Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Scientific highlights from the Palomar Robo-AO system and plans for a Mauna Kea Robo-AO
Christoph Baranec, Univ of Hawaii
Robo-AO is the world's first fully automated laser adaptive optics instrument. The prototype system, fielded at the Palomar Observatory 60-inch telescope, went live in June 2012 and has since executed ~10,000 observations at the ~0.1" visible diffraction limit. Among these observations are the largest diffraction limited surveys of stellar multiplicity in the local solar neighborhood and of nearby companions to Kepler exoplanet host candidates. The Palomar system will be augmented with two new infrared camera next summer which will both widen the spectral bandwidth of observations and enable deeper visible-light imaging using adaptive-optics-sharpened infrared tip-tilt guide sources - necessary for completion of the Kepler survey by the fall of 2014. I am planning on bringing an upgraded facility-class Robo-AO system to the University of Hawai'i's 2.2-m telescope on Mauna Kea to exploit the excellent native seeing and enable imaging approaching that of HST. This new system will be used for high-cadence monitoring of solar-system weather, characterization of asteroids and supernovae discovered by Pan-STARRS and ATLAS, and for validating the potentially tens of thousands of exoplanet host candidates discovered by the future Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.