GeminiFocus January 2018 | Page 17

Jacob Bean, Andreas Seifahrt, Alison Peck MAROON-X: A New ExoEarth-finder Spectrograph for Gemini North Astronomers at the University of Chicago are finalizing a new visiting instrument for Gemini North. Called MAROON-X, this radial velocity spectrograph is expected to meet the challenges and opportunities facing researchers seeking not only to identify and characterize nearby habitable exoplanets, but ultimately to make a credible search for life on planets outside the Solar System. One of the most exciting areas of exoplanet research is identifying and characterizing near- by habitable planets. Indeed, the latest National Research Council Astronomy and Astro- physics Decadal Survey report (“New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophys- ics”) listed this specific objective as one of the top three science frontier discovery areas in all of astronomy for the coming years. The ultimate goal is to make a credible search for life on planets outside the Solar System. This dream is within the grasp of the current genera- tion of astronomers. One of the key technology components vital to realizing a comprehensive exoplanet sci- ence program is an instrument for measuring radial velocities to sufficiently high precision. That is why the University of Chicago’s Bean Exoplanet Group is currently building a next generation radial velocity spectrograph called MAROON-X — to meet the challenges and opportunities described above. The radial velocity method has been one of the most important observational techniques in the field of exoplanet science, and it will continue to be critical for making many signifi- cant exoplanet discoveries anticipated over the next two decades. January 2018 GeminiFocus 15