Boston University Astronomy Department Receives 500,000 Grant from W.m. Keck Foundation Gift To Aid In Development Of State-of-the-art Infrared Imaging Instrument
Contact: Mark Toth, | firstname.lastname@example.org
Boston, Mass. — The Los Angeles-based W.M. Keck Foundation, one of the nation’s largest philanthropic organizations interested in engineering, science, and medical advancement, recently awarded Boston University’s astronomy department a $500,000 grant to develop Mimir, a powerful, state-of-the-art, wide-field imaging spectrometer and polarimeter.
When completed in the spring of 2002, Mimir will enable researchers at Boston University, under a partnership with the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, to undertake large, infrared surveys of magnetic fields in space. These surveys will shed new light on the most important of all galactic events: the formation of stars.
“With the Keck Foundation award, the Mimir instrument on the Perkins telescope will be a superb combination for taking wide-field, panoramic infrared images,” says Dan Clemens, associate professor of astronomy at Boston University and principle investigator on the Mimir project.
Spectroscopy is the measurement of the wavelength and intensity of the absorption of infrared light by sampling the various colors that are collected by telescopes like Mimir. Spectrometers can determine the composition of samples based on this absorption.
Designed for use on the Lowell Observatory’s 72″ Perkins telescope, Mimir will be made available to scientists at both Boston University and the Observatory nightly, with researchers from both locations taking turns using the instrument every other night over the next five years. Together, the Perkins telescope and Mimir will form the world’s newest and best system for conducting large surveys of magnetic fields in space and for collecting light.
“This wide-field capability will make Mimir uniquely suited to provide the large-scale context needed to understand how and where stars form in out Milky Way galaxy,” says Clemens.
The Mimir project benefits from the expertise within Boston University’s astronomy department, the third-largest producer of astronomy degrees in the country. With the Keck Foundation’s $500,000 grant toward the completion of Mimir, Boston University’s astronomy researchers will become the leaders in understanding the nature and evolution of the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe.
Boston University is the fourth largest private university in the United States, with an enrollment of nearly 29,000 students in its 17 schools and colleges. The University offers an exceptional grounding in the liberal arts, a broad range of programs in the arts, sciences, law, medicine, engineering, and other professional areas, and state-of-the-art facilities for teaching and research.
For more information on the W.M. Keck Foundation, please visit http://www.wmkeck.org.