Science, Education, Innovation.
The Liverpool New Robotic Telescope (NRT) project builds on the success of the Liverpool Telescope (LT) in time domain astrophysics. Following first light in 2004, that telescope is now at a mature stage in its life cycle with a strong record of high-impact papers in leading scientific journals. It is the basis for a thriving outreach programme, with over 2000 UK and Irish schools having obtained their own data via the (NSO), with over 100,000 observations requested in total. The robotic nature of the telescope also means it has a low operating cost, making it excellent value for money when compared to its manned competitors.
The profile of time domain astrophysics will rise immensely in the coming decades, since temporal work will be a key component of many new ground- and space-based facilities. From the ground, huge numbers of optical transients are being discovered by new ‘synoptic surveys’, such as iPTF/ZTF, Skymapper and Pan-STARRS. The rate of discovery will only increase with the next generation of facilities such as LSST. Variability will also be detected across the wavelength spectrum, from radio (SKA) to high energy gamma-rays (CTA). Gaia will provide a catalogue of millions of variable stars and binaries with incredibly precise astrometric information, and the next generation of planet finders (NGTS, TESS, PLATO) will go beyond Kepler, finding transiting Neptunes and super-Earths around bright stars. The Advanced LIGO detector has also opened up a new window on the universe with the detection of gravitational waves, and we eagerly await the first detection of an electromagnetic counterpart associated with such an event.
This diverse array of missions will discover large numbers of new time-variable objects, all of which will benefit from ground-based optical/infrared follow-up. The Liverpool Telescope has demonstrated that the rapid response and flexibility of a robotic telescope is ideal for this purpose. Liverpool Telescope 2 will be a modern, 4-metre class facility dedicated to time domain astrophysics, with a focus on astrophysical transients. On this website we detail our plans and the progress of the project to date. The success of this project depends on partnership with both the astronomical community and industry: as such we welcome any feedback at this early stage of development.