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Performance of the MAGIC telescopes under moonlight

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Barrio Uña, Juan Abel and Contreras González, José Luis and Domínguez-Adame Acosta, Francisco and Fonseca González, Mª Victoria and Fidalgo, David Friedrich Carreto and López Moya, Marcos and Nievas Rosillo, Mireia (2017) Performance of the MAGIC telescopes under moonlight. Astroparticle physics, 94 . pp. 29-41. ISSN 0927-6505

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.astropartphys.2017.08.001


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Abstract

MAGIC, a system of two imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes, achieves its best performance under dark conditions, i.e. in absence of moonlight or twilight. Since operating the telescopes only during dark time would severely limit the duty cycle, observations are also performed when the Moon is present in the sky. Here we develop a dedicated Moon-adapted analysis to characterize the performance of MAGIC under moonlight. We evaluate energy threshold, angular resolution and sensitivity of MAGIC under different background light levels, based on Crab Nebula observations and tuned Monte Carlo simulations. This study includes observations taken under non-standard hardware configurations, such as reducing the camera photomultiplier tubes gain by a factor ∼1.7 (reduced HV settings) with respect to standard settings (nominal HV) or using UV-pass filters to strongly reduce the amount of moonlight reaching the cameras of the telescopes. The Crab Nebula spectrum is correctly reconstructed in all the studied illumination levels, that reach up to 30 times brighter than under dark conditions. The main effect of moonlight is an increase in the analysis energy threshold and in the systematic uncertainties on the flux normalization. The sensitivity degradation is constrained to be below 10%, within 15-30% and between 60 and 80% for nominal HV, reduced HV and UV-pass filter observations, respectively. No worsening of the angular resolution was found. Thanks to observations during moonlight, the maximal duty cycle of MAGIC can be increased from ∼18%, under dark nights only, to up to∼40% in total with only moderate performance degradation.


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© Elsevier Science BV.
Artículo firmado por más de diez autores.
We would like to thank the Instituto de Astrof´ısica de Canarias for the excellent working conditions at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos in La Palma. The financial support of the German BMBF and MPG, the Italian INFN and INAF, the Swiss National Fund SNF, the ERDF under the Spanish MINECO (FPA2015-69818-P, FPA2012- 36668, FPA2015-68378-P, FPA2015-69210-C6-2-R, FPA2015- 69210-C6-4-R, FPA2015-69210-C6-6-R, AYA2015-71042-P, AYA2016-76012-C3-1-P, ESP2015-71662-C2-2-P, CSD2009- 00064), and the Japanese JSPS and MEXT is gratefully acknowledged. This work was also supported by the Spanish Centro de Excelencia “Severo Ochoa” SEV-2012-0234 and SEV-2015-0548, and Unidad de Excelencia “María de Maeztu” MDM-2014-0369, by the Croatian Science Foundation (HrZZ) Project 09/176 and the University of Rijeka Project 13.12.1.3.02, by the DFG ollaborative Research Centers SFB823/C4 and SFB876/C3, and by the Polish MNiSzW grant 2016/22/M/ST9/00382.

Uncontrolled Keywords:Gamma-ray astronomy; Cherenkov telescopes; Crab nebula
Subjects:Sciences > Physics > Electricity
Sciences > Physics > Electronics
Sciences > Physics > Nuclear physics
ID Code:46234
Deposited On:31 Jan 2018 09:29
Last Modified:10 Dec 2018 14:57

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