This is the largest observation instrument in Asia.
The International Liquid Mirror Telescope (ILMT , for its acronym in English), which is part of the Devasthal Observatory, located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, has been put into operation, which will allow astronomers to locate galaxies, quasars, supernovae and other celestial bodies, reports Science.
The telescope, which measures 4 meters wide, is installed on a mountain in the Himalayas, at a height of 2,450 meters, and is constituted by a bowl of liquid mercury, whose parabolic surface is coated with reflective aluminum. When this bowl rotates slowly, it forms a perfect parabolic layer, similar to the glass mirror of conventional telescopes.
According to the company that was in charge of the construction of the ILMT, its cost was 2 million dollars, much cheaper than the Devasthal Optical Telescope (DOT, for its acronym in English), which cost 18 million dollars. Previously, the DOT was the largest telescope in Asia, with its 3.6 meters wide.
32 years ago the idea of creating the ILMT began
The conception of the ILMT began in the late 1990s. In 2012, the container containing the liquid mercury was sent to India, not However, its construction and start-up was delayed on multiple occasions. Last April it was possible to rotate the bowl, which contained 50 liters of liquid mercury, forming a layer of parabolic 3.5 millimeters thick.
The ILMT’s field of view is a strip of sky almost the width of the Moon. The scan will take place from dusk to dawn, due to the Earth’s rotation. Since the ILMT makes it possible to observe the same strip of the sky, every night in succession, it will be possible to obtain images of faint astronomical targets with high sensitivity.
In addition , transients such as supernovae, quasars and galaxies can be observed, since comparisons will be made of the images obtained each night to analyze changes in the sky.
According to the project director, Jean Surdej, if the telescope works successfully, its technology will be used to build larger liquid mirrors, which will be installed on the Moon, since, he maintains, they are an ideal place for future giant telescopes since it is seismically less active than Earth, in addition to lacking an atmosphere.
In the 2000s, both NASA and the Canadian Space Agency ordered studies of liquid mirror telescopes on the Moon, but they did not prosper.
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