Project overview

The Taipan galaxy survey

Taipan is a multi-object spectroscopic galaxy survey starting observations in 2019 that will cover the whole southern sky and will obtain spectra for over 1 million galaxies in the local Universe (z<0.3) over 4 years. This will be the most comprehensive spectroscopic survey of the southern hemisphere ever undertaken.

The Taipan galaxy survey will use the refurbished 1.2m UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory with the new TAIPAN instrument which includes an innovative starbugs optical fibre positioner and a purpose-built spectrograph.

The main scientific goals of Taipan are:

  1. to measure the present-day expansion rate of the Universe, H0, to 1% precision, and the growth rate of structure to 5%;
  2. to make the most extensive map of the mass distribution and motions in the local Universe using peculiar velocities;
  3. to understand the role of mass and environment in the evolution of galaxies.

The TAIPAN instrument will also be used for the FunnelWeb stellar survey, which will characterise the brightest 2 million stars in our Milky Way Galaxy, and inform future studies of exoplanets that may orbit those stars.


The TAIPAN instrument

The  TAIPAN instrument is a prototype for MANIFEST, which will be installed on the Giant Magellan Telescope by mid-2020s.

TAIPAN consists of a 150-fibre robot positioner and a dedicated spectrograph, and will achieve 'first light' on the UK Schmidt Telescope in mid-2016.

The starbugs are a brand new technology developed at the Australian Astronomical Observatory to enable parallel repositioning of hundreds of fibres at once [Image credit: AAO].


Taipan fibre positioner

Overview of TAIPAN technical specifications

Field of view diameter

6 deg

Number of fibres

150 (possible upgrade to 300)

Fibre diameter

3.3 arcsec

Wavelength range

370 to 870 nm

Resolving power

1960 (blue) to 2740 (red)