With MegaCam, the largest wide-field digital camera ever operated on a telescope, CFHT has delivered exciting science as well as stunning pictures of the universe for the past three years. MegaCam images are, however, limited to the visible light. Today, CFHT is extending its wide vision to the invisible red side of the spectrum, thanks to WIRCam, an infrared camera recently put in operation on CHFT’s 3.6-m telescope on Mauna Kea, the highest mountain of the Island of Hawai’i.

Images obtained during the commissioning phase of the camera and released today illustrate its excellent image quality and shows how it complements MegaCam. Already heavily used for its first operational runs, WIRCam is gathering complementary infrared images for large programs already undertaken with MegaCam in the visible, like the CFHT Legacy Survey or with the NASA Great Observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope or Spitzer. WIRCam-dedicated large programs are also on their way, such as a search for isolated planetary mass objects in star forming regions.

With WIRCam and MegaCam, CFHT is the only facility in the world offering its users the opportunity to observe their favorite areas of the sky from the near ultra-violet (0.320 micrometers) to the near infrared (2.5 micrometers). While WIRCam has only one-ninth of the field of view of MegaCam, it is joining a very selective club of infrared arrays, all of them operating from Mauna Kea, boasting as many as 16 MegaPixels. It is also the first one in operation to work with the new generation of infrared detectors that will be used on the James Webb Space Telescope and taking advantage of the on-chip guiding capability of these devices built by Rockwell Scientific.
WIRCam is the result of an exemplary collaboration between laboratories in Canada, France, Hawaii, and Taiwan
. It has been funded by the three CFHT institutional partners, Canada’s National Research Council, France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, and through a partnership with two Asian institutes: the Korean Astronomical Observatory and the National Taiwan University/Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Images and detailed information on WIRCam are available at the following url:

Contact: Christian Veillet - 1 (808) 938 3905
             Loic Albert - 1 (808) 885 7944