Kentucky Universities join the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Corporation

Eight Kentucky universities joined the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) Corporation on 1 Aug 2016. The LSST is the number one National Science Foundation (NSF) ground-based telescope project for this decade, representing a major investment into basic astronomical research. The telescope construction is well under way on a mountaintop in northern Chile, and it should start to take data around 2021. The LSST will survey the southern sky every three nights for ten years, using six different color filters to determine the brightness, temperature, type and distance of millions of stars and galaxies. It is the biggest telescope dedicated to the "time domain" of astronomy, to discover stars which flare up, stars which explode, planets which pass in front of their host stars, moving objects in our solar system like asteroids and comets etc. The camera alone is an engineering marvel, containing three billion pixels and covering the area of about 36 full moons. (For comparison, the Hubble Space Telescope's field of view covers the area of Pres. Roosevelt's eye on a dime held at arm's length.) When all of the LSST images are put together, it will reach sensitivity comparable to deep Hubble Space Telescope images.

Over 25 leading universities and research laboratories in the US and around the world have banded together to raise money for data analysis and develop a number of science collaborations to get the best scientific return from this landmark instrument. These include Caltech, Chicago, Columbia, Fermilab, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Princeton and Purdue, among others. The most recent addition is the Kentucky Association for Research with LSST (KARL), which consists of the Universities of Louisville and Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, Northern Kentucky, Morehead State, Murray State, Bellarmine University and Berea College. Kentucky's participation has been made possible due to generous funding by the Kentucky state EPSCoR Board (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitiveness in Research, grant No: NNX13AB12A) and the participating universities. It is the first coalition of universities to join LSST Corp., and may show a path for a large number of other universities to join in on top-class astronomy research for the 2020s and beyond.

 

Note: Image source - LSST