A new type of sodium guidestar laser based on semiconductor laser technology is being developed by the astronomy, space, and laser communication communities in Australia and the United States, in partnership with laser manufacturer Arete Associates. Funding has been secured from the Australian Research Council and the Australian National University, with support from academic (UNSW) and industry partners (AAO, GMTO, EOS, Lockheed Martin). The consortium aims to develop a full scale prototype of the Semiconductor Guidestar Laser. The laser, to be delivered in 2019, will be initially installed on the EOS Satellite and Debris Tracking Station 1.8m telescope at Mount Stromlo Observatory where it will be thoroughly tested, on sky and in real operation conditions. This will be the first time that a Laser Guide Star is created in Australian skies. We present the project motivation and objectives, laser development and test plans, and the preliminary test results obtained to date.
While optical and radio transient surveys have enjoyed a renaissance over the past decade, the dynamic infrared sky remains virtually unexplored from the ground. The infrared is a powerful tool for probing transient events in dusty regions that have high optical extinction, and for detecting the coolest of stars that are bright only at these wavelengths. The fundamental roadblocks in studying the infrared time-domain have been the overwhelmingly bright sky background (250 times brighter than optical) and the narrow field-of-view of infrared cameras (largest is VISTA at 0.6 sq deg). To address these challenges, Palomar Gattini-IR is currently under construction at Palomar Observatory and we propose a further low risk, economical, and agile instrument to be located at Siding Spring Observatory, as well as further instruments which will be located at the high polar regions to take advantage of the low thermal sky emission, particularly in the 2.5 micron region.
Using the latest generation of adaptive optics imaging systems together with laser guide stars on 8m-class telescopes, we are finally revealing the previously-hidden population of supernovae in starburst galaxies. Finding these supernovae and measuring the amount of absorption due to dust is crucial to being able to accurately trace the star formation history of our Universe. Our images are amongst the sharpest ever obtained from the ground, and reveal much about how and why these galaxies are forming massive stars (that become supernovae) at such a prodigious rate.
The Gemini High-Resolution Optical SpecTrograph (GHOST) will fill an important gap in the current suite of Gemini
instruments. We will describe the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO)-led concept for GHOST, which consists
of a multi-object, compact, high-efficiency, fixed-format, fiber-fed design. The spectrograph itself is a four-arm variant
of the asymmetric white-pupil echelle Kiwispec spectrograph, Kiwisped, produced by Industrial Research Ltd. This
spectrograph has an R4 grating and a 100mm pupil, and separate cross-disperser and camera optics for each of the four
arms, carefully optimized for their respective wavelength ranges. We feed this spectrograph with a miniature lensletbased
IFU that sub-samples the seeing disk of a single object into 7 hexagonal sub-images, reformatting this into a slit
with a second set of double microlenses at the spectrograph entrance with relatively little loss due to focal-ratio
degradation. This reformatting enables high spectral resolution from a compact design that fits well within the relatively
tight GHOST budget. We will describe our baseline 2-object R~50,000 design with full wavelength coverage from the
ultraviolet to the silicon cutoff, as well as the high-resolution single-object R~75,000 mode.
IRIS2 is a near-infrared imager and spectrograph based on a HAWAII1 HgCdTe detector. It provides wide-field (7.7’×7.7’) imaging capabilities at 0.4486”/pixel sampling, long-slit spectroscopy at λ/Δλ≈2400 in each of the J, H and K passbands, and the ability to do multi-object spectroscopy in up to three masks. These multi-slit masks are laser cut, and have been manufactured for both traditional multiple slit work (≈20-40 objects in a 3’×7.4’ field-of-view), multiple slit work in narrow-band filters (≈100 objects in a 5’×7.4’ field-of-view), and micro-hole spectroscopy in narrow-band filters allowing the observation of ≈200 objects in a 5’×7.4’ field.
IRIS2, the infrared imager and spectrograph for the Cassegrain focus of the Anglo Australian Telescope, has been in service since October 2001.
IRIS2 incorporated many novel features, including multiple cryogenic multislit masks, a dual chambered vacuum vessel (the smaller chamber used to reduce thermal cycle time required to change sets of multislit masks), encoded cryogenic wheel drives with controlled backlash, a deflection compensating structure, and use of teflon impregnated hard anodizing for gear lubrication at low temperatures. Other noteworthy features were: swaged foil thermal link terminations, the pupil imager, the detector focus mechanism, phased getter cycling to prevent detector contamination, and a flow-through LN2 precooling system. The instrument control electronics was designed to allow accurate positioning of the internal mechanisms with minimal generation of heat. The detector controller was based on the AAO2 CCD controller, adapted for use on the HAWAII1 detector (1024 x 1024 pixels) and is achieving low noise and high performance.
We describe features of the instrument design, the problems encountered and the development work required to bring them into operation, and their performance in service.
We describe an imaging Fabry-Perot instrument, and give examples of its astronomical applications. The salient features of the instrument are: wide wavelength coverage with a single etalon, operation near the focal plane in a converging beam, resolving power R approximately 4000, relatively easy portability to other telescopes.