Terry Herter



Terry Herter's interests include normal and starburst galaxies, circumstellar disks, and the galactic center. In the recent past he has also studied HII (ionized hydrogen) regions and planetary nebulae. From time to time, he has dabbled in planetary astronomy: observing planets, moons, and comets. Recent work has included the study of the formation of massive stars and their interaction with their environments, and exploration of the very center of our Galaxy where three large star clusters exist.  He has also worked on the development and testing of infrared arrays for ground-based, airborne, and space-based astronomy.

He is Director of the CCAT Observatory, a project to construct a 6-m sub-mm telescope in the high (5600-m) Atacama Desert in Northern Chile.  It is designed to address broad questions regarding the evolution of the Universe.   CCAT-prime will trace the formation and evolution of galaxies, provide constraints on galaxy cluster formation, and provide vital information for the next generation Cosmic Microwave Background measurements which aim to determine the energy at which inflation occurred.  Cornell plays a leading role in the project. Partners include a German consortium led by Cologne and a Canadian consortium led by the Waterloo.   First light is currently scheduled for 2023. 

In the past, he was Principal Investigator on a first-light instrument on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). The instrument, called FORCAST, is a camera that will be used to image star formation regions, debris disks around nearby stars, and other galaxies. FORCAST is a facility instrument still in use by SOFIA.  Also, he was the lead on TripleSpec, a spectrograph that obtains simultaneously a complete 0.9-2.5 micron spectrum at a resolution of 3000.  Three copies are of TripleSpec were originally fabricated via a collaboration between Cornell, University of Virginia, Caltech, and JPL. The Cornell version of TripleSpec was commissioned for use on the 200-inch Palomar Observatory telescope.  A fourth version, TripleSpec4, has also been fabricated at Cornell and is now a facility instrument on the SOAR telescope on Cerro Pachon in Chile.

Research Focus

  • FORECAST: A Widefield Infrared Camera for SOFIA
  • TSpec 4: A Facility Near-Infrared Spectrograph for the SOAR Telescope


  •      "TSPEC4: near-IR spectroscopy for the SOAR telescope," Herter, T., Henderson, C., Bonati, M., et al., (2020), SPIE, 11447, 114476L.
  •      "SOFIA/FORCAST Galactic Center Legacy Survey: Investigating Warm Dust in the Sagittarius A Complex," Hankins, M., Lau, R., Morris, M., et al., (2020), AAS, 236, 332.02.
  •      "SOFIA/FORCAST Galactic Center Legacy Survey: Overview," Hankins, M. J., Lau, R. M., Radomski, J. T., et al., (2020), ApJ, 894, 55.
  •      "Sensitivity of the Prime-Cam Instrument on the CCAT-Prime Telescope," Choi, S. K., Austermann, J., Basu, K., et al., (2020), JLTP, 199, 1089.
  •      "The Design of the CCAT-prime Epoch of Reionization Spectrometer Instrument," Cothard, N. F., Choi, S. K., Duell, C. J., et al., (2020), JLTP, 199, 898.
  •      "SOFIA/FORCAST Galactic Center Legacy Survey: Overview and First Results," Hankins, M., Lau, R., Cotera, A., et al., (2020), AAS, 235, 336.02.
  •      "The CCAT-Prime Submillimeter Observatory (Astro2020 white paper)," Terry, H., Battaglia, N., Basu, K., et al., (2019), BAAS, 51, 213.
  •      "SOFIA/FORCAST Observations of the Sgr A-H H II Regions: Using Dust Emission to Elucidate the Heating Sources," Hankins*, M. J., Lau*, R. M., Mills, E. A. C., et al., (2019), ApJ, 877, 22.
  •      "Temperature and para hydrogen gradients on Jupiter observed from the FORCAST camera on SOFIA," Conrath, B. J., Gierasch, P. J., Herter, T., Wang, J. 2018, Icar, 315, 1.  
  •      "Dust Production Rates in the Fomalhaut Debris Disk from SOFIA/FORCAST Mid-infrared Imaging," Adams, J. D., Herter, T. L., Lau*, R. M., et al. 2018, ApJ, 862, 161.  
  •      "SOFIA/FORCAST observations of the Galactic Center," Lau, R., Becklin, E., Morris, M., et al. 2018, COSP, 42, E1.18-4-18.  
  •      "CCAT-prime: Science with an Ultra-widefield Submillimeter Observatory at Cerro Chajnantor," Stacey, G. J., Aravena, M., Basu, K., et al. 2018, arXiv, arXiv:1807.04354.  
  •      "The Emission and Distribution of Dust of the Torus of NGC 1068," Lopez-Rodriguez, E., Fuller, L., Alonso-Herrero, A., et al. 2018, ApJ, 859, 99.  
  •      Herter T. L. Adams J. D., et al., "FORCAST: A Mid-Infrared Camera for SOFIA," (2018), JAI, 7, 1840005-451.

In the news

ASTRO Courses - Spring 2024