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Max Planck Institute Uses Spectrum’s Digitizer Cards in the World’s Most Sensitive Cherenkov Telescopes

 MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-Ray Imaging Cherenkov) are the world’s largest air-Cherenkov-telescopes every with a diameter of 17m. 

Max Planck Institute makes use of Spectrum’s digitizer playing cards to measure diameters of distant stars

Ultra-clean sign dealing with and nanosecond information precision results in unprecedented sensitivity of the world’s largest Cherenkov telescopesThe MAGIC telescopes on the Canary Island of La Palma had been constructed to watch cosmic objects that emit high-energy gamma rays, i.e. supernovae or black holes. Astronomers additionally use the twin telescope to measure the diameter of stars to analyze the processes all through their life cycle. This is a difficult job for earthbound telescopes, since the angular diameter of stars is extraordinarily small: only some milli-arc-seconds. That is about the measurement of a coin on prime of the Eiffel Tower as seen from New York! Not even the largest telescopes in the world are in a position to measure them immediately. Instead, the researchers document the mild depth of an object by combining the mild from a number of telescopes at a distance of tens of meters – a way known as depth interferometry. However, the alerts are very weak so any spurious alerts and crosstalk would swamp them. Having evaluated a number of makes of digitizer card, Spectrum Instrumentation M4i.4450-x8 digitizer playing cards had been chosen.

For the uninitiated, Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is a worldwide venture for the subsequent technology ground-based observatory for gamma-ray astronomy at very-high energies. With greater than 100 telescopes positioned in the northern and southern hemispheres, CTA will probably be the world’s largest and most delicate high-energy gamma-ray observatory.
In India, a cherenkov telescope is positioned in Hanle, Ladakh known as “Major Atmospheric Cerenkov Experiment Telescope (MACE)”. It is the highest (in altitude) and second largest Cerenkov telescope in the world.

“We found that these cards not only had the lowest levels of spurious signals and crosstalk of all the PC cards that we tested,” stated David Fink from the Max Planck Institute for Physics, who’s in cost of Electronic Development on the venture, “but the performance of each card was also identical. The latter is so important as you are trying to compare the differences between the signals from each telescope. The technique is very sensitive to correlated signals and crosstalk between channels including anything picked up along the way from the optical sensors through to the computer that the digitizer cards are mounted in. To put it into perspective, these Spectrum cards enable us to precisely measure fluctuations of the light intensity on nanosecond time scales giving unprecedented sensitivity that is around ten times better than that achieved in the 1970s with the Narrabri interferometer.”

The twin telescope MAGIC at an altitude of over 2200m on the island La Palma.

“The other important factor in choosing Spectrum digitizer cards is their excellent reputation for reliability. The cards are located by the two telescopes that are high up in the mountains on the island of La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, so it is not a simple matter to swap in a new card if there is an issue. Plus, there is the cost of instrument downtime and lost observation time. The fact that Spectrum provides a five-year warranty shows their faith in the high quality and reliability of their cards which was supported when we checked with other users in the scientific community. Lastly, Spectrum assured us that they can repair cards long after the five years have passed. That i very reassuring as long-term experiments can often be confronted with a large effort to redevelop a system because the original hardware at the heart of it is no longer available.”

Spectrum M4i.4450-x8  2-channel digitizer with 500 MS/s pace
Because of the massive portions of knowledge being dealt with, the system makes use of Spectrum’s SCAPP software program (Spectrum’s CUDA Access for Parallel Processing). This is a means of sending all the collected information from the digitizer to not the CPU of a PC with 8 or 16 processor cores, however to an NVIDA PC graphic card as a result of the GPU graphic processor has as much as 5000 cores giving a lot quicker information processing. This permits recordings to be run in excessive decision with 500 Megasamples per second.

The diameter of a distant star is measured by digitizing the variations in the mild obtained from a star. The cross correlation is then computed and averaged throughout commentary to find out its variation as a perform of the separation between telescopes. The geometry adjustments as the star strikes throughout the sky. Measuring a form requires observations alongside a number of axes. 


Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescopes (IACTs) have massive mirrors and in the order of 1 nanosecond time response to alerts of some photo-electrons produced by optical photons. This implies that they’re ideally suited to optical interferometry observations. Thanks to their sensitivity to seen wavelengths and lengthy baseline optical depth interferometry with IACTs, angular resolutions of tens to microarcseconds might be achieved. This venture has put in a easy optical setup on prime of the cameras of the two 17m diameter IACTs and noticed coherent fluctuations in the photon depth measured at the two telescopes for 3 totally different stars.

The hyperlink to the Institute’s paper on this venture that known as MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-Ray Imaging Cherenkov) is at:

Further studying on Interferometry is at:

The telescopes in the north of the island are presently not threatened by the volcanic eruption, as the volcano is positioned in the south of La Palma.

Photos courtesy of MAGIC Collaboration, picture 1 by Robert Wagner and picture 2 by Giovanni Ceribella.

About Spectrum Instrumentation

Spectrum Instrumentation, based in 1989, makes use of modular design to create a variety of digitizers and generator merchandise as PC-cards (PCIe and PXIe) and stand-alone Ethernet models (LXI). In over 30 years, Spectrum has gained prospects throughout the world, together with many A-brand industry-leaders and virtually all prestigious universities. The firm is headquartered close to Hamburg, Germany, and identified or its excellent assist that comes immediately from the design engineers. More details about Spectrum might be discovered at

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