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Proceedings Paper

Million object spectrograph
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Paper Abstract

A new class of astronomical telescope with a primary objective grating (POG) has been studied as an alternative to mirrors. Nineteenth century POG telescopes suffered from low resolution and ambiguity of overlapping spectra as well as background noise. The present design uses a conventional secondary spectrograph to disambiguate all objects while enjoying a very wide instantaneous field-of-view, up to 40°. The POG competes with mirrors, in part, because diffraction gratings provide the very chromatic dispersion that mirrors defeat. The resulting telescope deals effectively with long-standing restrictions on multiple object spectrographs (MOS). The combination of a POG operating in the first-order, coupled to a spectrographic astronomical telescope, isolates spectra from all objects in the free spectral range of the primary. First disclosed as a concept in year 2002, a physical proof-of-principle is now reported. The miniature laboratory model used a 50 mm plane grating primary and was able to disambiguate between objects appearing at angular resolutions of 55 arcseconds and spectral spacings of 0.15 nm. Astronomical performance is a matter of increasing instrument size. A POG configured according to our specifications has no moving parts during observations and is extensible to any length that can be held flat to tolerances approaching float glass. The resulting telescope could record over one million spectra per night of objects in a line of right ascension. The novel MOS does not require pre-imaging to start acquisition of uncharted star fields. Problems are anticipated in calibration and integration time. We propose means to ameliorate them.

Paper Details

Date Published: 23 July 2008
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 7018, Advanced Optical and Mechanical Technologies in Telescopes and Instrumentation, 70182R (23 July 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.790244
Show Author Affiliations
Thomas D. Ditto, DeWitt Brothers Tool Co., Inc. (United States)
Joseph M. Ritter, Institute for Astronomy, Univ. of Hawaii (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7018:
Advanced Optical and Mechanical Technologies in Telescopes and Instrumentation
Eli Atad-Ettedgui; Dietrich Lemke, Editor(s)

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