Infrared Imaging and Spectroscopy (IRIS) Lab

In order to achieve our scientific goals, we participate in infrared instrument development for ground- and space-based telescopes. We have participated in two science instrument teams (NIRCam and NIRISS) for the James Webb Space Telescope, as well as multiple instrument projects for current 6-10 meter class telescopes as well as future extremely large telescopes (ELTs). On-going projects include ERIS to be utilized with the adaptive secondary of UT4 on the ESO VLT as well as METIS under development as a first generation instrument on the European Extremely Large Telescope. We are also working to bring high contrast mid-IR instruments to Gemini South, Magellan, and eventually the TMT.  Recent references include SPIE papers on ERIS (Boehle et al. 2018), TIKI for Gemini South (Blain et al. 2018), and MICHI on the TMT (Packham et al. 2018).

The University of Michigan has access to the 2.4 and 1.3 meter telescopes of MDM as well as a significant share of both Magellan 6.5 meter telescopes. New projects include enhancing diffraction suppression and spectral dispersion capabilities to improve planet detection and characterization with MagAO at Magellan from 1-5 microns with the CLIO in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Arizona. We are also exploring ways to utilize access to MDM for exoplanet research.


Our new laboratory at the University of Michigan is currently being refurbished to support infrared detector testing. A test dewar is under design and we hope to have the facility functional by fall 2019. The lab, located in 2280 Randall Hall, has a clean room, as well as pump room with power and water cooling to support two cold cycle coolers.

A major reason for this detector testing is to demonstrate the value of an upgrade to the MIRAC camera (used previously at Magellan 2003-2005) with a new detector and interface it with MagAO. This would provide 8-13 micron AO-assisted imaging at high contrast and spatial resolution superior to JWST. This project, done in collaboration with Katie Morzinski, Bill Hoffmann, and Jarron Leisenring (University of Arizona). This upgrade would facilitate the search for planets as small as super-earths around the very nearest stars within a few parsecs. A presentation describing this project can be downloaded by clicking this link. We have already begun to search for outer gas giants around Proxima Centauri (Mesa et al. 2017 with new observations using CLIO with MagAO recently obtained) and have access to archival 3-5 micron observations of Alpha Cen A. Ultimately this project is intended to be complementary to the recently announced effort at ESO funded by the Breakthrough Watch initiative.  This work is generously supported by the Templeton World Charity Fund.


We also participated in the development of the Giant Magellan Telescope (member of the Science Working Group 2003-2008) as well as the Swiss-led CHEOPS Mission and remain a member of the extended science team.

We are heavily involved in the US ELT Program, including participation in several white papers submitted to the Astro2020 Decadal survey, particularly in the area of star and planet formation, exoplanet detection, and charcterization.