Even as we continue the essential work of exoplanet discovery, we must also continue to look to the future in this field: direct imaging and characterization. Our abilities to uncover ever-expanding insights are within grasp.
SCALES is an instrument designed to maximize our ability at W.M. Keck Observatory to detect and characterize directly-imaged planets by combining the two most successful methods for imaging exoplanets: thermal infrared imaging, which detects exoplanets at wavelengths where they are bright, and integral-field spectroscopy, which distinguishes exoplanets from residual starlight based on the shapes of their spectral energy distributions.
WMKO’s twin 10-meter diameter telescopes are the largest and most productive optical-infrared telescopes in the world. When UC Santa Cruz installs SCALES on a Keck telescope, our teams will have the opportunity to shape the field of astronomical research.
Scientists researching at WMKO have done ground-breaking exoplanet science by leveraging existing instruments. Our discoveries thus far are especially impressive given these instruments were initially developed with other research areas in mind. Imagine the full scientific potential of our partnerships with instruments that specifically optimize exoplanet research and imaging. SCALES is a key component of the next suite of instruments, ensuring our scientists’ ability to characterize discovered exoplanets and answer key scientific questions across the field.
With over 4,000 exoplanets already discovered, we still know remarkably little about how planets form and evolve; addressing key questions in the field requires the direct imaging and spectroscopy of SCALES.