UK E-ELT Programme 2015-2019: 3.5 year grant

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics

Abstract

We propose a programme to enable the UK to take a leading role in the construction of the first generation of instruments for the world's largest optical and infrared telescope - the European Extremely Large Telescope. Previously funded STFC programmes have been used to develop technology and instrument concepts to put the UK in a position to take the lead role in one of the two 'first light' instruments for the E-ELT (namely the E-ELT spectrograph HARMONI) and to take significant roles in three of the instruments expected to follow. Strong involvement in a programme of instruments will give the UK considerable science return through direct influence on the scientific priorities of these instruments and early science through guaranteed time return to the UK. There will also be important industrial return to the UK in terms of direct contracts and technology transfer.

The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) project aims to provide European astronomers with the largest optical-infrared telescope in the world. With a diameter of 39m and being fully adaptive from the start by incorporating a large deformable mirror, the E-ELT will be more than one hundred times more sensitive than the present-day largest optical telescopes. The E-ELT will vastly advance astrophysical knowledge by enabling detailed studies of planets around other stars, the first galaxies in the Universe, black holes, and the nature of the Universe's dark matter and dark energy.

The E-ELT has now entered the construction phase, and a groundbreaking ceremony on Cerro Armazones was carried out in June 2014.The project is led by ESO with strong involvement of European Industry. A series of instrument concepts have gone through detailed Phase A studies with strong UK involvement. Out of this process, ESO has developed an instrument plan which has two instruments selected for 'first light' (of which one, the HARMONI integral field spectrograph, will be UK led) and a pool of six other instruments in competition to form a sequence in the first generation.

The outcome of the ESO process places the UK in the unique position of being one of only two European countries leading the development of an E-ELT first light instrument. Given the enormous discovery potential of the E-ELT, this provides UK astrophysicists with an unprecedented opportunity to exploit the power of the world's largest ground based optical/near-IR telescope.

Planned Impact

The two key beneficiaries of this research will be
(a) the general public in the UK -- Astronomy has always been extremely effective at enthusing students to study math and science up to a high level of proficiency. The E-ELT will be the world's
largest ground based telescope for optical/near-infrared astronomy when it is built. By having a UK led team building the first light spectrograph for such an eye-catching facility will contribute enormously to the UK's reputation in high-tech science and engineering, and provide renewed enthusiasm to the population at large. The E-ELT, by making a huge technological leap forward, opens up "phase space" that will permit new discoveries, most of which we cannot foresee today, but it is highly likely that several of them are the eye-catching headlines of tomorrow.
(b) students who are at an advanced stage of their career: coupled with this program, we will be offering up to six D.Phil studentships at Oxford. These will provide unique doctoral training opportunities for the next generation of professional instrumentalists to hone their research skills in the field of astronomical instrumentation. This will help ensure continued leadership by the UK in this area of expertise.

In addition, we can foresee the following benefits:
UK Industry: Part of Project Office role is to continue to publicise the E-ELT programme and advise on areas in which UK Industry may bid for contracts for the E-ELT telescope and instrumentation build phases. In addition, a small amount of the funds in the overall R&D programme for instrumentation will be used for work with UK Industry and a substantial amount of the equipment being bought is likely to be from the UK.
UK Industry / UK PLC: there may be spin-offs from some of the astronomy-directed R&D (e.g. pick-off mirror micro-robots) UK PLC via trained scientists (e.g. from PhD studentships)
Promotion of science within the UK: UK School students, as part of the Public engagement element (e.g. Big Telescopes for Big Science programme) partly funded within this proposal.
UK General Public, via the Outreach programme events and announcements.

The goals of the Outreach Programme (see Public Engagement section of the detailed proposal) are:
Ensure such milestones receive appropriate national media coverage
Further establish and exploit the 'Big Telescopes for Big Questions' and the 'Dark Sky UK' initiatives, providing and using material in conjunction with JWST/MIRI and other major facilities
Organise more educational activities across a broader UK base for professionals and volunteers, refining and utilising powerful concepts and resources already piloted, for example under the auspices of the RSSE, also continuing to work with ESO and other E-ELT partners
Generate new sponsorships, with a goal to include industry as build opportunities are realised.

See also Economic Impact and Knowledge Exchange section of the detailed proposal.

Publications

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Allen Jamie R. (2016) Characterizing the performance of cryogenic lens mounts for the HARMONI spectograph in Advances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation II

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Allen Jamie R. (2016) Characterizing the performance of cryogenic lens mounts for the HARMONI spectograph in Advances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation II

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Augustin R (2019) Emission from the circumgalactic medium: from cosmological zoom-in simulations to multiwavelength observables in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Barnsley Robert M. (2016) Can the European ELT detect super-Earths? Measuring the contrast limit of an image slicer spectrograph in a laboratory experiment in Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VI

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Barnsley Robert M. (2016) Can the European ELT detect super-Earths? Measuring the contrast limit of an image slicer spectrograph in a laboratory experiment in Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VI

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Barnsley Robert M. (2018) Can the European ELT detect super-Earths? Measuring the contrast limit of an image-slicer spectrograph in a laboratory experiment: an update on progress in Advances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation III

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Bounissou S (2018) Simulating the detection and classification of high-redshift supernovae with HARMONI on the ELT in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Bounissou S. (2018) Simulating the detection and classification of high-redshift supernovae with HARMONI on the ELT in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

 
Description As part of this grant, we have developed the design of the HARMONI instrument for the ELT, so that it is now in the Final Design Phase (FDR Phase), having successfully passed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR). The PDR was held in Nov-Dec 2017, and following successful closure of the resulting actions, was declared to be passed in Dec 2018
Exploitation Route The design of the instrument could be used by many future instrument builders. The HARMONI instrument will be used to carry out a number of spectroscopic observing programmes with the ELT, which will result in ground-breaking science.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education

 
Description ESO Hardware Grant for HARMONI Design and Build
Amount € 18,200,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Southern Observatory (ESO) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Germany
Start 10/2015 
End 11/2024
 
Description HARMONI LTAO funding
Amount € 4,000,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Southern Observatory (ESO) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Germany
Start 04/2019 
End 11/2025
 
Description HARMONI Consortium (Agreement) 
Organisation Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands
Country Spain 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Oxford are the leaders in this collaboration
Collaborator Contribution UKATC are responsible for the instrument AIV. IAC are responsible for the pre-optics and the control electronics
Impact Contract with ESO for the Design and Build of the HARMONI spectrograph.
Start Year 2015
 
Description HARMONI Consortium (Agreement) 
Organisation UK Astronomy Technology Centre (ATC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Oxford are the leaders in this collaboration
Collaborator Contribution UKATC are responsible for the instrument AIV. IAC are responsible for the pre-optics and the control electronics
Impact Contract with ESO for the Design and Build of the HARMONI spectrograph.
Start Year 2015
 
Description HARMONI Science Team (post Agreement) 
Organisation Astrobiology Center (CAB)
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Project Scientist at Oxford coordinates the efforts of the HARMONI science team. We hold in person meetings once a year, and teleconferences 3 times a year
Collaborator Contribution The science team members carry out simulations of HARMONI science programmes, and the results are used to drive the instrument design and configuration, so as to maximise the science return.
Impact papers are currently being written, so no outputs yet.
Start Year 2015
 
Description HARMONI Science Team (post Agreement) 
Organisation Claude Bernard University Lyon 1 (UCBL)
Department Astrophysics Research Centre of Lyon (CRAL)
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Project Scientist at Oxford coordinates the efforts of the HARMONI science team. We hold in person meetings once a year, and teleconferences 3 times a year
Collaborator Contribution The science team members carry out simulations of HARMONI science programmes, and the results are used to drive the instrument design and configuration, so as to maximise the science return.
Impact papers are currently being written, so no outputs yet.
Start Year 2015
 
Description HARMONI Science Team (post Agreement) 
Organisation Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseile
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The Project Scientist at Oxford coordinates the efforts of the HARMONI science team. We hold in person meetings once a year, and teleconferences 3 times a year
Collaborator Contribution The science team members carry out simulations of HARMONI science programmes, and the results are used to drive the instrument design and configuration, so as to maximise the science return.
Impact papers are currently being written, so no outputs yet.
Start Year 2015