China releases first image captured by new wide-field survey telescope

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-09-18 10:20
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This photo taken on Aug 16, 2023 shows a view of the Wide Field Survey Telescope (WFST) in Lenghu town, Northwest China's Qinghai province. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING -- A wide-field telescope capable of surveying the entire Northern Hemisphere sky was put into operation on Sunday in Northwest China's Qinghai province, and its first image -- the Andromeda Galaxy, located over 2 million light-years away -- has already been released.

Developed by the University of Science and Technology of China and the Purple Mountain Observatory under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Wide Field Survey Telescope (WFST) is now the largest time-domain survey facility in the Northern Hemisphere.

Due to the large span of the Andromeda Galaxy in the sky, it is difficult for existing astronomical telescopes to capture a precise, full view of the galaxy and its surroundings simultaneously.

WFST, which combines a large field of view and high-resolution imaging capabilities, has produced a multicolored image of the Andromeda Galaxy and its outlying regions. The telescope generated the image using 150 photos taken on multiple nights of observation.

The telescope, capable of surveying the whole northern sky once every three nights, is expected to help scientists monitor dynamic astronomical events and carry out time-domain astronomical observation research. It is also expected to improve China's near-Earth object monitoring and early warning capabilities.

The telescope measures 2.5 meters in diameter and is located in Lenghu town, which has an average altitude of about 4,200 meters. The town is known as China's "Mars Camp" due to its eroded desert landscape, which resembles the surface of the red planet.

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