Brian McLeod
Astrophysicist
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
60 Garden St., MS 20
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 495-7023
Office: P-324
bmcleod at cfa dot harvard dot edu


Research Interests

Large telescopes: 
GMT I spend most of my time as part of a multi-national team working on the design of the Giant Magellan Telescope The GMT will be one of a new generation of extremely large telescopes, and will be located at Las Campanas, Chile. The GMT will extend our view of the universe to much fainter levels than we can currently see, and will also allow us to detect small planets around nearby stars. I am leading the design of the Active Optics, the parts of the telescope that keep the seven 8.4m diameter primary mirror segments and seven 1m diameter secondary mirror segments all properly aligned and with the correct figure.


Infrared instrumentation:
Before that I led the team that created the MMT and Magellan Infrared spectrograph. MMIRS is currently used at the Magellan Clay Telescope at Las Campanas. It takes images and spectra of the sky at wavelengths longer than we can see with the human eye.


Optical instrumentation:
Megacam And before that I led the team that created Megacam, a giant digital camera. Megacam is also used on the Clay Telescope. I still travel to Chile to maintain MMIRS and Megacam. You can see some images taken by Megacam here. If you are in Washington, DC, by July 7, 2013, you can see many of these images on display at the National Museum of Natural History's Evolving Universe exhibit.


Gravitational lensing:
Lensed Castle On rare occasion I still have time to think about gravitational lensing, the bending of light by gravity. If one massive object, like a galaxy, is lined up with another object, like a quasar, the gravity from the galaxy will create multiple magnified images of the background quasar. We can use those magnified images to learn about dark matter surrounding the galaxy, as well as learn about the quasar and its surroundings. For some images of gravitational lenses taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, check out the page of the CASTLES survey