Affiliated Research Centers & Facilities

Astronomer Claire Max and the adaptive optics laser on the Shane 3 m.

The Department of Astronomy Astrophysics works closely with a large number of related research organizations and state-of-the-art facilities. Many are are located on campus, and others are administered by UCSC. These affiliated institutions are critical to our research and training goals. Links to the most prominent organizations are listed below:

AO Neptune
  • Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO): CfAO is an NSF Science and Technology Center, dedicated to research in high-speed optical correction techniques for optical/infrared telescopes and vision science. Based at UCSC, it involves nearly two dozen academic, governmental, and industrial partners. 
  • The Center for the Origin, Dynamics and Evolution of Planets (CODEP): CODEP is part of the UCSC branch of the Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP). It brings together members of four departments (Astronomy, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Applied Math, and Physics) to study planets in our solar system and around other stars. UCSC is a world center for the doppler detection of extrasolar planets, and active UCSC theoretical groups are modeling planet formation and the dynamical evolution of planetary orbits. The Center for Adaptive Optics building instrumentation for direct detection of extrasolar planets via high-resolution imaging. 
  • Gordon and Betty Moore Laboratory for Adaptive Optics (LAO): Located on the UCSC campus, the Laboratory for Adaptive Optics enables hands-on exploratory research in the development of adaptive optics technology that benefits future implementations of adaptive optics systems on astronomical telescopes. The LAO is managed jointly by the Center of Adaptive Optics and by UCO.
  • High-Performance Astro Computing Center (HIPACC): The purpose of HIPACC is to maximize the potential of computational astrophysicists on all nine UC academic campuses and three national labs.  HIPACC fosters interaction of its members, empowering them to utilize efficiently the new supercomputers with hundreds of thousands of processors both to understand astrophysical processes through simulation and to analyze the petabytes and soon exabytes of data that will flow from the new telescopes and supercomputers. 
  • ISIMAThe Kavli Summer Program in Astrophysics: The Kavli Summer Program in Astrophysics brings together scientists with a wide breadth of technical skills and research interests to solve topical outstanding problems in astrophysics. It operates every summer for 6 weeks and is hosted in alternance by various institutions world-wide and by the Santa Cruz campus.
  • Keck Observatory, Mauna Kea, HI: These twin 10-meter telescopes are the world's largest telescopes and are jointly operated by the University of California, Caltech, and NASA. UC researchers receive 35% of the time. The Keck's 36-segment mirror design originated at UC, and UC astronomers have built the majority of Keck instruments. Keck data are widely used by the majority of UCSC observational students and postdoctoral fellows.
  • NEXSINext Generation Telescopes Science Institute (NEXSI): NEXSI is a revolutionary astrophysics institute that will transform the way astronomers use and exploit the next generation of telescopes now on the drawing board. Giant telescopes, in space and on the ground, will soon see 10 times sharper and resolve images 100 times fainter than presently possible, thereby providing answers to the nature of dark matter and dark energy, as well as the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets. NEXSI's "think tank" brings together astronomers, physicists, mathematicians, and computer scientists from all over the world—for the first time—to plan and maximize the scientific return from these new multi-billion dollar facilities. Website is under construction.
  • Lick Observatory, Mt. Hamilton, CA: The Lick Observatory is owned and operated by the University of California, with headquarters at UCSC. Lick was the first mountain-top observatory, built in 1888 with the 36-inch refractor, then the world's largest telescope. Current telescopes include the 3-meter Shane Reflector, the 1-meter Nickel Reflector, and the new 2.4- meter Automated Planet Finder, dedicated to finding extrasolar planetary systems (under construction). Lick is one of the world's best sites for high-resolution spectroscopy and is a leader in developing adaptive optics..
  • Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP): SCIPP is an organized research unit within the University of California, specializing in experimental and theoretical particle physics and particle astrophysics. SCIPP builds experiments for particle accelerators, including the ATLAS detector at the LHC, and detectors for satellite observatories such as GLAST. It is also pursuing applications to other scientific fields, such as neurophysiology and biomedicine. SCIPP is a recognized leader in the development of custom readout electronics and silicon micro-strip sensors for state-of-the-art particle detection systems. 
  • Santa Cruz Theoretical Cosmology Group: The group is located in the Physics Department but has close ties with Astronomy. The group specializes in cosmological N-body and hydrodynamic simulations of galaxy formation and merging galaxies and supplies major theoretical support for the DEEP Survey.
  • TASC LogoTheoretical Astrophysics Santa Cruz (TASC): TASC is a vibrant new institute, spanning four UCSC departments that are involved in research in astrophysics and planetary sciences. Its fourteen participating faculty members make up the largest group of computational astrophysicists in the world. Building on this strength, TASC has begun a unique new interdisciplinary program in scientific computation and visualization in collaboration with members of UCSC's Digital Arts and New Media Center. TASC is also spearheading an effort to create a Ph.D. program in high-performance supercomputing, in partnership with the Baskin School of Engineering's Department of Applied Mathematics. Website is under construction.
  • Thirty-Meter Telescope Project: The Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) is a future large segmented-minor optical and infrared telescope, proposed and run by a consortium made up of the University of California, Caltech, Associate Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA). The telescope consists of 738 1.2- meter segments and, when working with adaptive optics, will make images many times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. UCSC astronomers and engineers are working on the telescope's mechanical design, segment fabrication, segment support an alignment, instrumentation, and adaptive optics. Completion is scheduled for 2015.
  • UCSC Department of Physics: We collaborate with the UCSC Physics Department, which boasts outstanding research programs in theoretical and experimental particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology, and condensed matter physics. A recent NRC rankings of ranked UCSC Physics Department  among the top in the U.S. 
  • University of California Observatories (UCO): UCO is multi-campus research unit of the University of California that manages UC participation in both the Keck and Lick Observatories. Headquarters are on the UCSC campus. UCO astronomers hold joint appointments as professors in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and conduct research and teach in the department. The UCO Instrument Laboratories are recognized world leaders in astronomical instrumentation, including optical design, fabrication, mechanical design, and instrument control software.

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