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August 24, 2012

by Rachel L. Smith

Research & Collections

I am now preparing to observe forming stars (called protostars) beyond our Solar System, which is an exciting adventure, indeed!

Part I of introducing the Keck observation process discussed some of the interesting aspects of the 10-meter Keck II telescope atop Mauna Kea, including its unique mirror design and one of its instruments, the near-infrared high-resolution spectrograph, or NIRSPEC, which I use with my colleagues to observe carbon monoxide in the gas surrounding protostars. These observations are compared to meteorites and our Sun to help us better understand how our Solar System formed and evolved.

Welcome to Part II! Here I hope to provide  a small window into how observations at the Keck Telescope produce cutting-edge data of solar systems evolving today, before planets can form around their stars:

Astronomical observations using extremely large ground-based facilities is a team effort, involving full-time astronomers who work on the summit…

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