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The MMT primary mirror was successfully recoated on September 2, with the coating being uniform across the entire mirror. The measured reflectivity in the blue (at 400nm) is 91.6%, the best achieved at the MMT to date. A minor imperfection is a thin coating along a small area of the south edge (around 6:30) where the glass was shadowed by aluminum foil used to protect the mylar vacuum barrier. Take a look at a photo (you can zoom in), the reflectance plot, and a video of the shot!
A Public Affairs Specialist position is open with our colleagues at the F.L. Whipple Observatory at Mt. Hopkins. It closes on Oct 31.
Our AO system (f/15 secondary) will be undergoing significant renovation beginning in 2017 and will be unavailable for an estimated 18 months. Improvements to the system will include new software and hardware, a realuminized secondary mirror, and upgrades to the ARIES instrument (PIs D. McCarthy and C. Kulesa). The currently scheduled October 2016 observing run will be supported as usual. One or two runs in early 2017 are anticipated, with the normal proposal deadlines and TAC assessment, before the AO system is taken offline.
To prepare for realuminization of our primary mirror, a bell jar was lifted in place to ready for the recoating shoot. A video provided by C. Beck of Marco Crane, who attached his GoPro to the crane hook, shows a unique perspective of the lift!
The September-December MMT observing schedule and program titles can be found here.
The SHELS (Smithsonian Hectospec Lensing Survey) is a complete galaxy redshift survey covering two fields. The first field, available here, was recently published by astrophysicist Margaret Geller (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics). It includes over 9000 new galaxy redshifts obtained with the Hectospec instrument on the MMT. The two well-separated fields provide an amazing database for future studies of galaxy properties and the large-scale structure of the Universe.
The MMTO has an opening for an Assistant Staff Scientist (posting #A20787). Details and an online application can be found here.
The MMTO is in summer shutdown. Work has started on prepping the mirror for stripping, scheduled to take place on July 26. Check back here for pictures! Realuminization will follow in a few weeks. We will reopen for scheduled observing on September 27.
Astronomers have recently concluded the Metal Abundances across Cosmic Time (MACT) Survey, led by UofA alum Dr. Chun Ly, using data from the MMTO and Hectospec. These new observations are crucial for characterizing the physical conditions and properties of gas in galaxies over time. This temperature-based metallicity study of nearly 160 galaxies is the first to span 8 billion years of cosmic time to understand the chemical enrichment and evolution of these galaxies. Read more about the new results here and here.