ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] 20 years of Himalayan Chandra Telescope (HCT)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Chandra Telescope, Chandra X Ray Observatory

Mains level : Not Much

In the cold, dry desert of Ladakh, 4500 meters above the mean sea level, for two decades, the 2-m diameter optical-infrared Himalayan Chandra Telescope (HCT) at the Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO) has been scanning the night sky for 20 years in search of stellar explosions, comets, asteroids, and exo-planets.

Chandra X-Ray observatory and now, it is Himalayan Chandra Telescope. Do you the key difference? The former is a NASA project while the HCT is the Indian one.

Himalayan Chandra Telescope

  • The HCT is a 2.01 meters (6.5 feet) diameter optical-infrared telescope named after India-born Nobel laureate Subrahmanyam Chandrasekhar.
  • It contains a modified Ritchey-Chretien system with a primary mirror made of ULE ceramic which is designed to withstand low temperatures it experiences.
  • The telescope was manufactured by Electo-Optical System Technologies Inc. at Tucson, Arizona, USA.
  • It is mounted with 3 science instruments called Himalaya Faint Object Spectrograph (HFOSC), the near-IR imager and the optical CCD imager.
  • It is remotely operated from Hosakote, about 35 km northeast of Bangalore via an INSAT-3B satellite link which allows operation even in sub-zero temperatures in winter.

Significant feats

  • The telescope has been used in many coordinated international campaigns to monitor stellar explosions, comets, and exo-planets, and has contributed significantly to these studies.
  • Some of the thrust research areas are the study of solar system bodies like; comets, asteroids, the study of star formation processes and young stellar objects, the study of open and globular clusters and variable stars in them.
  • It has helped in analysis of elements in the atmosphere of evolved stars, star formation in external galaxies, Active Galactic Nuclei, stellar explosions like novae, supernovae, gamma-ray bursts and so on.
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