GROWTH-India telescope’s first science observation

The 0.7 m GROWTH-India telescope at the Indian Astronomical Observatory located in Hanle, Ladakh, has made its first science observation which is a follow-up study of a nova explosion. Novae are explosive events involving violent eruptions on the surface of white dwarf stars, leading to a temporary increase in brightness of the star. Unlike a supernova, the star does not go on to die but returns to its earlier state after the explosion. A report on this published in The Astronomer’s Telegram notes the magnitude of the nova explosion first identified by Darnley et al as it varies, from November 8 to November 10.

The GROWTH-India telescope is part of a multi-country collaborative initiative – known as the Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen (GROWTH) – to observe transient events in the universe.

The fully robotic telescope is designed to capture cosmic events occurring over relatively shorter periods of the cosmological timescale: years, days and even hours.

Universities and research institutes from the US, the UK, Japan, India, Germany, Taiwan, and Israel are part of the initiative.

Their primary research objective is time-domain astronomy, which entails the study of explosive transients and variable sources (of light and other radiation) in the universe.

Its goals are threefold:

  • Search for explosions in the optical regime whenever LIGO group detects a Binary Neutron Star merger
  • Study nearby young supernova explosions
  • Study nearby asteroids.

Novae are explosive events involving violent eruptions on the surface of white dwarf stars, leading to a temporary increase in brightness of the star. Unlike a supernova, the star does not go on to die but returns to its earlier state after the explosion.

The recurrent nova, named M31N-2008, has been observed to erupt several times, the most recent eruption happening in November 2018.

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