Precise wavelength calibration is a critical issue for high-resolution spectroscopic observations. The ideal calibration source should be able to provide a very stable and dense grid of evenly distributed spectral lines of constant intensity. A new method which satisfies all mentioned conditions has been developed by our group. The approach is to actively measure the exact position of a single spectral line of a Fabry-Perot etalon with very high precision with a wavelength-tuneable laser and compare it to an extremely stable wavelength standard. The ideal choice of standard is the D2 absorption line of Rubidium, which has been used as an optical frequency standard for decades. With this technique, the problem of stable wavelength calibration of spectrographs becomes a problem of how reliably we can measure and anchor one etalon line to the Rb transition. In this work we present our self-built module for Rb saturated absorption spectroscopy and discuss its stability.
The Keck Planet Finder (KPF) is a fiber-fed, high-resolution, high-stability spectrometer in development for the W.M. Keck Observatory. The instrument recently passed its preliminary design review and is currently in the detailed design phase. KPF is designed to characterize exoplanets using Doppler spectroscopy with a single measurement precision of 0.5 m s−1 or better; however, its resolution and stability will enable a wide variety of other astrophysical pursuits. KPF will have a 200 mm collimated beam diameter and a resolving power greater than 80,000. The design includes a green channel (445 nm to 600 nm) and red channel (600 nm to 870 nm). A novel design aspect of KPF is the use of a Zerodur optical bench, and Zerodur optics with integral mounts, to provide stability against thermal expansion and contraction effects.