Gemini's Fast Turnaround program is intended to greatly decrease the time from having an idea to acquiring the supporting data. The scheme will offer monthly proposal submission opportunities, and proposals will be reviewed by the principal investigators or co-investigators of other proposals submitted during the same round. Here, we set out the design of the system and outline the plan for its implementation, leading to the launch of a pilot program at Gemini North in January 2015.
A mid-infrared (MIR) imager and spectrometer is being investigated for possible construction in the early operation of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). Combined with the MIR adaptive optics (AO) system (MIRAO), the instrument will afford ~15 times higher sensitivity and ~4 times better spatial resolution (0.07”) at 10μm compared to 8m-class telescopes. Additionally, through exploiting the large collection area of the TMT, the high-dispersion spectroscopy mode will be unrivaled by other ground- and space-based facilities. These combined capabilities offer the possibility for breakthrough science, as well as ‘workhorse’ observing modes of imaging and low/moderate spectral resolution. In this paper we summarize the primary science drivers that are guiding the instrument design.
A mid-infrared (MIR) imager and spectrometer is being investigated for possible consideration for construction
in the early operation of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). Combined with adaptive optics for the MIR, the
instrument will afford 15 times higher sensitivity (0.1mJy as 5 sigma detection in 1hour integration in the N-band
imaging) and 4 times better spatial resolution (0.08") at 10μm compared to 8m-class telescopes. In addition, its
large light-gathering power allows high-dispersion spectroscopy in the MIR that will be unrivaled by any other
facility. We, a collaborating team of Japanese and US MIR astronomers, have carefully considered the science
drivers for the TMT MIR instrument. Such an instrument would offer both broad and potentially transformative
science. Furthering the science cases for the MIRES1, where high-dispersion spectroscopy was emphasized, we
discuss additional capabilities for the instrument drawn from the enlarged science cases. The science cases include
broader areas of astronomical fields: star and planet formation, solar system bodies, evolved stars, interstellar
medium (ISM), extragalaxies, and cosmology. Based on these science drivers, essential instrument capabilities
and key enhancement are discussed (see the companion paper Tokunaga et al. 20102): specifically imaging, lowand
high-spectral resolution modes, integral field spectroscopy, and polarimetry.
Mid-infrared polarimetry remains an underexploited technique; where available it is limited in spectral coverage from
the ground, and conspicuously absent from the Spitzer, JWST and Herschel instrument suites. The unique characteristics
of SOFIA afford unprecedented spectral coverage and sensitivity in the mid-infrared waveband. We discuss the
preliminary optical design for a 5-40μm spectro-polarimeter for use on SOFIA, the SOFIA Mid-InfraRed Polarimeter
(SMIRPh). The design furthers the existing 5-40μm imaging and spectroscopic capabilities of SOFIA, and draws on
experience gained through the University of Florida's mid-IR imagers, spectrometer and polarimeter designs of T-ReCS
and CanariCam. We pay special attention to the challenges of obtaining polarimetric materials suitable at both these
wavelengths and cryogenic temperatures. Finally, we (briefly) present an overview of science highlights that could be
performed from a 5-40μm imaging- and spectro-polarimeter on SOFIA. Combined with the synergy between the
possible future far-IR polarimeter, Hale, this instrument would provide the SOFIA community with unique and exciting
science capabilities, leaving a unique scientific legacy.
CanariCam is the facility mid-infrared (MIR) instrument for the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), a 10.4m
telescope at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma. One of the science drivers for CanariCam is the study of active galactic nuclei (AGN). We will exploit the instrument's high sensitivity in imaging,
spectroscopy, and polarimetry modes to answer fundamental questions of AGN and their host galaxies. Dust in
the nucleus of an active galaxy reprocesses the intrinsic radiation of the central engine to emerge in the MIR.
Current work demonstrates that the hot dust immediately associated with the AGN, which blocks direct views of
the AGN from some lines of sight, is confined to small (parsec) scales. Thus, high spatial resolution is essential to
probe the "torus" of unified AGN models separate from the host galaxy. CanariCam provides a 0.08" pixel scale
for Nyquist sampling the diffraction-limited point spread function at 8μm, and narrow (0.2") spectroscopy slits
(with R=120-1300). New observations with the GTC/CanariCam will provide key constraints on the physical
conditions in the clumpy torus, and we will sensitively determine AGN obscuration as a function of nuclear
activity. We will therefore address the fueling process and its relationship to the torus, the interaction with the
host galaxy, and dust chemistry. These data will be essential preparation for the next generation of telescopes
that will observe the distant universe directly to explore galaxy and black hole formation and evolution, and the
GTC/CanariCam system uniquely provides multiple modes to probe AGN.