The 0.7 m GROWTH-India telescope at the Indian Astronomical Observatory located in Hanle, Ladakh has made its first science observation which is a follow-up study of a nova explosion. Novae are explosive events involving violent eruptions on the surface of white dwarf stars, leading to the 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 GROWTH-India telescope was commissioned six months ago soon after which it saw first light, on the night of June 12. The celestial object was first noticed by a different group which saw the nova explosion. This recurrent nova, named M31N-2008, has been observed to erupt several times, the most recent eruption happening in November 2018. Recurrent nova systems are interesting because they are candidates for progenitors of Type I supernovae. 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. A typical professional telescope has a field of about 0.1 square degrees. This 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. 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.
Tags : #India#Science & Techonology#Telescope