Asia’s largest Liquid Mirror Telescope (LMT) now sits atop a mountain in the Himalayan range.

This new eye has been commissioned in the Devasthal Observatory campus of the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES). Located at an altitude of 2450 metres, what makes this project unique is the clever engineering devised to observe the night sky.

What is a liquid mirror anyway? The ILMT uses a pool of mercury, a reflective liquid bent into a parabolic shape to focus light incident on it. Mylar, a polyester film widely used in astronomical instruments, protects the reflective surface from the strong mountain winds.

The reflected light is then made to pass through a multi-lens apparatus to produce crisp images spanning a wide field of view. While the ILST will be observing the same overhead strip of sky, the movement of faraway objects will be compensated by a large-format electronic camera located at the focus of the telescope. This style of astronomical observation is especially beneficial when looking for particularly faint objects.

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This unique instrument boasting a diameter of 4 metres has been made possible with extensive international collaboration amongst minds from India, Belgium, Poland, Uzbekistan and Canada.

The ILMT accompanies its pre-existing 3.6-metre sibling – the Devasthal Optical Telescope (DOT) at the same Observatory. Both currently hold the position of being the largest aperture telescopes in the country.

It is estimated that the ILMT will generate approximately 10 GB of data every night. Scientists at ARIES are excited about making this data available to young minds across various scientific and engineering domains to dig into this astronomical treasure trove where AI/ML and Big Data algorithms will come in handy for classifying what the ILMT sees.

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature Image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources: PIB, The Indian Express, India Today

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This post is tagged under: Telescope, telescopes, Asia, Uttarakhand, astronomy, science and technology, science, Technology, india

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