Alan Watson: Instrumentation

I participate directly in four astronomical instrumentation projects: Beleguí, RATIR, TORO, and FRIDA.

I am also the head of the Department of Instrumentation of the Instituto de Astronomía of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Beleguí

Diffraction-limited PSF obtained in the laboratory with the prototype of Beleguí.

I am the principal investigator of Beleguí, a project to build an adaptive optics system for the 2.1-meter telescope of the OAN/SPM. Beleguí uses a 19-element bimorph deformable mirror mounted on a tip-tilt platform and a curvature wavefront sensor working with natural guide stars. It is adapted from PUEO, the adaptive optics system for the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

Beleguí will operate in two modes. In “adaptive optics” mode, the system is expected to give 0.1 arcsec images down to 0.6 microns, although the sky coverage will be limited. In “active optics and fast guiding mode”, the system should give 0.5 arcsec images and have much greater sky coverage.

Beleguí means “star” in Zapotec.

My scientific interest in the project is being able to monitor morphological variability in the circumstellar disks of young stars, continuing and extending my work on HH 30 with HST.

This project is supported financially by CONACYT, the PAPIIT program of the UNAM, and the Instituto de Astronomía of the UNAM.

RATIR

The 1.5-meter Harold Johnson telescope of the OAN/SPM.

I am a co-investigator of RATIR, a project to build an optical-infrared camera, capable of observing simultaneously in the riZYJH bands from 0.55 to 1.8 microns, and operate it robotically on the 1.5-meter Harold Johnson telescope of the OAN/SPM. I am jointly responsible for adapting the telescope for robotic operation.

Approximately 15% of the time with the instrument will be dedicated to determining photometric redshifts of gamma-ray bursts detected by the SWIFT satellite. The remaining 85% will be available to the Mexican astronomical community for their own projects.

My scientific interest in this project is monitoring infrared photometric variability in young stars to extend our understanding of their rotation and angular momentum to younger ages and lower masses.

This project is a collaboration between the Instituto de Astronomía of the UNAM and groups at the University of California Berkeley, the University of California Santa Cruz, and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. It is supported financially by NASA, CONACYT, the PAPIIT program of the UNAM, the UC-MEXUS program of the University of California, and the Instituto de Astronomía of the UNAM.

TORO

The 84-centimeter of the OAN/SPM.

I am a co-investigator of TORO, a project to operate an optical polarimeter on the 84-centimeter telescope of the OAN/SPM.

My scientific interest in this project is monitoring the polarimetric variability of analogs of the young stars HH 30 and AA Tau, continuing and extending the work carried out by my former student Carolina Durán-Rojas during her doctorate.

This project is supported financially by the Instituto de Ciencias y Tecnología of the Distrito Federal and by CONACYT.

FRIDA

The Gran Telescopio Canarias.

I am a co-investigator of FRIDA, a project to build an infrared camera and integral-field spectrograph for the adaptive-optics focus of the del Gran Telescopio Canarias.

FRIDA will use a 2048 by 2048 HAWAII II detector with sensitivity from 0.9 to 2.5 microns. For integral field spectroscopy, it will use an image slicer similar to the one used in FISICA. FRIDA will provide spectral resolutions of roughly 1000, 4000, and, uniquely for a diffraction-limited integral-field spectrograph, 30,000.

My scientific interested in this project is determining the kinematics of ultra-compact HII regions.

This project is a collaboration between the Instituto de Astronomía of the UNAM and groups at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, the University of Florida, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Observatoire Midi-Pyrenees, and the Centro de Ingeniería y Desarrollo Industrial. It is supported financially by the GTC project office, CONACYT, the “Encuentros Astrofísicos Blas Cabrera” program of Grupo Santander, and the Instituto de Astronomía of the UNAM.