PRL Mt. Abu Observatory: New initiatives

B. G. Anandarao*and Abhijit Chakrabortyy
Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad 380009, India

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We discuss some of the science goals with two new facilities being created by PRL at the Mt. Abu Observatory. The first one is a wide-field near-infrared camera and spectrograph (NICS) that uses a HAWAII-1 1kx1k detector array. With its improved sensitivity and spectrographic capabilities, NICS appears to be well suited for studying star forming clusters to determine the ages and the low mass end of the initial mass function. Investigations will be continued on the photometric and spectrographic evolution of recurrent novae and on AGB/Post-AGB stars using this new instrument. The second facility being created is a high-precision, high-resolution spectrograph for detecting extra-solar planets by monitoring radial velocity variations in nearby stars. A velocity resolution of ~ 3 - 5 m/s is expected to be achieved, which may be sufficient to detect 10 MEarth planets and a number of Jupiter-mass planets. We describe both the instruments and discuss science programmes that we intend to take up at Mt. Abu.

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Keywords :instrumentation: photometers, instrumentation: spectrographs, techniques: radial velocities, novae, stars: AGB and post AGB, planetary systems