UK ELT Programme

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

Abstract

The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) is now under construction in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). With a diameter of 39m and a greater collecting area than all current large telescopes combined, the sensitivity and spatial resolution of the ELT will dwarf those of existing facilities in the visible and infrared. With the first observations planned for 2024, the sheer sensitivity of the ELT is truly remarkable, with a collecting area over 18 times that of ESO's current largest telescopes. The telescope will also continuously correct the light from astronomical objects with a technique called adaptive optics, giving astronomers images with five times better resolution than possible today.

This vast step forward in both collecting area and image resolution from the ELT will be transformative for nearly every aspect of contemporary astronomy, from searches for molecules potentially linked to life in nearby exoplanets, out to detection of the most distant galaxies at the edge of the observable Universe. It will give us our first detailed views of individual stars in galaxies which are millions of light-years beyond the Milky Way, and help to settle arguments as to whether some of the fundamental constants of physics vary in space and time. It will have the capabilities to directly detect mature planets similar to those in our Solar System around nearby stars, while also probing the distribution of elusive dark matter in galaxies when the Universe was just 10% of its current age. This is just a small subset of the diverse and profound scientific breakthroughs we expect from the ELT, and UK astronomers and engineers are playing leading roles in the development of the cameras and spectrographs that will take the valuable observations in the mid 2020s and beyond.

Building on a decade of scientific and technical development, the UK ELT Programme coordinates the UK roles in ELT instrumentation. At the core of the programme is leadership of the design and construction of the HARMONI instrument, one of the two first-light instruments for the telescope, ensuring UK astronomers will be well prepared to reap the rewards from ELT observations as soon as possible and some of its first discoveries.

The programme also includes smaller roles in future instruments, so that UK astronomers can exploit as much as possible of the tremendous new discovery space of the ELT. The UK is building the high-resolution spectrograph for METIS, the third instrument for the ELT, now in construction (led by the Netherlands). UK groups also have key roles in design studies of the next instruments, HIRES (led by Italy) and MOSAIC (led by France), both of which will be essential to exploit the huge scientific opportunities of the observatory. Lastly, the programme is investing in research and development of new technologies that will influence the design of future ELT instruments, particularly the development of the PCS instrument for studies of exoplanets.

Planned Impact

The UK ELT programme has two main (non-academic) routes to impact: industrial contract return from ESO, including the instrument projects, and public engagement (PE). Both of these are dealt with through dedicated work-packages in the proposal, with further details given in the Pathways to Impact document.

1) Industrial return: The total hardware budget for the telescope construction project at ESO is more than 800MEur and most of that will be procured from industry in the ESO member states. UK companies are eligible to bid for ESO contracts and a major part of the industry engagement programme is to find suitable UK companies to put forward to receive calls for tender. There is still over 100MEur worth of ELT contracts to be let and through past efforts of the programme, UK companies are well placed for a number of specialist supplies in imaging detectors and software. The end goal of the programme is to see contract return to the UK increase so that we maximise our share of the construction budget. Our activities in support of this goal include publicising tender opportunities through email campaigns from the STFC tender opportunities service, targeted meetings with groups of companies and contract-specific events.

2) PE: Astronomy is recognised as a hugely inspiring way to engage the public with the big questions of science, and events such as Stargazing Oxford and Doors Open at Royal Observatory Edinburgh regularly draw thousands of visitors. We will leverage the existing PE programmes of the consortium (including the ROE Visitor Centre, STFC Public Engagement & Communications and Oxford University) and exploit the news value of significant ELT milestones between now and first light. The first phase of the programme will aim to engage audiences with the technology involved in building the ELT and its systems and will concentrate on `awareness raising' with social media campaigns, coordinating with ESO on press releases and embedding the ELT into wider STFC PE activities (e.g. piggybacking on the JWST launch). Subsequent phases will begin to plan activities leading up to telescope first light, and secure additional funding for
resource development and building partnerships with teachers, science centres, and planetaria in preparation for leading a series of national events.

Publications

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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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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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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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Carlotti A. (2019) Spectroimaging of young planets with ELT-HARMONI in SF2A-2019: Proceedings of the Annual meeting of the French Society of Astronomy and Astrophysics

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Carlotti A. (2019) Spectroimaging of young planets with ELT-HARMONI in SF2A-2019: Proceedings of the Annual meeting of the French Society of Astronomy and Astrophysics

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Cirasuolo M. (2020) MOONS: The New Multi-Object Spectrograph for the VLT in The Messenger

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/S001409/1 01/04/2019 31/03/2023
2374768 Studentship ST/S001409/1 03/10/2016 31/03/2020 Laurence Routledge
2375838 Studentship ST/S001409/1 02/10/2017 31/03/2021 Andrea Hidalgo Valadez
2374716 Studentship ST/S001409/1 02/10/2017 31/03/2021 Alvaro Menduina
 
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 Astrobiology Center (CAB)
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Oxford are the leaders in this collaboration
Collaborator Contribution UKATC are responsible for the integration and testing of the cryostat (Integral field spectrograph). They are also responsible for the Focal Plane Relay System, the rotator and the cable wrap. IAC are responsible for the pre-optics and the control electronics. Lyon are responsible for the Image Slicer (IFU) and the data analysis pipeline. Madrid provide the calibration unit and the pick off arm for the NGS. Durham provide the real-time computing software and the low order wavefront sensors. Marseille are responsible for all the adaptive optics sensing, including the Laser Guide Star system and the Single Conjugate adaptive optics system. They will be in charge of the integration of the top end including the Cal Unit, LGS system, NGS system and the FPRS. Michigan are making a cash contribution towards the cost of the instrument.
Impact Contract with ESO for the Design and Build of the HARMONI spectrograph.
Start Year 2015
 
Description HARMONI Consortium (Agreement) 
Organisation Durham University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Oxford are the leaders in this collaboration
Collaborator Contribution UKATC are responsible for the integration and testing of the cryostat (Integral field spectrograph). They are also responsible for the Focal Plane Relay System, the rotator and the cable wrap. IAC are responsible for the pre-optics and the control electronics. Lyon are responsible for the Image Slicer (IFU) and the data analysis pipeline. Madrid provide the calibration unit and the pick off arm for the NGS. Durham provide the real-time computing software and the low order wavefront sensors. Marseille are responsible for all the adaptive optics sensing, including the Laser Guide Star system and the Single Conjugate adaptive optics system. They will be in charge of the integration of the top end including the Cal Unit, LGS system, NGS system and the FPRS. Michigan are making a cash contribution towards the cost of the instrument.
Impact Contract with ESO for the Design and Build of the HARMONI spectrograph.
Start Year 2015
 
Description HARMONI Consortium (Agreement) 
Organisation Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Oxford are the leaders in this collaboration
Collaborator Contribution UKATC are responsible for the integration and testing of the cryostat (Integral field spectrograph). They are also responsible for the Focal Plane Relay System, the rotator and the cable wrap. IAC are responsible for the pre-optics and the control electronics. Lyon are responsible for the Image Slicer (IFU) and the data analysis pipeline. Madrid provide the calibration unit and the pick off arm for the NGS. Durham provide the real-time computing software and the low order wavefront sensors. Marseille are responsible for all the adaptive optics sensing, including the Laser Guide Star system and the Single Conjugate adaptive optics system. They will be in charge of the integration of the top end including the Cal Unit, LGS system, NGS system and the FPRS. Michigan are making a cash contribution towards the cost of the instrument.
Impact Contract with ESO for the Design and Build of the HARMONI spectrograph.
Start Year 2015
 
Description HARMONI Consortium (Agreement) 
Organisation Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseile
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Oxford are the leaders in this collaboration
Collaborator Contribution UKATC are responsible for the integration and testing of the cryostat (Integral field spectrograph). They are also responsible for the Focal Plane Relay System, the rotator and the cable wrap. IAC are responsible for the pre-optics and the control electronics. Lyon are responsible for the Image Slicer (IFU) and the data analysis pipeline. Madrid provide the calibration unit and the pick off arm for the NGS. Durham provide the real-time computing software and the low order wavefront sensors. Marseille are responsible for all the adaptive optics sensing, including the Laser Guide Star system and the Single Conjugate adaptive optics system. They will be in charge of the integration of the top end including the Cal Unit, LGS system, NGS system and the FPRS. Michigan are making a cash contribution towards the cost of the instrument.
Impact Contract with ESO for the Design and Build of the HARMONI spectrograph.
Start Year 2015
 
Description HARMONI Consortium (Agreement) 
Organisation Lyon Observatory
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Oxford are the leaders in this collaboration
Collaborator Contribution UKATC are responsible for the integration and testing of the cryostat (Integral field spectrograph). They are also responsible for the Focal Plane Relay System, the rotator and the cable wrap. IAC are responsible for the pre-optics and the control electronics. Lyon are responsible for the Image Slicer (IFU) and the data analysis pipeline. Madrid provide the calibration unit and the pick off arm for the NGS. Durham provide the real-time computing software and the low order wavefront sensors. Marseille are responsible for all the adaptive optics sensing, including the Laser Guide Star system and the Single Conjugate adaptive optics system. They will be in charge of the integration of the top end including the Cal Unit, LGS system, NGS system and the FPRS. Michigan are making a cash contribution towards the cost of the instrument.
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 integration and testing of the cryostat (Integral field spectrograph). They are also responsible for the Focal Plane Relay System, the rotator and the cable wrap. IAC are responsible for the pre-optics and the control electronics. Lyon are responsible for the Image Slicer (IFU) and the data analysis pipeline. Madrid provide the calibration unit and the pick off arm for the NGS. Durham provide the real-time computing software and the low order wavefront sensors. Marseille are responsible for all the adaptive optics sensing, including the Laser Guide Star system and the Single Conjugate adaptive optics system. They will be in charge of the integration of the top end including the Cal Unit, LGS system, NGS system and the FPRS. Michigan are making a cash contribution towards the cost of the instrument.
Impact Contract with ESO for the Design and Build of the HARMONI spectrograph.
Start Year 2015
 
Description HARMONI Consortium (Agreement) 
Organisation University of Michigan
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Oxford are the leaders in this collaboration
Collaborator Contribution UKATC are responsible for the integration and testing of the cryostat (Integral field spectrograph). They are also responsible for the Focal Plane Relay System, the rotator and the cable wrap. IAC are responsible for the pre-optics and the control electronics. Lyon are responsible for the Image Slicer (IFU) and the data analysis pipeline. Madrid provide the calibration unit and the pick off arm for the NGS. Durham provide the real-time computing software and the low order wavefront sensors. Marseille are responsible for all the adaptive optics sensing, including the Laser Guide Star system and the Single Conjugate adaptive optics system. They will be in charge of the integration of the top end including the Cal Unit, LGS system, NGS system and the FPRS. Michigan are making a cash contribution towards the cost of the instrument.
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 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
 
Title HSIM3 - a revamped simulator for observations with the HARMONI instrument for the Extremely Large Telescope 
Description HSIM3 is a major update for HSIM - the simulation software for the Extremely Large Telescope's first light integral field spectrograph HARMONI. HSIM3 is built around a "follow-the-photons" philosophy, so that the various "impacts" of the observation are applied to the input cube in the order in which they would occur in a real observation. For example, atmospheric transmission and atmospheric differential refraction would be applied before the telescope point spread function and both would be applied before the instrument's spectral line spread function. As a result, HSIM3 is more accurate in its simulations (and also more efficient). In addition, HSIM3 incorporates the ability to include detector systematic effects. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact The release of this software has enabled a number of researchers within the community to carry out "mock observations" with HARMONI at the ELT, resulting in scientific research papers where quantitative predictions of the scientific results that are obtainable with HARMONI can be made. 
URL http://harmoni-web.physics.ox.ac.uk/Simulator/simulator.asp