The Argus Array

We’re happy to announce NSF funding of the prototype for the Argus Array. The Argus Array, being developed by the Law group at UNC Chapel Hill, is a large (5m-aperture-equivalent) telescope consisting of 900 moderate-aperture, off-the-shelf telescopes multiplexed into a common hemispherical dome. The prototype, the Argus Pathfinder, will demonstrate the Argus concept and observe each part of the sky for nine minutes at high cadence each night.

See our new paper about large all-sky telescope arrays and the Argus Array on arXiv! 

We are actively building the science team for the system; please contact us (nmlaw@physics.unc.edu) if you’re interested!

Preliminary Specifications

The Argus Array will observe each part of the sky for 6-12 hours per night (see above figure), trading off relatively small apertures for very long coadded exposure times to achieve a simultaneously high-cadence and deep survey. In the baseline design, each 54.9 GPix Argus exposure covers 20% of the entire sky (7,916 square degrees) with a sampling of 1.400/pixel and a dark-sky limiting magnitude of mg = 19.8 every minute; coadding will produce depths down to mg = 24.2 every five nights. In high-speed mode the Array will reach 1s-level cadence over 47% of the entire sky (19,370 square degrees) each night. Over five years, the Array will build a two-color, million-epoch movie of the northern sky, enabling the most-sensitive-yet searches for high-speed transients, fast-radio-burst counterparts, gravitational-wave counterparts, exoplanet microlensing events, occultations by distant solar system bodies, and a host of other phenomena.

The Argus Array (hardware and survey specifications to the right) is based on almost entirely off-the-shelf parts. The Array’s pipelines are based on the already-operational Evryscope data analysis pipelines. The NSF’s current MSIP development investment will produce an operational prototype, retiring the risks associated with the unique design of the large-array telescope structure and demonstrating at-scale data analysis pipeline performance. The prototype will be complete and the project will be at the point of formal Preliminary Design Review by early 2022; the off-the-shelf telescopes and cameras will enable rapid construction of the full system.