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Zwicky Transient Facility

The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF, obs. code: I41) is a wide-field sky astronomical survey using a new camera attached to the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California, United States. Commissioned in 2018, it supersedes the (Intermediate) Palomar Transient Factory (2009–2017) that used the same observatory code.

Zwicky Transient Facility
Alternative namesZTF
Survey typeAstronomical survey Edit this on Wikidata
TargetTransient Edit this on Wikidata
Observatory codeI41
Started2017 Edit this on Wikidata
ObservationsPalomar Observatory Edit this on Wikidata


The Zwicky Transient Facility is designed to detect transient objects that rapidly change in brightness, for example supernovae, gamma ray bursts, and collision between two neutron stars, and moving objects like comets and asteroids. The new camera is made up of 16 CCDs of 6144×6160 pixels each, enabling each exposure to cover an area of 47 square degrees. The Zwicky Transient Facility is designed to image the entire northern sky in three nights and scan the plane of the Milky Way twice each night to a limiting magnitude of 20.5.[1][2] The amount of data produced by ZTF is expected to be 10 times larger than its predecessor, the Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory.[3] ZTF’s large data will allow it to act as a prototype for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope that is expected to be in full operation in 2022 and will accumulate 10 times more data than ZTF.[1][4]

First light was recorded of an area in the constellation Orion on November 1, 2017.[5][6][7]

The first confirmed findings from the ZTF project were reported on 7 February 2018,[8] with the discovery of 2018 CL, a small near-Earth asteroid.[9]


  1. ^ a b Bellm, Eric; Kulkarni, Shrinivas (2017-03-02). "The unblinking eye on the sky". Nature Astronomy. Springer Nature. 1 (3): 0071. arXiv:1705.10052. Bibcode:2017NatAs...1E..71B. doi:10.1038/s41550-017-0071. ISSN 2397-3366.
  2. ^ Smith, Roger M.; Dekany, Richard G.; Bebek, Christopher; Bellm, Eric; Bui, Khanh; Cromer, John; Gardner, Paul; Hoff, Matthew; Kaye, Stephen (2014-07-14). "The Zwicky transient facility observing system" (PDF). Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy V. International Society for Optics and Photonics. 9147: 914779. doi:10.1117/12.2070014.
  3. ^ Cao, Yi; Nugent, Peter E.; Kasliwal, Mansi M. "Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory: Realtime Image Subtraction Pipeline". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. 128 (969). arXiv:1608.01006. Bibcode:2016PASP..128k4502C. doi:10.1088/1538-3873/128/969/114502.
  4. ^ "Zwicky Transient Facility Opens Its Eyes to the Volatile cosmos". Zwicky Transient Facility. November 14, 2017.
  5. ^ Clery, Daniel. "New California telescope aims to catch quickly moving celestial events". Science. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  6. ^ "The Zwicky Transient Facility". The Palomar Observatory. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  7. ^ Boyle, Alan. "Super-wide-angle Zwicky Transient Facility celebrates 'first light' with help from UW". GeekWire. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  8. ^ Kulkarni, S.R.; et al. (7 February 2018). "The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) begins - ATel #11266". Astronomer's Telegram. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  9. ^ Ye, Quan-Zhi; et al. (8 February 2018). "First Discovery of a Small Near Earth Asteroid with ZTF (2018 CL) - ATel #11274". Astronomer's Telegram. Retrieved 8 February 2018.