Astronomical Instrumentation

Professors Kaaret, Mutel

Students:  Ryan Allured, Scott Griffiths, Tom Brantseg, Hannah Marlowe, Ian Spangenberg, Alyssa Grigsby, Scott Griffiths

VERITAS - Gamma-Ray Telescope Array

Prof. Kaaret

UI is a collaborating institution on the VERITAS array of ground-based telescopes for gamma-ray astronomy located in Southern Arizona.  Iowa built the VERITAS pointing monitors and is actively engaged in development of a next generation gamma-ray observatory, the Advanced Gamma-ray Imaging System (AGIS). 

Robotic Optical Telescope

Prof. Mutel

The University of Iowa was one of the first Universities to operate a robotic telescope primarily for the use of students, both for instruction and research. The present instrument was installed in May 2002, and consists of an  OMI design 37-cm f/14 Cassegrain reflector on an equatorial mount, 8-position filter wheel, and 9 megapixel CCD camera (FLI 09000). It is located at the Winer Observatory in southern Arizona and operated over the Internet using a web-based scheduler. Telescope control software is Talon, originally written by Elwood Downey, and modified by Kevin Ivarsen and Steven Ohmert. 

The telescope is scheduled more than 200 nights per year, with observing requests ranging from routine undergraduate laboratory projects to research projects such as a search for small comets, planetary searches around white dwarfs, and a supernova search in late-type spiral galaxies. More details can be found on the Iowa robotic telescope (Rigel) website

VERITAS telescope:  The University of Iowa is a collaborating institution on VERITAS, an  array of ground-based telescopes for g
RESUN data acquisition module
Rigel image of M42
 Gregory G. Howes

Theoretical and computational plasma physics.

  • Turbulence in the magnetized plasmas found in laboratories, space and astrophysics
  • Analysis of spacecraft data from the turbulent solar wind
  • Students develop skills including high-performance computing on the nation's fastest supercomputers, analysis of simulation and observational data, and development of simple analytical models to interpret results
  • Students also interact with group members including a postdoc and collaborators around the world
Philip E. Kaaret

X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy and instrumentation; CubeSats; black hole binaries; galactic X-ray halos.

  • X-ray binaries, ultraluminous X-ray sources, intermediate mass black holes
  • Galactic X-ray halo, missing baryon problem
  • Instrumentation for space-based astronomy, CubeSats
  • Students build instruments for launch into space
  • Students use satellite based observatories
  • Students develop skills in electronics, data analysis, and programming
Robert L. Mutel

Radio astronomy; space physics; plasma astrophysics.

  • Observations using radio telescopes and spacecraft
  • Astronomical instrumentation, especially optical spectroscopy
  • Stellar and planetary redio emission
  • Students use radio telescopes: Very Large Array (VLA), Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), Arecibo; and an optical telescope (Iowa Robotic Observatory) located in Arizona
  • Students develop programming skills using Python and CASA (radio astronomical imaging)
  • Students also interact with peer group members and other astronomy faculty