Current projects

Upcoming and proposed projects

Current projects

Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope

The Canada-France-Imaging Survey (CFIS) is a Large Program on the Canada-France-Hawaii-Telescope to map 5000 square degrees of the northern sky in the r-band with exquisite image quality, and 10,000 square degrees in the u-band. This takes advantage of two unique strengths of this 4-m class telescope: good image quality and blue sensitivity. In addition to the standalone science goals (weak lensing of galaxies, and stellar populations in the Galactic halo), CFIS will provide some of the optical imaging that is critical to the success of the Euclid mission. CFIS membership is open to everyone in the Canadian and French communities. Balogh and Hudson are members of the CFIS Steering Group, Hudson is leading the weak lensing Science Working Group.  


Sloan Telescope

The extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS) is an ongoing survey using the Sloan telescope. It is the only ongoing cosmological galaxy redshift survey and has already published a number of cosmological measurements covering the intermediate redshift range 0.9<z<2.0. Percival serves as the eBOSS Survey Scientist.  


black hole

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is an Earth-sized network of millimeter-wavelength telescopes that together comprise the highest resolution imaging instrument in the history of astronomy, sufficient to image the event horizons of known astronomical black holes. Over the past decade pathfinder experiments have provided the first direct evidence of horizon-scale structures about the black holes at the centre of the Milky Way and the giant elliptical galaxy M87. Since April, 2017, the full EHT has started operations, and will transform our understanding of the nature of black holes and the processes underlying the growth of black holes, including their inordinate impact on their host galaxies and galaxy clusters. Broderick leads the EHT Initiative at PI, is a key organizing member of the EHT collaboration and currently serves on the EHT Board. Learn more about the Event Horizon Telescope.


Upcoming and proposed projects

Cosmological Advanced Survey Telescope for Optical and UV Research

The Cosmological Advanced Survey Telescope for Optical and UV Research (CASTOR) is a proposed Canadian Space Agency satellite mission that would provide high-resolution imaging in the UV/optical (0.15–0.55 μm) spectral region. This versatile ‘smallSAT’-class mission would far surpass any ground-based optical telescope in terms of angular resolution and would provide ultra-deep imaging in three broad filters to supplement longer-wavelength data from planned international dark energy missions (Euclid, WFIRST – see below) as well as from the groundbased Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). Combining the largest focal plane ever flown in space with an innovative optical design that delivers Hubble Space Telescope-quality images over a field two orders of magnitude larger than the Hubble Space Telescope, CASTOR would image about 1/8th of the sky to a (u-band) depth ~1 magnitude fainter than will be possible with LSST even after a decade of operations. No planned or proposed astronomical facility would exceed CASTOR in its potential for discovery at these wavelengths. Balogh is the lead of the “Galaxies and Evolution of Cosmic Star Formation” Science Working Group for CASTOR and has been on the science team for the concept study and previous Discipline Working Group where the idea was launched (~2009). 


Cerro Chajnantor Atacama Telescope-prime

The Cerro Chajnantor Atacama Telescope-prime (CCAT-p) is a submillimeter wavelength telescope designed for very wide field observing. This 6-meter aperture telescope will begin operations in Chile in 2022, carrying out several large-area surveys with a mapping speed unchallenged by any current or near-future facilities in the 150 to 1500 GHz telluric window. These surveys will be combined with data from other facilities to trace the first galaxies as they reionize the Universe, to constrain the physics driving the current acceleration of the cosmic expansion rate, to determine the sum of neutrino masses via observations of foreground effects on the Cosmic Microwave Background, and to use the distribution of dusty galaxies to test inflation and search for primordial gravitational waves. Fich is the leader of the Canadian CCAT-p team that holds a 20% share of the facility.  


Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument

The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) in a new multi-object spectrograph being built for the Mayall telescope, which will be able undertake a spectroscopic survey 20 times faster than the Sloan Telescope, used for the influential Sloan Digital Sky Survey. It will be used to create a galaxy survey containing 30 million galaxies forming an unprecedented large-scale structure survey, which will be cosmic variance limited out to redshift z<1.4. Previously, Percival led the UK contribution to this experiment, including managing the 5M (CAD) contribution from the UK government.  


Artist rendering of the Euclid satellite

In 2022 the European Space Agency will launch the Euclid satellite mission. Euclid is a medium class astronomy and astrophysics space mission that will undertake a galaxy redshift survey over the redshift range 0.9 < z < 1.8, while simultaneously performing an imaging survey in both visible and near infrared bands. The complete survey will provide hundreds of thousands of images and several tens of Petabytes of data. About 10 billion sources will be observed by Euclid out of which several tens of million galaxy redshifts will be measured and used to make galaxy clustering measurements. These observations will be used to help to understand Dark Energy, the physical mechanism causing the current acceleration in the expansion of the Universe. Percival is one of four science coordinators for the mission and co-leads the galaxy clustering science working group. Balogh, Hudson and Taylor are members of the experiment.  


Artists rendering of the James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), set to launch in 2019, is the long-anticipated successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. Optimized for near-infrared observations, with a dazzling array of instrumentation, JWST will make fundamental new discoveries about the very early Universe, the assembly of galaxies, the birth of stars and planets, and the origins of life. Through the involvement of the Canadian Space Agency, Canadian astronomers have access to 5% of time for PI-driven projects on this extraordinary facility. With a lifetime requirement of 5 years (and a goal of 10 years), and a limited proprietary time of 12 months, there will be a lot of pressure to exploit these data shortly after they are obtained. Balogh, McNamara and Hudson are expected to be heavy users of the JWST.


Artist view of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is an ambitious, US-led experiment to map most of the observable sky at optical wavelengths, revisiting each point on the sky approximately every three nights for ten years. Each visit will consist of multiple images spaced by about 15 seconds. This will provide an unprecedented look at the transient universe, discovering myriad phenomena that vary on timescales ranging from seconds to years. In addition, the cumulative exposures result in a very deep image of the night sky, providing optical characteristics for tens of billions of faint stars and galaxies. Balogh, Hudson, McNamara, Taylor and Afshordi are members of the LSST Consortium through a Memorandum of Assurance between the Dunlap Institute and the University of Waterloo.


MSE telescope

The Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) is a proposed spectroscopic survey telescope, to replace the CFHT on Maunakea. The telescope will have an 11m primary mirror and a 1-degree field of view, with a fibre-fed spectrograph capable of obtaining simultaneous spectra for thousands of objects at resolutions spanning 2000 to 20,000. Its operations will be dedicated to conducting several wide area surveys that provide a critical complement to the ambitious imaging surveys on the horizon. Balogh is a member of the Science Executive for this international facility, and Percival co-leads the Cosmology study group.  


Artist's view of the Thirty Meter Telescope

Participation in the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Project has been the top recommendation of Canada’s Long-range Plan for astronomy for the last 15 years. Federal funding obtained in 2014 currently affords Canada about a 15% share in this facility, one of only three planned telescopes in its class worldwide. As the name suggests, the TMT is an optical/infrared telescope with a single, segmented mirror that is 30m in diameter. This provides an advantage in both light collecting power and angular resolution over smaller telescopes; specifically, it is 80 times more sensitive than the largest existing telescopes, and 200 times more sensitive than Canada’s largest existing national optical facility, Gemini. First light is expected in 2028. Balogh is presently the Chair of an advisory committee that serves as a link between the professional Canadian community and the TMT project.  


Artists concept of XRISM X-ray Observatory

The X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) succeeds the Hitomi X-ray Observatory that failed on orbit in 2016. Prior to the failure, Hitomi delivered a ground-breaking observation of the Perseus Cluster of Galaxies’ hot atmosphere. The observations revealed bulk and turbulent velocities and chemical composition with unprecedented detail. XRISM’s Resolve microcalorimeter spectrometer will reveal atmospheric gas motions and chemical compositions of dozens of galaxies and clusters, supernova remnant expansion velocities and chemical compositions, winds from massive black holes, and feedback physics from massive black holes and starbursts. McNamara is the principal investigator and lead of Canada’s effort to calibrate Resolve’s optical blocking filters at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon. He is also a member of the XRISM Science Working Group and NASA’s calibration group centered at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA. Scheduled for launch in 2022, Canadian astronomers, along with partners in the Japan, the United States, and Europe, will have access to XRISM through the usual proposal process.