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WIRC+Pol: low-resolution near-infrared spectropolarimeter
Author(s): Samaporn Tinyanont; Maxwell Millar-Blanchaer; Ricky Nilsson; Dimitri Mawet; Heather Knutson; Tiffany Kataria; Gautam Vasisht; Charles Henderson; Keith Matthews; Eugene Serabyn; Jennifer W. Milburn; David Hale; Roger Smith; Shreyas Vissapragada
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Paper Abstract

WIRC+Pol is a newly commissioned low-resolution (R 100), near-infrared (J and H bands) spectropolarimetry mode of the Wide-field InfraRed Camera (WIRC) on the 200-inch Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory. The instrument utilizes a novel polarimeter design based on a quarter-wave plate and a polarization grating (PG), which provides full linear polarization measurements (Stokes I, Q, and U ) in one exposure with no need for a polarimetric modulator. The PG also has high transmission across the J and H bands. The instrument is situated at the prime focus of an equatorially mounted telescope. As a result, the system only has one reflection in the light path and the instrument does not rotate with respect to the sky, which provides minimal and stable telescope induced polarization. A data reduction pipeline has been developed for WIRC+Pol to produce linear polarization measurements from observations, allowing, e.g., real-time monitoring of the signal-to-noise ratio of ongoing observations. WIRC+Pol has been on-sky since February 2017. Results from the first year commissioning data show that the instrument has a high dispersion efficiency as expected from the polarization grating. We discuss instrumental systematics we have uncovered in the data, their potential causes, along with calibrations that are necessary to eliminate them. We demonstrate the polarimetric stability of the instrument with RMS variation at 0.2% level over 30 minutes for a bright standard star (J = 8.7). While the spectral extraction is photon noise limited, polarization calibration between sources remain limited by systematics.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 July 2018
PDF: 19 pages
Proc. SPIE 10702, Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VII, 107023J (6 July 2018); doi: 10.1117/12.2314161
Show Author Affiliations
Samaporn Tinyanont, Caltech (United States)
Maxwell Millar-Blanchaer, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Ricky Nilsson, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Dimitri Mawet, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Heather Knutson, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Tiffany Kataria, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Gautam Vasisht, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Charles Henderson, Cornell Univ. (United States)
Keith Matthews, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Eugene Serabyn, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Jennifer W. Milburn, California Institute of Technology (United States)
David Hale, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Roger Smith, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Shreyas Vissapragada, California Institute of Technology (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10702:
Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VII
Christopher J. Evans; Luc Simard; Hideki Takami, Editor(s)

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