glow in underwater nuclear reactors. Cherenkov shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1958 with Ilya Frank and Igor Tamm for this discovery.

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

“The telescope will study different astrophysical sources in energies of 20 GeV to 10 TeV range,” said Bhatt. This range will allow scientists to study high-energy processes in the universe. It may also aid the search for dark matter — the mysterious substance that is believed to account for over 80 per cent of the universe’s mass.

Gamma rays have so much energy that they pass through mirrors used in ordinary optical telescopes. These rays require specialised detectors.

Moreover, the Earth’s atmosphere blocks most of the incoming gamma rays from space, at a height of 10 kilometres from the surface, which makes it difficult for ground-based telescopes to detect them.

Placing the telescope at higher altitudes gives them a significant advantage to observe the Cherenkov radiation, which is produced when cosmic gamma rays strike the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

MACE is equipped with 356 mirror panels and over 1,000 cameras and will detect very short flashes — lasting just a few nanoseconds — of the Cherenkov radiation. All the components of the telescope have been developed in India.

“Our work is complementary to other telescopes. Together, telescopes look at the same objects in different energy windows and then scientists put it all together to get the whole picture of the universe. So this telescope is going to add to the sources that are available to us and make our understanding more comprehensive,” said Bhatt.


Also read: Pune telescope hailed for discovering one of farthest known galaxies


 

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

1 Comment Share Your Views

1 COMMENT

  1. There is already n optical telescope at Hanle. Suggest similar to video clips on politics, The Print science reporters should do mini-videos on science. These could be interviews with scientists at various institutions.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here