We present a project aimed at establishing a set of 12 spectro-photometric standards over a wide wavelength range from
320 to 2500 nm. Currently no such set of standard stars covering the near-IR is available. Our strategy is to extend the
useful range of existing well-established optical flux standards into the near-IR by means of integral field spectroscopy
with SINFONI at the VLT combined with state-of-the-art white dwarf stellar atmospheric models. As a solid reference,
we use two primary HST standard white dwarfs. This ESO "Observatory Programme" has been collecting data since
February 2007. The analysis of the data obtained in the first year of the project shows that a careful selection of the
atmospheric windows used to measure fluxes and the stability of SINFONI make it possible to achieve an accuracy of 3-
6% depending on the wavelength band and stellar magnitude, well within our original goal of 10% accuracy. While this
project was originally tailored to the needs of the wide wavelength range (320-2500 nm) of X-shooter on the VLT, it will
also benefit any other near-IR spectrographs, providing a huge improvement over existing flux calibration methods.
X-shooter is a single target spectrograph for the Cassegrain focus of one of the VLT UTs where it will start to operate in
2008. The instrument covers in a single exposure the spectral range from the UV to the K' band. It is designed to
maximize the sensitivity in this spectral range through the splitting in three arms with optimized optics, coatings,
dispersive elements and detectors. It operates at intermediate resolutions (R=4000-14000, depending on wavelength and
slit width) with fixed echelle spectral format (with prism cross-dispersers) in the three arms. The project has completed
the Final Design Review in June 2006. In this status report, the overall concept is summarized and new results on the
dichroics, the active flexure compensation system, the operation modes and the expected performance are given. The
instrument is being built by a Consortium of Institutes from Denmark, France, Italy and the Netherlands in collaboration
with ESO. When in operation, its wide spectral range observing capability will be unique at very large telescopes.
We investigate the potential of using adaptive optics (AO) in the V, R, and I bands to reach ultra-high resolution (UHR, R ≥ 200,000) in echelle spectrographs at 8-10m telescopes. In particular, we investigate the possibility of implementing an UHR mode for the fiber-fed spectrograph PEPSI (Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectrographic Instrument) being developed for the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT). By simulating the performances of the advanced AO system that will be available at first light at the LBT, and by using first-order estimates of the spectrograph performances, we calculate the total efficiency and signal to noise ratio (SNR) of PEPSI in the AO mode for stars of different magnitudes, different fiber core sizes, and different fractions of incident light diverted to the wavefront sensor. We conclude that AO can provide a significant advantage, of up to a factor ~2 in the V, R and I bands, for stars brighter than <i>m<sub>R</sub></i> ~ 12 - 13. However, if these stars are observed at UHR in non-AO mode, slit losses caused by the need to use a very narrow slit can be compensated more effectively by the use of image slicers.
X-shooter is a single target spectrograph for the Cassegrain focus of one of the VLT UTs. It covers in a single exposure the spectral range from the UV to the H band with a possible extension into part of the K band. It is designed to maximize the sensitivity in this spectral range through the splitting in three arms with optimized optics, coatings, dispersive elements and detectors. It operates at intermediate resolutions (R=4000-14000, depending on wavelength and slit width) sufficient to address quantitatively a vast number of astrophysical applications while working in a background-limited S/N regime in the regions of the spectrum free from strong atmospheric emission and absorption lines. The small number of moving functions (and therefore instrument modes) and fixed spectral format make it easy to operate and permit a fast response. A mini-IFU unit (1.8" x 4") can be inserted in the telescope focal plane and is reformatted in a slit of 0.6"x 12" .The instrument includes atmospheric dispersion correctors in the UV and visual arms. The project foresees the development of a fully automatic data reduction package. The name of the instrument has been inspired by its capability to observe in a single shot a source of unknown flux distribution and redshift. The instrument is being built by a Consortium of Institutes from Denmark, France, Italy and the Netherlands in collaboration with ESO. When it operation, its observing capability will be unique at very large telescopes.
We report on the status of AVES, the Adaptive-optics Visual Echelle Spectrograph proposed for the secondary port of the Nasmyth Adaptive Optics System (NAOS) recently installed at the VLT. AVES is an intermediate resolution (R ≈ 16,000) high-efficiency fixed- format echelle spectrograph which operates in the spectral band 500 - 1,000 nm. In addition to a high intrinsic efficiency, comparable to that of ESI at Keck II, it takes advantage of the adaptive optics correction provided by NAOS to reduce the sky and detector contribution in background-limited observations of weak sources, thus allowing a further magnitude gain with respect to comparable non-adaptive optics spectrographs. Simulations show that the instrument will be capable of reaching a magnitude V = 22.5 at S/N > 10 in two hours, two magnitudes weaker than GIRAFFE at the same resolution and 3 magnitudes weaker than the higher resolution UVES spectrograph. Imaging and coronographic functions have also been implemented in the design. We present the results of the final design study and we dicuss the technical and operational issues related to its implementation at the VLT as a visitor instrument. We also discuss the possibility of using a scaled-up non-adaptive optics version of the same design as an element of a double- or triple-arm intermediate-resolution spectrograph for the VLT. Such an option looks attractive in the context of a high-efficiency large-bandwidth (320 - 1,500 nm) spectrograph ("fast-shooter") being considered by ESO as a 2nd-generation VLT instrument.
We present a preliminary design study for a high-resolution echelle spectrograph (ICE) to be used with the spectropolarimeter PEPSI under development at the LBT. In order to meet the scientific requirements and take full advantage of the peculiarities of the LBT (i.e. the binocular nature and the adaptive optics capabilities), we have designed a fiber-fed bench mounted instrument for both high resolution (R ≈ 100,000; non-AO polarimetric and integral light modes) and ultra-high resolution (R ≈ 300,000; AO integral light mode). In both cases, 4 spectra per order (two for each primary mirror) shall be accomodated in a 2-dimensional cross dispersed echelle format. In order to obtain a resolution-slit product of ≈ 100,000 as required by the science case, we have considered two alternative designs, one with two R4 echelles in series and the other with a sigle R4 echelle and fiber slicing. A white-pupil design, VPH cross-dispersers and two cameras of different focal length for the AO and non-AO modes are adopted in both cases. It is concluded that the single-echelle fiber-slicer solution has to be preferred in terms of performances, complexity and cost. It can be implemented at the LBT in two phases, with the long-camera AO mode added in a second phase depending on the availability of funds and the time-scale for implementation of the AO system.
PEPSI (Postham Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument) is to use the unique feature of the LBT and its powerful double mirror configuration to provide high and extremely high spectral resolution full-Stokes four-vector spectra in the wavelength range 450-1100nm. For the given aperture of 8.4m in single mirror mode and 11.8m in double mirror mode, and at a spectral resolution of 40,000-300,000 as designed for the fiber-fed Echelle spectrograph, a polarimetric accuracy between 10<sup>-4</sup> and 10<sup>-2</sup> can be reached for targets with visual magnitudes of up to 17th magnitude. A polarimetric accuracy better than 10<sup>-4</sup> can only be reached for either targets brighter than approximately 10th magnitude together wiht a substantial trade-off wiht the spectral resolution or with spectrum deconvolution techniques. At 10<sup>-2</sup>, however, we will be able to observe the brightest AGNs down to 17th magnitude.
We present a preliminary design study for an adaptive optics visual echelle spectrograph and imager/coronograph for use as parallel instrument of the Nasmyth Adaptive Optics System (NAOS) on unit UT3 of the VLT. The spectrograph is intended for intermediate resolution spectroscopy of faint sources. It could be used for observations of late-type dwarfs in distant Galactic clusters and in galaxies of the local group as well as for spectroscopy of extra galactic objects like quasars and Lyman break galaxies down to a limiting magnitude of V equals 22.5. The implementation of an imaging gand coronograph mode increases the versatility of the instrument and its scientific objectives. The instrument takes advantage of Adaptive Optics at visible wavelengths both for imaging and spectroscopy. With NAOS at the VLT, the light concentration in these bands will be above approximately 60 percent of the flux in a 0.3 arcsec aperture for typical Paranal conditions. Simulations show that a gain of more than one magnitude with respect to compatible non-adaptive optical spectrography will be possible for sky- and/or detector limited observations. In addition, the smaller diffraction limit in the optical than in the IR will allow a significant gain in imaging and coronography as well. Finally, the instrument will allow gathering unprecedented experience on the performances of AO at visible wavelengths, which will be fundamental for further development of AO systems, in particular for very large telescopes.
This document describes a proposal for a replica X-ray optics to be developed in Italy for NASA's X-ray spectroscopy mission AXAF-S. The program is based on state of the art technology for the production of replica X-ray optics. On the basis of the experience with the Jet-X mirror shells (to be flown on the Spectrum X-(gamma) satellite), a spatial resolution of 15 - 30 arcsec half power diameter (HPD) can be achieved for the AXAF-S optics. The characteristics of the proposed optical system are described and its performances evaluated by using the current baseline configuration for the array of X-ray calorimeters in the focal plane. The impact of the proposed replica X-ray optics is briefly outlined and a comparison with foil optics (1 - 3 arcmin HPD resolution) is carried out.