One Day Workshop on National Large Optical-NIR Telescope

The Background:
Over the last few decades, the astronomical community around the world has seen emergence of about a dozen large optical-NIR telescopes of the 8-10m class. Most of these facilities have been setup by multi-institutional if not multi-national groups in the western countries. Over last few years, Chinese astronomers have also made substantial progress in setting up a 12m size telescope. In contrast, the largest size telescope at present in India is the 3.6m Devesthal Optical Telescope. There is a large pool of over 200 Indian astronomers and a growing number of graduate students relying on use of 2m class telescopes available in the country. However, the world has now moved on to build larger telescopes of the 30m class.

India too has joined one of these i.e. the 30m Telescope (TMT) project. Participation in the 30m class telescope project represents a very important and timely step by the country’s leadership. However, there is a quantum jump in terms of the level of scientific results to be expected from the 30m telescopes. In order to train the next generation of astronomers (who would be the prime users of the newer generation telescopes), Indian astronomers very badly need guaranteed access to intermediate telescopes of the 10-12m class.

It is important to realize that the role played by 10m class telescopes in the era of the 20-30m telescopes will be similar to that played by the current 2- 4m class telescopes for the current state-of-the-art 10m class telescopes. Whereas the 20-30m telescopes will work on very specific frontline problems, the 8-12m class telescopes (which can be termed medium-size), with appropriate state of the art instrumentation, will act as the main workhorses for a majority of astronomical problems. India will not be able to make effective use of the TMT without a 10-12m class telescope of its own. Further, it should also be realised that the time available in any such partnership would be limited and would not satisfy the needs of the entire (and growing) Indian community.

The purpose of organizing a one-day workshop during ASI-2019: Development of a 10-12m size telescope equipped with the best science instruments is not a trivial task and certainly cannot be completed by a single institution. Realization of such an observatory not only requires a large financial investment, but also technology, large number of skilled engineers & technicians, managers as well as a group of astronomers well acquainted with science as well as technology. Hence, establishment of a large observatory is usually an endeavour carried out by several groups belonging to different institutions. So far the activities related to an Indian 10m telescope has been confined to IIA and now the time is right to expand the group beyond IIA and include participation from other Indian institutions. The annual meetings of the ASI have proved to be a very good meeting ground for members from all sectors of Indian astronomy. It is hoped that this one day workshop would help bring in expertise from groups and individuals that could be leveraged very profitably in the implementation of a 10- 12m class observatory in India.

With this motivation, we would be hosting a one day workshop as a part of 2019 ASI annual meeting to be held at CHRIST University Bangalore. Objectives of the workshop are :

  1. Create consensus for a 10-12m class optical telescope among Indian astronomers.
  2. Initiate discussion on science requirements for a 10-12m size telescope.
  3. Discussion on viable telescope technology (already available and/or to be developed) for constructing a 10-12m size optical-NIR telescope.
  4. Discussion on effective use of technology/infrastructure being created in India for the TMT project.
  5. Formation of nationwide working groups comprising of astronomers and engineers who can start working toward realizing the 10-12m size telescope, observatory and related backend instruments.

The Expected Outcome:Some of the expected outcomes from this one day workshop are outlined below:

  1. Identification of individuals and groups at various institutions and universities across India interested in different aspects of building a 10-12m class observatory.
  2. Development of a detailed white paper defining the science goals of interest to Indian astronomers with such an observatory (with particular emphasis on how this would lead up to profitable results with future 30m class telescopes).
  3. Initiating a roadmap for the design and construction of the observatory with plans for its optimum usage by astronomers in the country.

Name and affiliation of the Proposers:

  1. G.C. Anupama, IIA
  2. Sreekumar P, ISRO
  3. R Srianand, IUCAA
  4. A. N. Ramaprakash, IUCAA
  5. Devendra Ojha, TIFR
  6. Shashikiran Ganesh, PRL
  7. Brijesh Kumar, ARIES
  8. Soumen Mondal, S.N.Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences
  9. Sarita Vig, IIST
  10. Eswar Reddy, IIA
  11. Biman Jyoti Medhi, Gauhati University
  12. M.K. Patil, SRTM University
  13. H.P. Singh, Delhi University
  14. Asoke Sen, Assam University, Silchar
  15. Mudit Srivastava, PRL
  16. Sudhanshu Barway, IIA
  17. Padmakar Parihar, IIA

For List of Participants click here

One day workshop on
National Large Optical-NIR Telescope
(18th February 2019, ASI-2019)

8:45-9:00AM:    Registration

Time Speaker Title
    Chairperson: S K Pandey
09:10-09:40 T P Prabhu Indian Large Optical Telescope: Digging through history
09:40:10:00 R Srianand Possible Science with 10-12m class telescopes in 2030
10:00-10:20 Brijesh Kumar
10:20-10:40 Annapurni S
10:40-11:00 M K Patil
11:00-11:30   Tea Break
    Chairperson: Jayant Murthy
11:30-12:00 AN Ramaprakash Leveraging TMT partnership to build a large Indian optical telescope
12:00:12:30 Padmakar Parihar Some Technological Efforts toward NLOT
12:30-13:00 M Gopinath Sites for the NLOT
13:00-14:00   Lunch break
    Chairperson: Somak Raychaudhary
14:00:14:30 D K Ojha Possible NIR-MIR Science Instruments
14:30:15:00 S Ganesh Possible Optical Science Instruments
15:00-15:30 B K Yerra (NAOC) Indo-China Cooperation to Build Large Segmented Mirror Telescopes
15:30-16:00   Tea Break
16:00-18:00   Open discussion
Moderators: A N Ramaprakash and G C Anupama