Jacob Bean, Andreas Seifahrt, Alison Peck
MAROON-X: A New
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.