SPOD • 23 Dec 2014
First Light with MASTER-SAAO

MASTER-SAAO image of the Eta Carina region

A 4 square degrees field of MASTER-SAAO of the Eta Carina region. Eta Carina is located at a distance of 7.5 million light-years, there is one of the most massive stars in our galaxy, with a mass 120 times greater than the solar mass, namely Eta Car. This star loses one per cent of Solar mass per year, meaning that it has only several hundred years left to survive. In addition, it is constantly varying. For example, in April 1843, it was almost equal in brightness to Sirius and then dimmed below naked eye visibility.

On 2014 December 21, first light was obtained and a primary sky survey was started on a wide field telescope-robot MASTER-SAAO, located on the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), Sutherland. Thus, the first robotic astronomical complex MASTER II was installed in the Southern Hemisphere. MASTER-SAAO telescope is part of a large project Global MASTER Robotic Net aimed at space monitoring and developed by Lomonosov Moscow State University with the participation of Blagoveshchensk State University (Russia), Irkutsk State University (Russia), Ural State University (Russia), Kislovodsk Mountain Astronomical Station of the Pulkovo Observatory (Russia), National University of San Juan (Argentina) and now the South African Astronomical Observatory (South Africa). The main goal of the project is to carry out the fastest sky survey in the world, down to 20-21 magnitude, in order to discover optical transients of any astrophysical nature. Among them are gamma-ray bursts (formation of fast-rotating black holes), supernovae (collapse and formation of slow-rotating neutron stars and black holes), quasar and blazar activities (non-stationary process in accretion plasma near super massive black holes), novae and dwarf novae (thermonuclear explosions on white and accretion plasma around), minor planets of Solar System, including potentially hazardous asteroids.
On 2014 December 21, first light was obtained and a primary sky survey was started on a wide field telescope-robot MASTER-SAAO.
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