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The Astrophysics Department´s mission at INAOE is to solve state-of-the-art scientific and technological problems in astrophysics and astronomical instrumentation areas, to train specialized human resources in the areas named above, and to spread its generated knowledge through educational and outreach programs.

Faculty and postgraduate students from the Department perform theoretical and observational research within their own national and international infrastructure. Research includes all of the electromagnetic scale, from radio waves to gamma rays. The scientific interests of the members of the department are diverse, but fall into five branches of knowledge: extragalactic astrophysics and cosmology, galactic astrophysics, stellar astrophysics, millimeter astronomy, and astronomical instrumentation.

INAOE leads the national participation in the Mexican-U.S. Project, called the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT). The LMT, situated at the summit of Tliltepetl, or Sierra Negra (a 4600-meter high volcano, 7 kilometers southwest of Citlaltepetl), is a specifically designed 50-meter diameter plate, optimized to receive radiation in 4-millimeter wavelength. The first observations of a 3-millimeter scientific demonstration with this instrument were published in June 2011.

INAOE´s researchers also have gained access by national competition to a portion of Gran Telescopio Canarias´s observation time. GTC, a 10.4-meter diameter segmented optical telescope located in Canary Islands (Spain), affords INAOE five percent of Mexican participation.

INAOE also has its own modern optical observatory, the Guillermo Haro Astrophysical Observatory sited in Cananea (Sonora, Mexico), with a reflex mirror of a 2.12-meter diameter. The observatory is open to research observation proposals from all of the Mexican scientific community.

Faculty of the Astrophysics Department built and planned the operation of the gamma ray observatory, called the High Altitude Water Cherenkov, or HAWC. The HAWC site is inside the Parque Nacional Pico de Orizaba, a Mexican national park. The park contains two of the highest peaks in Mexico: Citlaltepetl (or Pico de Orizaba) at 5610-meters, and Sierra Negra (Tliltepetl). This observatory integrates 300 Cherenkov detectors, each one at 5-meters high and 7.3-meters diameter, as a huge ultra-pure water container with very sensitive instrumentation over a 22-square-kilometers area.

Instrumentation for these telescopes was designed, built and tested in laboratories of INAOE. This subject of astronomy is closely linked to technological innovation and represents an engineering challenge to the researchers.

The wish of the astronomers to understand the Universe that surrounds us guides them to look for more sensitive detectors and better spectral and angular resolution instrumentation.

The astronomers of INAOE also utilize international telescopes such as the spatial telescopes like Hubble, Chandra or Herschel; and the terrestrial systems such as the European Southern Observatory or the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in the U.S. Access to those telescopes is either achieved through competition for observation time between international communities or through collaborations with members of these projects.

The Guillermo Haro International Program on Advanced Astrophysics are some of the most outstanding activities organized by the Department, where each summer astrophysicists from all over the world meet in Tonantzintla.



Last update
27-09-2021 / 22:17 by Webmaster INAOE


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