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04/10/14 Ian McLean SO/NOAO Joint Colloquium Series


Ian McLean, UCLA

Development and Performance of MOSFIRE, the multi-object spectrometer for infrared exploration at Keck Observatory.

A powerful and unique near-infrared (0.9-2.4 microns) instrument, MOSFIRE can image a field of view of 6.1 x 6.1 arcminutes with 0.18 arcseconds per pixel sampling. Then, up to 46 objects in the central 6 x 4 arcminute field can be isolated using a cryogenic configurable slitmask unit (CSU) located inside the vacuum chamber. When a mirror is switched to a diffraction grating, the spectra of all 46 objects are recorded simultaneously. For a slit width of 0.7 arcseconds (2.9 pixels), MOSFIRE achieves a resolving power of R~3,500. Observations are possible in the Y, J, H or K bands using only two grating settings and a single HgCdTe 2K x 2K detector. The cryogenic CSU can be reconfigured under computer control in about six minutes. This unique mechanism completely eliminates the need to cycle the instrument to room temperature in order to exchange batches of previously-milled metal masks. MOSFIRE was a challenging instrument to design and build for many reasons. The project took almost 8 years to complete. I will describe how the most important problems were solved and I will illustrate MOSFIRE's excellent performance. MOSFIRE was handed over to the Observatory in September 2012 and has been in regular use by the community since February 2013.

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