Science Programs

NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation

Scientists at NOAO undertake many research programs, ranging from solar physics to the structure of the universe on the largest scales. A few of these projects are listed below, with links to provide more information.

logo NOAO Survey Programs range from studies of the distribution of dark matter in the Universe to determinations of the distances of the nearest stars. Survey Programs are large observational programs which both address important astrophysical questions and provide significant and useful astronomical data and databases to the community.
logo The nature of large-scale structure at high redshift is unknown, but is now accessible with large area CCDs. Astronomers at NOAO and the Space Telescope Science Institute, participating in Project Deeprange: A Deep Wide Area I-Band Survey, have surveyed a contiguous 16 square degree area in the I-band using the Mayall 4-m telescope on Kitt Peak to use faint galaxies and distant galaxy clusters to probe large-scale structure.
The discovery of probable X-ray, optical, and radio counterparts to Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) may allow significant advances in GRB research. More data are sorely needed, however. Astronomers from NOAO and the University of Wisconsin are using Kitt Peak telescopes to search for optical counterparts to GRBs. Data from the search will be made publicly available.
High-Z Supernova Search: Astronomers at CTIO (in collaboration with colleagues at ESO, Harvard, Berkeley, Mt. Stromolo, Hawaii, and Washington) are measuring the cosmic deceleration parameter and global geometry of the universe with Type Ia supernovae. The team discovers and studies supernova more distant than z=0.3, using searches at the Blanco 4-m prime focus; spectra from ESO, the MMT and Keck are used to confirm the SN type and redshift, and photometric followup is coordinated with moderate to large apertures in both hemispheres. As a side benefit, new asteroids are discovered on these images, including some Kuiper belt objects.
NOAO staff members and collaborators are undertaking a deep optical and near-infrared wide-field imaging survey that will sample the sky in two 9 square degree fields. This NOAO Deep Wide-Field Survey is designed to: investigate the existence and evolution of large scale structures at redshifts z>1 as sampled by a diverse set of objects; provide the astronomical community a sensitive multicolor-database of objects from which samples may be selected for the study of other interesting problems; and furnish a database of interesting objects that can be investigated spectroscopically with the Gemini telescopes.
img The Magellanic Cloud Emission-line Survey (MCELS) is a U. Michigan/CTIO survey project of two of our nearest neighboring galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. It is being done in the bright emission of Hydrogen (Halpha 6563), Sulfur ([S II] 6724), and Oxygen ([O III] 5007) from the interstellar gas of these two galaxies to study the properties, kinematics, and dynamics of the "violent" interstellar medium.
logo The Precision Solar Photometric Telescopes Project (PSPT) is a community based activity to develop a network of 2 or 3 small aperture telescopes for obtaining accurate solar differential photometry. The network will produce high precision images that will allow photometric studies of the sun at the 0.1% level. The experimental program is aimed at yielding solar data of sufficient accuracy to reveal the origins of long term and yearly solar irradiance and luminosity variations.
The GONG Project is a community-based program to conduct a detailed study of solar internal structure and dynamics using helioseismology. The GONG Project operates a six-site helioseismic observing network with extremely sensitive and stable solar velocity imagers located around the Earth to obtain nearly continuous observations of the Sun's five-minute oscillations. GONG also operates a major data reduction and analysis system to facilitate the coordinated scientific investigation of these measurements.
logo The Stellar Oscillations Network Group (SONG) at NOAO is a community-based project with the goal of obtaining coordinated seismic observations of p-mode, acoustic oscillations in solar type stars.
The Galileo Project is an international space mission to explore the Jovian system. The Galileo spacecraft was launched from Earth on October 18, 1989 and arrived at Jupiter on December 7, 1995 to begin multidisciplinary investigations of Jupiter, its magnetosphere, and its rings and satellites. An NOAO astronomer leads the imaging science team and is responsible for the Solid State Imaging experiment which has obtained images from Earth and its Moon, Venus, two asteroids, Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, and the Jovian system. The project will continue until January 1st, 2000. Study of the Jovian system offers insights into how our solar system formed and how the planets have evolved as well as into the processes which affect their current environments and futures.

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Last updated: 4Jun2001
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