View open topics that have been proposed

Proposed Topics (17):

The following topic ideas have been proposed:

  • Planet Formation Imager
    Proposed by Theo ten Brummelaar (CHARA Georgia State University).
    (No comments yet)
     

    John Monnier has, I believe, submitted a white paper on this topis but will not be able to come to the meeting and has asked me to present a short presentation on this topic. The abstract from the white paper is

    An international group of scientists has begun planning for the Planet Formation Imager (PFI, www.planetformationimager.org), a next-generation infrared interferometer array with the pri- mary goal of imaging the active phases of planet formation in nearby star forming regions and to take planetary system “snapshots” of young systems to understand exoplanet architectures. PFI will be sensitive to warm dust emission using mid-infrared capabilities made possible by precise fringe tracking in the near-infrared. An L/M band beam combiner will be especially sensitive to thermal emission from young exoplanets (and their disks) with a high spectral resolution mode to probe the kinematics of CO and H2O gas. In this brief White Paper, we summarize the main science goals of PFI, define a baseline PFI architecture that can achieve those goals, and identify remaining technical challenges. We suggest activities that NOAO might support through further developments over the next decade at the flagship US facilities (NPOI, CHARA, MROI) that will help make the Planet Formation Imager facility a reality.

    Proposed by Theo ten Brummelaar (CHARA Georgia State University)

  • Community Access for Long Baseline Optical/Infrared Interferometry
    Proposed by Gail Schaefer (Georgia State University).
    (No comments yet)
     

    Long baseline optical/infrared interferometry (LBOI) provides a milliarcsecond view of the universe. The technique of LBOI is used to investigate a wide range of topics in stellar astrophysics involving high spatial resolution studies of stars and their circumstellar environments. Open access time to interferometers is moving LBOI into the mainstream of astronomical techniques. Continued support of open access time through NOAO into the next decade will expand the scientific productivity of U.S.-based interferometric arrays. This access will also help optimize the science return from large scale ground and space-based surveys by following up targets of interest discovered by these missions. Access to existing infrastructure will aid the development of technologies necessary for building the next generation of astronomical observatories that will push the limits on sensitivity and spatial resolution.

    We have submitted a white paper on this topic.

    Proposed by Gail Schaefer (Georgia State University)

  • The future role of the National Observatory for Gemini science support
    Proposed by Letizia Stanghellini, Ken Hinkle, Dara Norman, Abi Saha, and Verne Smith (NOAO).
    (1 comment)
     

    The US National Gemini Office (NGO) at NOAO is presently supporting the US Gemini Community through the phases of the astronomical observing cycle, from proposal preparation through data analysis. Other groups and individuals support Gemini science at NOAO through the TAC, and participate in committees that deal with Gemini operations, science and technology, program selection, and the users’ committee. What will be the future role of the National Observatory for Gemini science support? What does the US Gemini community need? Topics to be discussed with the US Gemini users span from observing modes and metrics to data analysis, science themes, and instrumentation.

    Proposed by Letizia Stanghellini, Ken Hinkle, Dara Norman, Abi Saha, and Verne Smith (NOAO)

    Comments (1):

    The Gemini Science User Support Department is very interested in the learning about and serving the needs of our users as they evolve to meet the science challenges and opportunities of the coming decade. We would be happy to contribute what we have we been learning recently as we implemented short surveys to track user satisfaction as well as insights into future directions our users are interested in pursuing.

    Comment by Joanna Thomas-Osip (Gemini Observatory)

     

  • Coordinating Strategies for LSST Follow-Up
    Proposed by Dara Norman (NOAO).
    (1 comment)
     

    White Paper for this topic posted already, see post by B. Miller. Additional comments are welcomed and encouraged!

    Proposed by Dara Norman (NOAO)

    Comments (1):

    Miller et al's White Paper presents a very good discussion of a complex and multi-faceted challenge, but one which we must solve in order to fulfill the scientific potential of LSST. Among the many outstanding questions they raise is exactly how the community access LSST alerts. Although the (mini-) broker systems to distribute the alerts are still under-development, that technology is only the first stage in a chain of technologies needed to act on some of those alerts. The remaining links in that chain, such as Target and Observation Manager (TOM) systems and observing facility interfaces, remain to be build, and astronomers need time to develop experience with them. LSST will begin its main survey within ~4yrs - or to put it another way, just enough time for astronomers to propose for a grant and recruit personnel to develop the systems they will need to accomplish their science. So the work needs to start now, and in order for it to be done, the interfaces to the brokers need to be defined by identifying the needs of the astronomers who will use them. Miller et al highlight a project that is exploring one possible way to coordinate follow-up programs across a diverse set of telescope facilities by bringing them under a single scheduler. This is a very powerful solution, with many benefits, but it is worth noting that participating observatories will be able to switch into and out of this "networked" mode. This ensures that they retain the flexibility to control their scheduling. It should also be noted the TOM systems can (and already do) conduct observations on multiple facilities both within and outside a coordinated network, so there is great flexibility in how this can be implemented. I strongly agree with Miller et al. that the greatest challenge may lie in the politics and sociology governing how different astronomical teams cooperate and share information. It is worth considering how we can incentivize astronomers to share and discourage actions that can lead to inefficient use of resources. I would also like to add that follow-up is not restricted to EM radiation nor to ground-based facilities, so conscious efforts should be made to encompass all observatories in this conversation.

    Comment by Rachel Street (Las Cumbres Observatory)

     

  • The future of the Blanco + DECam post-DES
    Proposed by Tim Abbott (CTIO/NOAO).
    (1 comment)
     

    The DES survey is due to end next year (assuming there is an extension), nevertheless DECam will remain available on the Blanco for community use, and demand is always high. To quote Lori Allen’s proposed topic for Mayall+DESI in the same, but later, circumstances: "One can envision a future that makes use of this powerful capability for a small number of coordinated surveys, for instance."

    Proposed by Tim Abbott (CTIO/NOAO)

    Comments (1):

    Blanco + DECam is the only prime-focus + large-FOV telescope in the southern hemisphere before LSST's operation. To enlarge the science output of DES and future LSST, I'd suggest DECam to start multi-narrowband imaging in the post-DES era. The multi narrowband imaging with specially selected multi narrowband filters would help to increase the accuracy of photo-z, to effectively select thousands to millions of emission line galaxies such as Ha, [OIII], [OII], Lya emitters, and to hunt the diffuse nebular emissions of distant objects, e.g., Lya nebulae, Ha nebulae, [OIII] nebulae, etc. All these are hard to be selected with broadband imaging such as DES and LSST. Currently, we have successfully taken the first DECam narrowband survey to probe the Cosmic Reionization. The first results are quite successful and listed as the 2017 NOAO science highlights. Soon, there will be a second narrowband filter, a Ha filter, for DECam. The Ultra-Deep Ha imaging with DECam will help us to measure the HI gas of our Galaxy, and select distant emission line galaxies such as Lya at z~4.5 and [OIII] at z~0.3. In summary, Blanco + DECam is unique to take multi narrowband imaging for the southern sky, which can effectively boost the science output of DES and LSST.

    Comment by Zhenya Zheng (Shanghai Astronomical Observatory)

     

  • A spectroscopic Survey Instrument on the Blanco 4-m telescope
    Proposed by Tim Abbott (CTIO/NOAO).
    (No comments yet)
     

    In the spirit of Jeffrey Newman’s proposed topic of "A Southern Spectroscopic Survey Instrument", it may be useful to discuss the Blanco telescope as a platform for such an instrument. DECam was actually designed with a view to a possible retrofit for multiplexed spectroscopy, a la DESI, albeit with a smaller field.

    Proposed by Tim Abbott (CTIO/NOAO)

  • The future of 4-m and 2-m class telescopes on Kitt Peak in the LSST era
    Proposed by Lori Allen (NOAO).
    (1 comment)
     

    A significant fraction of the LSST footprint will be observable from Kitt Peak. How do we make the best use of the 4-m and 2-m class telescopes for LSST follow-up and other science during the LSST era?

    Proposed by Lori Allen (NOAO)

    Comments (1):

     

  • The future of Mayall 4-m + DESI post-survey
    Proposed by Lori Allen (NOAO).
    (1 comment)
     

    When the DESI survey ends (~2024), how will we make the best use of the Mayall 4-m and DESI? One can envision a future that makes use of this powerful capability for a small number of coordinated surveys, for instance. We are interested in your ideas!

    Proposed by Lori Allen (NOAO)

    Comments (1):

    Interested readers may want to start with Maximizing Science in the Era of LSST: A Community-Based Study of Needed US OIR Capabilities

    Comment by Lori Allen (NOAO)

     

  • Enhancing the Value of US National Participation in Giant Segmented Mirror Telescopes
    Proposed by Mark Dickinson (NOAO), Ian Dell’Antonio (Brown University), Anthony Gonzalez (University of Florida), Stephen Kane (San Francisco State University), James Lloyd (Cornell University), Jennifer Lotz (STScI), Lucas Macri (Texas A&M University), Karen Meech (University of Hawaii, IfA), Susan Neff (NASA/GSFC), Deborah Padgett (NASA/JPL), Catherine Pilachowski (Indiana University), Kartik Sheth (NASA/HQ), and Lisa Storrie-Lombardi (IPAC) (Several).
    (2 comments)

    Three Giant Segmented Mirror Telescopes (GSMTs) with apertures >20m are now entering their construction phases. Each is being built by an international consortium, and two (the Thirty Meter Telescope, TMT, and the Giant Magellan Telescope, GMT), have US institutional partners, but at present there is no national, federally funded participation that would ensure GSMT access for all US astronomers. The previous two Decadal Surveys and the 2015 US OIR System study (“Elmegreen Report”) all identified US national participation in GSMTs as a high priority. GSMTs will enable transformative new science in nearly all areas of astronomy, and US astronomers outside the few partner institutions will be at a significant competitive disadvantage if there is no channel for open access, in which any US astronomer with a good idea can propose and execute GSMT science programs. Here, we discuss a number of ways in which NOAO and NSF-AST could maximize the scientific return to the US astronomical community from federal participation and investment in GSMTs. These include operations models with a balance of smaller and larger observing programs, including cooperative, international “key projects” or survey programs, and a robust system of data management to ensure that uniquely valuable GSMT data can be used and re-used by a broad segment of the astronomical community, including archival researchers. Implementing these ideas will require a significant level of national participation in these observatories, in order that the US community has a role in shaping their governance, scientific planning, and operations.

    We have submitted a white paper on this topic, and welcome comments and input from others.

    Proposed by Mark Dickinson (NOAO), Ian Dell’Antonio (Brown University), Anthony Gonzalez (University of Florida), Stephen Kane (San Francisco State University), James Lloyd (Cornell University), Jennifer Lotz (STScI), Lucas Macri (Texas A&M University), Karen Meech (University of Hawaii, IfA), Susan Neff (NASA/GSFC), Deborah Padgett (NASA/JPL), Catherine Pilachowski (Indiana University), Kartik Sheth (NASA/HQ), and Lisa Storrie-Lombardi (IPAC) (Several)

    Comments (2):

    I think that national participation in a GSMT project is critical for keeping US OIR astronomy strong in the coming decade. I'd be happy to help work on this.

    Comment by Gregory Rudnick (University of Kansas)

    I think this is one of the most important challenges facing US OIR astronomy in the next decade and beyond. I'm happy to help develop this argument. We submitted a separate (short) white paper advocating for this as well: A System for Deep Spectroscopy and High Angular Resolution Imaging in the 2020s and beyond

    Comment by Casey Papovich (Texas A&M University)

     

     

  • Southern Spectroscopic Roadmap
    Proposed by Kyle Dawson on behalf of Cosmic Visions Dark Energy Panel (University of Utah).
    (No comments yet)

     

    The Cosmic Visions Dark Energy group was established in 2015 to collect community input and identify priorities to extend cosmology surveys beyond the currently planned experiments. We have identified optical/IR spectroscopy as an area with significant potential for dedicated facilities at the scale of LSST, especially if such a facility can survey the southern sky. With current technologies and telescope designs, such a survey could begin at a scale of the DESI instrument outfitted on a 10-m class telescope. Observations coordinated with LSST would greatly reduce the uncertainties associated with photometric redshifts, enable the measurements of spectroscopic redshifts of tens of thousands of supernovae and other transients, provide accurate velocity dispersions for galaxy clusters, and offer spectroscopic insight into many other sources measured photometrically by LSST. If the telescope is designed to allow a larger instrument and possible wide-field adaptive optics, this facility could be upgraded to lead to the ultimate spectroscopic survey around the conclusion of LSST’s current program. A facility covering the IR to optical with 50,000-100,000 fibers would be capable of producing a galaxy sample of hundreds of millions of spectra. A facility of this scale will also enable spectroscopy of hundreds of millions of stars. A dedicated survey of this scale will allow measurements of galaxy clustering to non-linear scales for redshifts z<1.5, measurements of all linear modes to z=3.5, and offer insight into astrophysics at all scales. A roadmap that progressively scales spectroscopic capabilities will need to address several challenges, from telescope availability, to new instrumentation work, to theory. (This abstract is based in part on https://arxiv.org/pdf/1604.07626.pdf and discussions at earlier meetings.)

    Proposed by Kyle Dawson on behalf of Cosmic Visions Dark Energy Panel (University of Utah)

  • Small-Scale Projects to enhance LSST and DESI
    Proposed by Kyle Dawson on behalf of Cosmic Visions Dark Energy Panel (University of Utah).
    (No comments yet)
     

    The Cosmic Visions Dark Energy group was established in 2015 to collect community input and identify priorities to extend cosmology surveys beyond the currently planned experiments. We have identified a number of potential small projects that could enhance the science from LSST and DESI. The group has focused primarily in enhancing dark energy science but notes that there are many potential impacts from these small projects across astrophysics. These projects include an investment in facilities, computing, and/or analysis. We have not prioritized any one concept and are in the process of assessing near-term opportunities to recommend to the Department of Energy Office of High Energy Physics. Projects that can enhance the science return of LSST and DESI include those that offer:

    (1) New Observational Windows: direct support for joint pixel analysis will allow information from complementary surveys such as WFIRST and Euclid to enhance the interpretation of LSST images and DESI spectroscopy, particularly at the level of processing the raw data. Likewise, coordinated observations from other facilities can aid in the characterization of transients, modeling of faint sources, and calibration of photometric redshifts.

    (2) Theory, Analysis and Computation: Dedicated programs for theoretical development can identify key cosmological questions during the period of DESI/LSST and thereafter. Cosmological simulations of increasingly complex scale are needed to interpret the cosmological and astrophysical signals in future surveys. Finally, professional development for individuals divided between multiple surveys and the creation of shared analysis tools will allow more efficient analysis of the multiple surveys that will occur in the 2020’s.

    (3) New Technology Developments for the Future: Priorities for technology development that will be required for surveys beyond LSST and DESI are outlined in arXiv:1604.07821.

    Proposed by Kyle Dawson on behalf of Cosmic Visions Dark Energy Panel (University of Utah)

  • A Precision Cosmology Program with Gravitational Waves Standard Sirens
    Proposed by Marcelle Soares-Santos (Brandeis University).
    (No comments yet)
     

    First detections of mergers of compact binary objects by the LIGO/Virgo network of interferometers have revealed a new, independent, powerful class of distance indicators: gravitational wave standard sirens. In this study we aim at developing the case of a future program aiming at exploring these events for precision cosmology experiments.

    Proposed by Marcelle Soares-Santos (Brandeis University)

  • A Southern Spectroscopic Survey Instrument
    Proposed by Jeffrey Newman (University of Pittsburgh).
    (8 comments)
     

    Both the Elmegreen report and the Kavli/NOAO/LSST "Maximizing Science" report have identified wide-field, highly-multiplexed spectroscopy on as large a telescope as feasible to be a key capability to take advantage of the capabilities of LSST, as well as training photometric redshifts to increase the value of the LSST dataset itself. The DOE Cosmic Visions process has similarly identified a Southern Spectroscopic Survey Instrument designed to complement LSST as a priority. Just as SDSS spectroscopy complemented SDSS imaging, a wide field spectroscopic capability optimized for complementing LSST has the potential to make major contributions to a wide variety of science.

    Proposed by Jeffrey Newman (University of Pittsburgh)

    Comments (8):

    I would also like to contribute to this important proposal as much as I can.

    Comment by John Moustakas (Siena college)

    I think that this is important. We outlined a lot of relevant science in the "Maximizing Science in the Era of LSST: A Community-based Study of Needed US OIR Capabilities" report and this was one of our key recommendations. I'd be happy to work on this.

    Comment by Gregory Rudnick (University of Kansas)

    I agree this is very important in the era of LSST. Please keep me in the loop.

    Comment by Ting Li (Fermilab)

    I am happy to help.

    Comment by Hu Zou (National Astronomical Observatory of China)

    Please keep me in the loop. I am happy to help.

    Comment by Yue Shen (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

    I would like to be kept apprised of this development.

    Comment by Juna Kollmeier (Carnegie Observatories)

    I'd like to keep in the loop on any developments.

    Comment by Michael Wilson (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab)

    This is important, I'm happy to help

    Comment by Eric Bell (University of Michigan)

     

  • What’s the Next Big Data Thing?
    Proposed by Knut Olsen (NOAO).
    (No comments yet)
     

    What is the future of Big Data Science beyond the constraints of the past decade? What are the major science questions that drive the future development? Some ideas for developments are:

    • Data science platforms or hardware with built-in machine learning
    • Platforms for complete pixel-level data modeling
    • All-encompassing Cloud Computing
    • Application of computer-generated computing languages to astronomical data analysis

    Are there other, more important, ideas that should be pursued? What support will be needed to bring any of them to fruition?

    Proposed by Knut Olsen (NOAO)

     

  • Maximizing science output from large datasets
    Proposed by Knut Olsen (NOAO).
    (No comments yet)
     

    The past decade has seen a boom in the generation of large survey datasets of many kinds, but with a large variety of levels of access and ease of use by the community at large. What services, data access, and data products are important to maximizing the science output from current and future large datasets? What kinds of training are needed to take advantage of large datasets? What are the challenges of supporting development of the underpinning software infrastructure?

    Proposed by Knut Olsen (NOAO)

  • Maximizing information extraction from astronomical spectra
    Proposed by Knut Olsen & Stephanie Juneau (NOAO).
    (1 comment)
     

    With the advent of massive spectroscopic surveys, the time is ripe to review, develop, and deploy the best methods for extracting information from spectra, particularly those that push the limits of S/N and spectral resolution. What are the major science opportunities that would benefit from improved spectral extraction methods? What are current “best practices” in spectral extraction, modeling spectra at various of levels of sophistication, measuring and classifying spectral features, and applying these techniques to spectra of stars and galaxies? What are the challenges associated with these techniques? What support does the community require in this area to maximize the science return from large spectroscopic datasets?

    Proposed by Knut Olsen & Stephanie Juneau (NOAO)

    Comments (1):

    Given the huge number of low S/N spectra that will be returned by DESI, I think that these techniques will be necessary to leverage community science out of the large DOE spectroscopic survey that will be conducted with an NOAO facility. I'd be happy to help out if I can.

    Comment by Gregory Rudnick (University of Kansas)

     

  • Modern computational techniques for everyone
    Proposed by Robert Nikutta (NOAO).
    (No comments yet)
     

    The past decade has seen explosive growth in the application of machine learning, modeling, and other computational techniques to scientific data, but there remain numerous barriers to entry in adopting cutting-edge techniques to large datasets. What are the major science questions that drive the development of computational techniques? What are the promising computational techniques of the coming decade? What are the challenges involved in adopting them to astronomical large datasets? What steps should be taken (and by whom) to make it easier for the community at large to use current and future techniques?

    Proposed by Robert Nikutta (NOAO)