The NSF Vera C. Rubin Observatory aims to compile the deepest, widest image of the Universe at optical wavelengths ever produced. From 2024 it will conduct a ten year survey of the sky from Cerro Pachon in Chile, using a specially designed 8.4 m diameter telescope with an extremely wide field of view (3.5 degrees).
|Institution||Principal Investigators||Research Interests|
|ANU||Jerjen, Lidman, Sharp, Ting, Wolf||Near-field cosmology, Supernovae, Dark Energy, AGN, Quasars, SkyMapper|
|CSIRO||Koribalski, Mahony, Wong||Low surface brightness astronomy, Fast Radio Bursts|
|Curtin||Miller-Jones||Tidal disruption events|
|Macquarie||Zucker, de Grijs, Hopkins, Kamath, McDermid, Spitler||Galactic Archaeology, Galaxy evolution, Low surface brightness astronomy|
|Monash||Mandel, Brown, Galloway, Karakas||Transients, AGN, Gravitational wave mergers|
|Swinburne||Glazebrook, Cooke, Graham, Taylor||Gravitational lensing, Transients, Massive black holes, Galaxy evolution|
|U. Melbourne||Webster, Auchettl, Reichardt||Quasar Microlensing, Supernovae, Galaxy clusters|
|UNSW||Brough, Martell, Montet, Ruiter, Seitenzahl, Stello||Galaxy evolution, Galactic Archaeology, Exoplanets, Supernovae, Asteroseismology|
|U. Queensland||Davis||Supernovae, Dark Energy|
|USQ||Horner, Carter||Stellar activity, Solar system|
|U. Sydney||Murphy, Boehm, Lewis||Transients, Dark matter, Galactic Archaeology|
|U. Tasmania||Bolejko, Cole||Gravitational lensing, Exoplanets|
|UWA||Driver, Meurer, Robotham||Galaxy structure|
|WSU||Barnes, Filipovic||Star formation|
The primary science drivers of the project, previously known as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), are exploring the nature of dark matter and dark energy, mapping the structure of our Milky Way and nearby galaxies, cataloguing the solar system, and searching for transient objects. First light is expected in 2022/23, with full survey operations to commence in 2024.
In January 2020, the LSST Project became the NSF Vera C. Rubin Observatory, in honour of renowned US astronomer Dr Vera Rubin. The telescope itself will be known as the Simonyi Survey Telescope in recognition of a significant private donation made early in the construction phase, while the imaging survey program will now be known as the “Legacy Survey of Space and Time” (LSST). The Rubin Observatory boasts a 3.2 gigapixel CCD camera, and by scanning the entire southern sky repeatedly over a ten-year period, it is hoped that the survey will help answer questions about the structure and evolution of the universe.
The 2020 Mid-Term Review of the 2016-2025 Decadal Plan for Australian Astronomy recommended that Australia “Pursue data access to the Legacy Survey of Space and Time via the exchange of time on Australian national facilities.” Ultimately AAL and Rubin Observatory agreed that the most cost-effective way of securing LSST survey data access rights for Australian astronomers was by providing suitable in-kind software and computing contributions that complement the LSST operations and science program. In Dec 2021 the Australian Research Council announced that a consortium of 14 AAL member institutions (plus AAL) led by Australian LSST Science Lead Prof. Sarah Brough (UNSW) had been awarded a $1.27M Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities grant in 2022-24 to support this engagement, with the balance coming from institution co-contributions as well as funding from AAL.
In return for providing:
a total of 47 Principal Investigators and 188 Junior Associates from Australia will be granted LSST data access rights. A table of the 45 named PIs in the LIEF grant, and a summary of their scientific interests is shown at left. The process for managing the Australian PI and JA membership is currently under development.
In May 2019 the first ever [email protected] meeting was held at the University of New South Wales, bringing together over 100 scientists from Australasia, Europe, Africa, and North America to discuss preparatory and planned science activities with the LSST.
Anyone interested in doing science with the LSST is encouraged to attend the annual Rubin Observatory Project and Community Workshops, the most recent of which was held virtually on 9-13 August 2021. The next Workshop is scheduled to be held as an in-person meeting from 8-12 August 2022 in Tucson, AZ.
In addition there have been local Australian LSST Workshops in Dec 2020 and in Dec 2021 to update the Australian LSST community on the in-kind proposal process, as well as share LSST-related activity within Australia.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.