The Gravitational-wave Optical Transient Observer (GOTO) – an autonomous, state-of-the art intelligent telescope capable of detecting optical signatures of gravitational waves has been officially launched.
The telescope is located at Warwick’s astronomical observing facility in the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias on La Palma, Canary Islands. The telescope will be searching for unusual activity in the sky, following alerts from gravitational wave detectors – such as the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (aLIGO).
GOTO’s aim is to locate optical signatures associated with the gravitational waves as quickly as possible, so that astronomers can study these sources with a variety of telescopes and satellites before they fade away. GOTO is a significant project for the Monash-Warwick Alliance, through which the construction of the telescope was partially funded. The Alliance combines the exceptional research and teaching capabilities of two world-class universities to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
GOTO is operated on behalf of a consortium of institutions including the University of Warwick, Monash University, the Armagh Observatory, Leicester and Sheffield Universities, and the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT).
GOTO is the latest addition to the University of Warwick’s astronomical facility at La Palma, which includes the SuperWASP Exoplanet discovery camera – the most successful ground based exoplanet discovery project in existence.
Professor Pam Thomas, the University of Warwick’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) was in attendance at the inauguration ceremony.
La Palma is one of the world’s premier astronomical observing sites, owing to the fact that it is the steepest island in the world and has very little pollution – giving researchers clear views of the sky.