Science Collaborations

Explore research programs with IPAC science staff involvement and leadership.



The 5mJy Unbiased Spitzer Extragalactic Survey (5Muses) is a mid-infrared spectroscopic survey of 330 galaxies with the Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) aboard Spitzer. 5MUSE bridges the gap between the bright, nearby infrared galaxies known before Spitzer, and the much fainter, more distant sources which have been the focus of much of the dedicated Spitzer IRS follow-up to date. The legacy of the 5Muses survey is a library of high quality IRS spectra that will be critical for providing: (1) a statistically complete accounting of the relative contribution of stars and AGN in IR-bright galaxies; (2) an overview of the prevailing physical conditions in the dusty ISM in galaxies over the past 2-5 Gyr; (3) proper modeling of the number counts and backgrounds in the infrared out to z=1, and a critical resource for future missions like WISE, Herschel and JWST. 5Muses is a Spitzer Legacy Science program led by IPAC’s director George Helou and a diverse team of scientists at IPAC.



CANDELS is a powerful imaging survey of the distant Universe which was carried out with near-infrared WFC3 and optical ACS camera on board the Hubble Space Telescope. The survey was designed to focus on two critical epochs in cosmic evolution: (1) At "Cosmic Dawn", less than 1 billion years after the Big Bang, the first seeds of cosmic structure began to take shape; (2) At "Cosmic High Noon", 2-4 billion years after the Big Bang, galaxies went on a growth splurge as huge gravity-driven rivers of gas flowed into them along the "cosmic web". The CANDELS team included IPAC scientists and data processing and analysis of the survey's UV component (in GOODS North) was led by IPAC.



The Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) is an astronomical survey designed to probe the formation and evolution of galaxies as a function of both cosmic time (redshift) and the local galaxy environment. The survey covers a 2 square degree equatorial field with imaging by most of the major space-based telescopes and a number of large ground based telescopes, with many ongoing surveys. Over 2 million galaxies are detected, spanning 75% of the age of the Universe. The COSMOS survey involves more than 100 scientists in a dozen countries. The primary goal of COSMOS is to study the relationship between large scale structure (LSS) in the universe and the formation of galaxies, dark matter, and nuclear activity in galaxies. This includes a careful analysis of the dependence of galaxy evolution on environment. The wide field of coverage of COSMOS will sample a larger range of LSS than any previous HST survey. The COSMOS team includes many IPAC scientists and IRSA hosts the multi-mission data.


Dwarf Archives was co-developed by IPAC scientists Davy Kirkpatrick, Chris Gelino and Adam Burgasser (MIT) and it’s an online archive containing astrometric, photometric, and spectroscopic information for all known L and T dwarfs, as well as a select sample of over 500 M dwarfs. The data presented in are divided into two separate databases. The L and T Dwarf database contains astrometric, photometric, and spectroscopic information for all spectroscopically determined L and T dwarfs. The M dwarf database contains a select sample of >500 dwarf and giant stars with uniformly determined spectral types between late K and late M.


Euclid/WFIRST Spitzer Legacy Survey

The Euclid/WFIRST Spitzer Legacy Survey program is a precursor survey for Euclid, WFIRST, and JWST. Led by Dr. Peter Capak from IPAC, an international team was awarded 5286 hours of Spitzer Legacy Science Time to observe 20 square degrees with 2 hours per pointing split between the Chandra Deep Field South (CDFS) and the North Ecliptic Pole (NEP). This will achieve 5-sigma depths of 24.6 AB mag and enable scientific research on reionization in the Universe, z>7 galaxy formation, and the first massive black holes. The survey parameters are designed to enable stellar mass measurement at 3<z<10, probe the large scale structure of reionization, and find luminous quasars to the highest redshifts where they exist. The depth and area of the survey is truly unique and will not be superseded for decades. Only Spitzer can probe this region of survey space at 3-5um, a wavelength range that uniquely enables stellar mass estimates at z>3 enabling a direct probe of galaxy growth during the epoch of re-ionization. The proposed data will also enhance the cosmological constraints provided by Euclid and WFIRST.



The Great Observatories All-sky LIRG Survey (GOALS) was selected as a Spitzer cycle 3 Legacy Science program. It combines imaging and spectroscopic data from NASA's Spitzer, Hubble, Chandra and GALEX space-borne observatories in a comprehensive study of the most luminous infrared-selected galaxies in the local Universe. GOALS is led by a large team of IPAC scientists, and related data products and tools are hosted on IRSA.


Habitable Zone Gallery

The Habitable Zone Gallery ( was created by IPAC scientists Dawn Gelino and Stephen Kane as a service to the exoplanet community which provides Habitable Zone (HZ) information for each of the exoplanetary systems with known planetary orbital parameters. The service includes a sortable table with information on the percentage of orbital phase spent within the HZ, planetary effective temperatures, and other basic planetary properties. In addition to the table, there are also plots of the period and eccentricity of the planets with respect to their time spent in the HZ, and a gallery of known systems with plots of the orbits and the location of the HZ with respect to those orbits.


Herschel Infrared Galactic Plane Survey

Selected as an Open Time Key Programme for Herschel in cycle 1, the Herschel infrared Galactic Plane Survey (Hi-GAL) maps the inner Milky Way galaxy in 5 bands between 60 and 600 microns with diffraction limited spatial resolution. Hi-GAL embodies the optimum combination of Herschel wavelength coverage, sensitivity, mapping strategy and speed to deliver a census of temperature, luminosity, mass and spectral energy distributions of star forming regions and cold ISM structures in all environments of the Galactic ecosystem. These measurements are provided in a single and homogeneous dataset, at unprecedented resolutions, and at all scales from massive objects in proto-clusters to the full spiral arm.



The KINGFISH project (Key Insights on Nearby Galaxies: a Far-Infrared Survey with Herschel) was selected as a Herschel Open Time Key Programme in cycle 1 to provide the Herschel community with a comprehensive library of far-infrared imaging and spectral line maps of local galaxies and their principal infrared emitting components, all integrated with the extensive multi-wavelength dataset from the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey (SINGS). IPAC researchers are part of a large international collaboration that has jointly developed the KINGFISH imaging and spectroscopic survey which covers the full range of integrated properties and local interstellar medium (ISM) environments found in the local Universe for 61 nearby (d < 30 Mpc) galaxies. The broad goals of KINGFISH are to characterize the interstellar media of present-day galaxies, investigate the heating and cooling of their gaseous and dust components, and better understand the physical processes linking star formation to the ISM.



A Spitzer Legacy Science program, MIPSGAL I is a survey of the inner 248 square degrees of the Galactic plane at 24 and 70 microns using the MIPS instrument aboard the Spitzer Space Telescope. MIPSGAL is used to tackle many unanswered questions, such as (1) the detailed energetics and distribution of the small silicate particles and hydrocarbon molecules comprising the interstellar dust in our galaxy and (2) how the most massive stars form. While this survey only covers 0.7% of the sky, most of the stars, gas and dust that make up our own Galaxy are imaged by these observations. MIPSGAL II is a 72 square degree survey of the innermost Galactic disk which connects the two fields observed by MIPSGAL I, and it is also complementary to the GLIMPSE II and proposed GLIMPSE 3D Spitzer Legacy surveys. This data finishes the census of massive star formation inside the molecular ring, provides detailed information on the distribution and energetics of small dust grains toward the nucleus of our Galaxy, and identifies all massive evolved stars in the surveyed portion of the Galactic bulge. MIPSGAL I & II data is hosted by IRSA at IPAC, including the raw observations from Spitzer in the Spitzer Heritage Archive, as well as a set of enhanced data products and tools.



The Spitzer Mapping of the Outer Galaxy (SMOG) was envisioned by its principal investigator, IPAC scientist Sean Carey and it is one of the selected Spitzer Legacy Science programs in cycle 5. SMOG is a 21 square degree area mapping of a representative region of the outer Galaxy (l=102-109, b=0-3) using Spitzer's IRAC and MIPS instruments. These data combined with previous and future surveys in the submillimeter and millimeter wavelength ranges can be used to measure the specifics (rate, IMF) of star formation. This direct measurement of the star formation efficiency can contribute to the large body of knowledge on the inner Galaxy, nearby molecular clouds and massive star forming regions, the Magellanic clouds and galaxies at larger distances. SMOG provides a set of optimally reduced mosaics and well-characterized source catalogs to the scientific community and just like previous large Spitzer local group mapping programs (GLIMPSE, MIPSGAL & SAGE) it will be a fertile source for studying such topics as evolved stars, Galactic structure, dust physics and the diffuse ISM.



The Spitzer Large Area Survey with Hyper-Suprime-Cam (SPLASH) is an astronomical survey to investigate the co-evolution of cosmic large-scale structure, dark matter and the assembly and growth of galaxies as well as supernovae in the early Universe through transient studies. The survey covers two 1.8 square degree fields (COSMOS and SXDS) and provides optical (from the Hyper-Suprime-Cam on the Subaru telescope) and mid-infrared (from the Spitzer Space telescope) imaging at an unprecedented depth over this area. SPLASH is being led by scientists at IPAC and thus provides an important connection between IPAC and the Hyper-Suprime-Cam collaboration, which is the pre-cursor of Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) and uses the same software pipeline.



The Panchromatic Hubble Ultra Deep Field: Ultraviolet Coverage (UVUDF) is a treasury Hubble Space Telescope program using the WFC3-UVIS detector with the F225W, F275W, and F336W filters. These UV images will reach point source detection limits of AB=29, a factor of ten fainter than the GALEX ultradeep surveys. The project’s PI is IPAC’s scientists Harry Teplitz who oversees the source extraction and analysis of images which are carried out at IPAC. The primary UVUDF science goals are: (1) investigate the episode of peak star formation activity in galaxies at 1 < z < 2.5; (2) study the star formation properties of moderate redshift starburst galaxies; (3) probe the evolution of massive galaxies by resolving sub-galactic units (clumps); (4) examine the escape fraction of ionizing radiation from galaxies at z~2-3; (5) measure the star formation rate efficiency of neutral hydrogen gas at z~1-3.



The WISP survey is a large Hubble Space Telescope pure parallel program with the WFC3 G102 and G141 infrared grisms. The broad, continuous spectral coverage of the G102 and G141 grisms provides the best currently feasible measurement of the star formation rate continuously from 0.5 <z < 2.5. The primary WISP science goals are to: (1) measure the star formation history over the last 10 billion years; (2) probe galaxy clustering on Mpc scales at z=1-2; (3) constrain the evolution of dust extinction and metallicity as a function of mass and luminosity; (4) conduct a serendipitous search for highly luminous z >6 Ly-alpha emitters. The WISPs team includes several IPAC scientists, and data processing of images and spectra is carried out at IPAC. Further details can be found in the canonical paper: Atek et al. (2010).



The Young Stellar Object Variability project (YSOVAR) is led by IPAC scientist John Stauffer as one of Spitzer Exploration Science programs conducted during the warm mission with the InfraRed Array Camera (IRAC). Spitzer/IRAC has carried out an extensive, accurate time series photometric monitoring survey of star-forming regions in the thermal infrared allowing measurement of the relative fluxes of YSO's down to the substellar mass limit to 1-2% accuracy in star-forming regions out to >500 pc. YSOVAR provides a time series monitoring exploration science survey of the Orion Nebula Cluster and 11 very young, populous embedded star-forming cores. These are complemented by contemporaneous optical and near-IR monitoring data in order to allow comparison of the phase, amplitude and light-curve shape as a function of wavelength. These data can be used to: (1) provide otherwise unobtainable constraints on the structure of the inner disks in Class I and II YSOs - and hence, perhaps, provide clues to the formation and migration of planets at young ages; (2) measure the short and long-term stability of hot spots on the surfaces of YSO's of all evolutionary stages; (3) determine rotational periods for the largest sample to date of Class I YSO's and hence obtain the best measure of the initial angular momentum distribution of young stars.