ROTSE-III telescope commissioned

The ROTSE-III telescope at Siding Spring Observatory

In December 2002 a ROTSE-III telescope was delivered to Siding Spring Observatory and placed in a special enclosure next to UNSW’s Automated Patrol Telescope. ROTSE-III is a third generation Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment, and it is purpose-built to track down the elusive optical emissions from gamma ray bursts. The key feature of the telescope is that can move to any point in the sky and take an image within six seconds of receiving an Internet alert message. This high-speed response is crucial to observe the early evolution of the optical emission, which fades rapidly in the first few minutes after the event.Gamma ray bursts are caused by two mechanisms: the collision of two neutron stars, and the explosion of a hypernova, a star 50-100 times the mass of our Sun. Of the 4700 gamma ray bursts that have been detected by earth orbiting satellites, only 40 have been seen withground-based telescopes, and all of these are believed to have resulted from hypernovae. ROTSE-III should be able to detect the shorter-lived optical emission from colliding neutron stars.ROTSE-III is a collaboration between UNSW, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the University of Michigan.

Michael Ashley and Andre Phillips




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