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Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen (GROWTH) – India telescope

Published: 23rd Nov, 2018

The GROWTH-India telescope at the Indian Astronomical Observatory located in Hanle, Ladakh, has made its first science observation.


  • The GROWTH-India telescope at the Indian Astronomical Observatory located in Hanle, Ladakh, has made its first science observation.
  • The observation is a follow up study of nova explosion.


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  • The recurrent nova, named M31N-2008, has been observed to erupt several times, the most recent eruption happening in November 2018.
  • Recurrent novas systems are likely progenitors of type I supernovae.
  • The GROWTH-India telescope made the observations in different optical bands.
  • The nova was seen to decline rapidly in brightness, by 1 - 1.5 magnitudes in the span of 2 days.

GROWTH-India telescope

  • It is the country’s first robotic telescope and the first one designed to observe dynamic, or transient, events in the universe.
  • It was developed as a joint project by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIAp), Bengaluru and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay.
  • It is part of a multi-country collaborative initiative known as Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen (GROWTH) to observe transient events in the universe.
  • The project was funded under Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) project, administered by the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum.

GROWTH initiative

  • It is an international collaborative network of astronomers and telescopes dedicated to the study of short-lived cosmic transients and near-earth asteroids.
  • Universities and research institutes from the US, the UK, Japan, India, Germany, Taiwan and Israel are part of the initiative.
  • Indian Institute of Astrophysics is the collaborating partner from the India.
  • Goal: Its goals are threefold: (1) Search for explosions in the optical regime whenever LIGO group detects a Binary Neutron Star merger (2) study nearby young supernova explosions. (3) Study nearby asteroids.

    Basic Terms


    • Novae are explosive events involving violent eruptions on the surface of white dwarf stars, leading to temporary increase in brightness of the star. Unlike a supernova, the star does not go on to die but returns to its earlier state after the explosion


    • A supernova is the biggest explosion that happens upon the death of certain types of stars. Each blast is the extremely bright, super-powerful explosion of a star.
    • A star can go supernova in one of two ways:
      • Type I supernova: star accumulates matter from a nearby neighbour until a runaway nuclear reaction ignites.
      • Type II supernova: star runs out of nuclear fuel and collapses under its own gravity.


    • Our sun doesn't have enough mass to explode as a supernova
    • Once the sun runs out of its nuclear fuel, perhaps in a couple billion years, it will swell into a red giant that will likely vaporize our world, before gradually cooling into a white dwarf.

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