03.06.2020 change 03.06.2020

Polish Space Scientists to Conduct Research into New Spectrograph for VLT Telescope

VLT telescope facility on Cerro Paranal at sunset. Credit: ESO/H.H. Heyer VLT telescope facility on Cerro Paranal at sunset. Credit: ESO/H.H. Heyer

Polish scientists will perform research during the first phase of building a new spectrograph for the 8-meter VLT (Very Large Telescope), which will be used for high resolution sky observation in the ultraviolet range.

The scientists from the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center PAS, which  belongs to an international consortium that has been selected by the European Southern Observatory, will determine the scientific basis of the newly designed instrument. 

The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is located on Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. It consists of four individual telescopes, each with a mirror having a diameter of 8.2 m. Telescopes can be used separately or together to achieve very high angular resolution. The new spectrograph is to be installed at the Cassegrain focus of the VLT.

Called CUBES - Cassegrain U-band Brazil-ESO - the project is to build a high-performance instrument covering the area of ultraviolet wavelengths available for Earth observations (300-400 nm) with medium-resolution (R∼20000).

The new instrument will be more efficient than current VLT instruments with UV capability. Even in the era of extremely large telescopes (with mirror diameters above 30 m), such instruments will be optimised for observations in the red and infrared wavelengths.

During the first phase of research (phase A), scientists will consolidate knowledge of instruments, define technical requirements and develop a basic concept of the project. The Polish researchers will determine the scientific basis of the instrument's operation and plan the instrument's software. This phase will start with the inaugural meeting in the second half of June and continue for about a year.

The consortium leader is INAF (Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Italy), and the remaining members are STFC-UKATC (UK Astronomy Technology Center), LSW (Landessternwarte, Zentrum fuer Astronomie der Universitaet Heidelberg, Germany) and IAG USP (Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Cłatyas Atmosféricas from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil). One of the heads of the consortium is Dr. Rodolfo Smiljanic from the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center PAS.

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