Liger is a revolutionary, next generation adaptive optics-fed integral field spectrograph (IFS) and imaging camera for the W. M. Keck Observatory. The moniker Liger refers to the hybrid offspring from a lion and tiger, as the instrument originated by coupling design and prototyping efforts of WMKO AO instruments and the Thirty Meter Telescope IRIS instrument. Liger combines an adaptive optics (AO)-fed integral field spectrograph (IFS) and imaging camera that operate simultaneously. Liger takes advantage of W. M. Keck Observatory (WMKO) AO performance upgrades and advancements of near-infrared detectors, covering 0.81-2.4 micron wavelengths.
Liger will provide enhanced capabilities such as higher spectral resolving power, extend the new Keck Observatory Adaptive Optics (AO) system observations at visible wavelengths, and provide larger IFS field of views. The scientific potential of Liger is vast. For example, Liger will offer new constraints on exoplanet atmospheres and formation models for other solar systems; will be able to measure the properties of stars surrounding the Galactic Center that will be able to probe fundamental physics like General Relativity and the fine structure constant of the Universe; and will be able to make important constraints on dark matter and dark energy by studying gravitationally-lensed systems.
Liger is currently in its final design phase with an anticipated first light in 2027.
Picture Credits: © Laurie Hatch. View of the Keck Telescopes in the darkening evening sky from the Subaru Telescope catwalk.