Gemini High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph (GHOST)

 

The Gemini High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph under development at the Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre, in Victoria.

The Gemini High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph (GHOST) is the newest world-class instrument that will provide high-resolution spectroscopic capabilities at the Gemini South Observatory in Chile.

It takes the light from distant stars and spreads it into a rainbow, which astronomers analyze to understand the chemistry of the object that emitted the light, and to measure its motion away or towards the viewer, via the Doppler shift effect.

GHOST will achieve a new level of precision in these observations, thanks in part to technology developed by the NRC, allowing astronomers to advance the study of:

  • planets around other stars, and
  • how the elements of the periodic table came into existence.

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Connecting the science to the design

Extremely small movements in a star can provide astronomers with information – for instance, indicating that planets are in orbit and exerting a small, gravitational pull. But to measure that level of movement requires exquisite precision. GHOST is able to detect incredibly subtle movements – it can detect star movement at a speed equivalent to a human running a 100-metre race, when it is several light years away!

With decades of expertise in astronomy technology, the NRC delivered the optical bench for GHOST, providing some of the technology behind this new level of precision, featuring:

  • High throughput design: When even a fraction of the light collected by the telescope is lost, it reduces the potential for science on that instrument. The NRC designed and specified the latest detector technology, high reflectance optical coatings, and an innovative optical design to ensure high optical throughput from which the detailed spectra of light from faint stars can be examined.
  • Thermal enclosure: The more stable the physical environment within the optics bench, the greater precision it can deliver. The NRC provided an innovative thermal enclosure design, coupled with vibration isolation technology and precision opt-mechanical mounts, allowing for ultra-precise measurements of very faint features in the spectra of stars.

Meet the NRC team behind GHOST

The GHOST team included NRC engineers, fabrication leads, project managers, scientists, technologists, and more.

Current Members

  • Adam Densmore, Project Manager
  • André Anthony, Mechanical Engineer
  • Greg Burley, Detector Engineer
  • Edward Chapin, Software Engineer
  • Jennifer Dunn, Deputy Project Manager and Software Engineer
  • Gord Hnylycia, Instrument and Tool Maker
  • Neal Kelly, Instrument and Tool Maker
  • Jordan Lothrop, Mechanical Technologist
  • Scott MacDonald, Optical Engineer
  • Alan McConnachie, Project Scientist
  • Felipe Miranda, Fabrication Supervisor
  • Greg Nuspel, Instrument and Tool Maker
  • John Pazder, Project and Optical Engineer
  • Ivan Wevers, Mechanical Technologist

Past Members

  • Eric Chisholm, Project Manager
  • Joeleff Fitzsimmons, Mechanical Engineer
  • Colin Ganton, Fabrication Lead
  • Mark Halman, Electronics Technologist
  • Brian Hoff, Mechanical Engineer
  • Jim Jennings, Fabrication Lead
  • Sam Lambert, Mechanical Engineer
  • Vlad Reshtov, Mechanical Engineer

GHOST partners

  • Australian Astronomical Observatory
  • Australian Astronomical Optics at Macquarie University
  • Australian National University
  • Gemini Observatory

About the Gemini Observatory

The Gemini Observatory consists of twin 8.1 metre-diameter optical/infrared telescopes located at 2 of the best observing sites on Earth. From their locations atop mountains on Hawai'i Island and in Chile, Gemini Observatory's telescopes can access the entire sky.

Learn more:

Contact us

Scott Roberts, Research & Development Director, Astronomy Technology