Detection of the Crab Nebula By UV Imaging of TeV Gamma Ray Air Showers

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Session 16 -- >100 GeV Gamma Ray Astronomy
Display presentation, Monday, 9, 1995, 9:20am - 6:30pm

[16.06] Detection of the Crab Nebula By UV Imaging of TeV Gamma Ray Air Showers

M. Chantell (U of Arizona, for the Whipple Gamma Ray Collaboration)

With successful detection of TeV gamma ray fluxes from the Crab Nebula and the AGN, MRK421, the Whipple Observatory Gamma Ray Collaboration has demonstrated the sensitivity of the Cherenkov imaging technique in ground-based gamma-ray astronomy. This technique uses an array of 109 blue-sensitive photomultipliers to image the Cherenkov radiation produced when TeV gamma and cosmic rays enter the earth's atmosphere. One major limitation of this technique is the requirement of absolutely dark skies during observations. The presence of the moon rules out the possibility of making observations because of the high sensitivity of the photomultipliers used in the camera. To address this limitation we have developed a camera which utilizes solar-blind photomultpliers with primary sensitivity from 220nm to 280nm allowing observations even in the presence of the full moon. After two years of UV observations of the Crab Nebula we have demonstrated the ability to discriminate gamma rays from the hadronic background with an energy threshold of approximately 1 TeV. The development of this camera makes it possible to increase the duty cycle of the 10 meter telescope allowing observations in bright time. Additionally the insensitivity to background star light allows this camera to observe sources in bright regions of the galactic plane, where high background light levels have limited the usefulness of the visible camera.

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