Victor Franz Hess Observatory

A historical research memorial about the discovery of cosmic rays

The following content is quoted with permission from the Victor Franz Hess Observatory page of the University of Innsbruck (see below).

Radiation from space

Since the 1930s, the research station has housed the measuring instruments with which its founder Victor Franz Hess, winner of the 1936 Nobel Prize, researched cosmic rays. This place also helped other scientists to make groundbreaking discoveries. In 1937, Marietta Blau and Hertha Wambacher first observed in photo emulsions how a particle of cosmic rays shattered an atomic nucleus.
A neutron monitor and a muon detector were installed in the 1960s and 1970s. The researchers were thus able to measure two secondary particles generated by cosmic rays individually and gained important insights. Rudolf Steinmaurer, research assistant to Victor Franz Hess and later head of the Institute for Experimental Physics at the University of Innsbruck, played a leading role in the permanent registration of cosmic rays.
In 2009, Olaf Reimer's research group at the Institute for Astrophysics began investigating high-energy gamma rays. These arise from the interaction of cosmic radiation with the atmosphere or come from – in some cases still unknown – sources in space. However, current measurement data on the most energetic cosmic particles no longer come from the historically renowned research memorial site Hafelekar, but from the Pierre Auger Observatory (Argentina), the H.E.S.S. telescopes in Namibia and the Fermi space telescope.

The video on this page and parts of the text were taken with the kind permission of the University of Innsbruck Victor Franz Hess website. Much more information about the Victor Franz Hess measuring station is accessible on the site

A virtual tour around and through the observatory in the high mountains can be explored on the Innsbruck University website: