The TAO project
Science with TAO
Advantages of TAO
Since astronomy is the study of various phenomena in the Universe, observations with wide wavelength range is essentially important. Infrared astronomy has second longest history after optical astronomy and is very useful. However observations in the infrared wavelength are not easy because the infrared light is strongly absorbed by the earth atmosphere. The TAO telescope is planned to be built at the world highest site (5640m) at which the atmosphere is exceptionally transparent even in the infrared. In near infrared wavelength range discrete atmospheric ügwindowsüh of J, H, K-bands coalesces into one continuous window at the TAO site. In addition a new window from 25 to 40 micron appears in the mid infrared wavelength. Accessibility of these wavelengths is the most unique capability and the strongest advantage of the TAO telescope.
To utilize the best observing environment, the TAO telescope has two state-of-art instruments called SWIMS and MIMIZUKU. SWIMS (Simultaneous-color Wide-field In- frared Multi-object Spectrograph) is an instrument optimized for near infrared observations. It has a unique spectroscopic capability covering 0.9-2.5 micron continuously. This is very useful for line observations of red shifted galaxies. Its ability of simultaneous observations in two different wavelength bands, as well as the wide field-of-view of 9.6üf, enables us to carry out surveys with high efficiency which is a key for studying galaxy evolution, cosmology, and searching rare objects.
Longer mid-infrared is observed by a MIMIZUKU (Mid-Infrared Multi-mode Imager for gaZing at the UnKnown Universe) instrument. It covers a very wide wavelength range from 2 to 38 micron. Especially longer mid infrared from 26 to 38 micron is accessible only by TAO/MIMIZUKU. Thanks to its higher spatial resolution than satellite telescopes in this wavelength range, MIMIZUKU is a very powerful tool for studying planet formation and origin of materials. Furthermore MIMIZUKU has a unique function of simultaneous observations of two discrete fields of view, which enable us to carry out accurate monitoring in the mid infrared.
Science Cases with TAO
There are many kinds of scientific case with the TAO telescope. The most important two are ügOrigin of Galaxies and the Universeüh and ügOrigin of Planets and Materialsüh.
ügOrigin of Galaxies and the Universeüh
When were galaxies born? How did they form the current structure? To answer
these questions it is essentially important to understand growth process of
stellar mass in each period of the evolutional history. Wide and deep survey of
galaxies in the near infrared wavelength is a key observation to reveal the
process statistically and investigate environment effect for the
ügOrigin of Planets and Materialsüh
Recently a lot of planets outside the Solar system (so called exoplanets) are
detected and studied intensively by many astronomers. Total number of the
detected planets reaches 500 at the time writing in August 2011.
Investigations of the details of the exoplanets including orbit, size, composition, and their
atmosphere are a key for understanding formation of the (exo)planets and begging
of life eventually. These planets are thought to be formed in dust disks around
young stars which called pre-main-sequence stars. Therefore the dust disks are
important targets for observational astronomy as well as the exoplanets themselves. The dust disks do not shine in the optical wavelength, but are very
bright in mid infrared wavelength. The capability of 30 micron imaging of TAO is
expected to reveal the formation process of planets for the first time.