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Eight years of science with the Robopol polarimeter - "Looking at the polarized Universe: past, present, and future"

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Skinakas Observatory is an astronomical observatory located on the peak of Psiloritis in Crete, Greece. photo: skinakas.physics.uoc.gr

We are celebrating 8 years of science with the RoboPol optical polarimeter, which has operated since 2013 at the Skinakas Observatory in Crete (Greece).

Data collected with RoboPol have been used to monitor blazars, X-ray binaries, white dwarfs, gamma-ray bursts, and map magnetic fields in the interstellar medium. In 2021 the RoboPol blazar monitoring program produced its first data release. This conference aims to bring together scientists working in the field of polarimetry to celebrate the conclusion of a successful program and look into the future. The co-organizer of the conference is dr hab. Agnieszka Słowikowska, professor of the Nicolaus Copernicus University from the Institute of Astronomy.

RoboPol is a specialized photopolarimeter designed specifically for the 1.3m telescope at the Skinakas Observatory and commissioned in the spring of 2013. It was conceived, designed, and developed by the RoboPol Collaboration, and international collaboration including the University of Crete and the Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH) in Greece, the California Institute of Technology in the United States, the Max-Planck Institute for Radioastronomy in Bonn, Germany, the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland, and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, in Pune, India. RoboPol was designed with high observing efficiency and automated operation as prime goals. It uses no moving parts other than the filter wheel. Instead, a combination of halfwave plates and Wollaston prisms are used to separate photons with orthogonal linear polarizations retard them, and simultaneously produce four images on the CCD detector for each source in the focal plane. The photon counts in each “spot” are used to calculate the Stokes parameters of linear polarization.

The primary science goal of the RoboPol project is the monitoring of the optical linear polarization of >100 gamma-ray bright blazars, which will allow testing models of the jet structure, composition, magnetic fields, and emission mechanism. RoboPol is additionally used to map the magnetic field in interstellar clouds and for long-term monitoring of XBE stars.

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