A large array of telescopes in Antarctica with all-sky imaging every 5 seconds

Donald G. York*, Lifan Wang, Carl Pennypacker, Xiangqun Cui, Enrico Cappellaro, Morley Blouke, Don Lamb, John Storey, Roger Malina, Michael C B Ashley, Stephane Basa, Xu Zhou, Jingyao Hu, Xiangyan Yuan, Doyal Harper, Dale Sandford, Jon Lawrence, Julie Thorburn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


We describe a large-angle survey for fast, optical transients: gamma ray bursts (GRBs), supemovae (SNe), lensed and transiting planets, AGNs and serendipitously found objects. The principal science goals are to obtain light curves for all transients and to obtain redshifts of GRBs and orphan afterglows. The array is called Xian. In conjunction with the gamma-ray satellites, ECLAIRs/SVOM and GLAST, the data will be used to study sources from z=0.1 to>6. The telescope array has 400 Schmidt telescopes, each with ∼20 sq. degree focal planes and apertures of ∼0.5 meters. The passively cooled, multiple CCD arrays have a total of 16000×16000 pixels, up to 13 readout channels per IK × 4K CCD and work in TDI mode. The system provides continuous coverage of the circumpolar sky, from the Antarctic plateau, every few seconds. Images averaged over longer time intervals allow searches for the host galaxies of the detected transients, as well as for fainter, longer timescale transients. Complete, data at high time resolution are only stored for selected objects. The telescopes are fixed and use a single filter: there are few (or no) moving parts. Expected detection rates are 0.3 GRBs afterglows per day, >100 orphan afterglows per day and >0.1 blue flashes per day from Type II or Type Ib/c supemovae. On-site computers compare successive images and trigger follow-up observations of selected objects with a co-sited, well-instrumented telescope (optical, IR; spectroscopy, photometry, polarimetry), for rapid follow-up of transients. Precursor arrays with 20-100 square degrees are planned for the purpose of developing trigger software, testing observing strategies and deriving good cost estimates for a full set of telescope units.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGround-based and Airborne Telescopes
Place of PublicationWashington, DC
Number of pages16
Volume6267 I
ISBN (Print)0819463329, 9780819463326
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes
EventGround-based and Airborne Telescopes - Orlando, FL, United States
Duration: 24 May 200631 May 2006


OtherGround-based and Airborne Telescopes
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityOrlando, FL


  • Antarctica
  • Astronomical transients
  • Gamma-ray bursts
  • Supemovae
  • Telescopes
  • Time domain astronomy


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