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Adaptive Optics (AO) Upgrade

Our AO system (f/15 secondary) will be undergoing significant renovation beginning in 2017 and will be unavailable for an estimated 18 months. Improvements to the system will include new software and hardware, a realuminized secondary mirror, and upgrades to the ARIES instrument (PIs D. McCarthy and C. Kulesa). The currently scheduled October 2016 observing run will be supported as usual. One or two runs in early 2017 are anticipated, with the normal proposal deadlines and TAC assessment, before the AO system is taken offline.

Bell Jar Lift

To prepare for realuminization of our primary mirror, a bell jar was lifted in place to ready for the recoating shoot. A video provided by C. Beck of Marco Crane, who attached his GoPro to the crane hook, shows a unique perspective of the lift!

Aluminization Preparations

On July 26, MMT staff stripped the aluminum coating from our 6.5m mirror to prepare for its realuminization in a few weeks. Using various cleaning agents, some mopped while others sprayed. Soon only a small portion of coating remained, revealing the honeycomb structure beneath the glass. Read more.

Observing Schedule

The September-December MMT observing schedule and program titles can be found here.

 

SHELS

The SHELS (Smithsonian Hectospec Lensing Survey) is a complete galaxy redshift survey covering two fields. The first field, available here, was recently published by astrophysicist Margaret Geller (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics). It includes over 9000 new galaxy redshifts obtained with the Hectospec instrument on the MMT. The two well-separated fields provide an amazing database for future studies of galaxy properties and the large-scale structure of the Universe.

Opening for Assistant Staff Scientist - Closed

The MMTO has an opening for an Assistant Staff Scientist (posting #A20787). Details and an online application can be found here.

Summer Shutdown

The MMTO is in summer shutdown. Work has started on prepping the mirror for stripping, scheduled to take place on July 26. Check back here for pictures! Realuminization will follow in a few weeks. We will reopen for scheduled observing on September 27.

MACT Survey

Astronomers have recently concluded the Metal Abundances across Cosmic Time (MACT) Survey, led by UofA alum Dr. Chun Ly, using data from the MMTO and Hectospec. These new observations are crucial for characterizing the physical conditions and properties of gas in galaxies over time. This temperature-based metallicity study of nearly 160 galaxies is the first to span 8 billion years of cosmic time to understand the chemical enrichment and evolution of these galaxies. Read more about the new results here and here.

Successful Coating Tests

In early May, the MMTO staff completed two full scale coating system tests. Utilizing the bell jar assembly at base camp, the coating system provided a 1050 Å thick coating (recorded at the two center deposition monitors that correspond to the center of the primary mirror) on May 4 and a 1150 Å thick coating on May 11. This critical milestone in preparation for the 2016 primary mirror realuminization was the first time all ten filament arrays containing the new style filaments had been fired using the MMTO-developed control software.

Hypervelocity Stars in the Milky Way

Appearing in the June issue of Physics Today is an article by Warren Brown (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory) describing his research on hypervelocity stars conducted in part at the MMT Observatory.