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Newly Developed Astrophotonics Calibration Source Tested with APOGEE

23 Mar 2012, 15:24 UTC
Newly Developed Astrophotonics Calibration Source Tested with APOGEE
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One of the most important things scientists need to know when using a spectrograph is precisely how light from different objects and different wavelengths travels through the instrument, and how the instrument changes and moves over the course of a survey. A new device developed at Penn State University adapts techniques from the fiber-optic telecommunications industry to demonstrate a very accurate and precise calibration of the SDSS-III APOGEE spectrograph.

The image shows the three APOGEE camera arrays illuminated with the output from the Fabry-Perot calibration device. The 200nm wavelength range of APOGEE is divided up into three different cameras. The light from each fiber is spread out across a row in this image. When APOGEE is observing the night sky, each row would be the light from a star. If you zoom in on the image you can see the large number of individual peaks that SDSS-III scientists can use to map out all of the details of the APOGEE instrument. (While the APOGEE instrument detects infrared light, we have represented the light in visual wavelengths so that you can see it.)
APOGEE currently uses thorium-argon and uranium-neon lamps for wavelength calibration. These lamps heat up small quantities of their ...

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