China's most powerful spectral telescope with an aperture of 4.4 meters which can realize multi-target and high-resolution spectral observation simultaneously is expected to be completed and enter use in 2026 at the Lenghu Astronomical Observation Base, the largest astronomical observation base in Asia.
According to the Lenghu Astronomical Observation Base located in Northwest China’s Qinghai Province, Shanghai Jiao Tong University plans to build a large-aperture multi-functional spectral telescope, Jiaotong University Spectroscopic Telescope (JUST), at the base.
After three years of monitoring and testing conducted by the research team, the location of JUST at the Lenghu Astronomical Observation Base in Lenghu area on Saishiteng Mountain in Qinghai was found to enjoy advantages including good air quality, clear night skies, and other stable atmospheric conditions for constructing the world’s first-class large-scale observation base for optical and infrared astronomy.
So far, a total of 12 telescope projects from 11 scientific research institutes have been launched at the base. After their completion, the base will become Asia’s largest astronomical observation base.
With an aperture of 4.4 meters, the spectral telescope project adopted a lightweight design and is equipped with multiple spectrometers, allowing for rapid switching of target sources and timely spectroscopic observations.
According to the plan, JUST is expected to be completed and put into use in 2026, and carry out research work covering three aspects including exploring the dark universe, tracking the dynamic universe and searching for exoplanets as planned. After the project is completed, it is expected to achieve a series of breakthrough research results with significant impact in the fields of time-domain astronomy, exoplanet search, and cosmic web structure and evolution.
The JUST project is one of the major projects in the astronomical field strategically planned by the Tsung-Dao Lee Institute of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The JUST site will be located near the Lenghu Town on the Saishiteng Mountain in Qinghai.
The JUST will be installed at the point B at an altitude of 4,322 meters above sea level on the Saishiteng Mountain. The current largest dome at the point C at an altitude of 4,200 meters, is the 2.5-meter Wide Field Survey Telescope (WFST) Mozi for time-domain surveys.
After it is completed, the JUST is expected to carry out characteristic spectral observations around scientific goals such as cosmic web structure, multi-messenger astronomy, and exoplanet exploration. By that time, the JUST will be the most powerful spectral telescope in China and will work closely with the survey telescope Mozi and the upcoming space-survey telescope, Chinese Space Station Telescope (CSST), to provide indispensable first-hand observation data for the further development of astronomy in China.
JUST’s high-resolution spectrometers will realize multi-target and high-resolution spectral observation simultaneously for the first time in the world, expected to greatly improve the efficiency of exoplanet detection.