Secrets of the Universe are to be revealed by a new telescope equipped with the world's most powerful digital camera.The Pan-STARRS sky survey telescope - known as PS1 - will enable scientists to better understand the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, the material that is thought to account for much of the mass of the universe but has never been proven to exist.Astronomers from the Universities of Durham, Edinburgh and Queen's University Belfast together with researchers from around the world are using the telescope to scan the skies from dusk to dawn each night.PS1's 1400 megapixel camera is the world's largest - with about 150 times as many pixels as the average camera. It is able to gather detailed images of almost three-quarters of the night sky from its base in Hawaii. The project will enable scientists to assess wide areas of sky at a level of detail that was previously impossible.
Astronomers announced today that the first Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System) telescope, PS1, is fully operational. This innovative facility will be at the front line of Earth defence by searching for "killer" asteroids and comets. It will map large portions of the sky nightly, making it an efficient sleuth for not just asteroids but also supernovae and other variable objects.
PS1, the prototype for the four-telescope Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) that the IfA plans to build on Mauna Kea, is again up and running on Haleakala. After several months of downtime to correct flaws in the flexures that support the secondary mirror, the telescope that uses the world's largest digital camera is now taking up to 700 images per night. Since PS1 has returned to observing, more than 900 stationary transient detections have been recorded, including several hundred supernovae, and follow-up campaigns at other observatories are now underway.