Telescope Instruments: NIRC2

Instrument: NIRC2 – Near-infrared Camera, Second Generation
Telescope: Keck II
Wavelength: near/thermal-infrared light
Instrument Scientist: Dr. Carlos Alvarez
Description: Imager and spectrograph that operates with the Adaptive Optics system to produce high spatial resolution images and spectra.
Unique Feature: Coronagraphic mode that allows scientists to study the environment around bright sources. In coronagraphy, an “artificial eclipse” is made; observers place a coronagraphic spot in front of a star in the field of view, blocking out starlight and enabling the detection of faint features around the star such as circumstellar disks and orbiting exoplanets.
Research Specialty: Direct imaging of exoplanetary systems, studying the environment around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, and advancing galaxy evolution research. NIRC2 has also deepened our understanding of the solar system, including the study of atmospheric phenomena on planets and the study of volcanic activity on Jupiter’s moon Io.
Notable Contributions: Played a key role in proving the existence of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, which led to the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics.

“Itʻs been exciting to participate in NIRC2 research projects to study solar system objects and brown dwarfs in star clusters.” ~ Dr. Carlos Alvarez