H.E.S.S. - High Energy Stereoscopic System
The New Window on the High-Energy Universe
The Galactic Centre
Inauguration of the High Energy Stereoscopic System
Windhoek/Goellschau, Namibia, September 28, 2004
H.E.S.S. - High Energy Stereoscopic System
The H.E.S.S. Experiment First Science
Imaging the Universe The Performance of H.E.S.S.
Exploring the Universe with H.E.S.S. Gamma Rays from a Binary System
Gamma Rays from the Cosmos A Mystery Source of Gamma Rays
Astronomy with Cherenkov Telescopes The Galactic Centre
The H.E.S.S. Telescopes
The H.E.S.S. Cameras
Observing with H.E.S.S.
Images of the Sky with H.E.S.S.
The History of H.E.S.S.
The H.E.S.S. Collaboration
H.E.S.S. in Namibia
What does H.E.S.S. stand for ?
Imaging the Universe
Most of our knowledge about the universe
comes from the observation of electromagnetic
radiation from heavenly objects starlight is
the most obvious example of this radiation.
Even with the naked eye, it is hard not to be
overwhelmed by the view of the starry sky on a
clear dark night. Images generated by modern
large optical telescopes combine fascinating
beauty with an enormous wealth of information
The warped spiral galaxy
(C. Conselice et al., Hubble
Heritage Team, NASA)
The Sagittarius Star Cloud
(Hubble Heritage Team,
The Cone Nebula
(ACS Science and
Engineering Team, NASA)
Exploring the Universe with H.E.S.S.
Different wavelength regimes
The visible starlight is only a tiny
fraction of the spectrum of radiation
incident upon the Earth. From red to
blue, the spectrum of visible light
covers one octave in frequency. The
full spectrum, on the other hand,
ranges over about 70 decades from
below radio frequencies up to the
gamma rays which the H.E.S.S.
telescopes aim to study. Modern
astrophysics explores all of this vast
spectral range, trying to learn more
about our stellar neighbourhood,
about our own and distant galaxies,
and about the Universe and its
With the H.E.S.S. instrument,
we aim to image the universe
The `Multiwavelength Milky Way' illustrates how different the Milky Way appears in different frequency bands. in the light of the highest-
In visible light, the centre of our Galaxy is hidden by gas clouds. Both infrared radiation and gamma rays, on energy gamma rays, a regime
the other hand, penetrate these clouds and provide a view of the Galactic Centre. Infrared observations have about which very little is
revealed the existence of a large black hole at the core of the Galaxy, with a mass corresponding to a million
solar masses. (NASA)
Gamma Rays from the Cosmos
The Supernova Cassiopeia A exploded in 1680 A.D., What is so interesting about
sending a shock wave into space which by now has
expanded to 15 light years. Particles crossing the gamma rays ?
shock wave can be accelerated to the highest High-energy gamma rays allow us to
energies (R.J. Tuffs, MPIK) explore some of the most extreme, and
most interesting objects in the Universe.
Most of the radiation we detect is
thermal radiation, created by hot bodies
such as our Sun. The hotter the source,
the higher is the frequency of the
However, very basic considerations
show that no material body can be hot
enough to emit very-high-energy
The Crab Nebula is the relic of a stellar explosion gamma rays; these must be generated
in the year 1054 A.D. It was the first strong source in unusual, `non-thermal' conditions.
of very-high-energy gamma rays which was
discovered in 1989 by the American Whipple These occur in the aftermath of stellar
Cherenkov telescope. (FORS Team, VLT, ESO) explosions supernovae or in the
vicinity of the giant black holes
suspected to be at the cores of so-called
active galaxies, which are continuously
fed by stellar material from the
The active galaxy Cygnus A the small Examples of such objects are shown on
white spot at the centre sends beams
of matter across many hundreds of
thousands of light years, generating The H.E.S.S. telescopes teach us
turbulent `plumes' when they are finally about the laws of nature under
stopped, accelerating particles. (NRAO)
such extreme conditions.
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