Macquarie University, Sydney, and Canon Australia have unveiled the Huntsman Telescope, a 'first of its kind' array in the southern hemisphere that will study the faintest, 'most elusive' clues to better understand galaxies and astronomical objects in the southern sky.

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The Huntsman Telescope comprises 10 Canon EF 400mm F2.8 L IS II super-telephoto prime lenses, like the ones consumers could buy off the shelf. The Huntsman Telescope is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

The telescope is at the Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran, New South Wales, Australia. Researchers will use the telescope array to perform deep southern sky surveys and research galaxy formation and evolution, how galaxies form, grow, and how they engage with surrounding structures.

The Principal Investigator of the Huntsman Telescope, Dr. Lee Spitler, from Macquarie University's School of Mathematical & Physical Sciences and Australian Astronomical Optics, said that the telescope would be crucial in understanding what should happen if the Milky Way Galaxy has a head-on collision with the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy, an event that theories suggest could occur in 4.5 billion years. 'The Huntsman Telescope is pioneering the way in which we view our Southern skies by capturing images of the faintest galaxy structures that conventional telescopes simply couldn't,' says Dr. Spitler. 'The ability to observe the remnants of galaxies colliding with each other and searching for the faintest and smallest galaxies in the universe, will help us understand the potential fate of the Milky Way in the far distant future.'

The Huntsman Telescope is inspired by the Dragonfly Telephoto Array in the US. Last fall, we wrote about Canon USA providing technical assistance to the Dragonfly Telephoto Array, including providing 120 400mm F2.8 lenses.

Andromeda Galaxy through the Huntsman Telescope.

Credit: Sarah Caddy

For the Huntsman Telescope, each lens includes a single monolithic wide-field detector covering six square degrees. The telephoto lenses provide redundant lines of sight, resulting in extremely accurate and clear views of the universe.

'For 80 years, Canon has been committed to developing precision optical technologies that exceed the needs of our customers, and we're proud that our EF-lenses will play a role in helping Australian scientists tackle some of the most critical questions in astronomy today,' said Kotaro Fukushima, Managing Director, Canon Oceania. 'With our origins in camera development, Canon has diversified its business and technological potential to become essential to a wide range of fields - from space exploration to printing, medical equipment and security - with the purpose of solving diverse social challenges and enriching the lives of all global citizens.'

Orion Nebula through the Huntsman Telescope.

Credit: Sarah Caddy

There are nine Huntsman Telescope's technical and science team members, including five Macquarie Ph.D. students. Sarah Caddy, a Ph.D. candidate from the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at Macquarie University, says that the Huntsman Telescope is scalable, with planned upgrades already in the works. 'The Huntsman’s new suite of powerful computers enables each lens or ‘eye’ of the Huntsman to operate independently of each other. This will allow the telescope to autonomously detect ultra-fast transient events like stellar flares from distant stars, or even more exotic phenomenon like aiding the search for origin of fast radio bursts that continue to elude astronomers,' says Ms. Caddy.

If you live near the Huntsman Telescope, it'll be open to the public on October 1 as part of the annual StarFest.

Images courtesy of Canon Australia unless otherwise noted