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Gravitational wave Optical Transient Observatory

The Gravitational-wave Optical Transient Observer facility (aka GOTO) is a wide-field robotiGOTO node consisting of 8 telescopes on a single mountc telescope that will be able to rapidly search large areas of the sky for transient optical sources. Its design is optimized to respond to gravitational wave events detected with the advanced LIGO and VIRGO arrays.

GOTO will build on our heritage of developing small but highly capable purpose built observatories such as WASP and NGTS. Its basic design will consist of an array of small telescopes with a large instantaneous field of view. It will be capable of rapid response in order to cover irregular shaped error boxes on a short timescale.

We are about to deploy the first phase of GOTO, funded via a Major Initiative of the Monash-Warwick Alliance as well as contributions from Armagh Observatory, Sheffield and Leicester. Our first phase consists of 4x40cm telescopes, adding up to a field of view of 18 square degrees, located at La Palma Observatory. The exact specifications of GOTO will only be finalised after prototype testing, but the goal is to be able to survey at a depth of at least 21 mag, using arrays of 8x40cm unit telescopes. The design is easily scalable and we intend to expand the prototype into a larger array with a large instantaneous field of view. This will allow to quickly search the large error-boxes that are expected in the initial years of A-LIGO/VIRGO and patrol the visible sky regularly. A second node in the Southern hemisphere is also planned. The project has signed an MOU with the Ligo-Virgo collaboration as part of the GW-EM follow-up program. In addition to the GW-EM effort, the project will offer a broad range of time-domain science opportunities.

For more information, please visit the GOTO website or contact the GOTO Initiative leads Danny Steeghs (d.t.h.steeghs@warwick.ac.uk) and Duncan Galloway (duncan.galloway@monash.edu).