Extrasolar Planet Detection Project Office
Looking for Other Jupiters, Other Earths, and Other Life Out There
More than 1000 exoplanets, planets circling around stars other than the Sun, have been discovered since the first detection in 1995. Direct imaging is the ultimate way of studying such exoplanets. We need a special high-contrast imaging technique to image a faint planet close to a very bright star. The Extrasolar Planet Detection Project Office will develop the instruments for the study of exoplanets on the Subaru Telescope and future space missions, and promote their researches step-by-step from giant planets to Earth-like planets including planet formation sites. This is to answer questions such as “Are we alone in the Universe?” or “Are there other Earths that harbor life?”
Gravitational Wave Project Office
Gravitational Wave Telescope will Reveal New Aspects of the Universe
The detection of gravitational waves will reveal new aspects of the Universe that cannot be observed by other means, such as the details of the primordial cosmos, the core dynamics of the supernovae, and the surface behavior of black holes. For the purpose of opening a new window, we are promoting the KAGRA project together with ICRR, KEK, and other universities. KAGRA is a large cryogenic gravitational wave antenna using a 3 km laser interferometer placed in the Kamioka underground site. TAMA300, the 300-m laser interferometer situated on Mitaka campus, is a prototype of KAGRA and acts as a test facility to evaluate key elements and techniques before installation on KAGRA. The project office is also promoting the DECi-hertz Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory (DECIGO) in space in anticipation of the future development.
JASMINE Project Office
Drawing a Detailed Map of the Milky Way at Infrared Wavelenths Using an Astrometry Satellite
JASMINE is a satellite for measuring the distances and apparent motions of stars around the central bulge of the Milky Way with yet unprecedented precision. First we are planning the launch of a small science satellite in around FY2019. This Small-JASMINE with a 30 cm diameter primary mirror will focus on the survey of a restricted region limited to only a few square degrees of the bulge. Secondly we plan to launch a middle-sized satellite with an 80 cm diameter primary mirror in the 2020s that will survey the entire region of the bulge. By observing infrared light that can penetrate the Milky Way, these JASMINE missions will be able to obtain reliable measurements of extremely small stellar motions with the accuracy of 0.01 milliarcseconds (1 / 360,000,000 of a degree) on the sky. These will provide the precise distances and velocities of many stars up to 30,000 light years away. With such a completely new map of the Milky Way, including the information about stellar movements, we expect that many new exciting scientific results will be obtained in various fields of astronomy.
Okayama Astrophysical Observatory
Our 188-cm Telescope is the Symbol of Optical-Infrared Observation in Japan
Okayama Astrophysical Observatory (OAO) is one of the most important domestic bases for optical-infrared observational astronomy in Japan. OAO operates the 188-cm reflector and promotes its open use. The main research fields being pursued by the 188-cm telescope are stars, interstellar matter, other galaxies, and extrasolar planets. OAO also operates two other telescopes, 91-cm and 50-cm reflectors, with which some original research projects are pursued about the Milky Way structure and variable and active objects. Astronomical instrumentation is another important activity at OAO. An infrared spectrometer and a fiber-link system for the high-resolution optical spectrograph are near completion, and a very wide-field infrared camera is underway. Moreover, OAO promotes domestic inter-university cooperation as well as East Asian astronomical collaborations.
Subaru Telescope’s Suite of Optical and Infrared Instruments Continually Enriches
Our Knowledge of the Universe
The Subaru Telescope, completed in 1999 atop the summit of 4200 m Maunakea on the Island of Hawai‘i, operates as a branch of NAOJ. This 8.2-m optical-infrared telescope serves astronomers from Japan and around the world as they explore the cosmos in an unending quest to gain a deeper and more accurate understanding of everything around us. Research with the telescope ranges from mapping satellites around the planets in our Solar System to searching for planets around nearby stars to observing the most distant objects at the edge of the known Universe. To facilitate such a wide range of research interests, Subaru Telescope not only maintains a variety of nine high-performance imagers and spectrographs but also develops new instruments. The Hawai‘i-based staff shares responsibilities for keeping the telescope operating at peak performance; for upgrading and maintaining its highly technical and state-of-the art systems; and for reaching out to the worldwide scientific community to inspire sustainable and long-term support for the Subaru Telescope.
Report from the Subaru Telescope for External Review
(FY2009 - FY2013)
TMT-J Project Office
Constructing a 30m-Class Optical-Infrared Telescope for the 2020s
Based on the scientific and engineering success of 8.2-meter Subaru Telescope, astronomers are preparing to begin construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) as an international science project. With an aperture of 30m, TMT will have more than 10 times as much light-gathering power as the Subaru Telescope, and boasts more than 10 times the resolution of the Hubble telescope. Such a telescope, together with other next-generation facilities on ground and in space, will play an essential role in the 2020s to deepen the human perception of the structure and evolution of the Universe, and the origins of stars, planets and life. National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is responsible for the project in Japan.