Subaru Users' Meeting Highlights Prime Focus Spectrograph Project
February 4, 2011
The annual Subaru Users' Meeting took place on January 19th and 20th at the headquarters of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) in Mitaka City, Tokyo, Japan. Each year astronomers from Japanese institutions gather here to discuss various aspects of the operation, science, and future of the Subaru Telescope, which is entirely funded by Japanese taxpayers.
Subaru Telescope's management gave a report on the telescope's operation, and researchers made about twenty presentations based on their observations with the telescope. The Japan-based users attending the meeting are confident of the Subaru Telescope's active role in optical and infrared astronomy as well as its ability to make discoveries that are on the leading edge of science.
Considerable time and discussion at this meeting centered on the development of a new instrument, the Prime Focus Spectrograph (PFS), a project led primarily by the Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU) at the University of Tokyo in Japan. The project would include installation of 2400 optical fibers at Subaru's prime focus, with a 1.5 degree field-of-view, allowing researchers to obtain the spectra of a huge number of celestial objects at one time. Although the original purpose of the instrument was to precisely measure the spatial distribution of galaxies and the expansion of the universe, the Japanese astronomical community has been examining the specifications of the instrument for possible applications to wider scientific issues.
Subaru staff and users engaged in active discussions about the instrument's specifications; its expected impact on current telescope operations; and its anticipated contribution to scientific research. The Japanese user community showed considerable interest in the project, which will now take the next step toward its realization. Development of such new instruments for the Subaru Telescope can enhance Subaru's potential for giving users the means to make observations that have dramatic results on the frontiers of astronomy.
Picture: Discussion at the Subaru Users' Meeting