Northwestern is known for its strength in theoretical astrophysics, and now it is poised to lead in observational astronomy as well. CIERA recently signed contracts to secure institutional access to the Multiple Mirror Telescope (MMT) in Arizona, and the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. Both observatories have unique and complementary capabilities. MMT has the ability to target and refocus quickly, which is important for fast-changing celestial phenomena called transients. Keck, on the other hand, has a larger collecting area which allows researchers to explore older and fainter signals.
Prior to the new telescope contracts, NU astronomers did not have guaranteed access to the MMT, Keck, or any other research-grade observational facility. Now, Northwestern researchers are guaranteed an allotment of time per year to collect data. This is a significant commitment to and expansion of observational capabilities at Northwestern. CIERA will now have the ability to train students in observational astronomy with world-class facilities. Researchers will have more freedom with their projects because of the removal of the observatory time application process; guaranteed time allows researchers to take on more high-risk, high-reward projects.
With access to two of the leading telescopes in the world, the observational astronomers at CIERA have the ability to thrive and conduct research in exciting new areas, connecting theoretical research to observational data.
Learn more about telescope access at CIERA.