MAGIC – A Pair of Twins in the Moonlight


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This moonlight scene shows the large structure of MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov Telescopes), a system of two Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes located at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma, one of the Canary Islands, at about 2200 m above sea level. MAGIC detects particle showers released by gamma rays, using the Cherenkov radiation, i.e., faint light radiated by the charged particles in the showers. With a diameter of 17 meters and 236 m2 reflective surface, it was the largest in the world before the construction of H.E.S.S. II. MAGIC is not only huge, but also pioneers a number of technical developments that had never been applied to Cherenkov telescopes before. The mirror is extremely light and can be moved to any position in the sky in less than thirty seconds. It is made up of 270 individual mirror panels that can be independently focussed using an active mirror control system equipped with lasers.

The cosmos and its evolution are studied using all radiation, in particular electromagnetic waves. The observable spectrum extends from radio waves to infrared, visible, ultraviolet, X-ray, gamma-rays and finally very high energy gamma rays (starting at energies of 10 GeV). Observations at visible wavelengths (.5 to 1 micrometer) have a history of centuries, gamma astronomy by satellites (keV to few GeV) and ground-based telescopes (above 300 GeV) are end-of-20th century newcomers. The MAGIC telescope can detect very high energy gamma rays in a range of energies where no other telescope in the world can operate, so it opens up a brand new window into the universe.

PT: Esta cena ao luar mostra a grande estrutura de MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov Telescopes), um sistema de dois telescópios gémeos, preparados para detectar explosões de Raios-Gama. Localizado no Observatório Roque de los Muchachos em La Palma, Ilhas Canárias, esta estrutura encontra-se a cerca de 2200m de altitude.

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