HAWC explores gamma-ray astronomy

The above image depicts HAWC as it will appear when construction is complete in 2014. The 111 Cherenkov detectors currently installed are colored white and located in the upper right quadrant of the array. Image: HAWC Collaboration

Last week, Nature published an article on the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory, a gamma-ray observatory near Puebla, Mexico. WIPAC at UW–Madison is a collaborating institution.

The article details plans for HAWC, scheduled for completion in fall 2014. When complete, it will consist of 300 water-filled tanks housing particle detectors. The immersed sensors give HAWC the ability to operate 24 hours a day and look at a broad area of the sky. Traditional optical telescopes can only take data at night, in clear conditions.

HAWC is optimized for gamma-ray detection and will hopefully provide a look inside violent astrophysical events like supernovas and active galactic nuclei.

Scientists and students from WIPAC travel regularly to the site to work on construction and data-taking. For more information about WIPAC contributions to HAWC, read our August 2013 start of operations announcement.

+info “Mexican observatory pushes the limits of γ-ray astronomy,” Krista Zala, Nature, 22 November 2013.