We present the InGaAs detector system of the Wide-Field Infrared Transient Explorer (WINTER), a new infrared instrument operating on a 1 meter robotic telescope at the Palomar Observatory. These commercially produced sensors are cooled to -50 °C by a thermo-electric cooler integrated into a room temperature package. These warm InGaAs sensors represent a dramatic reduction in cost and complexity over HgCdTe systems and achieve sky background-limited performance across our science bands for exposures greater than a few seconds. We present the design and implementation of the WINTER detector system and readout electronics.
The Wide-Field Infrared Transient Explorer (WINTER) is a new infrared time-domain survey instrument which will be deployed on a dedicated 1 meter robotic telescope at the Palomar Observatory. WINTER will perform a seeing-limited time domain survey of the infrared (IR) sky, with a particular emphasis on identifying r -process material in binary neutron star (BNS) merger remnants detected by LIGO. We describe the scientific goals and survey design of the WINTER instrument. With a dedicated trigger and the ability to map the full LIGO O4 positional error contour in the IR to a distance of 190 Mpc within four hours, WINTER will be a powerful kilonova discovery engine and tool for multi-messenger astrophysics investigations. In addition to follow-up observations of merging binaries, WINTER will facilitate a wide range of time-domain astronomical observations, all the while building up a deep coadded image of the static infrared sky suitable for survey science. WINTER’s custom camera features six commercial large-format Indium Gallium Arsenide (InGaAs) sensors and a tiled optical system which covers a <1-square-degree field of view with 90% fill factor. The instrument observes in Y, J and a short-H (Hs) band tuned to the long-wave cutoff of the InGaAs sensors, covering a wavelength range from 0.9 – 1.7 microns. We present the design of the WINTER instrument and current progress towards final integration at the Palomar Observatory and commissioning planned for mid-2021.
The Wide-field Infrared Transient Explorer (WINTER) is a 1x1 degree infrared survey telescope under devel- opment at MIT and Caltech, and slated for commissioning at Palomar Observatory in 2021. WINTER is a seeing-limited infrared time-domain survey and has two main science goals: (1) the discovery of IR kilonovae and r-process materials from binary neutron star mergers and (2) the study of general IR transients, including supernovae, tidal disruption events, and transiting exoplanets around low mass stars. We plan to meet these science goals with technologies that are relatively new to astrophysical research: hybridized InGaAs sensors as an alternative to traditional, but expensive, HgCdTe arrays and an IR-optimized 1-meter COTS telescope. To mitigate risk, optimize development efforts, and ensure that WINTER meets its science objectives, we use model-based systems engineering (MBSE) techniques commonly featured in aerospace engineering projects. Even as ground-based instrumentation projects grow in complexity, they do not often have the budget for a full-time systems engineer. We present one example of systems engineering for the ground-based WINTER project, featuring software tools that allow students or staff to learn the fundamentals of MBSE and capture the results in a formalized software interface. We focus on the top-level science requirements with a detailed example of how the goal of detecting kilonovae flows down to WINTER’s optical design. In particular, we discuss new methods for tolerance simulations, eliminating stray light, and maximizing image quality of a fly’s-eye design that slices the telescope’s focus onto 6 non-buttable, IR detectors. We also include a discussion of safety constraints for a robotic telescope.
The Wide-Field Infrared Transient Explorer (WINTER) is a new infrared time-domain survey instrument on a dedicated 1 meter robotic telescope at the Palomar Observatory. WINTER will perform the first seeing-limited time domain survey of the infrared (IR) sky, with a particular emphasis on identifying r-process material in binary neutron star (BNS) merger remnants detected by LIGO. We have developed and tested a custom opto-mechanical mounting scheme for a 6-channel tiled optical system with <90% fill factor. Here, we present the mechanical design and testing approach used in the development of WINTER.
The Large Lenslet Array Magellan Spectrograph (LLAMAS) is an Integral Field Unit (IFU) spectrograph under construction as a facility instrument for the 6.5-meter Magellan Telescopes. For each pointing, LLAMAS delivers 2400 optical spectra (λ =350-970nm) over a 37”x37” celestial solid angle with a resolution of 2000 through a densely packed microlens+fiber array and replicated low-cost spectrographs. One of our main science goals is to study circumgalactic gas through Lyα emission. To achieve the required signal-to-noise ratio for these observations, LLAMAS must minimize stray light reaching the detector: diffuse scattered light must stay below 0.25% of sky flux and ghost images must not exceed 0.1% of the source signal. We present a non-sequential ray tracing analysis of a simplified LLAMAS model using Photon Engineering’s FRED Optical Engineering Software. We focus on stray light resulting from the volume phase holographic grating and from focal ratio degradation of the fibers. The analysis feeds into a discussion of the design and fabrication of baffles to mask the primary sources of stray light. Additionally, we develop a backup system of mounting rings inside of the cameras where pre-made baffles can be quickly added as needed. Finally, we report on the laboratory performance of a 2-camera LLAMAS prototype featuring the aforementioned stray light interventions.
The Large Lenslet Array Magellan Spectrograph (LLAMAS) is an NSF-funded facility-class Integral Field Unit (IFU) spectrograph under construction for the 6.5-meter Magellan Telescopes. It covers a 37" x 37" solid angle with 2,400 optical fibers efficiently coupled by a double-sided microlens-array, producing R = 2, 000 spectra with 0.7511 spatial resolution. Its broad passband from λ = 350 970nm offers access to line and continuum measurements over a wide range in redshift. Light is multiplexed by the IFU into 8 compact, carbon-fiber bench mounted spectrographs utilizing VPH grisms. We employed several trades on cost-performance ratio while optimizing LLAMAS’ system design including: (a) Splitting the passband between 3 fast all-refractive camera systems with modest entrance pupils, (b) limiting the fibers per unit (i.e. slit length) and building more spectrographs to leverage on production volume, and (c) using a commercial CCD camera built around a common detector (e2v 42-40) and thermoelectric + liquid cooling. To boost blue throughput and achieve high-quality sky subtraction the spectrograph cluster is mounted next to the focal plane on a folded Cassegrain port with gravity-invariant support. This also allows the instrument to deploy quickly, and be fully accessible within 10 minutes on any night, serving as a facility unit for observing astrophysical transients. A sub-sized IFU (169 fibers), mounted in a full-sized front end package with a single spectrograph (2 cameras) was delivered to Magellan in March 2020. We present as-measured laboratory performance from this prototype, though on-sky commissioning was unfortunately cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This contribution therefore focuses on subsequent design evolution and status of the full facility instrument.
The Active optics, Guiding, and Wavefront Sensing system (AGWS), currently being designed by SAO, will use J-band dispersed fringe sensors (DFS) to phase the GMT to a fraction of an imaging wavelength. These phasing sensors will use off-axis guide stars to measure phase shifts at each of 12 segment boundaries. The fringes produced at each boundary will be dispersed in the perpendicular direction using an array of high-index doublet prisms. Inter-segment phase shifts will appear as tilts in the dispersed fringes, which can be measured in the Fourier domain. In order to avoid atmospheric blurring of the fringes, we require a J-band detector capable of fast, low-noise readout, which mandates the use of a SAPHIRA e-APD array. We built a DFS prototype that we tested on-sky at the Magellan Clay telescope behind the MagAO adaptive optics system in May 2018.