The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), which will observe the most energetic universe from Chile and La Palma, publishes its scientific objectives

With more than a hundred telescopes, the CTA is the largest project of study of the cosmos to high energies conceived. The project, which involves the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC), is under construction and will start operating in 2024


The CTA will be the main high-energy astronomical observatory of gamma rays over the next decades, and its scientific potential is extremely broad: it ranges from understanding the role of relativistic cosmic particles to the pursuit of dark matter. Yesterday was published the book Science with the Cherenkov Telescope Array, which defines the main scientific objectives of the project and places it in the context of the great observatories present and future.

CTA will be the foremost global observatory for very high-energy gamma-ray astronomy over the next decade and beyond. The scientific potential of CTA is extremely broad: from understanding the role of relativistic cosmic particles to the search for dark matter. CTA will explore the extreme Universe, probing environments from the immediate neighbourhood of black holes to cosmic voids on the largest scales. With its ability to cover an enormous range in photon energy from 20 GeV to 300 TeV, CTA will improve on all aspects of performance with respect to current instruments. And its wider field of view and improved sensitivity will enable CTA to survey hundreds of times faster than previous TeV telescopes.

CTA will seek to address a wide range of questions in astrophysics and fundamental physics that fall under three major study themes: understanding the origin and role of relativistic cosmic particles, probing extreme environments and exploring frontiers in physics.

“The Key Science Projects described in the document – surveys and deep observations of key objects – will provide legacy data sets of lasting value and will provide important input for the planning of CTA's user programme,” said CTA Spokesperson Prof. Werner Hofmann.

Some of the most promising discoveries will come from a survey of our Milky Way galaxy, which should discover more Galactic sources for improved population studies and for advancing our understanding of the origin of cosmic rays; the search for the elusive dark matter with models not accessible by other experiments; and the detection of transient phenomena like gamma-ray bursts and gravitational wave events associated with catastrophic events in the Universe.

“For me, the most exciting aspect of CTA is the potential for truly unexpected discoveries,” says CTA Project Scientist, Prof. Jim Hinton. “CTA pushes to shorter timescales, higher energies and more distant objects. Pushing back the frontiers in astronomy always leads to something truly new and exciting, and now we’re all just itching to get started.”

The Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) has been a full member of the CTA-International and CTA-Spain Consortia since 2016. The CTA-Spain consortium, made up of eleven Spanish institutions and one hundred fifteen researchers and technologists, is one of the main contributors to the construction of the CTA Observatory. Six researchers and technologists from three different research groups form the CTA group of the IAA-CSIC and participate in both scientific work in preparation for future astronomical observations of CTA and in its construction. The contribution of the IAA-CSIC to the construction of the CTA is related to the development of software, data models and standardization of the analysis procedures, a work oriented to provide the CTA data to a wider astronomical community.

CTA ( is a global initiative to build the world’s largest and most sensitive high-energy gamma-ray observatory. More than 1,400 scientists and engineers from 32 countries are engaged in the scientific and technical development of CTA. The planning for the construction of the Observatory is managed by the CTAO gGmbH, which is governed by Shareholders and Associate Members from a growing number of countries.

CTA will serve as an open observatory to the world-wide physics and astrophysics communities. The CTA Observatory will detect high-energy radiation with unprecedented accuracy and approximately 10 times better sensitivity than current instruments, providing novel insights into the most extreme events in the Universe.

CTA is included in the 2008 roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). This project is receiving funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programs under agreement No 676134. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme ([FP7/2007-2013] [FP7/2007-2011]) under Grant Agreement 262053.


Science with the Cherenkov Telescope Array is available today via the CTA website library ( and arXiv (1709.07997).


Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC)
Unidad de Divulgación y Comunicación
Silbia López de Lacalle - sll[arroba] - 958230532