MOIRCS: “Faster and Better”

June 15, 2007

On May 31, 2007, Prof. Takashi Ichikawa from Tohoku University presented news from Subaru's Multi-Object Infrared Camera and Spectrograph (MOIRCS) to a group of press and media people at the `Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai`i. It was the last day of the 210th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) being held in Honolulu, and the group was gathered to hear about recent developments from observatories before heading for a visit to the summit of Maunakea.

All observatories with their base facilities in Hilo -- Submillimeter Array (SMA), Subaru Telescope, Gemini Observatory with the University of Hawai`i Institute for Astronomy (IfA), Joint Astronomy Centre (JAC), Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO) -- presented their recent scientific highlights, new technologies, or future projects.

Prof. Takashi Ichikawa highlighted features of MOIRCS that make it one of the most advanced and powerful instruments for current 8-10 meter ground-based telescopes. It has the widest field of view (4 arc-minutes x 7 arc-minutes) of all the infrared instruments in the world, and also has an efficient infrared multi-object spectrograph that can observe more than 50 objects at one time. MOIRCS is the first instrument to provide this capability with cooled multi object slits in infrared wavelengths. The instrument has been in open for general use at the Subaru telescope since February 2006.

Potential scientific targets for MOIRCS cover various objects: nearby star and planet forming regions to the furthest reach of the universe. The MOIRCS team, led by Prof. Ichikawa, is now undertaking the MOIRCS Deep Survey (MODS), the deepest and widest imaging observations in the GOODS-North region, which covers a wide area that includes the Hubble Deep Field (HDF). They are searching for distant galaxies 10 to 12 billion light years away from us. They are also taking spectra of galaxies detected in the MODS project with the multi-object spectrograph. Spectroscopy of the galaxies will enable them to make a 3-D map of distant galaxies and to understand the nature of star formation in massive galaxies 10 to 12 billion years ago.

Prof. Ichikawa also mentioned MOIRCS’ uniqueness and important role in the education of graduate students. The project started in 1999 with collaboration between Tohoku University in Sendai-city, Japan and Subaru Telescope. Subaru Telescope has a unique research and education base in Hilo, Hawaii, and graduate students from Tohoku University were involved deeply in the development and assembly of MOIRCS at the Subaru base facility. Three students already got their Ph.D. degrees with MOIRCS and two more students are following closely.

The audience included press and media
people and observatory staff.

Prof. Ichikawa and his presentation in the
`Imiloa planetarium.

Speakers from the different observatories on
Maunakea. Prof. Ichikawa is the second from right.
(Photo by Inge Heyer, Joint Astronomy Centre)

Speakers from the different observatories on Maunakea. Prof. Ichikawa is the second from right.
(Photo by Inge Heyer, Joint Astronomy Centre)

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