Gamma-ray astronomy at low energies with high sensitivity

The MAGIC Collaboration has built in 2002 / 2003 a first large atmospheric imaging Cherenkov telescope, MAGIC-I, with a mirror surface of 236 sq.m. and equipped with photomultiplier tubes of optimal efficiency. In 2009, a second telescope of essentially the same characteristics was added; MAGIC-II was installed at a distance of 85m from MAGIC-I. With the accent of these instruments on large mirror surface and best light collection, cosmic gamma-rays at an energy threshold lower than any existing or planned terrestrial gamma-ray telescope have become accessible. So far achieved has been a threshold of 25 GeV.

MAGIC status

The MAGIC telescopes are located near the mountain top of the Roque de los Muchachos on the Canary island of La Palma. They are currently run by an international collaboration of 24 institutes in 10 countries.

The construction of MAGIC-I was completed in 2003, at the time the largest Cherenkov telescope in the world. It has been fully operational since 2004. A second telescope, MAGIC-II, located at the same site at a distance of 85 m from the first one, was installed and commissioned in 2010. In large parts, MAGIC-II was a copy of the original MAGIC-I, but it had a more homogeneous camera with more pixels, and a refurbished readout.

In 2012, in a major upgrading operation mostly concerning MAGIC-I, the two telescopes were made technically identical. The stereo operation of both telescopes has increased the sensitivity of the observatory by a factor of ~3.









Recent result from MAGIC observations

MAGIC Telescopes observe the birth of a jet close to the event horizon.

The MAGIC Telescopes captured an extreme event coming from the regions immediately surrounding a supermassive black hole located in the heart of the radio galaxy IC310. During an extraordinary outburst of gamma rays the source showed very rapid flux variations. Ancillary observations using the European VLBI network of radio telescopes showed a remarkably straight plasma jet emerging from the vicinity of the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. The flickering of the gamma-ray flare on time scales of less than five minutes shows that it originated from a region smaller than the event horizon of the black hole. This finding supports the idea that the observed emission was due to particles accelerated in an extremely narrow region located near the event horizon of the black hole and permeated by strong electric fields. Such structures are expected to form near rapidly-spinning black holes that power radio jets by their rotational energy loss.


This exceptional result obtained by using the MAGIC and EVN telescopes has been published on the  issue of November 6th 2014 of Science Express.