Article by: Tom Watts
In collaboration with universities in England and Australia, Armagh Observatory is part of a team operating and commissioning the new Gravitational wave Optical Transient Observatory (GOTO) at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma.
The observatory site as seen from the on site residence.
GOTO, once operational, will try to photograph the optical counterpart of gravitational wave events like the one detected last year, GW170817. It will do this by quickly photographing a large area of the sky in the region where a detected gravitational wave is thought to have come from. A large area of sky needs to be photographed as it is difficult to pinpoint where in the sky a gravitational wave has come from just from the detectors like LIGO and VIRGO. To accomplish this, GOTO will use two separate arrays of 40cm telescopes (relatively small by research standards) to cover 5 square degrees of sky per telescope. Each array is capable of holding 8 telescopes each to eventually cover 80 square degrees.
GOTO open while we checked it over.
As part of Armagh’s contribution, at the start of February I went out to La Palma to “babysit” ...