University of Maryland, College Park | 2017 Nov 14
UMD astronomers will use powerful new telescope camera for research and educationA new robotic camera with the ability to capture hundreds of thousands of stars and galaxies in a single shot has taken its first image of the sky—an event astronomers refer to as "first light." The camera is the centerpiece of a new automated sky survey project called the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), based at Caltech's Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California.
As partners in the ZTF effort, University of Maryland astronomers made important contributions to the planning and design of the survey project. UMD participation in ZTF is facilitated by the Joint Space-Science Institute, a partnership between UMD and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Every night, ZTF’s camera will scan a large swath of the Northern sky, discovering objects and events that vary in brightness over time, collectively known as transients. Survey targets will include explosive supernovae, hungry black holes, and hurtling asteroids and comets. ...
The ZTF survey is the powerful sequel to PTF. It is named after Caltech’s first astrophysicist, Fritz Zwicky, who discovered 120 supernovae in his lifetime. Recently installed at the Oschin Telescope, ZTF's new survey camera can take in seven times more sky in a single image than its predecessor. At maximum resolution, each ZTF camera image is 24,000 by 24,000 pixels—so huge that the images are difficult to display on a normal computer screen.
Additionally, ZTF's upgraded electronics and telescope drive systems enable the camera to take more than twice as many exposures every night. Astronomers will not only be able to discover more transient objects, they will also be able to catch more ephemeral features that appear and fade quickly. ...
Zwicky Transient Facility Opens Its Eyes to the Volatile Cosmos
California Institute of Technology | Palomar Observatory | 2017 Nov 14