About the Subaru Telescope

Observational instruments

COMICS (Cooled Mid Infrared Camera and Spectrometer)

COMICS (Cooled Mid Infrared Camera and Spectrometer)

COMICS is a mid-infrared camera and spectrograph, which can detect, for example, warm dust that emits strong radiation in space and that cannot be seen in optical wavelengths. The thin, dry air of Subaru Telescope's location at Mauna Kea's summit permits easier detection of mid-infrared light. One of COMICS's main scientific purposes is to study the structure and evolution of planet-forming disks to reveal how planetary systems form. It is particularly suitable for observing dusty star-forming regions, comets, and accretion disks around protostars.

Fast Facts


  • Camera and spectrograph
  • Mid-infrared range


  • Large format detectors allow imaging or spectroscopic observations in the mid-infrared.
  • Highly efficient spectroscopic observations
  • Optics and detectors are contained in a 1 m vacuum vessel, cooled down to -240 degrees Celsius, to suppress radiation from the instrument itself.


  • Study the structure of protoplanetary disks to determine how planetary systems form.
  • Detect dust in the debris disks around young stars to understand the formation of individual stars in our own galaxy and large-scale star formation in other galaxies.
  • Observe the ejected dust from dying stars, e.g., supernovae remnants, planetary nebulae, and examine the formation of interstellar dust, the raw material of planets.
  • Investigate different aspects of galaxies, e.g., dust, starburst galaxies, active galactic nuclei, Galactic Center.
  • Detect and observe spectra from organic matter in space and from silicates also contained in Earth's rocks and meteorites to understand how life may have developed on Earth.


  • Size and weight: 2 m x 2 m x 2 m with a weight of 2 tons
  • Placement: Cassegrain focus
  • Wavelength(s)
  • Mid-infrared in the 7.5-25 micron range
  • Optimized for use in the N-band (7.5-13.5 micron) and Q-band (16-25 micron)
  • Detectors used: six 320 pix x 240 pix Si:As BIB detectors
  • One for imaging/slit viewing. 40” slit length.
  • Five arrays for spectroscopy, which provide high sensitivity, high spatial resolution, and observational efficiency.
  • FOV: 42 arcsec X 32 arcsec for imaging
  • Pixel size: 50 microns
  • Pixel scale: 0.13 arcsec (imaging), 0.165 arcsec (spectrograph)
  • Spectral resolution: 250-10,000 in N band and 2,500 in Q band


  • Planning began in 1992
  • Developers from University of Tokyo, NAOJ, and Subaru Telescope (later). MICS (Mid-Infrared Camera and Spectrometer) was used as an instrument protorype.
  • Final assembly in 1999
  • First light: 1999

Specialized Information about the Instrument and Observing: