Institute of Astronomy

GravityCam: detecting larger numbers of Earth size planets using gravitational microlensing

SpeakerTalk DateTalk Series
Craig Mackay11 October 2017Institute of Astronomy Seminars

Abstract

GravityCam is a new concept of ground-based imaging instrument capable of delivering significantly sharper images from the ground than is normally possible without adaptive optics. Advances in optical and near infrared imaging technologies allow images to be acquired at high speed without significant noise penalty. Aligning these images before they are combined can yield a 3-5 fold improvement in image resolution. By using arrays of such detectors, survey fields may be as wide as the telescope optics allows. We describe the instrument and detail its application to accelerate greatly the rate of detection of Earth size planets by gravitational microlensing.

GravityCam will improve substantially the quality of weak shear studies of dark matter distribution in distant clusters of galaxies. An extensive microlensing survey will also provide a vast dataset for asteroseismology studies, and GravityCam promises to generate a unique data set on the population of the Kuiper belt and possibly the Oort cloud.

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