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Optical and Infrared Astronomy
Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
The Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian Optical and Infrared Astronomy (OIR) division has two major charges. One is to operate and develop telescopes and associated instruments and the other is to do forefront research on a wide variety of galactic and extragalactic topics, often but not exclusively using those very telescopes.
Key research programs of OIR scientists include the large scale structure of the universe, evolution of galaxies in clusters, the explosive activity in galaxy nuclei, the history of star formation in galaxies, the detailed structure of our own Milky Way galaxy and the nearest galaxy, Andromeda, and the study of explosive stars, both near and far.
A New Tool For Discovery
The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) will begin a new era of observation in astrophysics, and represents a huge leap forward in the technology used for astronomy. Equipped with instrumentation capable of detecting the spectral signature of atmospheric oxygen in distant exoplanets, the GMT may be humanity’s next best chance of discovering signs of life on other worlds.