China has a new wide-angle telescope in operation.
The Wide Field Survey Telescope (WFST), which measures 2.5 meters in diameter and is located in the mountains of northwest China’s Qinghai province, was commissioned on Sunday (September 17). And in its debut image, the device provided a stunning high-resolution wide-angle portrait of our neighboring galaxy, Andromeda.
WFST was jointly developed by the University of Science and Technology of China and the Purple Mountain Observatory (PMO) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
The telescope is now the largest time-domain survey facility in the Northern Hemisphere, according to CAS. It contains 9k x 9k mosaic CCD (charge-coupled device) detectors, which means it has a resolution of 9,000 pixels in both the horizontal and vertical axes, allowing it to capture extremely detailed astronomical images.
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WFST will monitor specific areas of the sky for a period of time time with the aim of identifying transitory astronomical events such as supernovaetidal disturbances a multi-messenger Events. It is also nicknamed Mozi or Micius after an ancient Chinese philosopher who was involved in early optical experiments.
WFST marks a big step forward for the Chinese astronomy. It will greatly improve the proximity of ChinaEarth object monitoring and early warning capabilities, said Kong Xu, the project’s lead designer at the University of Science and Technology of China, CCTV+ reported.
“Its lens barrel is relatively long, which reduces stray light,” said Zheng Xianzhong, a researcher at the PMO. “Its primary camera has a smaller light-blocking area, resulting in higher sensitivity compared to telescopes with the same aperture.”
Zheng added that the telescope marked a breakthrough in domestic innovation and was comparable to the most advanced international observation equipment.
Construction of the WFST began in July 2019 near the city of Lenghu on a plateau with an average elevation of 13,120 feet (4,000 meters) above sea level. The location offers clear night skies, stable atmospheric conditions, a dry climate and low artificial light pollution, according to CCTV+.