Astronomers announced today that the Zwicky Transient Facility at the Palomar Observatory in California has seen first light, and will begin full operations in 2018.
When fully operational in 2018, the ZTF will scan almost the entire northern sky every night. Based at the Palomar Observatory in southern California and operated by Caltech, the ZTF’s goal is to use these nightly images to identify “transient” objects that vary between observations — identifying events ranging from supernovae millions of light years away to near-Earth asteroids.
an image of stars and the night sky
In 2016, the UW Department of Astronomy formally joined the ZTF team and will help develop new methods to identify the most “interesting” of the millions of changes in the sky — including new objects — that the ZTF will detect each night and alert scientists. That way, these high-priority transient objects can be followed up in detail by larger telescopes, including the UW’s share of the Apache Point Observatory 3.5-meter telescope.
By producing new high resolution images of the entire northern sky every night, this telescope instrument is going to discover gobs of new transients, from supernovae to binaries to novae to things we haven’t even seen before.