The observatory for multi-epoch gravitational lens astrophysics (OMEGA)

Leonidas A. Moustakas, Adam J. Bolton, Jeffrey T. Booth, James S. Bullock, Edward Cheng, Dan Coe, Christopher D. Fassnacht, Varoujan Gorjian, Cate Heneghan, Charles R. Keeton, Christopher S. Kochanek, Charles R. Lawrence, Philip J. Marshall, R. Benton Metcalf, Priyamvada Natarajan, Shouleh Nikzad, Bradley M. Peterson, Joachim Wambsganss

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

14 Scopus citations


Dark matter in a universe dominated by a cosmological constant seeds the formation of structure and is the scaffolding for galaxy formation. The nature of dark matter remains one of the fundamental unsolved problems in astrophysics and physics even though it represents 85% of the mass in the universe, and nearly one quarter of its total mass-energy budget. The mass function of dark matter "substructure" on sub-galactic scales may be enormously sensitive to the mass and properties of the dark matter particle. On astrophysical scales, especially at cosmological distances, dark matter substructure may only be detected through its gravitational influence on light from distant varying sources. Specifically, these are largely active galactic nuclei (AGN), which are accreting super-massive black holes in the centers of galaxies, some of the most extreme objects ever found. With enough measurements of the flux from AGN at different wavelengths, and their variability over time, the detailed structure around AGN, and even the mass of the super-massive black hole can be measured. The Observatory for Multi-Epoch Gravitational Lens Astrophysics (OMEGA) is a mission concept for a 1.5-m near-UV through near-IR space observatory that will be dedicated to frequent imaging and spectroscopic monitoring of-100 multiply-imaged active galactic nuclei over the whole sky. Using wavelength-tailored dichroics with extremely high transmittance, efficient imaging in six channels will be done simultaneously during each visit to each target. The separate spectroscopic mode, engaged through a flip-in mirror, uses an image slicer spectrograph. After a period of many visits to all targets, the resulting multidimensional movies can then be analyzed to a) measure the mass function of dark matter substructure; b) measure precise masses of the accreting black holes as well as the structure of their accretion disks and their environments over several decades of physical scale; and c) measure a combination of Hubble's local expansion constant and cosmological distances to unprecedented precision. We present the novel OMEGA instrumentation suite, and how its integrated design is ideal for opening the time domain of known cosmologically-distant variable sources, to achieve the stated scientific goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2008
Subtitle of host publicationOptical, Infrared, and Millimeter
StatePublished - 2008
EventSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2008: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter - Marseille, France
Duration: Jun 23 2008Jun 28 2008

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2008: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Active galactic nuclei
  • Astronomical survey
  • Dark matter
  • Expansion history
  • Space telescope
  • Spectroscopy
  • Strong gravitational lensing
  • Time domain


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