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

Colloquium: Astronomy Colloquia | November 7 | 4:10 p.m. | 2 LeConte Hall

Ian McLean, UCLA

Department of Astronomy

On April 4, 2012 the long-anticipated MOSFIRE instrument for Keck Observatory achieved first light. MOSFIRE is Keck's first multi-object spectrometer and wide-field camera for the near-infrared (0.9-2.4 microns). MOSFIRE can take an image of the sky 366 x 366 arcseconds with 0.18 arcseconds per pixel sampling. Then, up to 46 objects in the central 6 x 4 arcminute field of view can be isolated using a cryogenic configurable slitmask unit (CSU) 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 MOSFIRE achieves a resolving power of ~3500. 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 thermally cycle the instrument 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 also illustrate MOSFIRE's performance. MOSFIRE was handed over to the Observatory in September 2012 and has been in regular use since February 2013., 510-642-5275

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