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14 July 2010 Hexabundles: first results
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New multi-core imaging fibre bundles - hexabundles - being developed at the University of Sydney will provide simultaneous integral field spectroscopy for hundreds of celestial sources across a wide angular field. These are a natural progression from the use of single fibres in existing galaxy surveys. Hexabundles will allow us to address fundamental questions in astronomy without the biases introduced by a fixed entrance aperture. We have begun to consider instrument concepts that exploit hundreds of hexabundles over the widest possible field of view. To this end, we have characterised the performance of a 61-core fully fused hexabundle and 5 unfused bundles with 7 cores each. All fibres in bundles have 100 micron cores. In the fused bundle, the cores are distorted from a circular shape in order to achieve a higher fill fraction. The unfused bundles have circular cores and five different cladding thicknesses which affect the fill fraction. We compare the optical performance of all 6 bundles and find that the advantage of smaller interstitial holes (higher fill fraction) is outweighed by the increase in FRD, crosstalk and the poor optical performance caused by the deformation of the fibre cores. Uniformly high throughput and low cross-talk are essential for imaging faint astronomical targets with sufficient resolution to disentangle the dynamical structure. Devices already under development will have 100-200 unfused cores, although larger formats are feasible. The light-weight packaging of hexabundles is sufficiently flexible to allow existing robotic positioners to make use of them.
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Julia J. Bryant, John W. O'Byrne, Joss Bland-Hawthorn, and Sergio G. Leon-Saval "Hexabundles: first results", Proc. SPIE 7735, Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy III, 77350O (14 July 2010);


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