Subaru Staff -Part 18-

May 30, 2008

This is the interview of AO (Adaptive Optics) development group. Currently, they are developing new instrument for Subaru telescope called “AO and laser guide star system”. Since there are a few members in the group, the interview is divided into two series. For the first, we will have Hideki Takami, Yutaka Hayano and Olivier Guyon (current as of date).

Associate Director
Hideki Takami

- Could you describe your job?

I have two different types of job. First thing is consulting with current AO team leader, Dr.Hayano, about our project status and direction. I also maintain the work of constructing and fixing mirrors, optical materials and AO. Secondly, all kinds of job since I assumed Associate Director of Subaru Telescope last June. For example, adjusting the entire computers of facility, taking visitors around the telescope as a contact window for outsiders and accommodating interns. Basically I’m being in charge of general affairs. Subaru Telescope is expecting the future project called TMT (Thirty Meter Telescope) by USA, and my work is extended to that one too.

- How did you start working at Subaru Telescope?

The first contact with NAOJ was after I completed grad school. Actually, there was a project for Subaru Telescope already at that time and I cooperated to design Subaru. I found a job at CRL (Communications Research Laboratory; at that time) and I started researching Adaptive Optics. Around that time, Subaru has officially started observing and NAOJ decided to bring Adaptive Optics to fruition, so I moved to NAOJ in 1994 to take part of the AO developement, and have been working in Hawaii since 2002.

- Message to readers who wants to be astronomer?

When you attempt to do something, it is wise to find your own strength and put effort in it persistently. It is essential to make ultimate instrument for the discovery of new area of astronomy, so I wish new generations in astronomy to be more interested in instrument development.

AO group leader
Yutaka Hayano

- Could you describe your job?
I am in charge of the AO and laser guide star system development group. I was replaced in this position last summer by Prof. Takami. I have been engaged with Subaru Telescope since I started making the concept of AO system 10 years ago. Our group is consisted with wide variety of members such as NAOJ researchers, post doctors, engineers, graduate students or interns from the other countries; the nationalities also differ. While I am in charge of pursuing the projects cooperate with all the members, I have to work on my part of development and I sometimes feel like if I was a coach-cum-player participating in a game.

- How did you start working at Subaru Telescope?
I had spent my master at National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. After I finished my doctoral, I started to do research and development on the ground-to-space communication by using laser beam at CRL (Communications Research Laboratory; at that time). Around that time, I started to become intrigued with laser guide star system and dig into the basic development of laser beam with National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. Afterward, I gained the opportunity to work at Subaru Telescope.

- Message to readers who wants to be astronomer?

Every time I look at the Subaru Telescope for the preparation of the engineering observation at daytime, I am blown away with its huge size and strong presence. At the same time, It is marvelous and amazing for me that we built and operate this gigantic but extremely precise telescope everyday under one of the harshest environment in the world. I feel strongly that we can achieve nothing without contribution and many other people supporting Subaru Telescope. If you have an opportunity to come to Hawaii Island, I guarantee it gives unforgettable experience to take part in the tour of the Subaru Telescope. The view from Mauna Kea and sunset are also memorable.

AO scientist
Olivier Guyon

- Could you describe your job?
I am a member of the Subaru Telescope adaptive optics group. I am developing new techniques for direct imaging of planets around nearby stars, called exoplanets. These techniques include coronagraphy (how to mask the light of a star and keep the light of a planet) and "Extreme-AO", can be used for ground-based telescope like Subaru or future telescopes in space.

- How did you start working at Subaru Telescope?
I joined Subaru Telescope after receiving my PhD in late 2002. My PhD work included adaptive optics work and Subaru was then starting the development of its new 188 elements adaptive optics system. I was very excited to join this ambitious project.

- Message to readers who wants to be astronomer?

Within a few years, we will be able to observe planets like our own around nearby stars. With future telescopes/instruments we might be able to say if there is life on these planets. There are almost certainly huge surprises awaiting, things we cannot think about now, but which will make sense to us some time in the future. Observing Earth-like exoplanets will also make us understand better how life appeared and evolved on the Earth, and whether we got very lucky or if "inhabitable" planets are common. Being part of this adventure is a lot of fun.

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