OCTOCAM is the new large Gemini instrument in building. It is an imaging spectrograph with 8 cameras covering the range 370 nm to 2350 nm at a typical resolution of 3000-4000. It will have 2 IFUs, one for normal operation over all wavelengths, the other for AO in the NIR only and with a smaller field but a higher spectral resolution. Currently, no IFU exists that covers the entire range of VIS and NIR in a single observation. Such an IFU would have a number of applications: It can be used for resolved studies of HII regions over a broad wavelength range and emission line galaxies over a broad redshift range using the same set of emission lines. Another application is to observe transients with only arcseconds localization very early without waiting for a sub-arcsecond position, hence allowing to obtain very valuable early data. For bright transients such as SNe and GRBs we can study the immediate environment in detail, and even use the actual transient as AO tip-tilt star to study the environment at high spectral and very high angular resolutions. The IFUs will be Advanced Image Slicers, a proven concept now in use in many instruments around the world including Gemini NIFS, VLT MUSE and KMOS, and JWST NIRSpec. The normal operation slicer will have a field of 9.7" x 6.8" with 17 slices 0.4" wide giving 0.18" x 0.4" spaxels. The slices are smaller than the standard slit size of 0.54" (3 pixels) so will deliver higher spectral resolution. This IFU will deliver much higher performances than the GMOS IFU and NIFS with a larger field of view and spectral range but also considerably fewer pixels per arsec2 then reducing the readout noise. With its wavelength range starting at 370 nm, diamond machining cannot be used. A glass slicer system will have to be used as in MUSE. The wavelength range will however be much larger covering the whole VIS and NIR range. Modern reflection coatings as UV enhanced silver can be used but a trade-off may be better by starting at a longer wavelength to get higher transmission. Special consideration is necessary for the fore-optics which cannot be diamond machined and for the overall design due to the limited space envelope. The AO slicer will have a field of 2.5" x 3.6" with 31 slices 0.08" wide imaged on 2 pixels in the spectral direction to get proper sampling. The fore-optics will magnify the beam in both directions but with different magnifications to get spaxels of 0.08" x 0.08". The smaller slice image width will give a spectral resolution of about 5000 including aberrations, about the same than NIFS but covering all 4 NIR bands at once. This slicer uses a slit 60% longer than OCTOCAM is designed for. It is possible because the magnification reduces the beam size so the aberrations and vignetting.
The OCTOCAM instrument concept was built on the principles of efficiency and simultaneity. The aim was not only optical throughput and excellent detector response, but also broad wavelength coverage, temporal resolution and a very good duty cycle to make the best possible use of every photon collected by a telescope. This instrument would be optimized for the study of transient astronomical sources. This lead to a multi-channel instrument with the capability of doing imaging and spectroscopy, which is currently being developed for the 8.1m Gemini South telescope. In the Gemini implementation, OCTOCAM will perform imaging of a 3'x3' field of view in 8 simultaneous channels (g, r, i, z, Y, J, H, Ks) or long slit (3') spectroscopy covering the range between 3700 and 23500 Angstrom at a resolution of ~4000.
In this talk I will present the OCTOCAM instrument concept, the origin and development of the idea and the path to becoming a reality at an 8 m class telescope. I will cover the technical, management and personal lessons learned throughout a decade long path from the experience of the principal investigator of the project, which I was, from the beginning and until the end of 2017. Finally I will comment on the possible reinterpretations of OCTOCAM on smaller and larger telescopes.
OCTOCAM has been proposed to the Gemini Observatory as a workhorse imager and spectrograph that will fulfill the needs of a large number of research areas in the 2020s. It is based on the use of high-efficiency dichroics to divide the incoming light in eight different channels, four optical and four infrared, each optimized for its wavelength range. In its imaging mode, it will observe a field of 3'x3' simultaneously in g, r, i, z, Y, J, H, and KS bands. It will obtain long-slit spectroscopy covering the range from 3700 to 23500 Å with a resolution of 4000 and a slit length of 3 arcminutes. To avoid slit losses, the instrument it will be equipped with an atmospheric dispersion corrector for the complete spectral range. Thanks to the use of state of the art detectors, OCTOCAM will allow high time-resolution observations and will have negligible overheads in classical observing modes. It will be equipped with a unique integral field unit that will observe in the complete spectral range with an on-sky coverage of 9.7"x6.8", composed of 17 slitlets, 0.4" wide each. Finally, a state-of-the-art polarimetric unit will allow us to obtain simultaneous full Stokes spectropolarimetry of the range between 3700 and 22000 Å.
OCTOCAM is an 8-channel VIS-IR (g to K-band) simultaneous imager and medium-resolution spectrograph proposed as new workhorse instrument for the 8m Gemini telescopes. It also offers additional observing modes of high time resolution, integral-field spectroscopy and spectropolarimetry, making it a very versatile instrument for many science cases in the 2020ies. A special focus of OCTOCAM will be the detection and follow-up of transient sources such as gamma-ray bursts, supernovae, magnetars, active galactic nuclei and yet to be discovered new objects, delivered by large-scale surveys like LSST available in the 2020ies. The diverse nature of transients will require the full range of OCTOCAM capabilities allowing more information in very short time about the source than with any other current instrument and adaptable almost in real time. Another main science topic will be to probe the high redshift Universe and the first stars for which OCTOCAM will be highly suited due to its wide wavelength coverage and high sensitivity. However, OCTOCAM is also suited for a large range of other science cases including transneptunian objects, exoplanets, stellar evolution and supermassive black holes. Our science team comprises more than 50 researchers reflecting the large interest of the Gemini community in the capabilities of OCTOCAM. We will highlight a few important science cases demonstrating the different capabilities of OCTOCAM and their need for the scientific community.
Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most luminous explosions in the Universe. They are produced during the collapse of massive stellar-sized objects, which create a black hole and eject material at ultra-relativistic speeds. They are unique tools to study the evolution of our Universe, as they are the only objects that, thanks to their extraordinary luminosity, can be observed during the complete history of star formation, from the era of reionisation to our days.
One of the main tools to obtain information from GRBs and their environment is optical and near-infrared spectroscopy. After 17 years of studies spectroscopic data for around 300 events that have been collected. However, spectra were obtained by many groups, at different observatories, and using instruments of very different types, making data difficult to access, process and compare.
Here we present GRBspec: A collaborative database that includes processed GRB spectra from multiple observatories and makes them available to the community. The website provides access to the datasets, allowing queries based not only on the observation characteristics but also on the properties of the GRB that was observed. Furthermore, the website provides visualisation and analysis tools, that allow the user to asses the quality of the data before downloading and even make data analysis online.