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The Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) Telescope is a modern 4.1 meter aperture telescope designed to produce the best quality images of any observatory in its class, across a several arcmin field of view. It can work from 320 nm to the near infrared, and features fast slewing and a suite of optical and infrared instruments mounted and ready for use. It is situated on Cerro Pachón – IV Región – Chile, at 2,700 meters (8,775 feet) above sea level. The SOAR consortium includes the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the Ministério da Ciencia e Tecnologia of the Federal Republic of Brazil (MCT), and Michigan State University (MSU).

For information about SOAR’s future plans, you can see the talks from the recent UNC-hosted SOAR community strategic planning workshop here:

SOAR offers:

  • A modern high throughput optical spectrograph with high UV/blue sensitivity
  • Image quality median ~0.7″.
  • Ground-layer adaptive optics correction for a 3-arcmin FoV at <0.5″ image quality
  • Routine remote observation via VNC and video links (>~ 80% of SOAR observing is carried out remotely)
  • Access for visitor instruments

Instrumentation currently used by UNC astronomers:

The Goodman Spectrograph: Goodman High Throughput Spectrograph; newly equipped with a red-sensitive camera in addition to the standard blue camera. Long slit, MOS mode, and direct imaging, UV to 900nm. R=100s to 1000s.

SAM: SOAR Adaptive Optics Module equipped with SOI, a 3′-FoV optical camera

HRCam: SOAR High Resolution Camera speckle camera; capable of >200 targets per night @ the SOAR optical diffraction limit, down to approximately 14th magnitude

SAM-FP SOAR Fabry-Perot Module on SAM   under testing; capable of 0.5″-resolution spectroscopy over the SAM FoV.

SPARTAN Near-IR imager with a 4-H2RG mosaic covering a 5 arcmin FoV.

Near-future generally-available instrumentation:

ARCOIRIS (TripleSpec-style NIR spectrograph, R~3000); moved from Blanco. 0.8 – 2.23 microns. Likely moving to SOAR in 2018.