iREx members have been involved in the design and construction of several other instruments on telescopes around the world. They are also part of international collaborations planning future instruments, including the next generation of giant telescopes.
The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is an instrument capable of detecting infrared light emitted by giant gas planets, similar to Jupiter, that are orbiting their star, much like the gas giant planets in our Solar System were when it formed. GPI has a very advanced technology for imaging exoplanets. It is optimised for the study of faint planets close to their star, for the study of their atmosphere, and for the study of debris disks present around these stars. GPI also has a spectroscopic mode that allows the study of planets in more detail. It has been installed on the Gemini-South telescope in Chile, one of the largest telescopes in the world, since 2014.
GPI is an international project under the scientific leadership of Bruce Macintosh and Project Director David Palmer, both at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The optical design, construction, and testing of the spectrograph that makes up the instrument were carried out by the team led by Prof. James Larkin of the Infrared Laboratory at the University of California at Los Angeles, in very close collaboration with our Director René Doyon and Simon Thibault, professor at the Université Laval and associate member of the iREx. The staff of the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic, the Institut national d’optique in Quebec City and the company Immervision in Montreal also participated in the development of the spectrograph.
Several instruments are already planned for the next generation of giant ground-based telescopes that will have mirrors 30 to 40 meters wide. For the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), the iREx team is collaborating with several other teams globally on the design of the ArmazoNes high Dispersion Echelle Spectrograph, or ANDES. This high-resolution spectrograph will allow astronomers to study astronomical objects that require very sensitive observations.
ANDES will be used to search for signs of life on Earth-like exoplanets, find the first stars born in the Universe, test possible variations in the fundamental constants of physics, and measure the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe. With its simultaneous visible and infrared capabilities and a coupled mode with an adaptive optics system, ANDES will be an unparalleled instrument in the study of potentially habitable exoplanets and the search for alien life. The project is led by Principal Investigator Alessandro Marconi of the University of Florence and a consortium of scientists from 14 countries: Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The E-ELT is currently under construction in the Atacama Desert in Chile and should be operational in 2027. ANDES will be one of the instruments of the second phase of the project.