Construction of a telescope that will map the sky in a new way has begun on a mountain in Chile. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will revolutionize the study of transient objects in the Universe by repeatedly imaging half the sky every few days using the largest digital camera in the world, generating 15 terabytes of new data each day.
Many objects in the Universe are transient, i.e. they produce light for a limited amount of time. This may be because the event itself is short-lived, like the supernova explosion of a dying star, or because the object is nearby so that its position on the sky changes quickly, like an asteroid. The 10 year movie that LSST produces will show these objects appearing, disappearing, and moving in the southern hemisphere’s night sky.
These observations will also produce deep images of the sky leading to catalogues of astronomical objects which are thousands of times larger than are currently available. First light with LSST is expected in 2019.
The Stockholm University Physics and Astronomy departments have joined the LSST collaboration. These researchers will use the observatory to help them better understand supernovae, to map the structure of the Universe, and to try to detect the optical counterparts to gravitational wave sources.