Science motivation in a nutshell
Why observing in gamma-rays?
Radiation at gamma-ray energies differs fundamentally from that detected at lower energies and hence longer wavelengths: GeV to TeV gamma-rays cannot conceivably be generated by thermal emission from hot celestial objects. The energy of thermal radiation reflects the temperature of the emitting body, and apart from the Big Bang there is and has been nothing hot enough to emit such gamma-rays in the known Universe. Instead, we find that high-energy gamma-rays probe a non-thermal Universe, where other mechanisms allow the concentration of large amounts of energy onto a single quantum of radiation. In a bottom-up fashion, gamma-rays can be generated when highly relativistic particles—accelerated for example in the gigantic shock waves of stellar explosions—collide with ambient gas, or interact with photons and magnetic fields. The flux and energy spectrum of the gamma-rays reflects the flux and spectrum of the high-energy particles. They can therefore be used to trace these cosmic rays and electrons in distant regions of our own Galaxy or even in other galaxies. High-energy gamma-rays can also be produced in a top-down fashion by decays of heavy particles such as hypothetical dark matter particles or cosmic strings, both of which might be relics of the Big Bang. Gamma-rays therefore provide a window on the discovery of the nature and constituents of dark matter.
High-energy gamma-rays, as argued above, can be used to trace the populations of high-energy particles in distant regions of our own or in other galaxies. Meandering in interstellar magnetic fields, cosmic rays will usually not reach Earth and thus cannot be observed directly. Those which do arrive have lost all directional information and cannot be used to pinpoint their sources, except for cosmic-rays of extreme energy >1018 eV. However, such high-energy particle populations are an important aspect of the dynamics of galaxies. Typically, the energy content in cosmic rays equals the energies in magnetic fields or in thermal radiation. The pressure generated by high-energy particles drives galactic outflows and helps balance the gravitational collapse of galactic disks. Astronomy with high-energy gamma-rays is so far the only way to directly probe and image the cosmic particle accelerators responsible for these particle populations, in conjunction with studies of the synchrotron radiation resulting form relativistic electrons moving in magnetic fields and giving rise to non-thermal radio and X-ray emission.
A first glimpse of the astrophysical sources of gamma-rays
The first images of the Milky Way in VHE gamma-rays have been obtained in the last few years. These reveal a chain of gamma-ray emitters situated along the Galactic equator (see Fig. 2), demonstrating that sources of high-energy radiation are ubiquitous in our Galaxy. Sources of this radiation include supernova shock waves, where presumably atomic nuclei are accelerated and generate the observed gamma-rays. Another important class of objects are “nebulae” surrounding pulsars, where giant rotating magnetic fields give rise to a steady flow of high-energy particles. Additionally, some of the objects discovered to emit at such energies are binary systems, where a black hole or a pulsar orbits a massive star. Along the elliptical orbit, the conditions for particle acceleration vary and hence the intensity of the radiation is modulated with the orbital period. These systems are particularly interesting in that they enable the study of how particle acceleration processes respond to varying ambient conditions. One of several surprises was the discovery of “dark sources”, objects which emit VHE gamma rays, but have no obvious counterpart in other wavelength regimes. In other words, there are objects in the Galaxy which might in fact be only detectable in high-energy gamma-rays. Beyond our Galaxy, many extragalactic sources of high-energy radiation have been discovered, located in active galaxies, where a super-massive black hole at the centre of the galaxy is fed by a steady stream of gas and is releasing enormous amounts of energy. Gamma-rays are believed to be emitted from the vicinity of these black holes, allowing the study of the processes occurring in this violent and as yet poorly understood environment.
The recent breakthroughs in VHE gamma-ray astronomy were achieved with ground-based Cherenkov telescopes. When a VHE gamma-ray enters the atmosphere, it interacts with atmospheric nuclei and generates a shower of secondary electrons, positrons and photons. Moving through the atmosphere at speeds higher than the speed of light in air, these electrons and positrons emit a beam of bluish light, the Cherenkov light. For near vertical showers this Cherenkov light illuminates a circle with a diameter of about 250 m on the ground. For large zenith angles the area can increase considerably. This light can be captured with optical elements and be used to image the shower, which vaguely resembles a shooting star. Reconstructing the shower axis in space and tracing it back onto the sky allows the celestial origin of the gamma-ray to be determined. Measuring many gamma-rays enables an image of the gamma-ray sky, such as that shown in Fig. 2, to be created. Large optical reflectors with areas in the 100 m2 range and beyond are required to collect enough light, and the instruments can only be operated in dark nights at clear sites. With Cherenkov telescopes, the effective area of the detector is about the size of the Cherenkov pool at ground. As this is a circle with 250-m diameter this is about 105× larger than the size that can be achieved with satellite-based detectors. Therefore much lower fluxes at higher energies can be investigated with Cherenkov Telescopes, enabling the study of short time scale variability.
The Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov Technique was pioneered by the Whipple Collaboration in the United States. After more than 20 years of development, the Crab Nebula, the first source of VHE gamma-rays, was discovered in 1989. The Crab Nebula is among the strongest sources of very high energy gamma-rays, and is often used as a “standard candle”. Modern instruments, using multiple telescopes to track the cascades from different perspectives and employing fine-grained photon detectors for improved imaging, can detect sources down to 1% of the flux of the Crab Nebula. Finely-pixellated imaging was first employed in the French CAT telescope , and the use of “stereoscopic” telescope systems to provide images of the cascade from different viewing points was pioneered by the European HEGRA IACT system . For summaries of the achievements in recent years and the science case for a next-generation very high energy gamma ray observatory see [4–8].
In March 2007, the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) project was awarded the Descartes Research Prize of the European Commission for offering “A new glimpse at the highest-energy Universe”. Together with the instruments MAGIC and VERITAS (in the northern hemisphere) and CANGAROO (in the southern hemisphere), a new wavelength domain was opened for astronomy, the domain of very high energy gamma-rays with energies between about 100 GeV and about 100 TeV, energies which are a million million times higher than the energy of visible light.
At lower energies, in the GeV domain, the launch of a new generation of gamma-ray telescopes (like AGILE, but in particular Fermi, which was launched in 2008) has opened a new era in gamma-ray discoveries . The Large Area Telescope (LAT), the main instrument onboard Fermi, is sensitive to gamma-rays with energies in the range from 20 MeV to about 100 GeV. The energy range covered by CTA will smoothly connect to that of Fermi-LAT and overlap with that of the current generation of ground based instruments and extends to the higher energies, while providing an improvement in both sensitivity and angular resolution.
The CTA science drivers
The aims of the CTA can be roughly grouped into three main themes, serving as key science drivers:
Understanding the origin of cosmic rays and their role in the Universe
Understanding the nature and variety of particle acceleration around black holes
Searching for the ultimate nature of matter and physics beyond the Standard Model
Theme 1 comprises the study of the physics of galactic particle accelerators, such as pulsars and pulsar wind nebulae, supernova remnants, and gamma-ray binaries. It deals with the impact of the accelerated particles on their environment (via the emission from particle interactions with the interstellar medium and radiation fields), and the cumulative effects seen at various scales, from massive star forming regions to starburst galaxies.
Theme 2 concerns particle acceleration near super-massive and stellar-sized black holes. Objects of interest include microquasars at the Galactic scale, and blazars, radio galaxies and other classes of AGN that can potentially be studied in high-energy gamma rays. The fact that CTA will be able to detect a large number of these objects enables population studies which will be a major step forward in this area. Extragalactic background light (EBL), Galaxy clusters and Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) studies are also connected to this field.
Finally, Theme 3 covers what can be called “new physics”, with searches for dark matter through possible annihilation signatures, tests of Lorentz invariance, and any other observational signatures that may challenge our current understanding of fundamental physics.
CTA will be able to generate significant advances in all these areas.
Details of the CTA science case
We conclude this chapter with a few examples of physics issues that could be significantly advanced with an instrument like CTA. The list is certainly not exhaustive. The physics of the CTA is being explored in detail by many scientists and their findings indicate the huge potential for numerous interesting discoveries with CTA.
Cosmic ray origin and acceleration
A tenet of high-energy astrophysics is that cosmic rays (CRs) are accelerated in the shocks of supernova explosions. However, while particle acceleration up to energies well beyond 1014 eV has now clearly been demonstrated with the current generation of instruments, it is by no means proven that supernovae accelerate the bulk of cosmic rays. The large sample of supernovae which will be observable with CTA—in some scenarios several hundreds of objects—and in particular the increased energy coverage at lower and higher energies, will allow sensitive tests of acceleration models and determination of their parameters. Improved angular resolution (arcmin) will help to resolve fine structures in supernova remnants which are essential for the study of particle acceleration and particle interactions. Pulsar wind nebulae surrounding the pulsars (created in supernova explosions) are another abundant source of high-energy particles, including possibly high-energy nuclei. Energy conversion within pulsar winds and the interaction of the wind with the ambient medium and the surrounding supernova shell challenge current ideas in plasma physics.
The CR spectrum observed near the Earth can be described by a pure power law up to an energy of a few PeV, where it slightly steepens. The feature is called the “knee”. The absence of other features in the spectrum suggests that, if supernova remnants (SNRs) are the sources of galactic CRs, they must be able to accelerate particles at least up to the knee. For this to happen, the acceleration in diffusive shocks has to be fast enough for particles to reach PeV energies before the SNR enters the Sedov phase, when the shock slows down and consequently becomes unable to confine the highest energy CRs  Since the initial free expansion velocity of SNRs does not vary much from object to object, only the amplification of magnetic fields can increase the acceleration rate to the required level. Amplification factors of 100–1,000 compared to the interstellar medium value and small diffusion coefficients are needed . The non-linear theory of diffusive shock acceleration suggests that such an amplification of the magnetic field might be induced by the CRs themselves, and high resolution X-ray observations of SNR shocks seem to support this scenario, though their interpretation is debated. Thus, an accurate determination of the intensity of the magnetic field at the shock is of crucial importance for disentangling the origin of the observed gamma-ray emission and understanding the way diffusive shock acceleration works.
Even if a SNR can be detected by Cherenkov telescopes during a significant fraction of its lifetime (up to several 104 years), it can make 1015 eV CRs only for a much shorter time (several hundred years), due to the rapid escape of PeV particles from the SNR. This implies that the number of SNRs which have currently a gamma-ray spectrum extending up to hundreds of TeV is very roughly of the order of ∼10. The actual number of detectable objects will depend on the distance and on the density of the surrounding interstellar medium. The detection of such objects (even a few of them) would be extremely important, as it would be clear evidence for the acceleration of CRs up to PeV energies in SNRs. A sensitive scan of the galactic plane with CTA would be an ideal way of searching for these sources. In general, the spectra of radiating particles (both electrons and protons) and therefore also the spectra of gamma-ray radiation, should show characteristic curvature, reflecting acceleration at CR modified shocks. However, to see such curvature, one needs a coverage of a few decades in energy, far from the cutoff region. CTA will provide this coverage. If the general picture of SNR evolution described above is correct, the position of the cutoff in the gamma-ray spectrum depends on the age of the SNR and on the magnetic field at the shock. A study of the number of objects detected as a function of the cutoff energy will allow tests of this hypothesis and constraints to be placed on the physical parameters of SNRs, in particular of the magnetic field strength.
CTA offers the possibility of real breakthroughs in the understanding of cosmic rays; as there is the potential to directly observe their diffusion (see, e.g., ) The presence of a massive molecular cloud located in the proximity of a SNR (or any kind of CR accelerator) provides a thick target for CR hadronic interactions and thus enhances the gamma-ray emission. Hence, studies of molecular clouds in gamma-rays can be used to identify the sites where CRs are accelerated. While travelling from the accelerator to the target, the spectrum of cosmic rays is a strong function of time, distance to the source, and the (energy-dependent) diffusion coefficient. Depending on the values of these parameters varying proton, and therefore gamma-ray, spectra may be expected. CTA will allow the study of emission depending on these three quantities, which is impossible with current experiments. A determination, with high sensitivity, of spatially resolved gamma-ray sources related to the same accelerator would lead to the experimental determination of the local diffusion coefficient and/or the local injection spectrum of cosmic rays. Also, the observation of the penetration of cosmic rays into molecular clouds will be possible. If the diffusion coefficient inside a cloud is significantly smaller than the average in the neighbourhood, low energy cosmic rays cannot penetrate deep into the cloud, and part of the gamma-ray emission from the cloud is suppressed, with the consequence that its gamma-ray spectrum appears harder than the cosmic-ray spectrum.
Both of these effects are more pronounced in the denser central region of the cloud. Thus, with an angular resolution of the order of ≤1 arcmin one could resolve the inner part of the clouds and measure the degree of penetration of cosmic rays .
More information on general aspects of cosmic rays and their relationship to VHE gamma observations is available in the review talks and papers presented at the International Cosmic Ray Conference 2009 held in Łódź and the online proceedings are a good source of information .
Pulsar wind nebulae
Pulsar wind nebulae (PWNe) currently constitute the most populous class of identified Galactic VHE gamma-ray sources. As is well known, the Crab Nebula is a very effective accelerator (shown by emission across more than 15 decades in energy) but not an effective inverse Compton gamma-ray emitter. Indeed, we see gamma rays from the Crab because of its large spin-down power (∼1038 erg s − 1), although the gamma-ray luminosity is much less than the spin-down power of its pulsar. This can be understood as resulting from a large (mG) magnetic field, which also depends on the spin-down power. A less powerful pulsar would imply a weaker magnetic field, which would allow a higher gamma-ray efficiency (i.e. a more efficient sharing between synchrotron and inverse Compton losses). For instance, HESS J1825-137 has a similar TeV luminosity to the Crab, but a spin-down power that is 2 orders of magnitude smaller, and its magnetic field has been constrained to be in the range of a few, instead of hundreds, of μG. The differential gamma-ray spectrum of the whole emission region from the latter object has been measured over more than two orders of magnitude, from 270 GeV to 35 TeV, and shows indications of a deviation from a pure power law that CTA could confirm and investigate in detail. Spectra have also been determined for spatially separated regions of HESS J1825-137 . Another example is HESS J1303-61  The photon spectra in the different regions show a softening with increasing distance from the pulsar and therefore an energy dependent morphology. If the emission is due to the inverse Compton effect, the pulsar power is not sufficient to generate the gamma-ray luminosity, suggesting that the pulsar had a higher injection power in the past. Is this common for other PWNe and what can that tell us about the evolution of pulsar winds? In the case of Vela X , the first detection of what appears to be a VHE inverse Compton peak in the spectral energy distribution (SED) was found. Although a hadronic interpretation has also been put forward it is as yet unclear how large the contribution of ions to the pulsar wind could be. CTA can be used to test leptonic vs. hadronic models of gamma-ray production in PWNe.
The return current problem for pulsars have not been solved to date, but if we detect a clear hadronic signal, this will show that ions are extracted from the pulsar surface, which may lead to a solution of the most fundamental question in pulsar magnetospheric physics: how do we close the pulsar current? In systems where we see a clear leptonic signal, it is important to measure the magnetisation (or “sigma”) parameter of the PWNe. Are the magnetic fields and particles in these systems in equipartition (as in the Crab Nebula) or do have particle dominated winds? This will contribute significantly to the understanding of the magnetohydrodynamic flow in PWNe. Understanding the time evolution of the multi-wavelength synchrotron and inverse Compton (or hadronic) intensities is also an aim of CTA. Such evolutionary tracks are determined by the nature of the progenitor stellar wind, the properties of the subsequent composite SNR explosion and the surrounding interstellar environment. Finally, the sensitivity and angular resolution achievable with CTA will allow detailed multi-wavelength studies of large/close PWNe, and the understanding of particle propagation, the magnetic field profile in the nebula, and inter-stellar medium (ISM) feedback.
The evolution and structure of pulsar wind nebulae is discussed in a recent review . Many key implications for VHE gamma ray measurements, and an assessment of the current observations can be found in .
The galactic centre region
It is clear that the galactic centre region itself will be one of the prime science targets for the next generation of VHE instruments [20, 21]. The galactic centre hosts the nearest super-massive black hole, as well as a variety of other objects likely to generate high-energy radiation, including hypothetical dark-matter particles which may annihilate and produce gamma-rays. Indeed, the galactic centre has been detected as a source of high-energy gamma-rays, and indications for high-energy particles diffusing away from the central source and interacting with the dense gas clouds in the central region have been observed. In observations with improved sensitivity and resolution, the galactic centre can potentially yield a variety of interesting results on particle acceleration and gamma-ray production in the vicinity of black holes, on particle propagation in central molecular clouds, and, possibly, on the detection of dark matter annihilation or decay.
The VHE gamma-ray view of the galactic centre region is dominated by two point sources, one coincident with a PWN inside SNR G0.9+0.1, and one coincident with the super-massive black hole Sgr A* and another putative PWN (G359.95-0.04). After subtraction of these sources diffuse emission along the galactic centre ridge is visible, which shows two important features: it appears correlated with molecular clouds (as traced by the CS (1–0) line), and it exceeds by a factor of 3 to 9 the gamma-ray emission that would be produced if the same target material was exposed to the cosmic-ray environment in our local neighbourhood. The striking correlation of diffuse gamma-ray emission with the density of molecular clouds within ∼150 pc of the galactic centre favours a scenario in which cosmic rays interact with the cloud material and produce gamma-rays via the decay of neutral pions. The differential gamma-ray flux is stronger and harder than expected from just “passive” exposure of the clouds to the average galactic cosmic ray flux, suggesting one or more nearby particle accelerators are present. In a first approach, the observed gamma-ray morphology can be explained by cosmic rays diffusing away from an accelerator near the galactic centre into the surroundings. Adopting a diffusion coefficient of D = O(1030) cm2/s, the lack of VHE gamma-ray emission beyond 150 pc in this model points to an accelerator age of no more than 104 years. Clearly, improved sensitivity and angular resolution would permit the study of the diffusion process in great detail, including any possible energy dependence. An alternative explanation (which CTA will address) is the putative existence of a number of electron sources (e.g. PWNe) along the galactic centre ridge, correlated with the density of molecular clouds. Given the complexity and density of the source population in the galactic centre region, CTA’s improved sensitivity and angular resolution is needed to map the morphology of the diffuse emission, and to test its hadronic or leptonic origin.
CTA will also measure VHE absorption in the interstellar radiation field (ISRF). This is impossible for other experiments, like Fermi-LAT, as their energy coverage is too small, and very hard or perhaps impossible for current air Cherenkov experiments, as they lack the required sensitivity. At 8 kpc distance, VHE gamma-ray attenuation due to the CMB is negligible for energies <500 TeV. But the attenuation due to the ISRF (which has a comparable number density at wavelengths 20–300 μm) can produce absorption at about 50 TeV . Observation of the cutoff energy for different sources will provide independent tests and constraints of ISRF models. CTA will observe sources at different distances and thereby independently measure the absorption model and the ISRF. Due to their smaller distances there is less uncertainty in identifying intrinsic and extrinsic features in the spectrum than is the case for EBL studies.
Microquasars, gamma-ray, and X-ray binaries
Currently, a handful of VHE gamma-ray emitters are known to be binary systems, consisting of a compact object, a neutron star or a black hole, orbiting a massive star. Whilst many questions on the gamma-ray emission from such systems are still open (in some cases it is not even clear if the energy source is a pulsar-driven nebula around a neutron star or accretion onto a black hole) it is evident that they offer a unique chance to “experiment” with cosmic accelerators. Along the eccentric orbits of the compact objects, the environment (including the radiation field) changes, resulting in a periodic modulation of the gamma-ray emission, allowing the study of how particle acceleration is affected by environmental conditions. Interestingly, the physics of microquasars in our own Galaxy resembles the processes occurring around super-massive black holes in distant active galaxies, with the exception of the much reduced time scales, providing insights in the emission mechanisms at work. The following are key questions in this area which CTA will be able to address, because of the extension of the accessible energy domain, the improvement in sensitivity, and the superior angular resolution it provides:
Studies of the formation of relativistic outflows from highly magnetised, rotating objects. If gamma-ray binaries are pulsars, is the gamma-ray emission coming mostly from processes within the pulsar wind zone or rather from particles accelerated in the wind collision shock? Is the answer to this question a function of energy? What role do the inner winds play, particularly with regard to particle injection? Gamma-ray astronomy can provide data that will help to answer these questions, but which will also throw light on the particle energy distribution within the pulsar wind zone itself. Recent Fermi-LAT results on gamma-ray binaries, such as LS I +61 303 and LS 5039 (which are found to be periodic at GeV and TeV energies, although anti-correlated ), show the existence of a cutoff in the SED at a few GeV (a feature that was not predicted by any models). Thus, the large energy coverage of CTA is an essential prerequisite in disentangling of the pulsed and continuous components of the radiation and the exploration of the processes leading to the observed GeV–TeV spectral differences.
Studies of the link between accretion and ejection around compact objects and transient states associated with VHE emission. It is known that black holes display different spectral states in X-ray emission, with transitions between a low/hard state, where a compact radio jet is seen, to a high/soft state, where the radio emission is reduced by large factors or not detectable at all . Are these spectral changes related to changes in the gamma-ray emission? Is there any gamma-ray emission during non-thermal radio flares (with increased flux by up to a factor of 1,000)? Indeed, gamma-ray emission via the inverse Compton effect is expected when flares occur in the radio to X-ray region, due to synchrotron radiation of relativistic electrons and radiative, adiabatic and energy-dependent escape losses in fast-expanding plasmoids (radio clouds). Can future gamma-ray observations put constraints on the magnetic fields in plasmoids?
Continued observations of key objects (such as Cyg X-1) with the sensitivity of current instruments (using sub-arrays of CTA) can provide good coverage. Flares of less than 1 hour at a flux of 10% of the Crab could be detected at the distance of the Galactic Centre. Hence variable sources could be monitored and triggers provided for observations with all CTA telescopes or with other instruments. For short flares, energy coverage in the 10–100 GeV band is not possible with current instruments (AGILE and Fermi-LAT lack sensitivity). Continuous coverage at higher energies is also impossible, due to lack of sensitivity with the current generation of Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescopes (IACTs). CTA will provide improved access to both regions.
Collision of the jet with the ISM, as a non-variable source of gamma-ray emission. Improved angular resolution at high energies will provide opportunities for the study of microquasars, particularly if their jets contain a sizeable fraction of relativistic hadrons. While inner engines will still remain unresolved with future Cherenkov telescope arrays, microquasar jets and their interaction with the ISM might become resolvable, leading to the distinction of emission from the central object (which may be variable) and from the jet-ISM interaction (which may be stable). Microquasars, gamma-ray, and X-ray binaries, and high-energy aspects of astrophysical jets and binaries are discussed in .
Stellar clusters, star formation, and starburst galaxies
While the classical paradigm has supernova explosions as the dominant source of cosmic rays, it has been speculated that cosmic rays are also accelerated in stellar winds around massive young stars before they explode as supernovae, or around star clusters . Indeed, there is growing evidence from gamma-ray data for a population of sources related to young stellar clusters and environments with strong stellar winds. However, lack of sensitivity currently prevents the detailed study and clear identification of these sources of gamma radiation. CTA aims at a better understanding of the relationship between star formation processes and gamma-ray emission. CTA can experimentally establish whether there is a direct correlation between star formation rate and gamma-ray luminosity when convection and absorption processes at the different environments are taken into account. Both the VERITAS and H.E.S.S. arrays have done deep observations of the nearest starburst galaxies, and have found them to be emitting TeV gamma-rays at the limit of their sensitivity. Future observations, with improved sensitivity at higher and lower energies, will reveal details of this radiation which in turn will help with an understanding of the spectra, provide constraints on the physical emission scenarios and extend the study of the relationship between star formation processes and gamma-ray emission to extragalactic environments. A good compendium of the current status of this topic can be found in the proceedings of a recent conference .
Pulsar magnetospheres are known to act as efficient cosmic accelerators, yet there is no complete and accepted model for this acceleration mechanism, a process which involves electrodynamics with very high magnetic fields as well as the effects of general relativity. Pulsed gamma-ray emission allows the separation of processes occurring in the magnetosphere from the emission in the surrounding nebula. That pulsed emission at tens of GeV can be detected with Cherenkov telescopes was recently demonstrated by MAGIC with the Crab pulsar  (and the sensitivity for pulsars with known pulse frequency is nearly an order of magnitude higher than for standard sources). Current Fermi-LAT results provide some support for models in which gamma-ray emission occurs far out in the magnetosphere, with reduced magnetic field absorption (i.e. in outer gaps). In these models, exponential cut-offs in the spectral energy distribution are expected at a few GeV, which have already been found in several Fermi pulsars. To make further progress in understanding the emission mechanisms in pulsars it is necessary to study their radiation at extreme energies. In particular, the characteristics of pulsar emission in the GeV domain (currently best examined by the Fermi-LAT) and at VHE will tell us more about the electrodynamics within their magnetospheres. Studies of interactions of magnetospheric particle winds with external ambient fields (magnetic, starlight, CMB) are equally vital. Between ∼10 GeV and ∼50 GeV (where the LAT performance is limited) CTA, with a special low-energy trigger for pulsed sources, will allow a closer look at unidentified Fermi sources and deeper analysis of Fermi pulsar candidates. Above 50 GeV CTA will explore the most extreme energetic processes in millisecond pulsars. The VHE domain will be particularly important for the study of millisecond pulsars, very much as the HE domain (with Fermi) is for classical pulsars. On the other hand, the high-energy emission mechanism from magnetars is essentially unknown. For magnetars, we do not expect polar cap emission. Due to the large magnetic field, all high-energy photons would be absorbed if emitted close to the neutron star, i.e., CTA would be testing outer-gap models, especially if large X-ray flares are accompanied by gamma-emission.
CTA can study the GeV-TeV emission related to short-timescale pulsar phenomena, which is beyond the reach of currently working instruments. CTA can observe possible high-energy phenomena related to timing noise (in which the pulse phase and/or frequency of radio pulses drift stochastically) or to sudden increases in the pulse frequency (glitches) produced by apparent changes in the momentum of inertia of neutron stars.
Periodicity measurements with satellite instruments, which require very long integration times, may be compromised by such glitches, while CTA, with its much larger detection area and correspondingly shorter measurement times, is not.
A good compendium of the current status of this topic can be found in the proceedings and the talks presented at the “International Workshop on the High-Energy Emission from Pulsars and their Systems” .
Active galaxies, cosmic radiation fields and cosmology
Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) are among the largest storehouses of energy known in our cosmos. At the intersection of powerful low-density plasma inflows and outflows, they offer excellent conditions for efficient particle acceleration in shocks and turbulences. AGN represent one third of the known VHE gamma-ray sources, with most of the detected objects belonging to the BL Lac class. The fast variability of the gamma-ray flux (down to minute time scales) indicates that gamma-ray production must occur close to the black hole, assisted by highly relativistic motion resulting in time (Lorentz) contraction when viewed by an observer on Earth. Details of how these jets are launched or even the types of particles of which they consist are poorly known. Multi-wavelength observations with high temporal and spectral resolution can help to distinguish between different scenarios, but this is at the limit of the capabilities of current instruments. The sensitivity of CTA, combined with simultaneous observations in other wavelengths, will provide a crucial advance in understanding the mechanisms driving these sources.
Available surveys of BL Lacs suffer several biases at all wavelengths, further complicated by Doppler boosting effects and high variability. The big increase of sensitivity of CTA will provide large numbers of VHE sources of different types and opens the way to statistical studies of the VHE blazar and AGN populations. This will enable the exploration of the relation between different types of blazars, and of the validity of unifying AGN schemes. The distribution in redshift of known and relatively nearby BL Lac objects peaks around z ∼0.3. The large majority of the population is found within z < 1, a range easily accessible with CTA. CTA will therefore be able to analyse in detail blazar populations (out to z ∼2) and the evolution of AGN with redshift and to start a genuine “blazar cosmology”.
Several scenarios have been proposed to explain the VHE emission of blazars.Footnote 3 However, none of them is fully self-consistent, and the current data are not sufficient to firmly rule out or confirm a particular mechanism. In the absence of a convincing global picture, a first goal for CTA will be to constrain model-dependent parameters of blazars within a given scenario. This is achievable due to the wide energy range, high sensitivity and high spectral resolution of CTA combined with multi-wavelength campaigns. Thus, the physics of basic radiation models will be constrained by CTA, and some of the models will be ruled out. A second more difficult goal will be to distinguish between the different remaining options and to firmly identify the dominant radiation mechanisms. Detection of specific spectral features, breaks, cut-offs, absorption or additional components, would be greatly helpful for this. The role of CTA as a timing explorer will be decisive for constraining both the radiative phenomena associated with, and the global geometry and dynamics of, the AGN engine. Probing variability down to the shortest time scales will significantly constrain acceleration and cooling times, instability growth rates, and the time evolution of shocks and turbulences. For the brightest blazar flares, current instruments are able to detect variability on the scales of several minutes. With CTA, such flares should be detectable within seconds, rather than minutes. A study of the minimum variability times of AGN with CTA would allow the localisation of VHE emission regions (parsec distance scales in the jet, the base of the jet, or the central engine) and would provide stringent constraints on the emission mechanisms as well as the intrinsic time scale connected to the size of the central super-massive black hole.
Recently, radio galaxies have emerged as a new class of VHE emitting AGN . Given the proximity of the sources and the larger jet angle to the line of sight compared to BL Lac objects, the outer and inner kpc jet structures will be spatially resolved by CTA. This will allow precise location of the main emission site and searches for VHE radiation from large-scale jets and hot spots besides the central core and jets seen in very long baseline interferometry images.
The observation of VHE emission from distant objects and their surroundings will also offer the unique opportunity to study extragalactic magnetic fields at large distances. If the fields are large, an e
− pair halo forms around AGNs, which CTA, with its high sensitivity and extended field of view, should be capable of detecting. For smaller magnetic field values, the effect of e
− pair formation along the path to the Earth is seen through energy-dependent time-delays of variable VHE emission, which CTA with its excellent time resolution will be ideally suited to measure.
CTA will also have the potential to deliver for the first time significant results on extragalactic diffuse emission at VHE, and offers the possibility of probing the integrated emission from all sources at these energies. While well measured at GeV energies with the EGRET and Fermi-LAT instruments, the diffuse emission at VHE is extremely challenging to measure due to its faintness and the difficulty of adequately subtracting the background. Here, the improved sensitivity coupled with the large field of view puts detection in reach of CTA.
VHE gamma-rays traveling from remote sources interact with the EBL via e
− pair production and are absorbed. Studying such effects as a function of the energy and redshift will provide unique information on the EBL density, and thereby on the history of the formation of stars and galaxies in the Universe. This approach is complementary to direct EBL measurements, which are hampered by strong foreground emission from our planetary system (zodiacal light) and the Galaxy.
We anticipate that MAGIC II and H.E.S.S. II will at least double the number of detected sources, but this is unlikely to resolve the ambiguity between intrinsic spectral features and effects due to the EBL. It would still be very difficult to extract spectral information beyond z > 0.5, if our current knowledge of the EBL is correct. Only CTA will be able to provide a sufficiently large sample of VHE gamma-ray sources, and high-quality spectra for individual objects. For many of the sources, the SED will be determined at GeV energies, which are much less affected by the absorption and, thus, more suitable for the study of the intrinsic properties of the objects. We therefore anticipate that with CTA it will be possible to make robust predictions about the intrinsic spectrum above 40–50 GeV, for individual sources and for particular source classes.
The end of the dark ages of the Universe, the epoch of reionisation, is a topic of great interest . Not (yet) fully accessible via direct observations, most of our knowledge comes from simulations and from integral observables like the cosmic microwave background. The first (Population III) and second generations of stars are natural candidates for being the source of reionisation. If the first stars are hot and massive, as predicted by simulations, their UV photons emitted at z > 5 would be redshifted to the near infrared and could leave a unique signature on the EBL spectrum. If the EBL contribution from lower redshift galaxies is sufficiently well known (for example, as derived from source counts) upper limits on the EBL density can be used to probe the properties of early stars and galaxies. Combining detailed model calculations with redshift-dependent EBL density measurements could allow the probing of the reionisation/ionisation history of the Universe. A completely new wavelength region of the EBL will be opened up by observations of sources at very high redshifts (z > 5), which will most likely be gamma-ray bursts. According to high-redshift UV background models, consistent with our current knowledge of cosmic reionisation, spectral cut-offs are expected in the few GeV to few tens of GeV range at z > 5. Thus, CTA could have the unique potential to probe cosmic reionisation models through gamma-ray absorption in high-z GRBs. We analyse the GRB prospects in more detail in the following.
A good compendium of the current state of this topic can be found in the talks and the proceedings of the meeting, High-energy phenomena in relativistic outflows II .
Gamma-Ray Bursts are the most powerful explosions in the Universe, and are by far the most electromagnetically luminous sources known to us. The peak luminosity of GRBs, equivalent to the light from millions of galaxies, means they can be detected up to high redshifts, hence act as probes of the star formation history and reionisation of the Universe. The highest measured GRB redshift is z = 8.2 but GRBs have been observed down to z = 0.0085 (the mean redshift is z∼2.2). GRBs occur in random directions on the sky, briefly outshining the rest of the hard X-ray and soft gamma-ray sky, and then fade from view. The rapid variability seen in gamma- and X-rays indicates a small source size, which together with their huge luminosities and clearly non-thermal spectrum (with a significant high-energy tail) require the emitting region to move toward us with a very large bulk Lorentz factor of typically >100, sometimes as high as >1,000 [40–42].
Thus, GRBs are thought to be powered by ultra-relativistic jets produced by rapid accretion onto a newly formed stellar-mass black hole or a rapidly rotating highly-magnetised neutron star (i.e. a millisecond magnetar). The prompt gamma-ray emission is thought to originate from dissipation within the original outflow by internal shocks or magnetic reconnection events. Some long duration GRBs are clearly associated with core-collapse supernovae of type Ic (from very massive Wolf–Rayet stars stripped of their H and He envelope by strong stellar winds), while the progenitors of short GRBs are much less certain: the leading model involves the merger of two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole [43, 44].
Many of the details of GRB explosions remain unclear. Studying them requires a combination of rapid observations to observe the prompt emission before it fades, and a wide energy range to properly capture the spectral energy distribution. Most recently, GRBs have been observed by the Swift and Fermi missions, which have revealed an even more complex behaviour than previously thought, featuring significant spectral and temporal evolution. As yet, no GRB has been detected at energies >100 GeV due to the limited sensitivity of current instruments and the large typical redshifts of these events. In just over a year of operation, the Fermi-LAT has detected emission above 10 GeV (30 GeV) from 4 (2) GRBs. In many cases, the LAT detects emission >0.1 GeV for several hundred seconds in the GRB rest-frame. In GRB090902B a photon of energy ∼33.4 GeV was detected, which translates to an energy of ∼94 GeV at its redshift of z = 1.822. Moreover, the observed spectrum is fairly hard up to the highest observed energies.
Extrapolating the Fermi spectra to CTA energies suggests that a good fraction of the bright LAT GRBs could be detected by CTA even in ∼minute observing times, if it could be turned to look at the prompt emission fast enough. The faster CTA could get on target, the better the scientific return. Increasing the observation duty cycle by observing for a larger fraction of the lunar cycle and at larger zenith angles could also increase the return.
Detecting GRBs in the CTA energy range would greatly enhance our knowledge of the intrinsic spectrum and the particle acceleration mechanism of GRBs, particularly when combined with data from Fermi and other observatories. As yet it is unclear what the relative importance is of the various proposed emission processes, which divide mainly into leptonic (synchrotron and inverse-Compton, and in particular synchrotron-self-Compton) and hadronic processes (induced by protons or nuclei at very high energies which either radiate synchrotron emission or produce pions with subsequent electromagnetic cascades). CTA may help to determine the identity of the distinct high-energy component that was observed so far in three out of the four brightest LAT GRBs. The origin of the high-energy component may in turn shed light on the more familiar lower-energy components that dominate at soft gamma-ray energies. The bulk Lorentz factor and the composition (protons, e
− pairs, magnetic fields) of the outflows are also highly uncertain and may be probed by CTA. The afterglow emission which follows the prompt emission is significantly fainter, but should also be detectable in some cases. Such detections would be expected from bright GRBs at moderate redshift, not only from the afterglow synchrotron-self-Compton component, but perhaps also from inverse-Compton emission triggered by bright, late (hundreds to thousands of seconds) flares that are observed in about half of all Swift GRBs.
The discovery space at high energies is large and readily accessible to CTA. The combination of GRBs being extreme astrophysical sources and cosmological probes make them prime targets for all high-energy experiments. With its large collecting area, energy range and rapid response, CTA is by far the most powerful and suitable VHE facility for GRB research and will open up a new energy range for their study.
Galaxy clusters are storehouses of cosmic rays, since all cosmic rays produced in the galaxies of the cluster since the beginning of the Universe will be confined there. Probing the density of cosmic rays in clusters via their gamma-ray emission thus provides a calorimetric measure of the total integrated non-thermal energy output of galaxies. Accretion/merger shocks outside cluster galaxies provide an additional source of high-energy particles. Emission from galaxy clusters is predicted at levels just below the sensitivity of current instruments .
Clusters of galaxies are the largest, gravitationally-bound objects in the Universe. The observation of mainly radio (and in some cases X-ray) emission proves the existence of non-thermal phenomena therein, but gamma-rays have not yet been detected. A possible additional source of non-thermal radiation from clusters is the annihilation of dark matter (DM). The increased sensitivity of CTA will help to establish the DM signal, and CTA could possibly be the first instrument to map DM at the scale of galaxy clusters.
Dark matter and fundamental physics
The dominant form of matter in the Universe is the as yet unknown dark matter, which is most likely to exist in the form of a new class of particles such as those predicted in supersymmetric or extra dimensional extensions to the standard model of particle physics. Depending on the model, these DM particles can annihilate or decay to produce detectable Standard Model particles, in particular gamma-rays. Large dark matter densities due to the accumulation in gravitational potential wells leads to detectable fluxes, especially for annihilation, where the rate is proportional to the square of the density. CTA is a discovery instrument with unprecedented sensitivity for this radiation and also an ideal tool to study the properties of the dark matter particles. If particles beyond the standard model are discovered (at the Large Hadron Collider or in underground experiments), CTA will be able to verify whether they actually form the dark matter in the Universe. Slow-moving dark matter particles could give rise to a striking, almost mono-energetic photon emission. The discovery of such line emission would be conclusive evidence for dark matter. CTA might have the capability to detect gamma-ray lines even if the cross-section is loop-suppressed, which is the case for the most popular candidates of dark matter, i.e. those inspired by the minimal supersymmetric extensions to the standard model (MSSM) and models with extra dimensions, such as Kaluza-Klein theories. Line radiation from these candidates is not detectable by Fermi, H.E.S.S. II or MAGIC II, unless optimistic assumptions on the dark matter density distribution are made. Recent updates of calculations regarding the gamma-ray spectrum from the annihilation of MSSM dark matter indicate the possibility of final-state contributions giving rise to distinctive spectral features (see the reviews in ).
The more generic continuum contribution (arising from pion production) is more ambiguous but, with its curved shape, potentially distinguishable from the usual power-law spectra exhibited by known astrophysical sources.
Our galactic centre is one of the most promising regions to look for dark matter annihilation radiation due to its predicted very high dark matter density. It has been observed by many experiments so far (e.g. H.E.S.S., MAGIC and VERITAS) and high-energy gamma emission has been found. However, the identification of dark matter in the galactic centre is complicated by the presence of many conventional source candidates and the difficulties of modelling the diffuse gamma-ray background adequately. The angular and energy resolution of CTA, as well as its enhanced sensitivity will be crucial to disentangling the different contributions to the radiation from the galactic centre.
Other individual targets for dark matter searches are dwarf spheroidals and dwarf galaxies. They exhibit large mass-to-light ratios, and allow dark matter searches with low astrophysical backgrounds. With H.E.S.S., MAGIC and Fermi-LAT, some of these objects were observed and upper limits on dark matter annihilation calculated, which are currently about an order of magnitude above the prediction of the most relevant cosmological models. CTA will have good sensitivity for Weakly Interacting Massive Particle (WIMP) annihilation searches in the low and medium energy domains. An improvement in flux sensitivity of 1–2 orders of magnitude over current instruments is expected. Thus CTA will allow tests in significant regions of the MSSM parameter space.
Dark matter would also cause spectral and spatial signatures in extra-galactic and galactic diffuse emission. While the emissivity of conventional astrophysical sources scale with the local matter density, the emissivity of annihilating dark matter scales with the density squared, causing differences in the small-scale anisotropy power spectrum of the diffuse emission.
Recent measurements of the positron fraction presented by the PAMELA Collaboration  point towards a relatively local source of positrons and electrons, especially if combined with the measurement of the e
− spectrum by Fermi-LAT . The main candidates being put forward are either pulsar(s) or dark matter annihilation. One way to distinguish between these two hypotheses is the spectral shape. The dark matter spectrum exhibits a sudden drop at an energy which corresponds to the dark matter particle mass, while the pulsar spectrum falls off more smoothly. Another hint is a small anisotropy, either in the direction of the galactic centre (for dark matter) or in the direction of the nearest mature pulsars. The large effective area of CTA, about six orders of magnitudes larger than for balloon- and satellite-borne experiments, and the greatly improved performance compared to existing Cherenkov observatories, might allow the measurement of the spectral shape and even the tiny dipole anisotropy.
If the PAMELA result originated from dark matter, the DM particle’s mass would be >1 TeV/c2, i.e. large in comparison to most dark matter candidates in MSSM and Kaluza-Klein theories. With its best sensitivity at 1 TeV, CTA would be well suited to detect dark matter particles of TeV/c2 masses. The best sensitivity of Fermi-LAT for dark matter is at masses of the order of 10–100 GeV/c2.
Electrons and positrons originating from dark matter annihilation or decay also produce synchrotron radiation in the magnetic fields present in the dense regions where the annihilation might take place. This opens up the possibility of multi-wavelength observations. Regardless of the wavelength domain in which dark matter will be detectable using present or future experiments, it is evident that CTA will provide coverage for the highest-energy part of the multi-wavelength spectrum necessary to pinpoint, discriminate and study dark matter indirectly.
Due to their extremely short wavelength and long propagation distances, very high-energy gamma-rays are sensitive to the microscopic structure of space-time. Small-scale perturbations of the smooth space-time continuum should manifest themselves in an (extremely small) energy dependence of the speed of light. Such a violation of Lorentz invariance, on which the theory of special relativity is based, is present in some quantum gravity (QG) models. Burst-like events in which gamma-rays are produced, e.g. in active galaxies, allow this energy-dependent dispersion of gamma-rays to be probed and can be used to place limits on certain classes of quantum gravity scenarios, and may possibly lead to the discovery of effects associated with Planck-scale physics.
CTA has the sensitivity to detect characteristic time-scales and QG effects in AGN light curves (if indeed any exist) on a routine basis without exceptional source flux states and in small observing windows. CTA can resolve time scales as small as few seconds in AGN light curves and QG effects down to 10 s. Very good sensitivity at energies >1 TeV is especially important to probe the properties of QG effects at higher orders. Fermi recently presented results based on observations of a GRB which basically rule out linear-in-energy variations of the speed of light up to 1.2× the Planck scale  To test quadratic or higher order dependencies the sensitivity provided by CTA will be needed.
This topic is thoroughly discussed in the book “Particle dark matter” edited by G. Bertone , and aspects of the fundamental physics implications of VHE gamma-ray observations are covered in a recent review .
Imaging stars and stellar surfaces
The quest for better angular resolution in astronomy is driving much of the instrumentation developments throughout the world, from gamma-rays through low-frequency radio waves. The optical region is optimal for studying objects with stellar temperatures, and the current frontier in angular resolution is represented by optical interferometers such as ESO’s VLTI in Chile or the CHARA array in California. Recently, these have produced images of giant stars surrounded by ejected gas shells and revealed the oblate shapes of stars deformed by rapid rotation. However, such phase interferometers are limited by atmospheric turbulence to baselines of no more than some 100 m, and to wavelengths longer than the near infrared. Only very few stars are large enough to be imaged by current facilities. To see smaller details (e.g. magnetically active regions, planet-forming disks obscuring parts of the stellar disk) requires interferometric baselines of the order of 1 km. It has been proposed to incorporate such instruments on ambitious future space missions (Luciola Hypertelescope for the ESA Cosmic Vision; Stellar Imager as a NASA vision mission), or to locate them on the Earth in regions with the best-possible seeing, e.g. in Antarctica (KEOPS array). However, the complexity and cost of these concepts seems to put their realisation beyond the immediate planning horizon.
An alternative that can be realised much sooner is offered by CTA, which could become the first kilometre-scale optical imager. With many telescopes distributed over a square km or more, its unprecedented optical collecting area forms an excellent facility for ultrahigh angular resolution (sub-milliarcsecond) optical imaging through long-baseline intensity interferometry. This method was originally developed by Hanbury Brown and Twiss in the 1950s  for measuring the sizes of stars. It has since been extensively used in particle physics (“HBT interferometry”) but it has had no recent application in astronomy because it requires large telescopes spread out over large distances, which were not available until the recent development of atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes.
The great observational advantages of intensity interferometry are its lack of sensitivity to atmospheric disturbances and to imperfections in the optical quality of the telescopes. This is because of the electronic (rather than optical) connection of telescopes. The noise relates to electronic timescales of nanoseconds (and light-travel distances of centimetres or metres) rather than to those of the light wave itself (femtoseconds and nanometres).
The requirements are remarkably similar to those for studying Cherenkov light: large light-collecting telescopes, high-speed optical detectors with sensitivity extending into the blue, and real-time handling of the signals on nanosecond levels. The main difference to ordinary Cherenkov Telescope operation lies in the subsequent signal analysis which digitally synthesises an optical telescope. From the viewpoint of observatory operations, it is worth noting that bright stars can be measured for interferometry during bright-sky periods of full Moon, which would hamper Cherenkov studies.
Science targets include studying the disks and surfaces of hot and bright stars [52, 53] Rapidly rotating stars naturally take on an oblate shape, with an equatorial bulge that, for stars rotating close to their break-up speed, may extend into a circumstellar disk, while the regions with higher effective gravity near the stellar poles become overheated, driving a stellar wind. If the star is observed from near its equatorial plane, an oblate image results. If the star is instead observed from near its poles, a radial temperature gradient should be seen. Possibly, stars with rapid and strong differential rotation could take on shapes, midway between that of a doughnut and a sphere. The method permits studies in both broad-band optical light and in individual emission lines, and enables the mapping of gas flows between the components in close binary stars.
Measurements of charged cosmic rays
Cherenkov telescopes can contribute to cosmic ray physics by detecting these particles directly . CTA can provide measurements of the spectra of cosmic-ray electrons and nuclei in the energy regime where balloon- and space-borne instruments run out of data. The composition of cosmic rays has been measured by balloon- and space-borne instruments (e.g. TRACER) up to ≈ 100 TeV. Starting at about 1 PeV instruments can detect air showers at ground level (e.g. KASCADE). Such air shower experiments have, however, difficulties in identifying individual nuclei, and consequently their composition results are of lower resolution than direct measurements. Cherenkov telescopes are the most promising candidates to close the experimental gap between the TeV and PeV domains, and will probably achieve better mass resolution than ground based particle arrays. Additionally, CTA can perform crucial measurements of the spectrum of cosmic-ray electrons. TeV electrons have very short lifetimes and thus propagation distances due to their rapid energy loss. The upper end of the electron spectrum (which is not accessible by current balloon and satellite experiments) is therefore expected to be dominated by local electron accelerators and the cosmic-ray electron spectrum can provide valuable information about characteristics of the contributing sources and of the electron propagation. While such measurements involve analyses that differ from the conventional gamma-ray studies, a proof-of-principle has already been performed with the H.E.S.S. telescopes. Spectra of electrons and iron nuclei have been published . The increase in sensitivity expected from CTA will provide significant improvements in such measurements.
The CTA legacy
The CTA legacy will most probably not be limited to individual observations addressing the issues mentioned above, but also comprise a survey of the inner Galactic plane and/or, depending on the final array capabilities, a deep survey of all or part of the extragalactic sky. Surveys provide coverage of large parts of the sky, maximise serendipitous detections, allow for optimal use of telescope time, and thereby ensure the legacy of the project for the future scientific community. Surveys of different extents and depths are among the scientific goals of all major facilities planned or in operation at all wavelengths. In view of both H.E.S.S. (see Fig. 2) and Fermi-LAT survey results, the usefulness of surveys is unquestioned, and many of the scientific cases discussed above can be encompassed within such an observational strategy.
Two possible CTA survey schemes have been studied to date:
All-sky survey: With an effective field-of-view of 5°, 500 pointings of 0.5 hours would cover a survey area of a quarter of the sky at the target sensitivity of 0.01 Crab. Hence, using about a quarter of the observing time in a year, a quarter of the sky can be surveyed down to a level of <0.01 Crab, which is equivalent to the flux level of the faintest AGN currently detected at VHE energies.
Galactic plane survey: The H.E.S.S. Galactic plane survey covered 1.5% of the sky, at a sensitivity of 0.02 Crab above 200 GeV, using about 250 hours of observing time. The increase in CTA sensitivity means that a similar investment in time can be expected to result in a sensitivity of 2-3 mCrab over the accessible region of the Galactic plane.
The high-energy phenomena which can be studied with CTA span a wide field of galactic and extragalactic astrophysics, of plasma physics, particle physics, dark matter studies, and investigations of the fundamental physics of space-time. They carry information on the birth and death of stars, on the matter circulation in the Galaxy, and on the history of the Universe. Optimisation of the layout of CTA with regards to these different science goals is a difficult task and detailed studies of the response of different array configurations to these scientific problems being conducted during the Design Study and the Preparatory Phase.