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Exploring one giga electronvolt cosmic gamma rays with a Cherenkov plenoscope capable of recording atmospheric light fields, Part 1: Optics

Sebastian Achim MuellerSpyridon DaglasAxel Arbet Engels ...+5 Werner Hofmann
Jan 2024
Detecting cosmic gamma rays at high rates is the key to time-resolve the acceleration of particles within some of the most powerful events in the universe. Time-resolving the emission of gamma rays from merging celestial bodies, apparently random bursts of gamma rays, recurring novas in binary systems, flaring jets from active galactic nuclei, clocking pulsars, and many more became a critical contribution to astronomy. For good timing on account of high rates, we would ideally collect the naturally more abundant, low energetic gamma rays in the domain of one giga electronvolt in large areas. Satellites detect low energetic gamma rays but only in small collecting areas. Cherenkov telescopes have large collecting areas but can only detect the rare, high energetic gamma rays. To detect gamma rays with lower energies, Cherenkov-telescopes need to increase in precision and size. But when we push the concept of the -- far/tele -- seeing Cherenkov telescope accordingly, the telescope's physical limits show more clearly. The narrower depth-of-field of larger mirrors, the aberrations of mirrors, and the deformations of mirrors and mechanics all blur the telescope's image. To overcome these limits, we propose to record the -- full/plenum -- Cherenkov-light field of an atmospheric shower, i.e. recording the directions and impacts of each individual Cherenkov photon simultaneously, with a novel class of instrument. This novel Cherenkov plenoscope can turn a narrow depth-of-field into the perception of depth, can compensate aberrations, and can tolerate deformations. We design a Cherenkov plenoscope to explore timing by detecting low energetic gamma rays in large areas.
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