the HAWC observatory

Researchers in astroparticle physics present the ALTO project for the first time

Michael Punch and Satyendra Thoudam of the Astroparticle Physics research group have been on a mission to Mexico, to meet possible international collaborators for the group’s Very High Energy gamma-ray detector project.

ALTO is the name given by the Astroparticle Physics research group at Linnaeus University to a project they are developing for a wide-field Very High Energy (VHE) gamma-ray detector. The detector is planned to be installed at very high altitude in the Southern hemisphere. The principal investigator of the project is Yvonne Becherini, senior lecturer at Linnaeus University.

During a workshop 11-12 November 2016, in the city of Puebla in Mexico, the ALTO project was presented officially for the first time. The first two ALTO presentations of the project were made by Michael Punch and Satyendra Thoudam, respectively guest researcher and postdoctoral research fellow at Linnaeus University, on behalf of the group. The trip also included a visit to the HAWC observatory site near Puebla, at an altitude of 4,100 meters.

– The HAWC detector, with its 300 huge water Cherenkov Detector tanks at this high altitude site, is quite impressive, but for ALTO we plan many more (but smaller) tanks at a much higher altitude. We see that this will be a challenge, but the workshop showed that there is a community coming together to work on this, with many ideas and much interest in the ALTO concept, says Michael Punch.

– Using more than 1,200 small-sized tanks, with ALTO we will sample the footprints of air showers produced by high-energy gamma-rays at much finer level than is currently being done with HAWC. Together with additional muon detectors for better background (cosmic rays) rejection, ALTO will reach a much better sensitivity, says Satyendra Thoudam.

The trip to Mexico was funded by the Lars Hierta Memorial Foundation and Satyendra Thoudam's salary is supported by the Crafoord Foundation. ALTO's design study phase has also been supported by the Magnus Bergvall's Foundation. The AP research group is working on the ALTO project together with TBS Yard AB in Torsås south of Kalmar, a young Swedish company with great competence in advanced composite

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