Sun. Dec 6th, 2020

Space news: Infrared telescope ‘x10 more powerful than competitors’ readies for launch

3 min read

The Dynamic Red All-Sky Monitoring Survey (DREAMS) is scheduled for completion in only a few months. And upon launch, space scientists will be able to witness the source of gravitational waves and the collision of neutron stars and black holes in “real time” — offering experts an even more nuanced understanding of the Universe.

Lead researcher Professor Anna Moore, Director of the ANU Institute for Space, revealed a transient survey of the southern sky in the infrared will break new ground by discovering more of the Universe’s hidden treasures.

DREAMS will allow us to ‘see’ the universe in an entirely new way

Professor Anna Moore

She said: “DREAMS will allow us to ‘see’ the universe in an entirely new way.

“Infrared telescopes can study dusty and distant regions of space that are impenetrable to optical telescopes, unveiling new stars, nebulae, mergers, galaxies, supernovae, quasars and other sources of radiation new to science.

“By monitoring the sky continuously and rapidly, we will be able to search for varying and explosive phenomena.

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“This ‘real-time’ astronomy, which allows us to study events taking place over months, weeks or days instead of millions of years, is a window into the great unknown.

“DREAMS will give us a fresh take on many aspects of the universe.”

DREAMS consists of a fully automated 0.5m telescope and infrared camera.

In each snapshot, DREAMS “sees” 3.75 square degrees – approximately 20 times the Moon’s size.

The telescope will subsequently be able to map the entire southern sky in three clear nights.

The optical tech is estimated to be 10 times more powerful than its nearest competitors.

Data captured by DREAMS will help detect supernovae, star mergers, and other extraordinary events.

lead research partner Assistant Mansi Kasliwal, from the California Institute of Technology, said: “DREAMS will enable multi-messenger astronomy—the discovery of new events by observing the sky using different wavelengths of light,” .

“By doing so it aspires to pinpoint elusive gravitational wave events.

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“Neutron star black hole mergers are especially exciting as they create heavy elements that shine in the infrared.”

According to Dr Tony Travoillan, a co-investigator and lead technical manager on the project, DREAMS is innovative and economical.

He said: “Surveying the sky in the infrared has always been limited by the cost of the cameras and not the telescope.

“The development of infrared cameras using Indium Gallium Arsenide technology, with the help of our collaborators at MIT, has given astronomers an economical alternative that we are the first to implement on a wide field survey.

“We are using six of these cameras on our telescope.

“It gives us a scalable design that minimises instrument complexity and cost.”

The telescope will be completed in early 2021, with operations beginning soon after.

Co-investigator Professor Orsola DeMarco, from Macquarie University, will use simulations to explain coalescing, or merging, stars captured by DREAM.

She added: “I hope the telescope will see merging stars so dusty that they shine brightly in the infrared.”

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