Our solar system is a diverse and dynamic place. From the volcanic eruptions on Io to the massive storm systems of Uranus and Neptune and Titan‘s seasonal clouds, many planetary phenomena take place rapidly and change from week to week or even day to day. Understanding these phenomena, including the physics that governs them and how they change over time, requires frequent and closely-spaced (cadenced) observations. Solar system objects are much brighter than many astrophysical targets, and the Keck telescopes 10-meter mirrors allow high-quality images to be obtained in only a few minutes‘ time. The infrared wavelengths detected by the NIRC2 and OSIRIS instruments are perfectly suited to observations of this type: Io‘s hot volcanoes shine brightly in the infrared, and the specific properties of molecules like methane and ammonia mean that infrared images of dense atmospheres contain information on their compositions. We also take advantage of Keck‘s adaptive optics system, which turns a blurry disk of light into the crisp, high-resolution images shown above. Click on the view all images buttons above to learn more about our science objectives for each planet or moon.
Click on the links below to view recent press releases from our team:Five-year record of volcanic activity on Io (2019)
New storm makes surprise appearance on Neptune (2017)
Long-term, hi-res tracking of eruptions on Io (2016)
Massive eruptions on Io (2014)
Extreme storms on Uranus (2014)
de Kleer, K.*, de Pater, I.*, Molter, E. M.*, Banks, E., Davies, A. G., Alvarez, C.*, Campbell, R.*, Aycock, J.^, Pelletier, J.^, Stickel, T.^, Kacprzak, G. G.+, Nielsen, N. M.+, Stern, D.+, Tollefson, J.+ (2019). Io's Volcanic Activity from Time Domain Adaptive Optics Observations: 2013-2018. The Astronomical Journal, 158(1), 29.
Molter, E.* de Pater, I.*, Luszcz-Cook, S., Hueso, R., Tollefson, J., Alvarez, C.*, Sanchez-Lavega, A., Wong, M. H., Hsu, A. I., Sromovsky, L. A., Fry, P. M., Delcroix, M., Campbell, R.*, de Kleer, K.*, Gates, E., Lynam, P. D., Ammons, S. M.+, Coy, B. P.+, Duchene, G.+, Gonzalez, E. J.+, Hirsch, L.+, Magnier, E. A.+, Ragland, S.+, Rich, M.+, Wang, F.+ (2019). Analysis of Neptune's 2017 bright equatorial storm. Icarus, 321, 324-345.
* member of the Twilight Zone Team
^ Keck Observing Assistant
+ Clasically scheduled observers who donated time
The Twilight Zone Team
- Imke de Pater (UC Berkeley), PI
- Katherine de Kleer (Caltech), co-PI
- Ned Molter (UC Berkeley)
- Erin Redwing (UC Berkeley)
- Carlos Alvarez (Keck Observatory)
- Randy Campbell (Keck Observatory)