SOXS to track exploding stars

16 October 2018

A new instrument is set to transform how astronomers look at exploding stars, dangerous asteroids and the sources of gravitational waves.

Called SOXS, the instrument will be installed on the New Technology Telescope at the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla site in Chile. SOXS is being built by an international collaboration and the essential software that will enable astronomers around the world to point the telescope at dramatic astronomical events is being designed and built by Queen’s University Belfast. The project is funded by STFC.

Professor Stephen Smartt from Queen’s University Belfast is the UK lead on the project, and he said: “What sets this piece of equipment apart is that it is very sensitive to a very wide range of light - from the ultraviolet to the near infrared. Usually instruments can only react to one type of light, but our instrument does it all. In addition we are changing the way the New Technology Telescope operates so we can respond in minutes to the most exciting new discoveries from space telescopes and gravitational wave sources.”

SOXS will also be able to process data from other telescopes to find transient objects such as asteroids, and then coordinate how these objects or events are tracked and studied by space and ground-based telescopes.

This project is part of the UK’s contribution to the most ambitious sky survey ever undertaken; the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will start surveying the entire southern sky in 2022.

Read more about this on the Queen’s University Belfast website.

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