The Rocket Experiment Demonstration of a Soft X-ray Polarimeter (REDSoX Polarimeter) is a sounding rocket instrument that can make the first measurement of the linear X-ray polarization of an extragalactic source in the 0.2-0.8 keV band as low as 10%. We employ multilayer-coated mirrors as Bragg reflectors at the Brewster angle. By matching the dispersion of a spectrometer using replicated optics from MSFC and critical angle transmission gratings from MIT to three laterally graded multilayer mirrors (LGMLs), we achieve polarization modulation factors over 90%. We present a novel arrangement of gratings, designed optimally for the purpose of polarimetry with a converging beam. The entrance aperture is divided into six equal sectors; pairs of blazed gratings from opposite sectors are oriented to disperse to the same LGML. The LGML position angles are 120 degrees to each other. CCD detectors then measure the intensities of the dispersed spectra after reflection and polarizing by the LGMLs, giving the three Stokes parameters needed to determine a source’s linear polarization fraction and orientation. A current grant is funding further development to improve the LGMLs. Sample gratings for the project have been fabricated at MIT and the development team continues to improve them under separate funding. Our technological approach is the basis for a possible orbital mission
X-ray polarimetry offers a new window into the high-energy universe, yet there has been no instrument so far that could measure the polarization of soft X-rays (about 17-80 Å) from astrophysical sources. The Rocket Experiment Demonstration of a Soft X-ray Polarimeter (REDSoX Polarimeter) is a proposed sounding rocket experiment that uses a focusing optic and splits the beam into three channels. Each channel has a set of criticalangle transmission (CAT) gratings that disperse the x-rays onto a laterally graded multilayer (LGML) mirror, which preferentially reflects photons with a specific polarization angle. The three channels are oriented at 120 deg to each other and thus measure the three Stokes parameters: I, Q, and U. The period of the LGML changes with position. The main design challenge is to arrange the gratings so that they disperse the spectrum in such a way that all rays are dispersed onto the position on the multi-layer mirror where they satisfy the local Bragg condition despite arriving on the mirror at different angles due to the converging beam from the focusing optics. We present a polarimeteric Monte-Carlo ray-trace of this design to assess non-ideal effects from e.g. mirror scattering or the finite size of the grating facets. With mirror properties both simulated and measured in the lab for LGML mirrors of 80-200 layers we show that the reflectivity and the width of the Bragg-peak are sufficient to make this design work when non-ideal effects are included in the simulation. Our simulations give us an effective area curve, the modulation factor and the figure of merit for the REDSoX polarimeter. As an example, we simulate an observation of Mk 421 and show that we could easily detect a 20% linear polarization.
We present a simple seeing-limited IR spectrometer design for the Giant Magellan Telescope, with continuous R = 6000 coverage from 0.87-2.50 microns for a 0:7” slit. The instrument's design is based on an asymmetric white pupil echelle layout, with dichroics splitting the optical train into yJ, H, and K channels after the pupil transfer mirror. A separate low-dispersion mode offers single-object R ~ 850 spectra which also cover the full NIR bandpass in each exposure. Catalog gratings and H2RG detectors are used to minimize cost, and only two cryogenic rotary mechanisms are employed, reducing mechanical complexity. The instrument dewar occupies an envelope of 1:8×1:5×1:2 meters, satisfying mass and volume requirements for GMT with comfortable margin. We estimate the system throughput at ~ 35% including losses from the atmosphere, telescope, and instrument (i.e. all coatings, gratings, and sensors). This optical efficiency is comparable to the FIRE spectrograph on Magellan, and we have specified and designed fast cameras so the GMT instrument will have an almost identical pixel scale as FIRE. On the 6.5 meter Magellan telescopes, FIRE is read-noise limited in the y and J bands, similar to other existing near-IR spectrometers and also to JWST/NIRSPEC. GMT's twelve-fold increase in collecting area will therefore offer gains in signal-to-noise per exposure that exceed those of moderate resolution optical instruments, which are already sky-noise limited on today's telescopes. Such an instrument would allow GMT to pursue key early science programs on the Epoch of Reionization, galaxy formation, transient astronomy, and obscured star formation environments prior to commissioning of its adaptive optics system. This design study demonstrates the feasibility of developing relatively affordable spectrometers at the ELT scale, in response to the pressures of joint funding for these telescopes and their associated instrument suites.
The Kepler mission highlighted that precision radial velocity (PRV) follow-up is a real bottleneck in supporting transiting exoplanet surveys. The limited availability of PRV instruments, and the desire to break the “1 m/s” precision barrier, prompted the formation of a NASA-NSF collaboration ‘NN-EXPLORE’ to call for proposals designing a new Extreme Precision Doppler Spectrograph (EPDS). By securing a significant fraction of telescope time on the 3.5m WIYN at Kitt Peak, and aiming for unprecedented long-term precision, the EPDS instrument will provide a unique tool for U.S. astronomers in characterizing exoplanet candidates identified by TESS. One of the two funded instrument concept studies is led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in consortium with Lincoln Laboratories, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Carnegie Observatories. This paper describes the instrument concept WISDOM (WIYN Spectrograph for DOppler Monitoring) prepared by this team. WISDOM is a fiber fed, environmentally controlled, high resolution (R=110k), asymmetric white-pupil echelle spectrograph, covering a wide 380-1300nm wavelength region. Its R4 and R6 echelle gratings provide the main dispersion, symmetrically mounted on either side of a vertically aligned, vacuum-enclosed carbon fiber optical bench. Each grating feeds two cameras and thus the resulting wavelength range per camera is narrow enough that the VPHG cross-dispersers and employed anti-reflection coatings are highly efficient. The instrument operates near room temperature, and so thermal background for the near-infrared arm is mitigated by thermal blocking filters and a short (1.7μm) cutoff HgCdTe detector. To achieve high resolution while maintaining small overall instrument size (100/125mm beam diameter), imposed by the limited available space within the observatory building, we chose to slice the telescope pupil 6 ways before coupling light into fibers. An atmospheric dispersion corrector and fast tip-tilt system assures maximal light gathering within the 1.2″ entrance aperture. The six octagonal fibers corresponding to each slice of the pupil employ ball-lens double scramblers to stabilize the near- and far-fields. Three apiece are coupled into each of two rectangular fibers, to mitigate modal nose and present a rectilinear illumination pattern at the spectrograph's slit plane. Wavelength solutions are derived from ThAr lamps and an extremely wide coverage dual-channel laser frequency comb. Data is reduced on the fly for evaluation by a custom pipeline, while daily archives and extended scope data reduction products are stored on NExScI servers, also managing archives and access privileges for GTO and GO programs. Note: individual papers, submitted along this main paper, describe the details of subsystems such as the optical design (Barnes et al., 9908-247), the fiber link design (Fűrész et al., 9908-281), and the pupil slicer (Egan et al., 9912-183).
During 2014 and 2015, NASA's Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) mission proceeded success- fully through Phase C, Design and Development. An X-ray (0.2-12 keV) astrophysics payload destined for the International Space Station, NICER is manifested for launch in early 2017 on the Commercial Resupply Services SpaceX-11 flight. Its scientific objectives are to investigate the internal structure, dynamics, and energetics of neutron stars, the densest objects in the universe. During Phase C, flight components including optics, detectors, the optical bench, pointing actuators, electronics, and others were subjected to environmental testing and integrated to form the flight payload. A custom-built facility was used to co-align and integrate the X-ray "con- centrator" optics and silicon-drift detectors. Ground calibration provided robust performance measures of the optical (at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center) and detector (at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) subsystems, while comprehensive functional tests prior to payload-level environmental testing met all instrument performance requirements. We describe here the implementation of NICER's major subsystems, summarize their performance and calibration, and outline the component-level testing that was successfully applied.
The WIYN Spectrograph for Doppler Monitoring (WISDOM) was a concept responding to NASA's solicitation for an extreme precision radial velocity instrument for the 3.5 meter WIYN telescope on Kitt Peak in Arizona. In order to meet the spectral resolution requirement of R = 110,000 while maintaining good throughput and a manageable beam diameter, the front end design of the instrument employed a pupil slicing technique wherein a collimated beam is sliced and fed to six separate fibers. This paper presents the optical and mechanical design of the pupil slicer subassembly, a unique method of dealing with thermally induced defocus error, and the methods and results of aligning a prototype.
An instrument called Neutron Star Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER) will be placed on-board the Inter- national Space Station in 2017. It is designed to detect soft X-ray emission from compact sources and to provide both spectral and high resolution timing information about the incoming ux. The focal plane is populated with 56 customized Silicon Drift Detectors. The paper describes the detector system architecture, the electronics and presents the results of the laboratory testing of both ight and engineering units, as well as some of the calibration results obtained with synchrotron radiation in the laboratory of PTB at BESSY II.