Zwicky Transient Facility

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Zwicky Transient Facility
Alternative namesZTF
Observatory codeI41

The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF, obs. code: I41) is a wide-field sky astronomical survey using a new camera attached to the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California, United States. Commissioned in 2018, it supersedes the (Intermediate) Palomar Transient Factory (2009–2017) that used the same observatory code. It is named after the astronomer Fritz Zwicky.[1]


Observing in visible and infra-red wavelengths,[2] the Zwicky Transient Facility is designed to detect transient objects that rapidly change in brightness, for example supernovae, gamma ray bursts, and collision between two neutron stars, and moving objects like comets and asteroids. The new camera is made up of 16 CCDs of 6144×6160 pixels each, enabling each exposure to cover an area of 47 square degrees. The Zwicky Transient Facility is designed to image the entire northern sky in three nights and scan the plane of the Milky Way twice each night to a limiting magnitude of 20.5 (r band, 5σ).[3][4] The amount of data produced by ZTF is expected to be 10 times larger than its predecessor, the Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory.[5] ZTF’s large data will allow it to act as a prototype for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory (formerly Large Synoptic Survey Telescope) that is expected to be in full operation in 2023 and will accumulate 10 times more data than ZTF.[3][1]

First light was recorded of an area in the constellation Orion on November 1, 2017.[6][7][8]

The first confirmed findings from the ZTF project were reported on 7 February 2018,[9] with the discovery of 2018 CL, a small near-Earth asteroid.[10]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Zwicky Transient Facility Opens Its Eyes to the Volatile cosmos". Zwicky Transient Facility. November 14, 2017.
  2. ^ Bellm, Eric; et al. "The Zwicky Transient Facility: System Overview, Performance, and First Results". Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b Bellm, Eric; Kulkarni, Shrinivas (2017-03-02). "The unblinking eye on the sky". Nature Astronomy. 1 (3): 0071. arXiv:1705.10052. Bibcode:2017NatAs...1E..71B. doi:10.1038/s41550-017-0071. ISSN 2397-3366.
  4. ^ Smith, Roger M.; Dekany, Richard G.; Bebek, Christopher; Bellm, Eric; Bui, Khanh; Cromer, John; Gardner, Paul; Hoff, Matthew; Kaye, Stephen (2014-07-14). "The Zwicky transient facility observing system" (PDF). Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy V. International Society for Optics and Photonics. 9147: 914779. doi:10.1117/12.2070014.
  5. ^ Cao, Yi; Nugent, Peter E.; Kasliwal, Mansi M. (2016). "Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory: Realtime Image Subtraction Pipeline". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. 128 (969): 114502. arXiv:1608.01006. Bibcode:2016PASP..128k4502C. doi:10.1088/1538-3873/128/969/114502.
  6. ^ Clery, Daniel (2017-11-13). "New California telescope aims to catch quickly moving celestial events". Science. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  7. ^ "The Zwicky Transient Facility". The Palomar Observatory. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  8. ^ Boyle, Alan. "Super-wide-angle Zwicky Transient Facility celebrates 'first light' with help from UW". GeekWire. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  9. ^ Kulkarni, S.R.; et al. (7 February 2018). "The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) begins - ATel #11266". Astronomer's Telegram. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  10. ^ Ye, Quan-Zhi; et al. (8 February 2018). "First Discovery of a Small Near Earth Asteroid with ZTF (2018 CL) - ATel #11274". Astronomer's Telegram. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  11. ^ Williams, Gareth V. "MPEC 2019-J123: COMET C/2019 J2 (Palomar)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  12. ^ Wayt Gibbs, W. "Alien comets may be common, object from beyond Solar System suggests". Science. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  13. ^ Williams, Gareth V. "MPEC 2019-V34 : COMET 2I/Borisov". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  14. ^ Astronomers find a “cataclysmic” pair of stars with the shortest orbit yet