Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

World’s largest astronomical CCD camera installed on Palomar Observatory telescope

30.07.2003


Oschin Telescope Dome


Oschin Telescope


The world’s largest astronomical camera has been installed on Palomar Observatory’s 48-inch Oschin Telescope in California. This telescope has been working to improve our understanding of the universe for nearly 55 years. The new upgrade will help it to push the limits of the unknown for years to come.

The new camera is known as QUEST (Quasar Equatorial Survey Team). Designed and built by astrophysicists at Indiana and Yale universities, QUEST recently "saw" its first starlight and is now scanning the sky.

In 2001, an electronic camera known as the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracker was installed in the Oschin Telescope. The camera, which employed a charge-coupled device (CCD) to detect light, was very successful. During its tenure on Palomar, the NEAT team discovered 189 near-Earth asteroids and 20 comets.



A charge-coupled device is a light-sensitive integrated circuit that stores and displays the data for an image in such a way that each pixel in the image is converted into an electrical charge whose intensity is related to a color in the visual spectrum. The QUEST camera has an array of 112 CCDs.

The Oschin Telescope had to undergo some major changes to accommodate the QUEST camera. Under the oversight of Richard Ellis, director of Palomar Observatory, this process was guided by Robert Thicksten and Hal Petrie of the California Institute of Technology. The delicate installation of the camera and its electronics inside the telescope was handled by Mark Gebhard (Indiana University), William Emmet (Yale University) and David Rabinowitz (Yale University). The camera’s readout electronics were constructed in the Physics and Astronomy departments at Indiana University by Gebhard and Brice Adams, under the direction of James Musser, Kent Honeycutt and Stuart Mufson. The hardware for the QUEST camera was constructed by the Yale University Physics Department under the direction of Charles Baltay.

In addition to the usual point-and-shoot mode, the new camera is designed to work in the drift scan mode. The telescope is pointed at the sky but does not move to counteract the rotation of the Earth. Instead, various objects in the sky gradually drift across the field of view at the same rate as the computer records data from the CCDs, producing photographs that are long strips of the sky. Astronomers will use these photographic slices of the sky to look for quasars, supernovae, asteroids and more.

Last year, Caltech astronomers Chad Trujillo and Mike Brown used the NEAT camera on the Oschin Telescope to find the distant world known as Quaoar. Quaoar is about half the size of Pluto, making it the biggest object to be found in our solar system since Pluto was discovered in 1930. Quaoar is the largest known member of the Kuiper Belt, a swarm of thousands of icy objects that orbit beyond Neptune. Brown is convinced there are more big Kuiper Belt objects, possibly as big as the planet Mars, and he will use QUEST to look for them.

Other scientists plan to use the camera to find objects that might be quasars. Quasars are the very bright cores of distant galaxies that are thought to contain supermassive black holes. They are among the most luminous objects in the universe. Any quasar candidates that are found with the Oschin Telescope will be looked at again with Palomar’s 200-inch Hale Telescope. Those objects that the Hale Telescope confirms to be quasars will be the targets of more detailed study with one of the 10-meter Keck Telescopes in Hawaii.

A similar approach will be used as distant galaxies are probed in a search for exploding stars known as supernovae. The QUEST camera will do the survey work, suspected supernovae will be looked at with the Hale Telescope, and supernovae of the right type will be scrutinized at one of the Keck Telescopes. Astronomers will use data from these exploding stars to try to confirm that the universe is accelerating as it expands.

Palomar Observatory, owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology and located in north San Diego County, Calif., supports the research of Caltech faculty and students, and that of researchers at Caltech’s collaborating institutions: Indiana University, Cornell University, Yale University and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Contact: James Musser, at +1-812-855-9933, musser@bigbang.astro.indiana.edu
or Kent Honeycutt at +1-812-855-6916, honey@astro.indiana.edu

James Musser | Indiana University
Further information:
http://www.indiana.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?
23.06.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>