One of the goals of the Institute for Astrophysical Research is to design, develop and operate instrumentation and telescopes for astrophysical research. Since the IAR’s inception in 1998, IAR members have designed, built, and deployed three instruments that are now in regular use: MIRSI, PRISM, and Mimir.


  • mid-IR spectrometer and imager
  • spectral range: 2 to 28 microns
  • currently a facility instrument at the IRTF in Hawaii
  • diffraction-limited at the IRTF (0.27 arcsec/pixel)
  • field of view at the IRTF: 85 x 64 arcsec
  • spectral resolution in imaging mode: up to 1% bandwidth
  • spectral resolution in spectroscopic mode: 200 at 10 microns,
    100 at 20 microns
  • point source sensitivity (1 sigma in 60 seconds): 20 mJy at
    10 microns, 100 mJy at 20 microns


  • the primary near-IR instrument for the Perkins telescope
  • two imaging modes, spectroscopy, and polarimetry
  • fields of view: 10 x 10 arcmin and 3 x 3 arcmin
  • pixel scales: 0.58 arcsec/pixel and 0.18 arcsec/pixel
  • spectral resolution: R = 120 to 550
  • spectral coverage: 1.16 microns to 5.6 microns
  • polarimetric efficiency: 91.2 ± 2.5%
  • average instrumental polarization: 0.35 ± 0.02%


  • the primary optical instrument for the Perkins telescope
  • imaging, slit and multi-object spectroscopy, and polarimetry
  • field of view: 13.65 x 13.65 arcminutes
  • pixel scale: 0.39 arcsec/pixel
  • spectral resolution: R = 140 to 850
  • spectral coverage: 350 nm to 950 nm

Research Personnel

Professor Dan Clemens

Galactic structure; Interstellar medium; Star formation; Infrared and optical astronomy.

Professor Dan Clemens investigates the nature of star formation and the structure of the Milky Way galaxy using ground and space-based observatories at millimeter, infrared, and optical wavelengths. He is also an instrumentalist, having recently built Mimir, a multi-function near-infrared imager, spectrometer, and polarimeter for the Perkins telescope in Flagstaff, Arizona. With Mimir, he and his students are conducting a large-scale survey of the magnetic field of the Milky Way called GPIPS, an acronym for the Galactic Plane Infrared Polarization Survey. He was a member of the team that conducted the Galactic Ring Survey (GRS) using the 14 meter Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory, under the direction of Professor Jackson. Clemens also led the Boston University component of the GLIMPSE Legacyclass survey of the Milky Way’s disk, conducted by the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Learn more about Professor Clemens’ research here

Assistant Professor Philip Muirhead

Fundamental properties of low-mass stars, Statistics and characteristics of exoplanets, Stars and stellar evolution, Novel astronomical instrumentation.

Dr. Muirhead is engaged in a number of research programs aimed at understanding the variety of extrasolar planets orbiting low-mass stars. He is an Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Boston University and the Principle Investigator of the Low-mass Start Group at Boston University. Group members lead surveys on a variety of telescopes to investigate properties of low-mass stars and their orbiting planets: space-based telescopes, large ground-based telescopes for spectroscopy and moderate-aperture telescopes for precise photometry.

Learn more about Professor Muirhead’s research here and more about his research group here.