Gemini & SKA MNRF Symposium 2005Marsfield Lecture Theatre
June 7, 2005
Gemini: local activities and international developments.
Warrick Couch, UNSW
The 2004-2005 period has been a significant one in terms of Australia's involvement in Gemini, particularly in terms of the increased interest in and the access its astronomers have had to the telescopes, and developments related to Gemini's 'Aspen' instrumentation program. In giving this report, I shall specifically focus on the purchase of additional nights on the Gemini-South telescope from the UK, and the very latest developments with the Aspen instruments (in particular, WFMOS), both of which have important implications for Australia and the MNRF program.
Australia's Path to a Giant Telescope.
Matthew Colless, AAO
Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs) are key future facilities for optical and infrared astronomy. Their enormous main mirrors will collect from 10 to 100 times as much light as the world^Òs largest existing telescopes, and will produce images far sharper than those of the Hubble Space Telescope. They will be able to see the first stars forming in the universe billions of years ago and search out Earth-like planets around nearby stars for signs of life. A substantial share in an ELT will maintain Australia's position at the forefront of astronomical research and lead to significant technological and industrial benefits. An appropriate level of involvement for Australia would be a 10-20% share in a facility such as the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), Thirty-Metre Telescope (TMT), OverWhelmingly Large Telescope (OWL), or Antarctic-GMT (AGMT).
The Outermost Regions of Galactic Disks.
Ken Freeman, RSAA
The outermost regions of galactic disks show unexpected diversity of structure. In some disks, the exponential slope steepens abruptly at a radius of a few scalelengths. In others, the exponential disk extends to at least 10 scale lengths. I will show some recent examples, including new Gemini results on NGC 300 by Bland-Hawthorn and Freeman (2005), and discuss the implications.
WFMOS, a wide-field, fibre-fed, multi-object spectrograph for the Gemini/Subaru observatories.
Samuel C. Barden, Anglo-Australian Observatory
A study on the feasibility and cost for a wide-field, fibre-fed, multi-object spectrograph (WFMOS) has recently been completed. The WFMOS instrument will address key fundamental questions relating to the nature of dark energy, dark matter, and the formation of galaxies through large scale redshift surveys (to measure the baryon wiggles as a function of redshift) and a high spectral resolution stellar survey (to identify and tag the family relationships of stars in the Milky Way galaxy). The facility will have a 1.5 degree FOV and will allow the simultaneous observation of up to 4500 targets.
A presentation will be given on the results of the study and how such an instrument might get implemented.
NIFS and GSAOI: Confronting the simulations with reality.
Peter McGregor, RSAA
The Near-infrared Integral Field Spectrograph (NIFS) is undergoing final testing prior to shipment in August 2005. The optics are complete and the science-grade HAWAII-2RG detector has recently been installed. This has presented us with the first opportunity to test its end-to-end system performance. I will show some of these data and compare the reality of the NIFS that will be delivered to the simulations from 1999. The first imaging data from GSAOI has also been obtained recently with two engineering-grade HAWAII-2RG detectors. I will show these data and outline plans for its completion.
Measuring the properties of QSO broad-line regions with the GMOS Integral Field Unit.
Randall Wayth, University of Melbourne
Integral Field Unit observations of the gravitationally lensed QSO 2237+0305 reveal differential magnification of the QSO's continuum and broad emission line regions. We show that the observed flux ratios between the lensed images are consistent with the continuum and BELR both undergoing microlensing, but by a different amount. We use the flux ratios to measure the size of the BELR in this QSO.
The SKA Molonglo Prototype (SKAMP) Project.
Anne Green, University of Sydney
The SKA Molonglo Prototype (SKAMP) Project is a staged re-development of the Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope to produce a new low frequency spectral-line facility to demonstrate the possibility of cylindrical reflector geometry as a low-cost option for wide-field and polarisation imaging capabilities. Fast digital signal-processing is integral to the project. I will give an update on the technical progress, some simulations and recent results, and present some of the science goals.
Baseband processing and SKA simulations using supercomputers - enhancing Australia's radio astronomy facilities and its bid for the SKA.
Steven Tingay, Swinburne University
The Swinburne contribution to the MNRF program has been twofold. First, we have developed, in collaboration with MNRF and non-MNRF partners, supercomputer-based processing techniques for baseband radio astronomy data. These developments include PC-based hard disk recorders for VLBI and pulsar studies, capable of 1 Gbps data rates, interferometric correlation, and RFI characterisation and mitigation tools. These new facilities for Australian radio astronomy are now openly available to the user community, supported through Swinburne. Second, at Swinburne we have been using supercomputer facilities to undertake SKA-related simulations, contributing to national and international studies of proposed SKA sites and investigations of the SKA performance and cost projections.
Radio Frequency Interference Measurements at Australia's candidate SKA site - Mileura Station, WA.
Ron Beresford, ATNF
A requirement of the Australian SKA site bid is the provision of 12 months of radio spectrum monitoring, testing from 50MHz to 24GHz at the prospective SKA core location Mileura, WA. A solar powered trailer with low noise spectral analysis equipment and a suite of antennas has been operating at Mileura since January this year. I will provide an update on the program, a brief technical overview of the process and present some initial Mileura datasets with comparisons to the ATCA Narrabri and Sydney.
Configurations for the Australian SKA site bid.
Simon Johnston, ATNF
The site submission bids for hosting the SKA must be submitted to the international project office by December this year. We have chosen Mileura station in Western Australia as the "core" of the SKA. As part of the bid, we must provide two configurations which satisfy a number of different criteria. I will briefly outline the requirements and the configurations we have chosen. I will discuss some of the tradeoffs (e.g between sky coverage and beam circularity) which we are forced to make.
The Compact Array Broadband Backend and MMIC projects.
Warwick Wilson, ATNF
The Compact Array Broadband Backend (CABB) and the Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit (MMIC) projects are components of the SKA MNRF program being carried out by ATNF. The projects aim to demonstrate potential SKA technologies while providing significant enhancements to the ATCA and other ATNF and SKA demonstrator instrumentation. The objectives and current status of the projects will be presented.
Focal Plane Arrays for the New Technology Demonstrator.
Colin Jacka, ICT and John O'Sullivan , ATNF
We will give an update on what we are doing in the development of focal plane array technology for NTD, including how we plan to use 2 re-furbished antennas from the old Fleurs observatory for experimental work at Marsfield. A brief overview of developments in this technology overseas will also be included.