Issue 12 • September, 2007
Thirty Meter Telescope

Science in the Era of TMT
  Elizabeth Barton, Assistant Professor, University of California, Irvine

"Science in the Era of TMT" was a flurry of scientific and technical discussion that attracted about 130 attendees from all over the world, and spread both information and enthusiasm for the Thirty Meter Telescope project. The open workshop was held in Irvine, California at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies July 23-25, 2007 and featured 40 talks and 6 posters by members of the astronomical community from both inside and outside of the project.

After a brief but exciting overview of the project by Gary Sanders and Jerry Nelson, the workshop featured talks on science with TMT and synergies with related projects. The workshop covered a vast variety of topics from planet formation to first light. Among the many interesting and informative talks, we caught a look at the mysteries of outer solar system from Mike Brown, a glimpse of the sub-stellar realm by Ray Jayawardhana, a broad glance at TMT's potential for understanding star formation from Jonathan Tan, thoughts about probing galaxies with bright stars from Rolf Kudritzki, a look at what TMT may teach us about black holes from Aaron Barth, and a description of the ways in which TMT can probe first light and reionization from Steve Furlanetto. The full program and PowerPoint versions of most of the talks are available at

During the first of three special sessions, participants led by David Crampton, Luc Simard, and David Silva discussed the plans for instrumentation and operation of TMT. In a second special session, Matthew Colless raised many thoughtful questions regarding large projects and legacy surveys with TMT; this was followed with break-out sessions designed to gather thoughts from the community about large science projects with TMT. Finally, a third special session included
a panel discussion that summarized the status of the science cases with a focus on the question of what we should be thinking about that we aren't, yet.

It was wonderful to note the keen interest and participation from so many members of the astronomical community. I was also personally very impressed by the range of new ideas, detailed thought, and even new research and calculations that went into many of the presentations. Thus, special thanks are due to the speakers at the science workshop for their conscientious thoughts and work on outlining the future science that will be possible with TMT.

Thanks are due to the other members of the scientific organizing committee (Andrea Ghez, Raja Guhathakurta, Paul Hickson, Luc Simard, Chuck Steidel, and Charles Telesco) and the local organizing committee (Aaron Barth, James Bullock, Gary Chanan, Andrea Ghez, Tammy Smecker-Hane and Virginia Trimble). Both Alison Lara and Carrollann Simmons from UC Irvine were a great help with artwork and logistics for the meeting. Last but certainly not least, huge thanks are due to Holly "Superwoman" Novack from the TMT Project; her hand was visible in everything that ran smoothly at the meeting.

Overall, the workshop was a great opportunity for frank scientific discussions of the potential of TMT with people both inside and outside of the project. TMT is an incredible undertaking. The workshop left us looking forward to future discussions about the project with the whole astronomical community and, most of all, it left us eagerly looking forward to using TMT.

The TMT Newscast is a free email publication of the Thirty Meter Telescope Project. It is for informational purposes only, and the information is subject to change without notice.

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Copyright © 2007 Thirty Meter Telescope Project, Pasadena, CA