The High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray Observatory

The HAWC Gamma-Ray Observatory

TeV gamma rays are markers of the most extreme environments in the known universe: supernova explosions, active galactic nuclei, and gamma-ray bursts. Gamma rays are thought to be correlated with the acceleration sites of charged cosmic rays, whose origins have been a mystery for nearly 100 years.

HAWC site viewed from the slope of Sierra Negra
The HAWC array, viewed from the slope of Sierra Negra. Credit: I. Taboada, Georgia Tech, July 2014.

The High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory, or HAWC, is a facility designed to observe TeV gamma rays and cosmic rays with an instantaneous aperture that covers more than 15% of the sky. With this large field of view, the detector will be exposed to two-thirds of the sky during a 24-hour period.

HAWC is currently under construction on the flanks of the Sierra Negra volcano near Puebla, Mexico. Located at an altitude of 4100 meters, HAWC will be used to perform a high-sensitivity synoptic survey of the sky at wavelengths between 100 GeV and 100 TeV.