New frontiers in exoplanetary and stellar astrophysics with Australian observational facilities

Wed 08 August, 2018 @12:00 PM, level 7
Associate Professor Rob Wittenmyer, MINERVA Observatory, University of South Queensland

Email:  rob.wittenmyer[at]


Mount Kent Observatory at the University of Southern Queensland is host
to Australia’s newest astronomical research facilities.
MINERVA-Australis is the only Southern hemisphere precise radial
velocity facility wholly dedicated to follow-up of thousands of planets
to be identified by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey satellite
(TESS). Mass measurements of these planets are critically necessary to
maximise the scientific impact of the TESS mission, to understand the
composition of exoplanets and the transition between rocky and gaseous
worlds. MINERVA-Australis is now operational. I present first-light
results and give an update on the status of the project, which will
ultimately host six 0.7m telescopes feeding a stabilised spectrograph.

The Stellar Observations Network Group (SONG) is establishing a node at
Mount Kent. SONG-Australia will complete the global longitude coverage,
delivering breakthroughs in fundamental understanding of the interiors
of stars for decades to come. SONG-Australia is designed on a “MINERVA”
model, whereby fibres from multiple small telescopes feed a single
high-resolution spectrograph. This approach provides expandability and
reduces cost by using factory-built components that have been
well-tested by the MINERVA teams. As a result of these innovations,
SONG-Australia is expected to be fully operational by late 2019.