Dragonfly Telephoto Array Expands with 120 Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II...

Dragonfly Telephoto Array Expands with 120 Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lenses

Dragonfly telephoto array in New Mexico, © Pieter van Dokkum, Yale University

Melville, NY—Canon USA will provide technical assistance to Project Dragonfly in its plan to expand the Dragonfly telephoto array. Project Dragonfly is an international research team from Yale University as well as the University of Toronto.

Moreover, Canon will provide the project with 120 Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM large-aperture super-telephoto single-focal-length lenses. In addition, its parent company, Canon Inc., will provide technical assistance.

Dragonfly telephoto array in New Mexico, © Pieter van Dokkum, Yale University

“The Dragonfly telephoto array is the preeminent survey telescope for finding faint, diffuse objects in the night sky,” said Professor Pieter van Dokkum of Yale University. “It has enabled us to discover ultra-diffuse galaxies as well as other low-surface brightness phenomenal; rendering images that deepen our understanding of how galaxies are formed and providing key insights into the nature of dark matter.

“The initial array employed 48 Canon EF 400mm telephoto lenses featuring antireflection coatings that mitigate the effects of light scattering; thus overcoming the limitations of conventional telescopes in detecting faint structures.

A rendering of the full array of 168 lenses

“The lenses are coupled to monolithic wide-field detectors that permit excellent error control. With the addition of 120 of these lenses, in a newly developed configuration allowing extremely narrow filters to be used, Dragonfly will be the most powerful wide-field spectroscopic line mapping machine in existence.”

Dragonfly Telephoto Array
Dragonfly telephoto array in New Mexico, © Pieter van Dokkum, Yale University

The Dragonfly telephoto array employs multiple Canon large-aperture super-telephoto single-focal-length lenses. Specifically, it uses the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens.

Project Dragonfly designed the telescope in 2013. Furthermore, the array can capture images of galaxies that are so faint and large that they had escaped detection by even the largest conventional telescopes. In addition, its mission is to study the low surface brightness universe to elucidate the nature of dark matter. It also utilizes the concept of distributed telescopes.

In support of this research, Canon provided technical assistance by supplying 40 Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lenses in 2015. Moreover, it expanded the array to 48 lenses with 24 telescopes bundled on two separate mounts.

Since then, the research team has produced significant results in extragalactic astronomy. For instance, they discovered the ultra-diffuse galaxy Dragonfly 44 in 2016. They also identified a galaxy that lacks dark matter, NGC 1052-DF2, in 2018.

This time, Canon will provide technical assistance by supplying 120 Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lenses. Subsequently, with a total of 168 lenses, the array will have a light-gathering capability equivalent to that of a refracting telescope of 1.8 meters in diameter with a focal length of only 40cm. The expanded array will open new windows on the universe.

Photo taken with the Dragonfly array. The moon is shown for scale. © Pieter van Dokkum, Yale University

“A major goal of the next iteration of the Dragonfly array is to detect and study the faint gas thought to exist around and between galaxies,” added van Dokkum. “By opening this new window on the cosmos, Dragonfly will tackle some of the most critical questions in astrophysics today.”