Physicists from Rijeka to Explore Space Dust

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Croatian astrophysicists join in major global research project. 

A research group from the Department of Physics of the University of Rijeka launched the process of joining the international collaboration LSST (Large Synoptic Sky Survey), the largest astrophysics collaboration of its kind which plans to record the sky on average every third day for the next 10 years and create something like a “film” of the universe. It is the most important American astronomical project for the next 10 years in the field of large telescopes located on the Earth’s surface which is funded by the US Congress, reports Novi List on October 20, 2015.

In addition to scientists from Rijeka Tomislav Jurkić and Dubravka Kotnik Karuza, the project will involve scientists from the University of Zagreb and the University of Split, Ruđer Bošković Institute and the Institute for the Synergy of Science and Society from Čakovec.

“The LSST collaboration has about 500 research groups. It is the largest project of its kind ever undertaken in astronomy and astrophysics. LSST is not ‘just another telescope’, but a truly unique device that will provide a completely new way of looking at space. Thanks to its innovative design, LSST will record the entire sky every three days over a period of 10 years, allowing almost cinematic observation of the sky and astronomical phenomena during one decade. In its first month of operation, the telescope will see more of the universe and more astronomical objects than all telescopes together in all of human history. Top quality recordings will enable the mapping of the universe in three dimensions. Design process and construction of the primary telescope have lasted for 7 years. The telescope will be operational in 2020, while the 10-year synoptic observation will commence in 2022. The cost of the design and construction of the telescope is about 850 million dollars, while the annual cost of the operations is around 37 million dollars”, explained Jurkić.

The task of scientists from Rijeka in the first phase is to develop computer software to process large amounts of data. There will be about ten million pieces of information that will be sent to the University of Rijeka. Croatian scientists will explore space dust which exists in the universe.

Previous studies of the universe boiled down to the construction of better and larger telescopes that allowed us to see farther and deeper into the universe, observing the various phenomena. But, such observations have usually allowed an insight into just the current state of astronomical objects, without allowing us to follow changes. In order to truly understand the universe, it is necessary to observe its development over time.

“LSST will do precisely that – during the 10-year observation of the entire sky, it will provide insight into the changes in space, astronomical objects and various phenomena. LSST will automatically scan the sky, giving us more than 800 panoramic shots every night, which means that the telescope will record the entire sky twice a week. Astronomers will have access to the richest and most diverse database which will enable them to discover new information”, Jurkić explained.


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