October 22, 2022
The Cosmic Tours portable planetarium program is back bringing the Universe to the San Diego community.
UC San Diego graduate students ran a full day of planetarium shows for UC San Diego Homecoming.
Graduate students James Wiley and Clarissa Do O are leading efforts with the coordination of this program.
Picture (left to right): Roman Gerasimov, Clarissa Do O, James Wiley, Jayke Nguyen, Sanchit Sabhlok.
October 21, 2022
There has been increased interest by the public and US government agencies for investigating unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP).
UAPs are of interest for national security, aviation security, and potential scientific studies. Recent Congressional reports have
shown that there is limited high quality data on UAPs. One of the goals of this NASA study is to determine how best to proceed forward
with scientific studies using variety of data sets and analysis methods on UAPs. NASA Announcement is
with further information.
August 17, 2022
Our IRIS/TMT team has been getting questions about comparing
the Thirty Meter Telescope and James Webb Space Telescope
(JWST). The larger diameter a telescope has, the more sensitive
it is to fainter objects. But perhaps most striking is the
greater angular resolution and increased clarity of an image from a larger
telescope. Nils Rundquist, working with the UCLA Galactic Center
, simulated the inner-arcsecond sources at the Galactic Center - the stars that
orbit closest to the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole
- with the current facility Keck Observatory, JWST, and future
August 8 - 9, 2022
Shelley Wright lead the introduction to optics and image
formation lab at Astrotech
this year. These optics labs were
first developed by the OIRLab group two years ago by Jerome
Maire, Saavi Perera, Arun Surya, Maren Cosens, and Shelley
Wright. It was fun to see them in action for the 2nd year!
July 17 - 22, 2022
OIRlab team presented on the latest results from Panoramic SETI at
Lick Observatory and Veritas Observatory, as well as the latest
designs for the future Keck instrument Liger. We captured a group
shot during one of the many poster sessions. Liger arxiv papers can be found
June 22, 2022
Dr. Maren Cosens defended her Ph.D. thesis on “The Properties and
Evolution of Star Forming Regions Over Cosmic Time”. Dr. Cosens
will be moving to Carnegie as Brinson Postdoctoral Fellow.
Congrats, Dr. Cosens!!!
June 21, 2022
GPI 2.0 UCSD team Saavi Perera, Clarissa Do, Jayke Nguyen and Jerome Maire installed the new wavefront sensor bench with optics and pyramid
lens. The pyramid lens is illuminated by a red laser and
photographed by Paul Horowitz using Scheimpflug’s
adaptor method. The GPI 2.0 upgrade is being led by Quinn
Konopacky (UCSD) and Jeff Chilcote (Notre Dame).
June 12 - 16, 2022
OIRlab Graduate students Maren Cosens, Sanchit Sabhlok, and James
Wiley present at the AAS meeting in Pasadena. Maren presented her
latest thesis work with the nearby, irregular galaxy IC-10.
Sanchit presented his latest Keck MOSFIRE results of distant
proto-groups and proto-clusters. James presented the latest
opto-mechanical designs for the future Keck instrument Liger. A
large group of UC San Diego grads, postdocs, and faculty were
also in attendance at the meeting - the above pictures Professor
Burgasser’s group and OIRlab members in attendance.
June 8 - 9, 2022
A small dome was installed at Lick Observatory to house a production
0.5-m PANOSETI telescope. The dome is located on Rattlesnake Ridge
at the previous site of the famous astronomy E. E. Barnard house.
The Barnard house burned down in the July 2020 fire that swept
dangerously close to Lick Observatory. Now in the previous
location is a new astronomical facility. The 36” refractor dome is
seen in the distance. Shown left to right are PANOSETI team members:
Dan Werthimer, Paul Horowitz, Jerome Maire, Wei Liu, Rem Stone,
and Shelley Wright. (Photograph: Laurie Hatch
April 6, 2022
OIR Lab graduate student James Wiley has advanced to Ph.D.
candidacy following the presentation of his work in observational
astrophysicis. James' research is crucial for the development of
the Liger instrument
instrumentation for large optical observatories such as the Keck
Observatory. Well done, James!
May 12, 2022
On May 12, 2022, UC San Diego Professor Shelley Wright will receive the 2022 Drake Award from the SETI Institute. Professor Wright will be recognized for her decades-long work in the field of searching for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI institute
February 13, 2022
OIRlab graduate student Maren Cosens has been awarded the prestigious Brinson Postdoctoral Fellowship by Carnegie Observatories. It supports postdoctoral fellows who demonstrate excellence in astronomical instrumentation, providing up to five years of funding for independent research at Carnegie. Maren’s thesis research focuses on development of near-infrared instrumentation and observations of star formation in nearby and distant galaxies. Her postdoctoral fellowship will start Fall 2022 and focus on instrumentation development for Magellan Observatory. Congratulations Maren!
February 10, 2022
studying the HII
regions of IC 10, our nearest starburst galaxy, was accepted for
publication in The Astrophysical Journal. This paper utilizes
observations from the Keck Cosmic Web Imager (KCWI) taken
between 2017 – 2020 to provide a detailed look at the 46 HII regions
above to investigate the gas conditions and effective modes of
feedback in this unique starburst environment.
The PANOSETI team performed 4 nights of simultaneous observations with the Veritas Gamma-ray Observatory in Arizona.
Coordinated nano-second observations of CALIPSO (LIDAR satellite), Crab
Pulsar, and other exciting targets were performed. Pictured here are
two PANOSETI 0.5-m telescopes with one of the behemoth
12-m Veritas telescopes. Observations were done by Prof. Jamie Holder (U. Delaware),
James Wiley (UCSD), and Dr. Jerome Maire (UCSD).
September 10, 2021
Project Scientist Tucker Jones (UC
Davis) and UCSD Liger team presented the latest design of
the Liger instrument
to the Keck
user community at the Keck Science Meeting that was hosted
in-person at UC San Diego. We answered questions about the
expected instrumental performance and had great discussions
regarding new science use cases!
September 9, 2021
OIRLab graduate student Sanchit Sabhlok
presented his research on Circumgalactic Medium and
Proto-group Members around high redshift Radio-loud Quasars
at the Keck Science Meeting 2021, held in a hybrid format
being partially virtual while being hosted at UC San Diego.
Clarissa Do-o, Jerome Maire, Jayke
Nguyen, Saavidra Perera and James Wiley, got the class 1000
clean room ready for the build of the Gemini Planet Imager
2.0 (GPI2) Pyramid WaveFront Sensor (PWFS). The PWFS will
be built and tested at UCSD before being integrated into
GPI2 at the University of Notre Dame.
Maren Cosens, Jerome Maire, Quinn Konopacky, Saavidra Perera
and Shelley Wright facilitated the 2021 AstroTech Summer
School. The school was on astronomical instrumentation for
undergraduate and graduate students. Part of the OIRLab
contribution was to cover the optics necessary for the rest
of the week, from practically understanding Snell’s Law to
combining lenses to form an image.
July 1, 2021
The PANOSETI team connects in-person
for a two day working meeting at UC San Diego. Team members
finally got to see the PANOSETI production telescope (0.5 m)
and back-end electronics and detectors package in its final
assembly. Left-to-right: Jerome Maire (UCSD), Ryan Lee
(Berkeley), Franklin Antonio (Qualcomm), Andrew Howard
(Caltech), David Anderson (Berkeley), Shelley Wright (UCSD),
Aaron Brown (UCSD), Dan Werthimer (Berkeley). Paul Horowitz
stepped out briefly when we spontaneously snapped this
picture (with no masks).
Sometimes it's the little
things that are the most memorable and news worthy.
After 18 months of many zoom sessions our lab
joins for a picnic lunch on the campus quad. It
was nice to see everyone again!
May 5, 2021
The IRIS DRS had its external Final
Design Review committee meeting today (via Zoom). Our UCSD
team answered over 75+ review questions over the last two
weeks and presented on the design of detector readout
processing, post-processing algorithms, data products, and
simulations for IRIS imager and spectrograph. The
complexities of data products for a Thirty Meter Telescope
are vast. It’s exciting to see the data products and
planning going into these future science data sets!
Andrey Vayner’s part I
and part II
papers are now published in Astrophysical Journal on the
QUART (Quasar hosts Unveiled by high Angular Resolution
Techniques) survey sample. A comprehensive survey of
radio-loud distant (look-back time of ~11 Gyr) Quasar host
galaxies using Keck OSIRIS
Adaptive Optics is now released. Our team started this
initial multi-wavelength survey from 2014-2018. Learn about
the detailed and complex nature of distant galaxies harboring
the most luminous and active supermassive black holes.
October 8, 2020
Jerome Maire and Shelley Wright
brought two of the PANOSETI prototype telescopes to Palomar
Observatory for on-sky characterization. Both telescopes
were separated each by 1km and connected with a single-mode
fiber to offer nanosecond precision timing of events
between the two telescopes. It was a successful observing
OIR Lab graduate students Maren
Cosens, Sanchit Sabhlok, and James Wiley gave the first
shows of our new virtual planetarium program on October
8th. This new program will allow us to bring the
planetarium experience to San Diego even while we cannot
physically gather. Visit our planetarium page
to learn more
about the program and request a virtual event.
June 25th, 2020
Dr. Shelley Wright of the OIRLab at UCSD joins John Michael Godier to discuss an entirely new way of searching for intelligent alien life, PANOSETI.
This new way of searching will look for technosignatures in the form of lasers or other rapid bursts of light. PANOSETI will have the capability of searching and watching entire portions of the night sky for these signs from Alien Civilizations.
February 7, 2020
The two PANOSETI telescope that were
installed last month were upgraded with the latest software
and detector readout boards. The commissioning team was
honored to have Photographer Laurie Hatch arrive to take this
beautiful picture showing the telescopes newly installed in
the Astrograph Dome. Polaris is perfectly centered above the
telescopes with circumpolar star trails easily seen.
February, 3 2020
Our IRIS Data Reduction System (DRS) spent
the entire day at the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) headquarters
discussing and designing IRIS data products, processing, and
archiving with observatory software. Photograph left-to-right:
Kim Gillies (TMT), Andrea Zonca (UCSD), Nils Rundquist (UCSD),
Arun Surya (UCSD), Matthias Schoeck (TMT).
January 14, 2020
The team installed two PANOSETI
0.5-m telescopes in the Astrograph dome to commence a
wide-field optical SETI search and continue our
prototyping designs for the full observatory concept.
Picture: team outside Astrograph during sunset on January
14, 2020 (left to right: Aaron Brown, Shelley Wright,
Jerome Maire, Wei Liu, Rick Raffanti, Dan Werthimer, and
August, 2 2019
James Wiley, Nils Rundquist, and
Maren Cosens gave tours of the OIRLab for the Elementary
Institute of Science, where students from San Diego
nurture their intellectual curiosity through hands-on
July 18 - 21, 2019
The OIRlab conducted over 38
planetarium shows at Future Tech Live at San Diego Comic
Con. It was estimated that over 1,000 people came through
our planetarium! Shelley also participated in the Space
and Beyond panel at Comic Con on Saturday night. Graduate
students Maren Cosens and Lindsay Lowry are leading the
fearless planetarium crew.
’s a nice review of our portable planetarium
shows at ComicCon.
July 18, 2019
Dr. Andrey Vayner defended his Ph.D.
thesis on “The Role of Quasars in the Formation of Massive
Galaxies”. Dr. Vayner will be moving to Johns Hopkins
University for his postdoctoral work. He is holding a
print by Laurie
July 15 - 18, 2019
Jerome Maire, Arun Surya, and Shelley
Wright designed and implemented two optics laboratory
activities at the new AstroTech workshop at UC Berkeley.
AstroTech is a new summer school (starting in 2020)
developed by the Institute for Scientist & Engineer
Educators (ISEE), the Keck All-Sky Precision Adaptive
Optics (KAPA) team led by Prof. Jessica Lu (Project
June 26, 2019
Dean Boggs and Shelley Wright
conducted a tour of W. M. Keck Observatory with UCSD
Alumni. We had a gorgeous day at the summit followed by
night time observing with KCWI.
June 7, 2019
The Liger technical and science team
presented material on the instrument design to an external
committee review. Liger passed it’s review and received
excellent, constructive feedback.
April 10, 2019
The PANOSETI team installed the first
telescope module at Mt. Laguna Observatory and
successfully achieved first light. The team will be using
this module for on-sky testing and software analysis and
is an important milestone for the future observatory.
March 9th, 2019
On Saturday March 9th, we gave
planetarium shows to the K-12 school The Child’s Primary
School “Space” event in Clairemont. If you are interested
in planetarium show at your institute or K-12 school,
please visit our planetarium page
February 18 - 22, 2019
Maren Cosens gave an invited talk at
the Lorentz Center in beautiful Leiden, Netherlands at the
“Formation of Stars and Massive clusters in Dwarf Galaxies
over Cosmic Time” Lorentz Center Conference. The title of
her talk was "The Size-Luminosity Scaling Relations of
Local and Distant Star Forming Galaxies"
January 6 - 10, 2019
Nina Shirman presenting her poster on
Gemini Planet Imager observations of the
Thermally-Pulsating AGB star W Pic. Andrey Vayner gave a
dissertation talk and Shelley Wright gave a TMT overview
talk and attended the Technosignature workshop.
October 25th, 2018
Maren Cosens and team’s paper on the
size-luminosity scaling relationship of star forming
regions in local and distant galaxies has been accepted
in The Astrophysics Journals (arxiv: 1810.10494)
October 20th, 2018
The UCSD OIR lab has acquired a brand
new portable planetarium that will be used for education
and public outreach with the San Diego community. Graduate
students Maren Cosens and Lindsay Lowry gave 6 shows at
UCSD Homecoming on October 20th to over 100 people.
June 11th, 2018
Left: Nils presenting his poster on
the photometric precision of TMT/IRIS. Right: Maren
presenting a novel wide-field instrument. Check out the 5 SPIE papers from OIR Lab
April 20, 2018
Shelley had a fun morning talking to CBS8 Morning News LIVE
about the start of Taste of Science and promoting her upcoming event on April 28, 2018, Zombies & Aliens
March 21, 2018
IRIS science team meet for the day to
discuss filters, gratings, critical path items of the
instrument, and worked on PSF-reconstruction.
March 14-15, 2018
The first face-to-face meeting for
the PANOSETI team took place over two days with many fun
topics, including props.
February 28, 2018
Even though we had a rough winter
season for observing at Lick Observatory, the Physics 164
students were able to get their asteroid data and more on
the Nickel 1-m. Students gathering for a long night of
observing in the UCSD Remote Observing Facility.
December 20, 2017
Andrey Vayner and team publish Keck
Observatory Adaptive Optics and ALMA data of the distant
supermassive black hole 3C 298, revealing large scale
winds and outflows that impact star formation across the
September 21, 2017
IRIS instrument and team passes the
preliminary design review (PDR-2) of operations, software,
and electronics at TMT headquarters in Pasadena on
August 21, 2017
Andrey Vayner and University of
Toronto students drive cross country to Oregon for the
eclipse and their trip makes
Shelley Wright, Greg Walth, and Marens Cosens from CASS
OIR lab also went to Oregon for the eclipse
May 21, 2017
Prof. Wright had the honor to
participate as a speaker at the
TEDx Donovan Correction Facility
. The TEDx video can
, along with local
March 28 - 30, 2017
The UCSD OIRlab team spent three
intensive days at UCLA working on advancing the OSIRIS
data reduction pipeline with our coding collaborators.
They let us outside for nice picnic lunches.
March 20 - 26, 2017
Eric Chisholm, James Larkin, and
Shelley Wright attended an IRIS leads meeting at NAOJ and
toured the exciting Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) facilities.
March 12 - 15, 2017
Andrey Vayner and Greg Walth attended
PDP Inquiry Institute
operated by the Institute for
Scientist & Engineer Educators (ISEE) in Monterrey,
November 18, 2016
IRIS instrument and team passes the
preliminary design review at TMT headquarters in Pasadena
on November 17-18th. Thank you to the esteemed reviewers!
Over 1000+ pages of just reviewer documentation.
November 1, 2016
The Intermediate Redshift OSIRIS
Chemo-Kinematic survey (IROCKS) results have been
published in the Astrophysics Journal (Mieda et al. 2016).
IROCKS first adaptive optics + integral field spectrograph
survey of z~1 galaxies with a 2 year Keck Observatory
observing campaign. See the latest results on the dynamics
and star formation clumps in these systems.
October 19, 2016
The NIROSETI observing campaign just
passed its 50% survey completion. More than 600 celestial
objects, such as nearby stars, clusters and nearby
galaxies, have been observed, but no ET signal have been
detected. Thanks to our courageous students for observing
all nights long! Go NIROSETI!
September 7-8, 2016
The UCSD OIRlab team spent two intensive days at UCLA
working on debugging and advancing the OSIRIS data
reduction pipeline with our friendly coding
collaborators. We had over 60+ code commits to the
OSIRIS github page and drank many cups of coffee.
July 12, 2016
Shelley Wright testified to the Joint Space Subcommittee
and Research and Technology Subcommittee Hearing on
Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Astrobiology. Shelley’s
testimonial addressed the current and future research
endeavours of SETI.
Full written and oral testimony can be found
June 12, 2016
The majority of the UCSD OIRlab attended the summer
American Astronomical Society (AAS) sessions in San
Diego. Greg Walth, Andrey Vayner, Shelley Wright gave
talks at the conference. Melisa Tallis and Andres Duenas
both gave excellent posters on the near-infrared SETI