Asia’s largest 4-metre liquid mirror telescope inaugurated in Uttarakhand

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Asia’s largest 4-metre liquid mirror telescope inaugurated in Uttarakhand

Recently, the Ministry of Science and Technology inaugurated Asia’s largest 4-metre International Liquid Mirror Telescope (ILMT) at Devasthal in Uttarakhand.

Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences – ARIES announced that the world-class 4-metre International Liquid Mirror Telescope (ILMT) is now ready to explore the distant and deep celestial space.

It received its first light in the second week of May 2022.

International Liquid Mirror Telescope: ILMT

  • This telescope is located at an altitude of 2450 meters in the observatory complex at ARIES Devasthal in Nainital district.
  • The telescope was designed and built by Advanced Mechanical and Optical Systems (AMOS) Corporation and the Center Spatial de Liège in Belgium.

Difference between a traditional telescope and a liquid mirror telescope-

  • Conventional telescope observation is conducted by focusing on a target astronomical source in the sky.
  • Liquid mirror telescopes, on the other hand, are stationary telescopes that image a strip of sky that is zenith at a given time in the night.
  • In other words, a liquid mirror telescope will survey and capture images of any and all possible celestial objects, from stars, galaxies, supernova explosions, asteroids to space debris.
  • Traditional telescopes consist of highly polished glass mirrors that operate in a controlled manner to focus on a target celestial object on specific nights.
  • The light is then reflected and an image is formed. In contrast, as the name implies, liquid mirror telescopes are made of mirrors containing a reflective liquid such as mercury that has a high light-reflecting capability.
  • A container containing about 50 liters (equivalent to 700 kgs) of mercury will be rotated at a certain constant speed along the vertical axis of the ILMT.
  • During this process, the mercury will spread as a thin layer in the container, forming a paraboloid-shaped reflective surface that will now act as a mirror. Such a surface is ideal for collecting and concentrating light.
  • Another difference between the two is regarding the operational time. Where as conventional telescopes observe the targeted celestial object sources for a fixed number of hours as per the requirement of the study. The ILMT will capture images of the sky on all nights.

Source – PIB

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