To be published in:
Proceedings of the ESO/Australia workshop "Looking deep in the Southern Sky",
Sydney (Australia), 10-12 December 1997, eds R.Morganti, W.Couch
1 Institut d'Astrophysique et de Géophysique - Université de Liège, Avenue de Cointe 5, 4000 Liège, Belgium
* Aspirant FNRS, Belgium
** Directeur de Recherches FNRS, Belgium
Liquid Mirror technology was developed a few years ago by E. Borra and collaborators at Laval University, Canada. A liquid mirror consists in a thin layer of a reflecting liquid (e.g. mercury) which rotates around a vertical axis. The surface of the liquid then takes the shape of a paraboloid which is the ideal surface for the primary mirror of an astronomical telescope. Obviously, the telescope cannot be tilted and can only observe the zenith. Consequently, pointing and tracking are impossible. Nevertheless, its main advantage is its low cost, almost 30 times less than a glass mirror telescope for the same diameter and, therefore, it can be fully dedicated to a project, like a survey for example. Several Liquid Mirror Telescopes (LMTs), such as the NASA 3-m LMT and the University of British Columbia - Laval 2.7-m LMT, have already been built and gave excellent scientific results.
LMTs are particularly well suited for the search and study of gravitational lenses, type Ia supernovae, faint nearby red, brown and white dwarfs, halo stars with high proper motions and, more generally, all variable phenomena like quasars, variable stars, micro-lensing effects, etc.
The construction and operation of such a 4-m LMT in the southern hemisphere is planned for the near future.
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