Lab News

October 22, 2022
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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
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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 here with further information.

August 17, 2022
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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 Group, 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 TMT/IRIS instrument.

August 8 - 9, 2022
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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
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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 here: arXiv:2208.07938; arXiv:2208.07937, arXiv:2208.07936.

June 22, 2022
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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 and advances instrumentation for large optical observatories such as the Keck Observatory. Well done, James!

May 12, 2022
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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, UCSD News).

February 13, 2022
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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
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Maren Cosen's new paper 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.

November 2021
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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
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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
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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.

August, 2021
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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.

July, 2021
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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
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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).

June, 2021
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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
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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!

March, 2021
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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 and 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
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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 run!

October, 2020
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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
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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. Link: https://oirlab.ucsd.edu/PANOSETI.html

February 7, 2020
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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
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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
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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 James Wiley.

August, 2 2019
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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 learning experiences.

July 18 - 21, 2019
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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. Here’s a nice review of our portable planetarium shows at ComicCon.

July 18, 2019
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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 Hatch Photography.

July 15 - 18, 2019
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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 Scientist).

June 26, 2019
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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The first face-to-face meeting for the PANOSETI team took place over two days with many fun topics, including props.

February 28, 2018
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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
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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 host galaxy href="http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/uc_san_diego_researchers_shed_light_on_formation_of_black_holes_and_galaxie"> (UCSD news).

September 21, 2017
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IRIS instrument and team passes the preliminary design review (PDR-2) of operations, software, and electronics at TMT headquarters in Pasadena on September 20-21st.

August 21, 2017
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Andrey Vayner and University of Toronto students drive cross country to Oregon for the eclipse and their trip makes CBC news! Shelley Wright, Greg Walth, and Marens Cosens from CASS OIR lab also went to Oregon for the eclipse (UCSD news).

May 21, 2017
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Prof. Wright had the honor to participate as a speaker at the TEDx Donovan Correction Facility. The TEDx video can be found here, along with local news coverage.

March 28 - 30, 2017
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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
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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
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Andrey Vayner and Greg Walth attended the PDP Inquiry Institute operated by the Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators (ISEE) in Monterrey, California.

November 18, 2016
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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
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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
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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!
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September 7-8, 2016
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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
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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 here.

June 12, 2016
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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 research!