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VERITAS and AGIS: Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescopes for Very High Energy Gamma-Ray Astrophysics

Abstract: Imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescope arrays have proven to be the most sensitive method to detect astrophysical sources of gamma-rays at energies above several 100 GeV. These detectors provide effective areas 4 to 5 orders of magnitude larger than satellite experiments, with excellent gamma-hadron separation, angular resolution better than 0.1 deg, and 15=20% energy resolution. Present experiments such as HESS, MAGIC and VERITAS have already detected ~70 sources with key discoveries including: resolved images of supernova remnants, evidence for hadronic interactions in molecular clouds, variable emission from X-ray binaries, minute-scale variability from active galaxies, detection of extragalactic objects out to redshifts of 0.4, and the discovery of a new class of otherwise dark, unidentified sources in our own galaxy. AGIS, a proposed array of ~50 ACTs covering an area of ~1km^2 could result in a dramatic improvement in sensitivity. This instrument has the potential to have a major impact on both astrophysics and fundamental physics, for example, providing the sensitivity to detect dark-matter annihilation from extragalactic sources or galactic substructure even for generic parameters. Here I discuss the science drivers, technological developments for the current experiments, and new technology that will be employed for AGIS including novel approaches for the focal plane detectors, new electronics designs and new wide-field optical designs. I also discuss Monte Carlo studies of array configuration, and expected performance as well as the impact on key scientific topics.
Speaker: James Buckley - Washington University
Speaker Bio: James Buckley is Professor of Physics at Washington University where his research focuses on gamma-ray astronomy, indirect searches for dark matter as well as detector development including: MBE growth of AlGaN/InGaN photodetectors, optical design for astronomical telescopes, design of low-radioactive background detectors for direct dark matter detection and development of computer architectures for high-speed pipelined processing of large data sets. Buckley received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1992, and worked for the next 4 years on the Whipple Gamma-Ray experiment under Trevor Weekes, before moving on to a faculty position at Washington University. Prof. Buckley has been involved in VERITAS since its inception in 1996, and was responsible for the design and construction of the 2000 channel 500 MHz FADC system. Buckley has authored papers on a number of topics including multiwavelength studies of AGNs, phenomenological modeling of AGN emission, gamma-ray burst remnants in our galaxy, and prospects for gamma-ray detection of dark matter.
Poster Link: Poster