History of Modern Science

Astrophysics, Astronomy and Space Sciences in the History of the Max Planck Society

A new generation of accelerator-based particle physicists from both the Max Planck Institute for Physics and the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics then began collaborating with Kiel, which was crucially also joined by a community of Armenians from the Yerevan Physics Institute, who had pioneered the innovative, stereoscopic Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov Technique (IACT).
This technique turned out to be its most promising feature, finalizing the tradition’s leap towards ground-based gamma-ray astronomy. Armenian success with Cherenkov telescopes, increasingly supported by Max Planck scientists, sparked competition between two Max Planck Institutes in Munich and Heidelberg, to become world leaders in what promised to become an entirely new form of ground-based astronomy, thereby absorbing the Armenian scientists. Max Planck Institutes then built the most successful telescopes of the subsequent generation, magic and h.e.s.s., while competing both with each other and with other global players. Thanks to their complementary double presence in the field, the two Max Planck Institutes won the race towards ground-based, gamma-ray telescopes, leading to the global Cherenkov Telescope Array (cta) collaboration with over 100 telescopes, which the Americans then entered as junior partners.
But the end of the Cold War also gave a key boost to cosmic ray research in Europe, crucially aided by the involvement of Soviet researchers. In the mid1980s, physicists at the prestigious Yerevan Physics Institute in Armenia also decided to move into the field, which was already being pursued in the Soviet Union by Arnold Stepanian in Crimea. Stepanian had been using a four-mirror system since the end of the 1960s,297 but the more recent arrivals in the field felt that he, as an astronomer, had little particle physics insight and lacked credibility among the global community. As mentioned earlier, the Yerevan Physics Institute in Armenia had begun developing the concept of stereoscopic approach in the mid-1980s, using the novel technique of multiple Imaging Atmospheric Telescopes.298 These were also part of larger efforts in the field of high-energy cosmic rays, in the course of which a complex shower array site similar to hegra was to be installed on Mount Aragats.

The full book can be found here

The article about System Telescopes can be found here