Adaptive Optics (AO) is an innovative technique that substantially improves the optical performance of groundbased telescopes. The SOAR Adaptive Module (SAM) is a laser-assisted AO instrument, designed to compensate ground-layer atmospheric turbulence in near-IR and visible wavelengths over a large Field of View. Here we detail our proposal to upgrade SAM, dubbed SAMplus, that is focused on enhancing its performance in visible wavelengths and increasing the instrument reliability. As an illustration, for a seeing of 0.62 arcsec at 500 nm and a typical turbulence profile, current SAM improves the PSF FWHM to 0.40 arcsec, and with the upgrade we expect to deliver images with a FWHM of ≈ 0.34 arcsec - up to 0.23 arcsec FWHM PSF under good seeing conditions. Such capabilities will be fully integrated with the latest SAM instruments, putting SOAR in an unique position as observatory facility.
We present the concept of a new Fabry-Perot instrument called BTFI-2, which is based on the design of another Brazilian instrument for the SOAR Telescope, the Brazilian Tunable Filter Imager (BTFI). BTFI-2 is designed to be mounted on the visitor port of the SOAR Adaptive Module (SAM) facility, on the SOAR telescope, at Cerro Pach´on, Chile. This optical Fabry-Perot instrument will have a field of view of 3 x 3 arcmin, with 0.12 arcsec per pixel and spectral resolutions of 4500 and 12000, at H-alpha, dictated by the two ICOS Fabry-Perot devices available. The instrument will be unique for the study of centers of normal, interacting and active galaxies and the intergalactic medium, whenever spatial resolution over a large area is required. BTFI-2 will combine the best features of two previous instruments, SAM-FP and BTFI: it will use an Electron Multiplication detector for low and fast scanning, it will be built with the possibility of using a new Fabry-Perot etalon which provides a range of resolutions and it will be light enough to work attached to SAM, and hence the output data cubes will be GLAO-corrected.
We present in this paper a performance characterization of an Electron Multiplication CCD (EMCCD) camera which has
been deployed on the Brazilian Tunable Filter Imager (BTFI) instrument for the SOAR telescope in Chile. The BTFI
instrument has two e2v CCD207 EMCCDs with a format of 1600-by-1600 pixels. The CCD207s are full-frame devices
and are read out at a pixel rate of 10MHz with very low noise using an EMCCD controller (the CCD Controller for
Counting Photons or CCCP for short) which was custom-built by a group based in the University of Montreal and is now
commercialized by Nüvü Camēras. The first laboratory characterizations were done in Montreal in October, 2011 and the
"first-light" results with the camera operating at the telescope are presented.