Very High Energy (VHE) Gamma Ray astronomy is one of the fundamental pillars of Astroparticle Physics. It is an essential tool to study fundamental phenomena in High Energy Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology in the so-called “Non-thermal Universe”. Among all the techniques explored in the past decades for the ground observation of VHE Cosmic g-rays, one emerged as the most successful: the imaging of the Cherenkov light produced in the electromagnetic showers initiated by cosmic radiation entering our atmosphere. Using this technique, over a dozen sources were detected at energies above 300 GeV in the nineties. This was the starting point for ground-based Gamma Ray astronomy.
MAGIC, which stands for “Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov”, is a new generation two-telescope system located at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory at the La Palma Canary Island.
The MAGIC telescopes are large optical reflectors which are sensitive to the Cherenkov light produced in the air by the electromagnetic showers generated by cosmic gamma rays. Each of the two MAGIC telescopes achieves a much higher light sensitivity (and therefore lower energy threshold) than any previous Cherenkov telescope because it is equipped with a reflector of larger diameter (17 meters) and a camera with higher light sensitivity and better signal-to-noise ratio (larger Quantum Efficiency and sensitivity to single photoelectrons). The original MAGIC was a standalone telescope. A second telescope, MAGIC-II, is right now in its commissioning phase. MAGIC-II is an improved clone of MAGIC-I. By ways of the stereoscopic technique, the flux sensitivity of the MAGIC two-telescope system will improve by a factor of 2-3 and its angular and spectral resolutions will be significantly enhanced.
The MAGIC group at IFAE has a strong hardware profile and has taken major commitments in the construction of both MAGIC-I and MAGIC-II. It was responsible for the camera of MAGIC-I, which has succesfully operated for more than four years and is still the most sophisticated Cherenkov telescope detector in the world. It was also responsible for the readout of MAGIC-II together with the INFN group in Pisa. This system is equipped with the fastest digitizers ever used in Cherenkov astronomy. IFAE is responsible as well for the datacenter of the two telescopes which has been set up at Port d’Informació Cientifica (PIC) with the help of the MAGIC groups at the UCM and UAB. It is worth to mention that IFAE has also contributed much of the technical expertise and manpower to keep the whole MAGIC telescope running and many members of the group are deeply involved in the commissioning of MAGIC-II.
The group is also very active in Physics analysis and interpretation. The physics program of the group however encompasses topics of both fundamental physics and astrophysics. The wealth of data recorded in the past four years of regular observations have resulted in numerous new source discoveries. MAGIC has published more than 30 scientific papers. Highlights are the 3 articles in Science magazine which report the discovery of the first variable gamma-ray emission in a candidate microquasar, the discovery of the hgh z quasar 3C279 and its impact on the transparency of the universe to gamma-rays and the first detection of pulsar in the very high energy domain. IFAE has been directly involved in writing many of these papers and two of the three Science articles.