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The Argus Array: the Deep Sky Every Minute

Presentation #235.02 in the session “Galaxies”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
The Argus Array: the Deep Sky Every Minute

The Argus Array will be the first large optical telescope to explore the entire deep sky simultaneously. Consisting of 650 moderate-aperture telescopes multiplexed into a common hemispherical dome, the Array will have a collecting area equivalent to a 5m-class telescope. The Argus Array achieves deep imaging by observing almost every part of the sky at minute-cadence for 6-8 hours every night, and thus builds up total exposure times hundreds of times longer than a conventional telescope. Each two-minute 40 GPix Argus Array exposure covers at least 8,000 square degrees with a sampling of 2"/pixel and a 5-sigma dark-sky limiting magnitude of g=19.5; coadding will reach g=21.4 each hour and g=23.0 every five nights. Over five years, the Array will build a two-color, million-epoch movie of the Northern sky, giving the astronomical community the unprecedented ability to follow the evolution of every g < 23 time-variable source across the sky simultaneously. The system will be able to follow-up triggers from LIGO and other all-sky observatories effectively instantaneously, monitor 300 million stars for planet-induced microlensing events, occultations, flares and other variability, search hundreds of thousands of white dwarfs for transiting planets and debris, detect supernovae early enough to probe the explosion’s interactions with their progenitor environments, and will measure rotation rates, shapes and outburst rates for newly-discovered interstellar asteroids and comets as they cross the solar system. The Argus Array prototype system is funded by the NSF MSIP program and currently under construction; the full array could be on-sky by 2025. We will present the system design and put out a call for further involvement of the broad astronomical community.

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