12 April 2012

SPAIN: In search of Gamma Ray Bursts in Andalucia with project BOOTES

Telescopio Málaga de 0.6-m de diámetro y alta velocidad
de apuntado en la cúpula de BOOTES-2 en la Estación
Experimental de La Mayora (CSIC) en Algarrobo-Costa (Málaga).

Algarrobo-Costa (Málaga), Spain
Have you ever heard of the Burst Optical Observer and Transient Exploring System, Project BOOTES?

I met with Martin Jelínek a Czech Astrophysicist who has been with the project Bootes for 11 years. He is currently working at the BOOTES 2 station as the main operator of the telescope. Pre-doctoral fellowship (IAA-CSIC) at the University of Granada,
he devote his time in imaging the night sky looking for Gamma-ray Bursts.


Have you ever heard of the Burst Optical Observer and Transient Exploring System, Project BOOTES?

Martin Jelínek and Me
at the Observatory BOOTES 2
This sympathetic fellow’s recent work includes the building of  a COmpact LOw REsolution Spectrograph is an imaging spectrograph for project BOOTES. It is designed to provide low resolution, photon-counting spectroscopy of faint objects. With this instrument Martin believes he can achieve low resolution imaging that will provide him with enough power to catch the faint light emission sources of the Gamma-ray Bursts.

I asked Martin about the project BOOTES and this is what he had to say:

What is Project BOOTES?
The Burst Optical Observer and Transient Exploring System (BOOTES), was founded by A.J. Castro-Tirado and started in 1998 as a Spanish-Czech collaboration devoted to study optical emissions from gamma ray bursts (GRBs) that occur in the Universe.

The first two BOOTES stations were located in Spain and included medium size robotic telescopes with CCD cameras at the Cassegrain focus as well as all-sky cameras, with both stations located at 240 km each other. The first observing station (BOOTES-1) is located at ESAt (INTA-CEDEA) in Mazagón (Huelva) and the first light was obtained in July 1998. The second observing station (BOOTES-2) is located at La Mayora (CSIC) in Málaga and are fully operating since July 2001. In 2009 BOOTES expanded abroad, with the third station (BOOTES-3) being installed in Blenheim (South Island, New Zealand) as result of a collaboration with several institutions from the southern country. The fourth one (BOOTES-4) has been recently deployed in 2011 at the Lijiang Astronomical Observatory (Kunming, China).

Science and Goals of the project BOOTES?
The science and goals behind this web of telescopes BOOTES are The observation of the GRB error box simultaneously to the GRB occurrence, The detection of optical flashes (OTs) of cosmic origin, The monitoring of high-energy targets in different optical, as ground-based support for the ESA's International Gamma-Ray Laboratory ( INTEGRAL ) and The monitoring of several objects such as bright AGNs/QSOs, old GRB positions, etc.).

What is a GRB (Gamma-ray Burst)?
In 1967-73, the four VELA spacecraft (named after the Spanish verb {velar}, to keep watch), that where originally designed for verifying whether the former Soviet Union abided by the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, observed 16 peculiarly strong events.
On the basis of arrival time differences, it was determined that they were related neither to the Earth nor to the Sun, but they were of cosmic origin. Therefore they were named cosmic Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs hereafter).
GRBs appear as brief flashes of cosmic high energy photons, emitting the bulk of their energy above 0.1 MeV. They are detected by instruments somewhat similar to those used by the particle physicists at their laboratories. The difference is that GRB detectors have to be placed on board balloons, rockets or satellites.
You will find more on GRB’s HERE from BOOTES.
and on WIKIINFO: Gamma Ray Bursts
After a couple of hours sipping tee and loosing ourselves in the vastness of Astronomy and physics I asked Martin what kind of project could we have together with our Astronomy Club here in Finland. He gently responded that the Station BOOTES 2 is not always busy and it would be possible to plan observation sessions and get remotely pictures via the Internet. This is fantastic I said! On our arrival in Finland we will be in touch with BOOTES 2 and see what kind of great collaboration we can have with them.

A special thank you to Martin Jelínek that was so kind to show us what he does there in Spain. It was an exceptional visit and a real great opportunity to see “real” astronomy in action.

Here was the Astronomy in Spain series. Hope you have enjoyed. Here is the trip through Astronomy Spain in photos HERE. Have a look and clear sky where ever you are.

Links to project BOOTES HERE  (In English and Spanish)

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