First Indian Science Observation Telescope- The GROWTH- India - Seeker's Thoughts

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Tuesday, 20 November 2018

First Indian Science Observation Telescope- The GROWTH- India


Introduction: - First Indian Science Observation Telescope
The GROWTH-India 0.7 telescope at the Indian Astronomical Observatory which is located in Hanle, Ladakh, has made its first science observation which is a follow-up study of a nova explosion. 
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A report on this published in The Astronomer’s Telegram notes the magnitude of the nova explosion first identified by Darnley et al as it varies.


What is Nova?
Novae are explosive events involving violent, eruptions on the surface of white dwarf stars, leading to a temporary increase in brightness of the star. Unlike a supernova, the star does not go on to die but returns to its earlier state after the explosion. The recurrent nova, named M31N-2008, has been observed to erupt several times, the most recent eruption happening in November 2018. 


Transient phenomena such as supernovae are important parts of time-domain astronomy which is an ales-explored frontier in astronomy. Such an explosion is when the inner material of the star thrown out. There is no other way we can actually see what is inside the star.
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Since when it is observing?
The GROWTH-India telescope was commissioned six months ago soon after which saw first light, on the night of June 12. The telescope has been taking reading since observation. 

The celestial object was first noticed by a different group which saw the nova explosion. Then pointed our telescope in the direction and measured the brightness. It was found that it was fading at the rate expected for such events. This is a small step in astronomy but a big leap in the world of Science because it is the first scientific result obtained by this telescope.


What are the goals?
The GROWTH- India telescope is part of the Global Relay of Observatories watching transients happen. Its goals are threefold
1-      Search for explosions in the optical regime whenever LIGO group detects a Binary Neutron Star merger.
2-     Study nearby young supernova explosions.
3-     Study nearby asteroids.

Transient phenomena such as supernovae are important parts of time- domain astronomy which is a less-explored frontier in astronomy. Such an explosion is when the inner material of the star is thrown out. There is no other way can actually see what is inside a star.


Some More Information  
The telescope is potentially fully robotic and can operate on its own, but the way these readings were taken has only partly used its potential for automation. The group sitting in IIT Bombay worked through Bengaluru’s IIAP to control the telescope. While the IITB – IIAP link was through the regular internet connection, the one from IIAP to the telescope in Ladakh was through a satellite link. A typical professional telescope has a field that is five to six times larger. It can ‘slew’ or move its focus from one part of the sky to another in just about 10-15 seconds and its camera can view stellar objects that are thousands to millions of light years away.