Help Us Put SALT on a “High Fiber Diet”

Nov 12, 2017

SALT is amazing! If you haven't seen it yet, explore the UW-Madison documentary about the origins of the cosmos, life on Earth, and humanity at origins.wisc.edu!

To create new avenues for discovery with SALT, we want to build a new instrument for SALT and we need your help! Our Washburn Labs team has come up with an ingenious design that converts the Robert Stobie Spectrograph into an Integral Field Spectrograph, feeding light through 274 fibers, each creating a spectrum from a different part of a galaxy. At $50,000, this is an affordable way to give SALT a brand new instrument.

Where a CCD would take an image of a galaxy, our integral field spectrograph would take spectra of every pixel in the image, illustrated in the figure above. This way, we can study the motion of gas and stars in the galaxy, find out how old the stars are, what they are made of, and whether there is an active black hole in the galaxy, to name just a few possibilities. Innovative instrumentation to push the state of the art in spectroscopy of stars and diffuse gas in galaxies: It's the Wisconsin Way!

We are raising funds to make this “High Fiber Diet” for SALT a reality and we have exciting news: The Astronomy Board of Visitors and the faculty have pledged to match all incoming gifts that support the "High Fiber Diet", up to $25,000, through the end of April 2018! Every dollar you contribute will automatically turn into two! Funds raised in excess of our goal may be used to support other future department instrumentation projects. We aim for first light in 2019.

And if you pitch in at the $100 level or above, you have the opportunity to sponsor a fiber. You will receive updates on design and construction, a personalized postcard showing you the exact location of your adopted fiber, and a high-quality print of the first spectrum of a galaxy taken through your fiber!

Sometimes private funding is the best way to cut through red tape and follow up a scientific spark. I believe in my colleagues and will always feel I own a small piece of this” explains Professor Ellen Zweibel about why she contributed. Will you pitch in so we can give SALT 274 new sets of fiber eyes? Find out how to contribute by following this link.

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