The Astronomical Technology Group is interested in optical and near-IR observations and the technology that facilitates them.
Activities of the group include the operation of the robotic Liverpool Telescope and the development of its 4 metre successor. We design and construct imaging cameras, polarimeters and spectrometers, and we develop and deploy software for instruments and telescope control.
Liverpool Telescope Development and Operations
The Liverpool Telescope is a 2 metre, fully robotic telescope owned by LJMU and operated by the ARI Astronomical Technology group, with financial support from STFC. As well as maintaining the telescope and providing support to the scientific user community, a major focus is the development of instrument projects that provide new opportunities for high impact science with the telescope. Averaging approximately 80 peer reviewed publications per year, the Liverpool Telescope is one of the most productive facilities in the world for time domain astrophysics.
New Robotic Telescope Development
The New Robotic Telescope is the 4 metre successor to the Liverpool Telescope and will be the largest robotic telescope in the world. The ARI hosts the NRT project office and leads the international collaboration with Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias and University of Oviedo which will see this new telescope reach first light in late 2026. The telescope will be a world leading facility for the exploration of the time variable sky, exploiting transients from wide field optical surveys such as ZTF and Rubin Observatory; high energy events detected with Swift, SVOM and CTA; and the electromagnetic counterparts of ‘multimessenger’ events reported by neutrino and gravitational wave detectors.
Instrumentation for other facilities
We collaborate with partners to develop new instrumentation for other telescopes around the world. Recently we were a member of the collaboration which delivered WEAVE for the William Herschel Telescope. WEAVE is a wide field multi-object spectrograph which employs up to 1000 fibres, allowing astronomers to take spectra of many hundreds of objects simultaneously. We led the development of the detectors in this instrument, providing two liquid-nitrogen-cooled cryostats, each containing a pair of 6000x6000 pixel CCDs, as well as readout and controller software.
Another recent project was Mookodi, a low resolution spectrograph in operation at SAAO’s 1-metre Lesedi telescope at the Sutherland observatory in South Africa. Mookodi was an evolution of the very successful SPRAT transient classification spectrograph which we operate on the Liverpool Telescope. The Astronomical Technology group has also been heavily involved in the development of new standards for telescope interoperability through the eSTAR and Heterogenous Telescope Networks projects.
- Liverpool Telescope – A 2 metre, fully robotic telescope based at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM) on the Canary island of La Palma. A diverse suite of instrumentation (optical and infrared imagers, spectrographs, polarimeter) all simultaneously mounted enable a flexible and rapid response to targets of opportunity.
- New Robotic Telescope – The 4 metre successor to the Liverpool Telescope will also be located at the ORM and will be the first responder to explosive and rapidly fading sources in the night sky.
PhD projects available
Follow the links to find out more about our PhD programme and the list of projects that are currently available. Or contact any of our staff to learn more about their work and whether they are currently offering any PhD projects.