A new gravitational wave telescope has been built together with scientists from Sheffield.

A new telescope consisting of two identical arrays on opposite sides of the planet, on La Palma Island in the Canary Islands and La Palma Island in Australia, was created to detect the source of gravitational waves for the first time.

A joint project led by the University of Warwick and greatly contributed by the University of Sheffield, the Gravitational Wave Phototransient Observer (GOTO) will help usher in a new era of gravitational wave science.

Placed on two opposite sides of the globe to cover the complete sky, GOTO scans the sky for visual clues to intense space events that create ripples or waves in the structure of the universe itself. ..

Gravitational waves, long thought to be a by-product of the collisions and mergers of space giants such as neutron stars and black holes, were finally directly detected by LIGO (Laser Interferometry Gravitational Wave Observatory) in 2015. I did.

These “visual” clues are very volatile and should be found as soon as possible, as most GW signals involve the merging of huge objects. This is where GOTO comes in.

Many discoveries have been made since 2015, but observatories like LIGO can only measure the effects of gravitational waves as they pass through local parts of space-time, making it difficult to track the origin of the source. It may be. GOTO was designed to fill this observation gap by searching for optical signals in the electromagnetic spectrum that may indicate the source of gravitational waves (GW). Quickly identify the source and use this information to guide the fleet of telescopes. So the instrument.

GOTO acts as an intermediary between something like LIGO, which detects the presence of gravitational wave events, and a more targeted multi-wavelength observatory where the light source of the event can be investigated.

Shefield astronomers have done a great deal of work on all aspects of the GOTO project, from the design and management level to the installation of hardware in La Palma, the creation of control software that enables autonomous operation of the telescope, and the analysis of the resulting scientific data. I have contributed.

Martin Dyer, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sheffield and working on GOTO, said: Detecting gravitational waves is like knowing that a truck has passed by feeling the roar of the road surface and trying to understand where the truck is coming from based on that. alone. “This telescope is essential for scientists around the world to better understand the universe. With access to the telescope, astronomers at Shefield University are accelerating breakthrough research in this important field of physics. And can be improved. “

Professor Danny Steeghs of the University of Warwick, GOTO`s Principle Investigator, said: “There are fleets of telescopes all over the world available to look towards the skies when gravitational waves are detected, in order to find out more about the source. But as the gravitational wave detectors are not able to pinpoint where the ripples come from, these telescopes do not know where to look.” “If the gravitational wave observatories are the ears, picking up the sounds of the events, and the telescopes are the eyes, ready to view the event in all the wavelengths, then GOTO is the bit in the middle, telling the eyes where to look .”

Following the successful testing of a prototype system in La Palma, in Spain`s Canary Islands, the project is deploying a much expanded, second generation instrument. Two telescope mount systems, each made up of eight individual 40cm telescopes, are now operational in La Palma. Combined, these 16 telescopes cover a very large field of view with 800 million pixels across their digital sensors, enabling the array to sweep the visible sky every few nights. GOTO has received £3.2 million of funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) to deploy the full-scale facility, which will operate autonomously, patrolling the sky continuously but also focusing on particular events or regions of sky in response to alerts of potential gravitational wave events. In parallel, the team is preparing a site at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia that includes the same dual-mount 16 telescope system as the La Palma installation.

Both sites will be commissioned later this year in preparation for the next observation run of the LIGO / Virgo gravitational wave detector in 2023. Professor Steeghs goes on to say: An array of wide-field optical telescopes in at least two locations. This allows you to patrol and search the optical sky on a regular and quick basis.

“This will allow GOTO to provide the links that are highly needed to provide the targets pointed to by larger telescopes.” Optical search for gravitational wave events is the next step in the development of gravitational wave astronomy. This was achieved before, but with the help of GOTO it should be much easier. If astronomers can find compelling counterparts to gravitational wave signals, they will be able to measure distances, characterize their sources, study their evolution, and determine the environment in which they are formed. Become.

Professor Steeghs said, “Catch the event quickly, track it when it disappears, warn others to activate a large telescope, everyone collects more information and very much. I hope to be able to get the details, he added. These astronomical phenomena. “It’s a really dynamic and exciting time now. In astronomy, I’m used to studying events that haven’t gone anywhere for millions of years. It’s a fast-paced, very different way of working, every time. Minutes are important. “

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  • A new gravitational wave telescope has been built together with scientists from Sheffield.
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