WIYN Observatory

The WIYN Observatory supports the current and future research and education needs of its scientists by operating and maintaining the WIYN facilities at a superb level of performance, and by developing opportunities to enable frontier astrophysical research.

For current status of instrumentation and potential operational impact please see the WIYN Operational Status page.

Science News from WIYN

Over a period of 3 years, PI Michael Wood-Vasey and team used the near-infrared imager (WHIRC) on the WIYN 3.5m telescope to obtain J, H and Ks observations of Type Ia Supernovae (SNeIa) in the nearby Hubble flow. The first data has been released from this 3-year survey (called the SweetSpot Survey), featuring images of 74 SNeIa and light curves from 33 of these SNeIa that are well-separated from their host galaxies.

This survey was made possible by the hard work of two University of Pittsburgh graduate students, Anja Weyant (Pitt '14), and Kara Ponder (Pitt '17), and the significant support of the NOAO observing and scheduling teams. These data in SweetSpot Data Release 1 are from the first 3 semesters of the SweetSpot Program (PI Wood-Vasey, 2012B-0500). The entire data set will be published in a second data release, planned for 2019.

Read the full article for more information.

NASA Selects Penn State Team to Build a Planet-finding Spectrometer for WIYN

NASA has selected a Pennsylvania State University research group led by Dr. Suvrath Mahadevan to build a new, cutting-edge instrument for the 3.5-m WIYN telescope at KPNO. By measuring the subtle back-and-forth motion of stars that is induced by their orbiting companions, the new instrument, an extreme precision radial velocity spectrometer, will detect and characterize worlds beyond our solar system.

Further information can be found in the NOAO Press Release. See also the NASA Press Release and the Pennsylvania State University Press Release.

Figure 1: Very high velocity precision is needed to measure the mass of low mass planets through the subtle motion, the “wobble”, that a planet induces in its host star. The extreme precision radial velocity spectrometer (EPDS) destined for Kitt Peak will measure stellar motions with a precision of 0.1 - 0.5 m/s (or 0.2 - 1 mph), velocities comparable to the running speed of a desert tortoise or gila monster. With such high precision, the spectrometer will be able to detect and characterize Jupiter- and Neptune-sized gas giant planets as well as super-Earth and Earth-sized rocky planets.

Continuing Community Access to WIYN Through NOAO

Two federal agencies, NASA and NSF, have joined together to continue community access to WIYN through a program of research related to exoplanets known as NN-EXPLORE. NN-EXPLORE will be managed on behalf of the federal agencies by NOAO, which will remain a WIYN partner.

Phase 1 of this program (launched in 2015) offers access to WIYN's existing suite of instruments for exoplanet related research.

Phase 2 entails the design, construction, and deployment on WIYN of a NASA-funded Extreme Precision Doppler Spectrometer (EPDS), as detailed in the announcement of opportunity. NASA's goal is to have the instrument operational on WIYN data begin flowing from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission. This program is described in a recent NOAO press release.

NASA selected the instrument concept proposed by a team from Pennsylvania State University. The NEID instrument (NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler Spectroscopy) is expected to be installed at the WIYN 3.5m in early 2019. For more information please see the official announcement.

NSF University of Wisconsin Indiana University University of Missouri Purdue University

Last modified: 31-Jul-2018 10:23:52 MST