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Alaska Structures Custom Domes at HAWC Gamma Ray Observatory

Custom Dome Structures Involved in Gamma Ray Detection

Researchers at the HAWC Collaboration, a gamma ray observatory located in Mexico that uses domes from Alaska Structures®, recently discovered a galactic source of gamma rays, of note because of its potential to produce high-energy cosmic rays.

HAWC Gamma Ray Observatory

HAWC, which stands for High-Altitude Water Cherenkov, is located in the mountains of Puebla, Mexico at an elevation of 13,451-feet above sea level. The research facility encompasses an area greater than 215,000 square feet and is responsible for analyzing the universe’s most violent phenomena, including TeV gamma rays — the highest-energy photons ever observed, which are produced in extreme environments such as active galactic nuclei, supernova explosions, and gamma-ray bursts.

The HAWC Gamma Ray Observatory’s most recent observation is believed to be the result of extremely high-energy cosmic rays interacting with a molecular cloud, and could be one of the most powerful cosmic ray sources ever discovered. 

Confirmation of these findings will require the use of a neutrino telescope such as IceCube or KM3NeT to detect neutrinos in the area of the gamma ray source.

Custom Dome Structures for Research Facilities

The HAWC Gamma Ray Observatory has been using custom dome structures from Alaska Structures since 2012. 

Alaska Structures worked directly with the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico to custom-design these dome structures, initially providing 30 dome structures in 2012 and then an additional 20 dome structures in 2013.

The dome structures are designed to go on top of the water Cherenkov detectors, or “tanks,” that are used to detect gamma rays. While the tanks are already sealed with a gasket, the fabric dome structures provide a crucial secondary light seal — something that would be difficult to achieve with a metal roof.

Custom-made dome structures from Alaska Structures were chosen for following reasons:

  • Close proximity to the Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Unmatched expertise at custom-designing fabric structures for unique research projects
  • Unrivaled engineering to create dome structures capable of withstanding prolonged exposure to extreme conditions at high altitudes (high solar loads, freezing temperatures, and high winds)
  • Vast experience creating rapidly deployable military shelter systems with blackout capability 
The first custom dome structure Alaska Structures produced for the HAWC Gamma Ray Observatory
The first custom dome structure produced for the HAWC Gamma Ray Observatory (2012)

Since opening its doors in 1975, Alaska Structures has custom-designed, engineered, and manufactured more than 65,000 fabric building systems used in over 85 countries. No other fabric building provider comes close to matching our level of experience or expertise.

Need a Custom Dome Structure for Your Research Facility?

Does your research project need custom dome structures or other custom-made research facilities? Alaska Structures can custom-design and engineer fabric buildings to meet any research project requirements as well as local or international building code for safety and durability.

To discuss your research station building requirements, contact us using the information below.

Telephone: +1-907-344-1565

Email us

Or use our online contact form and submit your request.

Alaska Structures
Alaska Structures® is the world's leading provider of engineered fabric building and turnkey camp systems. Our modular buildings are proudly made in the U.S. and designed to meet area-specific wind and snow loads required by local codes or the International Building Code (IBC) for safety. No other fabric-building provider comes close to matching our level of expertise or experience.

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