Michael Skrutskie, Professor

Phone: (434) 924-7494
Fax: (434) 924-3104
Office: 262 Astronomy Building
   Department of Astronomy
   P.O. Box 400325
   530 McCormick Road
   Charlottesville, VA 22904-4325
Current location of WISE
Curriculum Vitae
1987:  Ph.D., Cornell University
1987-2001:  Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
2001-:  Professor, University of Virginia

Honors and Awards: James Craig Watson Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, Maria Eric Muhlmann Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, NASA Group Achievement Awards: Two Micron All Sky Survey Team, Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) Science Team, WISE Brown Dwarf Team.  Namesake asteroid 9727 (Skrutskie).

Research Interests
Infrared instrumentation
Sky surveys (2MASS, WISE)
Galactic structure and stellar populations
Young Stellar Objects and Solar System Formation
Low-mass stars and brown dwarfs
Exoplanetary detection and characterization
Stratospheric ballooning
I direct a laboratory for the construction of cryogenic near-infrared detection systems. Instruments developed in recent years include the 256 × 256 element NICMOS3 HgCdTe camera (NICMASS), the 2MASS cameras, the CorMASS near-infrared spectrograph, the R=3000 TripleSpec spectrograph which is a facility instrument at Apache Point Observatory and the APOGEE spectrograph(s) .  One of the the 2MASS camera continues to operate at the Kuiper 61" Telescope at Mt. Bigelow, Az, making it available to department members through our allocation of time at Steward Observatory facilities. Beyond facilitating my research interests, this laboratory is intended to provide graduate students and undergraduates with hands-on experience with astronomical instrumentation. Current lab efforts include the operation and scientific use of Fan Mountain Infrared Camera operating at UVa's 31-inch telescope at Fan Mountain Observatory. This camera was designed, constructed and commissioned by students in the department. As part of Ph. D. thesis work the laboratory developeda mid-infrared (3-5um) imaging channel, LMIRcam, to support the University of Arizona's imaging interferometer at the Large Binocular Telescope. This instrument hold the exciting prospect of delivering 30 millarcsecond spatial resolution in the thermal infrared enabling direct imaging and IFU spectroscopy of warm Jupiter analogs orbiting several AU from nearby stars. In parallel the laboratory designed, fabricated and commissioned two 300-fiber high-resolution (R=22,000) 1.5-1.7um cryogenic spectrographs for the APOGEE survey for the third and fourth-generation Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III) with operation continuing into SDSS-V. The spectrograph measures the elemental abundances and radial velocities for hundreds of thousands of Milky Way giant stars providing a window on the assembly history of the Milky Way.   APOGEE redshifts are precise enough to detect planet induced radial velocity variations in APOGEE targets.

The laboratory maintains facilities to test and characterize infrared arrays. For the last few years we have pursued an NSF-funded program with Goodrich Corporation - Sensors Unlimited to develop and evaluate extended wavelength (2.3um cutoff) InGaAs arrays capable of matching the performance of HgCdTe arrays in ground-based applications.  This work has lead to the production of an extended InGaAs array bonded to a cryogenic "astronomical" multiplexer and has been tested in the CorMASS spectrograph.

Currently the laboratory is developing a gondola and instrumentation for the Testbed for High-Acuity Imaging - Stable Photometry Image Compensation Experiment (THAI-SPICE) project that will fly to 40 kilometer altitude under a 30 million cubic foot balloon. The gondola includes a 50 cm telescope and the project aims to produces images of sufficient quality to exploit the diffraction limit of the telescope above 99.5% of the atmosphere.

Course Home Pages
Astro 2110 - Introduction to Astrophysics I
Astro 1210 - Intro. to the Sky and Solar System
Astro 1740 - Intro. to Astronomical Research - Major's Seminar
Astro 1970 - Hands on Optics: Telescope/Mirror Making
Astro 5120 - Optical/Infrared Instrumentation
Skrutskie directs a laboratory for the construction and application of instruments operating at near-infrared (1-5um) wavelengths. He was the principal investigator of the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) and was also deeply involved in the space-based mid-infrared equivalent, WISE. Common scientific themes for both missions include the detection and characterization of sub-stellar objects (brown dwarfs) and forming stars, and delineating the structure of the Milky Way. The laboratory has recently delivered instruments for the world's largest telescope, the Large Binocular Telescope, and for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and is actively developing instrumentation for stratospheric ballooning.
Selected Recent Papers and Preprints

  • The Discovery of Y Dwarfs using Data from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) - Abstract
  • First Light LBT AO Images of HR 8799 bcde at 1.6 and 3.3 μm: New Discrepancies between Young Planets and Old Brown Dwarfs - Abstract
  • A Spitzer Survey for Dust in Type IIn Supernovae - Abstract
  • Saturn's Largest Ring - Abstract
  • Variations of the 10 μm Silicate Features in the Actively Accreting T Tauri Stars: DG Tau and XZ Tau - Abstract
  • FanCam--A Near-infrared Camera for the Fan Mountain Observatory - Abstract
  • A Two Micron All Sky Survey View of the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy. I. Morphology of the Sagittarius Core and Tidal Arms - Abstract
  • Spectrum of a Habitable World: Earthshine in the Near-Infrared - Abstract
  • Semiconductor fabrication techniques for producing an ultra-flat reflective slit - Abstract
  • The Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) - Abstract
  • CorMASS: A Compact and Efficient Near-Infrared Spectrograph for Studying Low-Mass Objects - Abstract
  • Dwarfs Cooler than ``M'': The Definition of Spectral Type ``L'' Using Discoveries from the 2 Micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS) - Abstract

More publications...