Devasthal's liquid mirror telescope sees its first light

Devasthal's liquid mirror telescope sees its first light
Posted on 03-06-2022

Devasthal's liquid mirror telescope sees its first light

In The News:

  • The Himalayan Mountains have a new telescope facility that will keep an eye on the sky from the top to detect transient or variable objects like supernovae, gravitational lenses, space debris, and asteroids.

What's today's article?

  • LMT: History, concept, and how it works
  • News Summary (about ILMT and why Devasthal).

What's a Liquid Mirror Telescope?

  • Liquid mirror telescopes, as their name, implies, use liquid and not aluminized glasses as primary mirrors.
  • The liquid is usually mercury and is then poured into a rotating dish.
  • Two fundamental forces act on mercury: gravity, and Inertia.
  • Gravity pulls on the liquid surface while inertia pulls it sideways at the edges of the dish.
  • The liquid results in a perfect and uniform parabola that is the ideal reflector for a telescope.
  • The liquid mirror surface is smooth and flawless, with minimal to no maintenance.
  • Gravitation and inertia can act upon the liquid to restore it to its original condition if it is disturbed.

History LMT:

  • Ernesto Capocci was an Italian astronomer who first described how an LMT might function in 1850.
  • After reading about the experiments of Isaac Newton and others involving spinning liquids, he came up with the idea.
  • W. Wood built the same thing Capocci described 50 years ago.
  • Wood's LMT had a 1-centimeter layer of mercury in it. It was placed in a rotating dish.
  • He was able to observe the moon but noted that it was blurred.
  • Modern astronomers discovered that an LMT's image quality was significantly improved by using a thinner layer.

How are LMT and Optical Telescope different?

  • An optical telescope is a telescope that gathers and focuses light mostly on the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. It can be used to magnify images for visual inspection, make photographs, or collect data using electronic image sensors.
  • An LMT is not like an optical telescope. It cannot be turned or pointed in any direction.
  • It "stares at" the zenith, and then watches the Earth rotate as it looks up to see different objects.

News Summary

  • India's first liquid mirror telescope has been lit for the first time. It will be able to observe asteroids and supernovae from 2,450m in the Himalayas.
  • It is now in the commissioning phase. The instrument will begin scientific observations in October 2022.
  • It was established in Nainital, Uttarakhand.
  • It is also known as the International Liquid Mirror Telescopeand it is the only liquid mirror telescope operating anywhere in the world.
  • It will also be the first liquid telescope to be built exclusively for astronomical purposes.

Devasthal Observatory is home to India's majority of telescopes.

  • After the -, the ILMT telescope will be the third to operate from Devasthal.
    • 6-metre Devasthal Optical Telescope -- The largest optical telescope in India, commissioned in 2016, and
    • Inauguration of 3-metre Devasthal Fast Optical Telescope in 2010.
  • Devasthal Observatory was created by a collaboration between ARIES astronomers and other astronomical institutions around the globe.
    • Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences, (ARIES), is an independent institute that falls under the Department of Science & Technology.
  • After extensive site characterizations in the central Himalayan range, this site was selected.
  • Devasthal site's main benefits are its dark skies, sub arcsec sight, low extinction, and the fact that it is easily manageable.
  • ARIES has received 41,692 square meters of land from Uttarakhand Government. This includes roads, a base camp area, and a telescope site.
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