The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) first light instrument IRIS (Infrared Imaging Spectrograph) will complete its preliminary design phase in 2016. The IRIS instrument design includes a near-infrared (0.85 - 2.4 micron) integral field spectrograph (IFS) and imager that are able to conduct simultaneous diffraction-limited observations behind the advanced adaptive optics system NFIRAOS. The IRIS science cases have continued to be developed and new science studies have been investigated to aid in technical performance and design requirements. In this development phase, the IRIS science team has paid particular attention to the selection of filters, gratings, sensitivities of the entire system, and science cases that will benefit from the parallel mode of the IFS and imaging camera. We present new science cases for IRIS using the latest end-to-end data simulator on the following topics: Solar System bodies, the Galactic center, active galactic nuclei (AGN), and distant gravitationally-lensed galaxies. We then briefly discuss the necessity of an advanced data management system and data reduction pipeline.
The Keck Planet Imager and Characterizer (KPIC) is a cost-effective upgrade path to the W.M. Keck observatory (WMKO) adaptive optics (AO) system, building on the lessons learned from first and second-generation extreme AO (ExAO) coronagraphs. KPIC will explore new scientific niches in exoplanet science, while maturing critical technologies and systems for future ground-based (TMT, EELT, GMT) and space-based planet imagers (HabEx, LUVOIR). The advent of fast low-noise IR cameras (IR-APD, MKIDS, electron injectors), the rapid maturing of efficient wavefront sensing (WFS) techniques (Pyramid, Zernike), small inner working angle (IWA) coronagraphs (e.g., vortex) and associated low-order wavefront sensors (LOWFS), as well as recent breakthroughs in high contrast high resolution spectroscopy, open new direct exoplanet exploration avenues that are complementary to planet imagers such as VLT-SPHERE and the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI). For instance, the search and detailed characterization of planetary systems on solar-system scales around late-type stars, mostly beyond SPHERE and GPI's reaches, can be initiated now at WMKO.
From 2008 December to 2012 September, the NICI (Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager at the Gemini-South 8.1-m) Planet-Finding Campaign (Liu et al. 2010) obtained deep, high-contrast AO imaging of a carefully selected sample of over 200 young, nearby stars. In the course of the campaign, we discovered four co-moving brown dwarf companions: PZ Tel B (36±6 MJup, 16.4±1.0 AU), CD-35 2722B (31±8 MJup, 67±4 AU), HD 1160B (33+12 -9 MJup, 81± AU), and HIP 79797Bb (55+20-19MJup, 3 AU from the previously known brown dwarf companion HIP 79797Ba), as well as numerous stellar binaries. Three survey papers have been published to date, covering: 1) high mass stars (Nielsen et al. 2013), 2) debris disk stars (Wahhaj et al. 2013), and 3) stars which are members of nearby young moving groups (Biller et al. 2013). In addition, the Campaign has yielded new orbital constraints for the ~8-10 MJup planet Pic β (Nielsen et al. 2014) and a high precision measurement of the star-disk offset for the well-known disk around HR 4796A (Wahhaj et al. 2014). Here we discuss constraints placed on the distribution of wide giant exoplanets from the NICI Campaign, new substellar companion discoveries, and characterization both of exoplanets and circumstellar disks.
IRIS (InfraRed Imaging Spectrograph) is a first light near-infrared diffraction limited imager and integral field
spectrograph being designed for the future Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). IRIS is optimized to perform astronomical
studies across a significant fraction of cosmic time, from our Solar System to distant newly formed galaxies (Barton et
al. ). We present a selection of the innovative science cases that are unique to IRIS in the era of upcoming space and
ground-based telescopes. We focus on integral field spectroscopy of directly imaged exoplanet atmospheres, probing
fundamental physics in the Galactic Center, measuring 104 to 1010 M supermassive black hole masses, resolved
spectroscopy of young star-forming galaxies (1 < z < 5) and first light galaxies (6 < z < 12), and resolved spectroscopy
of strong gravitational lensed sources to measure dark matter substructure. For each of these science cases we use the
IRIS simulator (Wright et al. , Do et al. ) to explore IRIS capabilities. To highlight the unique IRIS capabilities, we
also update the point and resolved source sensitivities for the integral field spectrograph (IFS) in all five broadband
filters (Z, Y, J, H, K) for the finest spatial scale of 0.004" per spaxel. We briefly discuss future development plans for the
data reduction pipeline and quicklook software for the IRIS instrument suite.
Our team is carrying out a multi-year observing program to directly image and characterize young extrasolar
planets using the Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager (NICI) on the Gemini-South 8.1-meter telescope. NICI
is the first instrument on a large telescope designed from the outset for high-contrast imaging, comprising a
high-performance curvature adaptive optics (AO) system with a simultaneous dual-channel coronagraphic imager.
Combined with state-of-the-art AO observing methods and data processing, NICI typically achieves ≈2
magnitudes better contrast compared to previous ground-based or
space-based planet-finding efforts, at separations
inside of ≈2". In preparation for the Campaign, we carried out efforts to identify previously unrecognized
young stars as targets, to develop a rigorous quantitative method for constructing our observing strategy, and to
optimize the combination of angular differential imaging and spectral differential imaging. The Planet-Finding
Campaign is in its second year, with first-epoch imaging of 174 stars already obtained out of a total sample of
300 stars. We describe the Campaign's goals, design, target selection, implementation, on-sky performance, and
preliminary results. The NICI Planet-Finding Campaign represents the largest and most sensitive imaging survey
to date for massive
(>~ 1 MJup) planets around other stars. Upon completion, the Campaign will establish the best
measurements to date on the properties of young gas-giant planets at
-> 5-10 AU separations. Finally, Campaign
discoveries will be well-suited to long-term orbital monitoring and detailed spectrophotometric followup with
next-generation planet-finding instruments.
We present a conceptual design for a Precision Radial Velocity Spectrograph (PRVS) for the Gemini telescope. PRVS is
a fibre fed high resolving power (R~70,000 at 2.5 pixel sampling) cryogenic echelle spectrograph operating in the near
infrared (0.95 - 1.8 microns) and is designed to provide 1 m/s radial velocity measurements. We identify the various
error sources to overcome in order to the required stability. We have constructed models simulating likely candidates
and demonstrated the ability to recover exoplanetary RV signals in the infrared. PRVS should achieve a total RV error of
around 1 m/s on a typical M6V star. We use these results as an input to a simulated 5-year survey of nearby M stars.
Based on a scaling of optical results, such a survey has the sensitivity to detect several terrestrial mass planets in the
habitable zone around nearby stars. PRVS will thus test theoretical planet formation models, which predict an abundance
of terrestrial-mass planets around low-mass stars.We have conducted limited experiments with a brass-board instrument
on the Sun in the infrared to explore real-world issues achieving better than 10 m/s precision in single 10 s exposures and
better than 5 m/s when integrated across a minute of observing.
We discuss observing strategy for the Near Infrared Coronagraphic Imager (NICI) on the 8-m Gemini South
telescope. NICI combines a number of techniques to attenuate starlight and suppress superspeckles: 1) coronagraphic
imaging, 2) dual channel imaging for Spectral Differential Imaging (SDI) and 3) operation in a fixed
Cassegrain rotator mode for Angular Differential Imaging (ADI). NICI will be used both in service mode and
for a dedicated 50 night planet search campaign. While all of these techniques have been used individually in
large planet-finding surveys, this is the first time ADI and SDI will be used with a coronagraph in a large survey.
Thus, novel observing strategies are necessary to conduct a viable planet search campaign.
The recent advent of laser guide star adaptive optics (LGS AO) on
the largest ground-based telescopes has enabled a wide range of high
angular resolution science, previously infeasible from ground-
and/or space-based observatories. As a result, scientific
productivity with LGS has seen enormous growth in the last few
years, with a factor of ~10 leap in publication rate compared to the
first decade of operation. Of the 54 refereed science papers to
date from LGS AO, half have been published in the last ~2 years, and
these LGS results have already made a significant impact in a number
of areas. At the same time, science with LGS AO can be considered
in its infancy, as astronomers and instrumentalists are only
begining to understand its efficacy for measurements such as
photometry, astrometry, companion detection, and quantitative
morphology. We examine the science impact of LGS AO in the last few
years of operations, largely due to the new system on the Keck II
10-meter telescope. We review currently achieved data quality,
including results from our own ongoing brown dwarf survey with Keck
LGS. We assess current and near-future performance with a critical
eye to LGS AO's capabilities and deficiencies. From both
qualitative and quantitative considerations, it is clear that the era
of regular and important science from LGS AO has arrived.
We present the coronagraphic and adaptive optics performance of the Gemini-South Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager (NICI). NICI includes a dual-channel imager for simultaneous spectral difference imaging, a dedicated 85-element curvature adaptive optics system, and a built-in Lyot coronagraph. It is specifically designed to survey for and image large extra-solar gaseous planets on the Gemini Observatory 8-meter telescope in Chile. We present the on-sky performance of the individual subsystems along with the end-to-end contrast curve. These are compared to our model predictions for the adaptive optics system, the coronagraph, and the spectral difference imaging.
The Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager (NICI) is a high-contrast AO imager at the
Gemini South telescope. The camera includes a coronagraphic mask and dual channel imaging
for Spectral Differential Imaging (SDI). The instrument can also be used in a fixed Cassegrain
Rotator mode for Angular Differential Imaging (ADI). While coronagraphy, SDI, and ADI have
been applied before in direct imaging searches for exoplanets. NICI represents the first time that
these 3 techniques can be combined. We present preliminary NICI commissioning data using
these techniques and show that combining SDI and ADI results in significant gains.
We present a discussion of the science drivers and design approach for a high-resolution, mid-infrared spectrograph for
the Thirty-Meter Telescope. The instrument will be integrated with an adaptive optics system optimized for the midinfrared;
as a consequence it is not significantly larger or more complex than similar instruments designed for use on
smaller telescopes. The high spatial and spectral resolution possible with such a design provides a unique scientific
capability. The design provides spectral resolution of up to 120,000 for the 4.5-25 μm region in a cross-dispersed format
that provides continuous spectral coverage of up to 2% to 14 μm. The basic concept is derived from the successful
TEXES mid-infrared spectrograph. To facilitate operation, there are separate imaging channels for the near-infrared and
the mid-infrared; both can be used for acquisition and the mid-infrared imaging mode can be used for science imaging
and for guiding. Because the spectrograph is matched to the diffraction limit of a 30-m telescope, gains in sensitivity are
roughly proportional to the square of the telescope diameter, opening up a volume within the Galaxy a thousand times
greater than existing instruments.
We briefly discuss the past, present, and future state of astronomical science with laser guide star adaptive optics (LGS AO). We present a tabulation of refereed science papers from LGS AO, amounting to a total of 23 publications as of May 2006. The first decade of LGS AO science (1995-2004) was marked by modest science productivity (≈1 paper/year), as LGS systems were being implemented and commissioned. The last two years have seen explosive science growth (≈1 paper/month), largely due to the new LGS system on the Keck II 10-meter telescope, and point to an exciting new era for high angular resolution science. To illustrate the achievable on-sky performance, we present an extensive collection of Keck LGS performance measurements from the first year of our brown dwarf near-IR imaging survey. We summarize the current strengths and weaknesses of LGS compared to Hubble Space Telescope, offer a list of desired improvements, and look forward to a bright future for LGS given its wide-scale implementation on large ground-based telescopes.