[ASA] UKIRT opportunity and Australia

Karl Glazebrook kglazebrook at swin.edu.au
Thu Nov 8 17:25:45 AEDT 2012

Dear ASA members,

The U.K.'s Science & Technology Facilities Council has announced an opportunity for a new entity to take over the ownership and operation of the U.K. Infrared Telescope, a 3.9m optical/IR telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

The opportunity is detailed in the 'UKIRT Prospectus' at:


and 'Expressions of Interest' (which can be very wide-ranging) are due Nov 30.

The purpose of this email is to solicit Australian interest in future science with UKIRT. Karl Glazebrook (Swinburne, kglazebrook at swin.edu.au) and Chris Tinney (UNSW, cgt at phys.unsw.edu.au) have offered to coordinate any Australian response.

At this time we do not realistically envision UKIRT becoming wholly Australian owned  but we can see Australians being involved with overseas partners in collaborative science projects and raising part of the funding required for operations (e.g. via a LIEF proposal). The intention is to submit an EOI listing science projects that we may wish to be involved in and saying we would wish to be matched up with other similarly interested parties.

UKIRT has a range of instruments but of particular interest is the Wide Filed Infrared Camera (WFCAM) which was used to carry out the UKIDSS surveys and has a 0.19 deg^2 coverage per pointing. Median UKIDSS seeing was 0.8 arcsec.

The current science projects identified so far of interest to Karl and Chris are:

A WFCAM wide field survey of massive red galaxies and clusters at 1<z<2 using new medium band filters for cosmology, galaxy and cluster evolution studies. Medium band near-IR filters can deliver 1-2% photometric redshifts allowing 3D tomography and redshift space distortion measurements, and UKIRT could potentially survey several hundred deg^2 or more for galaxies with stellar masses > 1E11 Msun.  (Glazebrook)

An ultra deep survey with WFCAM in a single field using new medium and narrow band filters to identify galaxies at z>7 and measure their spectral energy distributions and angular clustering. (Glazebrook)

Parallax measurements with a several year baseline of brown dwarf candidates identified from the WISE survey via a wide field repeat survey. (Tinney)

A major program of near-infrared photometric measurements of brown dwarf candidates identified from the WISE survey. (Tinney)

If anyone is interested in these science cases, or wishes to add other ones please contact Karl or Chris as appropriate to discuss this further. Early discussion is encouraged given the tightness of the deadline.

Karl and Chris will merge science cases and submit a final EOI if there is a sufficient quorum of interest in Australia.

Karl Glazebrook, University Distinguished Professor  
Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology
Contact: +61-3-9214-4384  kglazebrook at swin.edu.au
astronomy.swin.edu.au/karl galacticturmoil.org @karlglazebrook

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