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WIYN Telescope

A blocky telescope structure sits on top of a wooded hill with autumn colors.
The WIYN telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory
Credit: KPNO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/P. Marenfeld

Telescope Details

Website

Location:

Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona 

Purpose:

This telescope is on the hunt for exoplanets — planets outside of our solar system. 

NIST’s role:

A telescope instrument called NEID searches for and tracks the wobbling of starlight due to a gravitational pull from an orbiting planet. This requires lots of measurements, so NIST provided an astro-etalon as a reliable reference. An etalon sends light into a cavity that only certain frequencies, or colors, can pass through. It’s a simpler, more stable backup for the spectrograph’s laser frequency comb normally used as a ruler for light. NEID was built by a consortium led by Pennsylvania State University and funded by the joint NASA/NSF Exoplanet Exploration Program. Consortium partners included NIST, NASA, the University of Pennsylvania, Macquarie University, Carleton College, NOAO and PRL India. 

Significant discoveries:

NEID began scientific operations in July 2021.

Other interesting facts:

The name NEID — pronounced NOO-id — is derived from the word meaning “to see” in the native language of the Tohono O’odham, on whose land Kitt Peak National Observatory is located.

Operated by: 

WIYN is owned and operated by the WIYN Consortium, which consists of the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the University of Missouri and Purdue University.

Media

Gray cylinder two inches in diameter, held in gloved fingers
NIST's astro-etalon
Credit: NIST
Created October 8, 2021, Updated November 3, 2021