AAS 197, January 2001
Session 93. New Technology and its Achievements II
Oral, Wednesday, January 10, 2001, 10:30am-12:00noon, Royal Palm 5/6

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[93.01] First Observations from the Keck/Solar Two Gamma-ray Observatory

J.A. Zweerink, D. Bhattacharya, G. Mohanty, U. Mohideen, H.W.K. Tom, T.O. Tumer (IGPP, UC-Riverside), P.J. Murray, M. Tripathi, G. Xing (UC-Davis)

There is a strong push in the rapidly growing gamma-ray community to make sensitive observations in the unexplored 20-300 GeV energy range which is largely inaccessible to present ground-based and satellite detectors. The abandoned solar power farms utilizing a central receiver surrounded by a large field of steerable mirrors provide a way to make observations below 300 GeV at a relatively small cost as shown by STACEE and CELESTE. The Solar Two Power Plant in Barstow, CA has more than 1800 steerable mirrors and is an order of magnitude larger than any solar farm in the world. As such, it has the potential to be the most sensitive ground-based gamma-ray detector in the 20-300 GeV region.

Using a grant from the Keck Foundation, we have instrumented a camera which collects light from 32 mirrors at the Solar Two site. We are using this assembly to observe the Crab Nebula, the standard candle of gamma-ray astronomy, and concurrently expanding the instrumentation to include 64 mirrors. By sampling the photon density in the Cherenkov wavefront emitted by the cosmic-ray induced particle showers, one can detect and discriminate celestial gamma rays and the more abundant hadronic background. We present a preliminary analysis of Crab Nebula observations taken from October to December 2000 and comment on the future prospects for detecting other celestial gamma-ray sources.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: zweerink@solar2.ucr.edu

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