Christoph Baranec

Assistant Astronomer (tenure-track faculty)
University of Hawai‘i - Institute for Astronomy
640 North A‘ohōkū Place #214, Hilo, HI 96720-2700

IfA-Hilo: 808l932l2318, Cell:l808l498l9817


Curriculum Vitae

Trance Subwoofers

I am the principal investigator for the world's first robotic laser adaptive optics and science system: Robo-AO. The system produces diffraction limited imaging in the visible and infrared for as many as ~250 targets per night which has enabled unique large scale surveys and rapid imaging not feasible on large aperture telescope adaptive optics (AO) systems. Our collaboration has produced 1 technical and 4 scientific refereed papers as of 3/2013, with many more results in preparation. Robo-AO also played a small but crucial role in the detection of gravitational lensing in a binary star system.

I designed and built the high-order wavefront sensor for Palomar Observatory's PALM-3000 extreme adaptive optics system which overcomes the blurring effects of the Earth's atmosphere to unprecedented levels. PALM-3000 is the first purpose built extreme AO system on sky, having started its main survey for extrasolar planets, P1640, in mid-2012, a year after initial commissioning. PALM-3000/P1640 has already been used to simultaneously probe the chemical makeup of the four known planets orbiting the star HR 8799 and confirm that the suspected planet orbiting Kappa Andromedae is in fact a brown dwarf. In combination with the TMAS visible imager, PALM-3000 is also capable of taking images of bright objects that are twice as sharp as the Hubble Space Telescope (see image of Ganymede).

The focus of my graduate research was to build and commission the MMT's multiple laser guide star adaptive optics system (along with several other very talented students and researchers.) Read about the laser system and the most recent results presented in Nature and a UA press release.

Photos of MMT courtesy Thomas Stalcup.