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Topic 3: "Matter and Radiation from the Universe"

International Collaborations

The activities in topic Matter and Radiation from the Universe are characterised by large, international collaborations. The most important ones include:


  • The Pierre Auger Collaboration consists of about 500 scientists of 95 institutional groups from 19 countries. KIT is a leading partner with the largest group; it has just taken responsibility as the international executive financial institution (formerly at CERN) and for support of the project management (formerly at Fermilab). Other big partners are INFN Italy, CNRS with several institutions, FNAL and the University of Chicago with the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP).


  • The KASCADE-Grande Collaboration developed and operated the cosmic-ray detector of the same name on the northern campus of KIT; the group comprises about 70 people of 10 institutions in eight European countries; KIT is the host and leading group. The project is now in its analysing phase and is preparing its data for sustained open access to the public, more about the KASCADE Cosmic ray Data Centre (KCDC) here.


  • Other collaborations in the cosmic-ray field are:
    • Tunka is a German-Russian project for multi-purpose technology development around a detector array in the Tunka valley near Irkutsk, Siberia. KIT and DESY are involved by a Helmholtz-Russia Joint Research Group since 2012.
    • JEM-EUSO is a constantly growing Japanese-led consortium of currently 13 countries, 80 institutes, and more than 280 scientists. The objective is to study cosmic-ray air showers by their  fluorescence light emission using an electronic telescope onboard the International Space Station ISS.
    • The AMS-02 detector searching for cosmic antimatter is also situated on the ISS. Some essential components were built by RWTH Aachen and KIT, however outside the scope of the Helmholtz programme.


  • IceCube is a collaboration of about 200 scientists from 11 countries. DESY Zeuthen is a strategic partner of IceCube, second only to the lead institute of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA. DESY is coordinating the eight German partner universities in IceCube and provides the Tier-1 data centre for IceCube and IceTop. IceTop is an extension to IceCube: an array of Cherenkov detectors on the surface, to allow for cross calibration of underground muon event and air showers as seen in IceTop, and to use IceCube as a large muon detector for studies of the mass composition of cosmic rays in the energy range from 1015 to 1018 eV.


  • CTA is the worldwide next-generation gamma ray observatory. It is a joint project of 28 countries with more than 1,100 scientists and engineers. All groups currently involved in Cherenkov astronomy are members of CTA. DESY Zeuthen is the largest individual group and is leading the design, production and assembly of the 40 medium-sized telescopes (MSTs) and the telescope and array control (ACTL). DESY is crucially involved through simulation and analysis work in the design of the array and the selection of the observatory sites. There are two Max Planck Institutes and nine German universities involved in CTA. DESY entertains active links to the MST and ACTL activities with numerous national and international partners within CTA. DESY Zeuthen will apply to host the international project office of CTA.


  • Current gamma-ray telescope projects:
    • H.E.S.S. is a collaboration of about 200 scientists from 13 countries, led by Germany, which operates the current largest Cherenkov telescope with 28 m diameter, together with four 12-m telescopes. DESY is a member of the H.E.S.S. Collaboration and a main contributor to the current hardware upgrade. The main partners are the Max Planck Institute of Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg and the CNRS.
    • MAGIC and VERITAS are gamma-ray observatories using Cherenkov telescopes on La Palma and in Arizona, respectively. Young Investigator Groups at DESY are involved in both observatories.


  • KATRIN: The collaboration to perform the Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino Experiment was officially funded in 2002. It consists of ~120 collaborators from Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia, United Kingdom and the US. KIT is obviously the strongest partner as the host institute, with further German partners at the Max Planck Institute of Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg (MPIK), and at the universities Bonn, Mainz, Münster and Wuppertal.


  • EDELWEISS is a direct Dark Matter search experiment using cryogenic Ge bolometers with coincident readout of heat and ionisation signals. It is operated at the LSM underground laboratory in France. KIT is collaborating with groups from France, UK and Russia, making up a collaboration of about 50 scientists.


  • EURECA: As a next-generation direct DM experiment, the European Underground Rare Event Calorimeter Array is designed to use up to 1 ton of cryogenic bolometers, with a significant participation of KIT. The collaboration includes partners from Austria, France, Germany (KIT, TU München, Tübingen), Slovakia, Spain, Russia, UK, and Ukraine. A close cooperation with SuperCDMS (institutions from the US and Canada) has recently started to develop a joint phased programme.