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Reflection: Ground Breaking Technology to Answer Age Old Questions

by Emily Peavy on May 17th, 2017

‘Imiloa invited Dr. Luca Rizzi, Support Astronomer from W. M. Keck Observatory, to the planetarium for our monthly lecture series Maunakea Skies. In his presentation titled ‘Ancient Mysteries and Cutting Edge Technology he talked about the recently installed Keck Cosmic Web Imager, which is a research instrument that allows scientists to look at the faintest most diffuse structures of the universe. Dr. Rizzi explained how this advanced instrument pushes new technological developments and will soon answer some of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

Ground Breaking Technology to Answer Age Old Questions

For the past 6 years Astronomers and Engineers from Keck Observatory have worked with a team at Caltech, University of California Santa Cruz, and industrial partners to design and build a revolutionary instrumentthe Keck Cosmic Web Imager. This state-of-the-art spectrograph is able to capture 3 dimensional spectral signatures with unprecedented detail allowing astronomers to study the filaments that connect galaxies across the grand scale of the cosmos. The finished spectrograph arrived in Hilo on January 20, 2017, and was installed as an instrument on the Keck telescope. The instrument made its first observation, a test spectral image of a nearby Globular Cluster, M3 on April 11, 2017 at 2:30 a.m.

(First Light image from the Keck Cosmic Web Imager (KCWI) (middle) is of the globular cluster M3 (right). Astronomers are able to obtain detailed spectral data from any of the stars in the field of view. Photo Source: Christopher Martin’s Group/CALTECH M3, Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/Univ. of Arizona)

With the first observation complete, scientists will now utilize the instrument to investigate extra-galactic structures and discover answers to questions like ‘what is the universe is made of?’

Read more about the journey of the Keck Cosmic Web Imager in Keck’s recently distributed media release.

Join us for May’s Maunakea Skies talk on Friday, May 19 at 7pm titled ‘A Telescope the Size of the Earth‘ with Dr. Alison Peck, representing the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) on Maunakea. Get your tickets today by stopping by ‘Imiloa’s front desk, or purchase over the phone by calling 808-932-8901.


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