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DFG to Fund NAIR Project

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BERLIN, March 22, 2017 — The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) research funding organization has announced support for the “Novel Astronomical Instrumentation Through Photonic Reformatting” (NAIR) project of the Königstuhl State Observatory at Heidelberg University, the Institute of Physics at of the University of Cologne, and the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam.

The researchers will design and test components that can efficiently rearrange the light of stars and galaxies to enable high-precision measurements of cosmic objects. This new technology is targeted for use on large telescopes to search for earth-like planets of nearby stars and determine their atmospheric composition, among other applications.

"When building spectrographs for modern telescopes, we increasingly encounter technical and financial limitations," said Andreas Quirrenbach, head of the Königstuhl State Observatory. "However, in the coming decade, telescopes with mirrors up to 40 meters in diameter will be placed in operation. We need new concepts to exploit the potential of these giant telescopes."

One of these approaches is the reformatting of light – for example, a light beam with a cross section in the shape of a thin line is formed from a circular beam. According to Quirrenbach, it is also possible to use relatively small spectrographs with very large telescopes if they are fed these "squeezed" light bundles.

The DFG funding allows staff and laboratory equipment to develop and test new micro-optic systems concepts for use in astronomical instruments. The technology will also be made available to others working in basic scientific research.

The self-governed DFG is financed by the German states and the federal government for research in science, engineering and the humanities through a variety of grant programs, prizes and funding infrastructure.
Mar 2017
BusinessDeutsche ForschungsgemeinschaftDFGNovel Astronomical Instrumentation Through Photonic ReformattingNairKönigstuhl State ObservatoryHeidelberg UniversityInstitute of PhysicsUniversity of CologneLeibniz Institute for AstrophysicsAndreas QuirrenbachEuropereserach & technology

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