In order to better understand the Universe, it is necessary to observe the sky at different wavelengths of photons and also using other cosmic messengers such as gravitational waves and neutrinos. This has been demonstrated clearly in recent years with the first detection of gravitational wave signals from black hole and neutron star systems, and with the first measurement of astrophysical neutrinos using sophisticated instruments. What we learn from the combined observations at different wavelengths and various messengers surpasses by far the science that can be done with a single experiment. Neutrino and gravitational waves observatories are either operating or under construction both in the Southern and Northern hemispheres. The photon wavelengths are currently covered by several ground-based telescopes and satellite missions in operation. But, there is a missing piece in the multi-messenger puzzle: the community lacks a wide field-of-view gamma-ray observatory in the Southern hemisphere that is capable of observing gamma-rays continuously at energies above 100 GeV (Giga-electronvolt: 109 eV).
The purpose of this application is to set up a collaboration between scientists from Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Linnaeus University (Sweden), Aix-Marseille University and the APC/CNRS laboratory (France), the University of Hamburg (Germany), INAF Brera (Italy), and Institute of Cosmic Sciences of the University of Barcelona (Spain) to explore novel detector techniques for the detection of very-high-energy gamma-rays in the energy range from 100 GeV to 100 TeV (Tera-electronvolt: 1012 eV). The idea is to couple the particle detection technique based on water Cherenkov detectors and scintillators used in the ALTO experiment that is currently under development at Linnaeus University in Sweden and the non-imaging Cherenkov technique used in the HiSCORE experiment that is presently under installation in the Tunka valley in Siberia.
The final goal is to install a hybrid detector array based on the two detection techniques consisting of around a thousand detector units for very-high-energy gamma-ray astronomy in the Southern Hemisphere. The proposed project aligns in several respects with the UAE National Space Strategy 2030. The knowledge and expertise gained from this project such as knowledge about gamma-rays/cosmic-rays, Monte-Carlo simulation skills for particle interaction in the Earth’s atmosphere/detector, handling big data and large computer codes, expertise using advanced particle physics software tools such as GEANT4, CORSIKA, and ROOT can be benefited to various projects related to aerospace, space science, artificial intelligence, and data science. At the national level, future collaboration with researchers from other universities in UAE and space-science related projects like the HOPE project (UAE Space Agency) are highly expected.