International Liquid Mirror Telescope: India recently unveiled Asia’s largest 4-metre International Liquid Mirror Telescope (ILMT) at Devasthal, Uttarakhand. At an altitude of 2450 meters at Devasthal Observatory campus of Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), lies the first liquid mirror telescope designed exclusively for astronomical observations.
Metal mercury, which is highly reflective and liquid at room temperature, can be used to create a rotating mirror with multiple thin layers that collects and focuses light. The International Liquid Mirror Telescope was designed to survey the sky overhead at night, providing it with a unique ability to detect transient or variable celestial objects like supernovae, gravitational lenses, space debris and asteroids.
This telescope collaboration involves researchers from India, Belgium, Poland, Uzbekistan and Canada. The data generated by the telescope, which will enable the application of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning algorithms, will be analyzed quickly to discover variable and transient stellar sources. Furthermore, with its wealth of photometric and astrometric variability data, International Liquid Mirror Telescope researchers plan to conduct a deep photometric and astrometric variability survey.
India’s ILMT’s launch has provided India with a new and enhanced capacity to study the skies and astronomy. Its first light was achieved during the second week of May 2022, and now it is fully operational. By surveying the strip of sky passing overhead every night, researchers will be able to discover new celestial objects and phenomena, furthering our understanding of our universe.
The ILMT is a testament to India’s growing scientific prowess and technological innovations in astronomy. With the support of both government and scientific community, India has continued to invest in research and innovation that have resulted in world-class facilities like the ILMT. With this launch, India takes another important step towards exploring our universe further while inspiring future generations of astronomers and scientists.
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