This year sees the W.M. Keck Observatory celebrating its 20th birthday, and the observatory is marking the anniversary with a series of events for astronomers and for the general public. The Observatory has had enormous impact on astronomical research, and its press release on the anniversary events cites these examples:
“The Keck Observatory has been central to some of the greatest breakthroughs in astronomy and recognized in recent history for discoveries including:
- The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for the accelerating expansion rate of the Universe;
- The 2012 Crafoord Prize for the discovery of a supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy using Keck’s world leading adaptive optics technology;
- In 2008, the very first images taken of planets found orbiting a near-by star; and
- The deluge of discoveries of exoplanets (more than 1,000 and growing) being detected and characterized by astronomers with the Keck Telescopes.”
2013 will also mark the year data from all the Observatory instruments will be ingested into the Keck Observatory Archive (KOA). The archive is funded by NASA, as a collaboration between the Keck Observatory and the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI), housed at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), at Caltech, where the physical archive is located. The collaboration takes advantage of the Observatory’s expertise with the instruments, and IPAC’s experience in operating science archives.
The archive opened for business in 2004, serving data from the High Resolution Echelle Spectromete (HIRES) instrument, followed by data from Near-infrared Spectrograph (NIRSPEC) and Near-Infrared Camera 2 (NIRC2). These data include all new science and calibration measurements, transmitted from the observatory to the archive by the afternoon after observation, plus all earlier data stored on tape at the observatory. Starting in mid 2o12, KOA began a project to expand its holdings to include all the Keck instruments, and is on track to complete this task by the end of calendar 2013. KOA has ingested data from Low Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (LRIS), Multi-Object Spectrometer for Infra-Red Exploration (MOSFIRE), the Keck Interferometer (KI) and will shortly complete the ingestion of data from the DEep Imaging Multi-Object Spectrograph (DEIMOS). The remaining instruments will follow in succession: the Echellette Spectrograph and Imager (ESI), the OH-Suppressing Infrared Imaging Spectrograph (OSIRIS), the Long Wave Spectrograph (LWS) (decommissioned) and the Near-infrared Camera (NIRC) (decommissioned). For all instruments, data are made available to the public in accord with the archive’s data access policy, which guarantees principal investigators at least 18 months exclusive access to data from the time of observation.
All the data will be accessible through a simple web interface, shown below (February 2013), and VO-interfaces are planned after this year’s data ingestion is completed.
Altogether, the archive hosts 18 TB of data (February 2013) and to date, there have been over 400,000 queries by astronomers. Here are some recent papers that have cited KOA:
- Keck NIRSPEC Radial Velocity Observations of Late-M dwarfs, Tanner et al. (2012). http://arxiv.org/abs/1209.1772
- The Temperature-Density Relation in the Intergalactic Medium at Redshift <z>=2.4., Rudie et al. (2012) http://arxiv.org/abs/1209.0005
- Orbit and Stellar Properties of the Young Triple V807, Schaefer et al. http://arxiv.org/abs/1207.7037.