The design and construction of CARMENES has been presented at previous SPIE conferences. It is a next-generation radial-velocity instrument at the 3.5m telescope of the Calar Alto Observatory, which was built by a consortium of eleven Spanish and German institutions. CARMENES consists of two separate échelle spectrographs covering the wavelength range from 0.52 to 1.71μm at a spec-tral resolution of R < 80,000, fed by fibers from the Cassegrain focus of the telescope. CARMENES saw “First Light” on Nov 9, 2015.
During the commissioning and initial operation phases, we established basic performance data such as throughput and spectral resolution. We found that our hollow-cathode lamps are suitable for precise wavelength calibration, but their spectra contain a number of lines of neon or argon that are so bright that the lamps cannot be used in simultaneous exposures with stars. We have therefore adopted a calibration procedure that uses simultaneous star / Fabry Pérot etalon exposures in combination with a cross-calibration between the etalons and hollow-cathode lamps during daytime. With this strategy it has been possible to achieve 1-2 m/s precision in the visible and 5-10 m/s precision in the near-IR; further improvements are expected from ongoing work on temperature control, calibration procedures and data reduction. Comparing the RV precision achieved in different wavelength bands, we find a “sweet spot” between 0.7 and 0.8μm, where deep TiO bands provide rich RV information in mid-M dwarfs. This is in contrast to our pre-survey models, which predicted comparatively better performance in the near-IR around 1μm, and explains in part why our near-IR RVs do not reach the same precision level as those taken with the visible spectrograph.
We are now conducting a large survey of 340 nearby M dwarfs (with an average distance of only 12pc), with the goal of finding terrestrial planets in their habitable zones. We have detected the signatures of several previously known or suspected planets and also discovered several new planets. We find that the radial velocity periodograms of many M dwarfs show several significant peaks. The development of robust methods to distinguish planet signatures from activity-induced radial velocity jitter is therefore among our priorities.
Due to its large wavelength coverage, the CARMENES survey is generating a unique data set for studies of M star atmospheres, rotation, and activity. The spectra cover important diagnostic lines for activity (H alpha, Na I D1 and D2, and the Ca II infrared triplet), as well as FeH lines, from which the magnetic field can be inferred. Correlating the time series of these features with each other, and with wavelength-dependent radial velocities, provides excellent handles for the discrimination between planetary companions and stellar radial velocity jitter. These data are also generating new insight into the physical properties of M dwarf atmospheres, and the impact of activity and flares on the habitability of M star planets.
Precise wavelength calibration is a persistent problem for highest precision Doppler spectroscopy. The ideal calibrator provides an extremely stable spectrum of equidistant, narrow lines over a wide bandwidth, is reliable over timescales of years, and is simple to operate. Unlike traditional hollow cathode lamps, etalons provide an engineered spectrum with adjustable line distance and width and can cover a very broad spectral bandwidth. We have shown that laser locked etalons provide the necessary stability with an ideal spectral format for calibrating precision Echelle spectrographs, in a cost-effective and robust package. Anchoring the etalon spectrum to a very precisely known hyperfine transition of rubidium delivers cm/s-level stability over timescales of years. We have engineered a fieldable system which is currently being constructed as calibrator for the MAROON-X, HERMES, KPF, FIES and iLocater spectrographs.
MAROON-X is a red-optical, high precision radial velocity spectrograph currently nearing completion and undergoing extensive performance testing at the University of Chicago. The instrument is scheduled to be installed at Gemini North in the first quarter of 2019. MAROON-X will be the only RV spectrograph on a large telescope with full access by the entire US community. In these proceedings we discuss the latest addition of the red wavelength arm and the two science grade detector systems, as well as the design and construction of the telescope front end. We also present results from ongoing RV stability tests in the lab. First results indicate that MAROON-X can be calibrated at the sub-m s−1 level, and perhaps even much better than that using a simultaneous reference approach.
We report on the upgrade of the fiber link of FIES, the high-resolution echelle spectrograph at the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT). In order to improve the radial velocity (RV) stability of FIES, we replaced the circular fibers by octagonal and rectangular ones to utilize their superior scrambling performance. Two additional fibers for a planned polarimetry mode were added during the upgrade. The injection optics and the telescope front-end were also replaced. The first on-sky RV measurements indicate that the influence of guiding errors is greatly suppressed, and the overall RV precision of FIES has significantly improved.
We report on the construction and testing of a vacuum-gap Fabry–Pérot etalon calibrator for high precision radial velocity spectrographs. Our etalon is traced against a rubidium frequency standard to provide a cost effective, yet ultra precise wavelength reference. We describe here a turn-key system working at 500 to 900 nm, ready to be installed at any current and next-generation radial velocity spectrograph that requires calibration over a wide spectral bandpass. Where appropriate, we have used off-the-shelf, commercial components with demonstrated long-term performance to accelerate the development timescale of this instrument. Our system combines for the first time the advantages of passively stabilized etalons for optical and near-infrared wavelengths with the laser-locking technique demonstrated for single-mode fiber etalons. We realize uncertainties in the position of one etalon line at the 10 cm s−1 level in individual measurements taken at 4 Hz. When binning the data over 10 s, we are able to trace the etalon line with a precision of better than 3 cm s−1. We present data obtained during a week of continuous operation where we detect (and correct for) the predicted, but previously unobserved shrinking of the etalon Zerodur spacer corresponding to a shift of 13 cm s−1 per day.
The CARMENES instrument is a pair of high-resolution (R⪆80,000) spectrographs covering the wavelength range from 0.52 to 1.71 μm, optimized for precise radial velocity measurements. It was installed and commissioned at the 3.5m telescope of the Calar Alto observatory in Southern Spain in 2015. The first large science program of CARMENES is a survey of ~ 300 M dwarfs, which started on Jan 1, 2016. We present an overview of all subsystems of CARMENES (front end, fiber system, visible-light spectrograph, near-infrared spectrograph, calibration units, etalons, facility control, interlock system, instrument control system, data reduction pipeline, data flow, and archive), and give an overview of the assembly, integration, verification, and commissioning phases of the project. We show initial results and discuss further plans for the scientific use of CARMENES.
We have developed an optical design for a high resolution spectrograph in response to NASA’s call for an extreme precision Doppler spectrometer (EPDS) for the WIYN telescope. Our instrument covers a wavelength range of 380 to 930 nm using a single detector and with a resolution of 100,000. To deliver the most stable spectrum, we avoid the use of an image slicer, in favor of a large (195 mm diameter) beam footprint on a 1x2 mosaic R4 Echelle grating. The optical design is based on a classic white pupil layout, with a single parabolic mirror that is used as the main and transfer collimator. Cross dispersion is provided by a single large PBM2Y glass prism. The refractive camera consists of only four rotationally symmetric lenses made from i-Line glasses, yet delivers very high image quality over the full spectral bandpass. We present the optical design of the main spectrograph bench and discuss the design trade-offs and expected performance.
The Waltz Spectrograph is a fiber-fed high-resolution échelle spectrograph for the 72 cm Waltz Telescope at the Landessternwarte, Heidelberg. It uses a 31.6 lines/mm 63.5° blaze angle échelle grating in white-pupil configuration, providing a spectral resolving power of R ~ 65,000 covering the spectral range between 450-800nm in one CCD exposure. A prism is used for cross-dispersion of échelle orders. The spectrum is focused by a commercial apochromat onto a 2k×2k CCD detector with 13.5μm per pixel. An exposure meter will be used to obtain precise photon-weighted midpoints of observations, which will be used in the computation of the barycentric corrections of measured radial velocities. A stabilized, newly designed iodine cell is employed for measuring radial velocities with high precision. Our goal is to reach a radial velocity precision of better than 5 m/s, providing an instrument with sufficient precision and sensitivity for the discovery of giant exoplanets. Here we describe the design of the Waltz spectrograph and early on-sky results.
We report on the development and construction of a new fiber-fed, red-optical, high-precision radial-velocity spectrograph for one of the twin 6.5m Magellan Telescopes in Chile. MAROON-X will be optimized to find and characterize rocky planets around nearby M dwarfs with an intrinsic per measurement noise floor below 1ms-1. The instrument is based on a commercial echelle spectrograph customized for high stability and throughput. A microlens array based pupil slicer and double scrambler, as well as a rubidium-referenced etalon comb calibrator will turn this spectrograph into a high-precision radial-velocity machine. MAROON-X will undergo extensive lab tests in the second half of 2016.
We present the design for a high resolution near-infrared spectrograph. It is fed by a single-mode fiber coupled to a high performance adaptive optics system, leading to an extremely stable instrument with high total efficiency. The optical design is a cross-dispersed Echelle spectrograph based on a white pupil layout. The instrument uses a R6 Echelle grating with 13.3 grooves per mm, enabling very high resolution with a small beam diameter. The optical design is diffraction limited to enable optimal performance; this leads to subtle differences compared to spectrographs with large input slits.
We report on the design and construction of a microlens-array (MLA)-based pupil slicer and double scrambler for MAROON-X, a new fiber-fed, red-optical, high-precision radial-velocity spectrograph for one of the twin 6.5m Magellan Telescopes in Chile. We have constructed a 3X slicer based on a single cylindrical MLA and show that geometric efficiencies of ≥85% can be achieved, limited by the fill factor and optical surface quality of the MLA. We present here the final design of the 3x pupil slicer and double scrambler for MAROON-X, based on a dual MLA design with (a)spherical lenslets. We also discuss the techniques used to create a pseudo-slit of rectangular core fibers with low FRD levels.
We report on the construction and testing of a vacuum-gap Fabry-Perot etalon calibrator for high precision radial velocity spectrographs. The etalon is referenced against hyper fine transitions of rubidium to provide a precise wavelength calibrator for MAROON-X, a new fiber-fed, red-optical, high-precision radial-velocity spectrograph currently under construction for one of the twin 6.5m Magellan Telescopes in Chile. We demonstrate a turnkey system, ready to be installed at any current and next generation radial velocity spectrograph that requires calibration over a wide spectral band-pass. Uncertainties in the position of one etalon line are at the 10 cm s-1 level in individual measurements taken at 4 Hz. Our long-term stability is mainly limited by aging effects of the spacer material Zerodur, which imprints a 12 cm s-1 daily drift. However, as the etalon position is traced by the rubidium reference with a precision of <3 cm s-1 for integration times longer than 10s, we can fully account for this effect at the RV data reduction level.
Optical fibers are a key component for high-resolution spectrographs to attain high precision in radial velocity measurements. We present a custom fiber with a novel core geometry - a 'D'-shape. From a theoretical standpoint, such a fiber should provide superior scrambling and modal noise mitigation, since unlike the commonly used circular and polygonal fiber cross sections, it shows chaotic scrambling. We report on the fabrication process of a test fiber and compare the optical properties, scrambling performance, and modal noise behaviour of the D-fiber with those of common polygonal fibers.
We report on the scrambling performance and focal-ratio-degradation (FRD) of various octagonal and rectangular fibers considered for MAROON-X. Our measurements demonstrate the detrimental effect of thin claddings on the FRD of octagonal and rectangular fibers and that stress induced at the connectors can further increase the FRD. We find that fibers with a thick, round cladding show low FRD. We further demonstrate that the scrambling behavior of non-circular fibers is often complex and introduce a new metric to fully capture non-linear scrambling performance, leading to much lower scrambling gain values than are typically reported in the literature (≤1000 compared to 10,000 or more). We find that scrambling gain measurements for small-core, non-circular fibers are often speckle dominated if the fiber is not agitated.
Optical fibres have successfully been used to couple high-resolution spectrographs to telescopes for many years. As they allow the instrument to be placed in a stable and isolated location, they decouple the spectrograph from environmental influences. Fibres also provide a substantial increase in stability of the input illumination of the spectrograph, which makes them a key optical element of the two high-resolution spectrographs of CARMENES. The optical properties of appropriate fibres are investigated, especially their scrambling and focal ratio degradation (FRD) behaviour. In the laboratory the output illumination of various fibres is characterized and different methods to increase the scrambling of the fibre link are tested and compared. In particular, a combination of fibres with different core shapes shows a very good scrambling performance. The near-field (NF) shows an extremely low sensitivity to the exact coupling conditions of the fibre. However, small changes in the far-field (FF) can still be seen. Related optical simulations of the stability performance of the two spectrographs are presented. The simulations focus on the influence of the non-perfect illumination stabilization in the far-field of the fibre on the radial velocity stability of the spectrographs. We use ZEMAX models of the spectrographs to simulate how the barycentres of the spots move depending on the FF illumination pattern and therefore how the radial velocity is affected by a variation of the spectrograph illumination. This method allows to establish a quantitative link between the results of the measurements of the optical properties of fibres on the one hand and the radial velocity precision on the other. The results provide a strong indication that 1ms1 precision can be reached using a circular-octagonal fibre link even without the use of an optical double scrambler, which has successfully been used in other high-resolution spectrographs. Given the typical throughput of an optical double scrambler of about 75% to 85 %, our solution allows for a substantially higher throughput of the system.
Accurate wavelength calibration is crucial for attaining superior Doppler precision with high resolution spectrographs. Upcoming facilities aim for 10 cm/s or better radial velocity precision to access the discovery space for Earth-like exoplanets. To achieve such precision over timescales of years, currently used wavelength cal- ibrators such as thorium-argon lamps and iodine cells will need to be replaced by more precise and stable sources. The ideal wavelength calibrator would produce an array of lines that are uniformly spaced, narrower than the spectrograph resolution, of equal brightness, cover the entire wavelength range of the spectrograph, and whose frequencies do not change with time. Laser frequency combs are an extremely accurate and stable, albeit technically challenging and costly, option that has received much attention recently. We present an alter- native method that uses a Fabry-Perot (FP) etalon illuminated by a white light source to produce a comb-like spectrum over a wide wavelength range. Previous work focused on the development of passively stabilized FP etalons for wavelength calibration. We improve on this method by locking the etalon to an atomic transition,
the frequency of which is known to < 2 x 10-11.7 We use a diode laser to observe both the rubidium (Rb) D2 transition at 780 nm and the etalon transmission spectrum. Saturated absorption spectroscopy is used to resolve the Rb hyperfine lines and precisely determine their locations. Since the etalon spectrum is probed with the same laser, the etalon can be locked by ensuring that one of its transmission peaks coincides with a particular Rb hyperfine peak (via either temperature tuning or a piezoelectric transducer incorporated into the etalon). By measuring the frequency of one etalon peak directly via comparison with the Rb, we remove any drifts or aging effects of the etalon that could cause problems for passively stabilized etalon references. We demonstrate a locking precision that is equivalent to a Doppler precision of 3 cm/s RMS.
Our setup is simple and robust, can be used with various etalons, and works in the infrared as well as the visible part of the spectrum. The combination of low cost, ease of use, and high precision make this calibration system an attractive option for new spectrographs and as a retrofit for existing facilities.
This paper gives an overview of the CARMENES instrument and of the survey that will be carried out with it
during the first years of operation. CARMENES (Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exoearths
with Near-infrared and optical Echelle Spectrographs) is a next-generation radial-velocity instrument
under construction for the 3.5m telescope at the Calar Alto Observatory by a consortium of eleven Spanish
and German institutions. The scientific goal of the project is conducting a 600-night exoplanet survey targeting
~ 300 M dwarfs with the completed instrument.
The CARMENES instrument consists of two separate echelle spectrographs covering the wavelength range
from 0.55 to 1.7 μm at a spectral resolution of R = 82,000, fed by fibers from the Cassegrain focus of the telescope.
The spectrographs are housed in vacuum tanks providing the temperature-stabilized environments necessary to
enable a 1 m/s radial velocity precision employing a simultaneous calibration with an emission-line lamp or with
a Fabry-Perot etalon. For mid-M to late-M spectral types, the wavelength range around 1.0 μm (Y band) is the
most important wavelength region for radial velocity work. Therefore, the efficiency of CARMENES has been
optimized in this range.
The CARMENES instrument consists of two spectrographs, one equipped with a 4k x 4k pixel CCD for
the range 0.55 - 1.05 μm, and one with two 2k x 2k pixel HgCdTe detectors for the range from 0.95 - 1.7μm.
Each spectrograph will be coupled to the 3.5m telescope with two optical fibers, one for the target, and one
for calibration light. The front end contains a dichroic beam splitter and an atmospheric dispersion corrector,
to feed the light into the fibers leading to the spectrographs. Guiding is performed with a separate camera;
on-axis as well as off-axis guiding modes are implemented. Fibers with octagonal cross-section are employed to
ensure good stability of the output in the presence of residual guiding errors. The fibers are continually actuated
to reduce modal noise. The spectrographs are mounted on benches inside vacuum tanks located in the coud´e
laboratory of the 3.5m dome. Each vacuum tank is equipped with a temperature stabilization system capable
of keeping the temperature constant to within ±0.01°C over 24 hours. The visible-light spectrograph will be
operated near room temperature, while the near-IR spectrograph will be cooled to ~ 140 K.
The CARMENES instrument passed its final design review in February 2013. The MAIV phase is currently
ongoing. First tests at the telescope are scheduled for early 2015. Completion of the full instrument is planned
for the fall of 2015. At least 600 useable nights have been allocated at the Calar Alto 3.5m Telescope for the
CARMENES survey in the time frame until 2018.
A data base of M stars (dubbed CARMENCITA) has been compiled from which the CARMENES sample can
be selected. CARMENCITA contains information on all relevant properties of the potential targets. Dedicated imaging, photometric, and spectroscopic observations are underway to provide crucial data on these stars that
are not available in the literature.
CARMENES (Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exo-earths with Near-infrared and optical Echelle Spectrographs) is a next-generation instrument for the 3.5m telescope at the Calar Alto Observatory, built by a consortium of eleven Spanish and German institutions. The CARMENES instrument consists of two separate échelle spectrographs covering the wavelength range from 0.55 μm to 1.7 μm at a spectral resolution of R = 82, 000, fed by fibers from the Cassegrain focus of the telescope. Both spectrographs are housed in temperature-stabilized vacuum tanks, to enable a long-term 1 m/s radial velocity precision employing a simultaneous calibration with Th-Ne and U-Ne emission line lamps. CARMENES has been optimized for a search for terrestrial planets in the habitable zones (HZs) of low-mass stars, which may well provide our first chance to study environments capable of supporting the development of life outside the Solar System. With its unique combination of optical and near-infrared ´echelle spectrographs, CARMENES will provide better sensitivity for the detection of low-mass planets than any comparable instrument, and a powerful tool for discriminating between genuine planet detections and false positives caused by stellar activity. The CARMENES survey will target 300 M dwarfs in the 2014 to 2018 time frame.
Recent advances in detection and characterization of exo-planets have led to increasing
standards for repeatability of spectral-line detection of novel high-resolution spectrographs.
This is important for exo-planet research but also has its impact on astroseismology and the
study of variable stars. For these purposes optical fibres bear a huge advantage due to their
improved scrambling ability - but this is subject to fundamental limits. This investigation
gives experimental support for the theoretical proposals made in a companion paper which
uses a ray-tracing approach. We will concentrate on the mechanisms that cause incomplete
scrambling in order to gain insight in the true nature of scrambling, unlike previous mainly
We describe the experimental setup that will be used to determine the fibre response to
input beam parameters like focal ratio, tilt and offset. Preliminary experimental results are
consistent with the theoretical predictions made and thus motivating a further exploration
of these phenomena.
Preliminary investigations for an Aperture Masking Experiment at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) and its application to stellar surface imaging are presented. An algorithm is implemented which generates non redundant aperture masks for the LBT. These masks are adapted to the special geometrical conditions at the LBT. At the same time, they are optimized to provide a uniform UV-coverage. It is also possible to favor certain baselines to adapt the UV-coverage to observational requirements. The optimization is done by selecting appropriate masks among a large number (order 109) of randomized realizations of non-redundant (NR) masks. Using results of numerical simulations of the surface of red supergiants, interferometric data is generated as it would be available with these masks at the LBT while observing Betelgeuse. An image reconstruction algorithm is used to reconstruct images from Squared Visibility and Closure Phase data. It is shown that a number of about 15 holes per mask is sufficient to retrieve detailed images. Additionally, noise is added to the data in order to simulate the influence of measurement errors e.g. photon noise. Both the position and the shape of surface structures are hardly influenced by this noise. However, the flux of these details changes significantly.