Commissioning the Robert Stobie Spectrograph on the 11-meter Southern African Large Telescope (SALT)

Type Conference Paper
Names Eric Jon Hooper, K. Nordsieck, T. Williams, D. Buckley, SALT Operations Group, UW-Madison RSS Commissioning Group
Proceedings Title Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society
Conference Name American Astronomical Society, AAS Meeting #219, #422.10
Volume 219
Date January 1, 2012
URL http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2012AAS...21942210H
Library Catalog NASA ADS
Abstract The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is an 11-meter optical and near-infrared telescope located in South Africa. It is operated by an international consortium led by South Africa and consisting of partners in the U.S., Europe, India, and New Zealand. After some initial telescope image quality problems were fixed, one of the main workhorse instruments called the Robert Stobie Spectrograph began checkout and commissioning in April, 2011. All of the instrument modes have been shown to be operational, and some of them are now in routine use. Shared-risk science observations began in September, 2011, alongside ongoing commissioning of the more unusual modes of this very versatile and complex instrument. The RSS provides numerous capabilities in a compact prime-focus design with an 8 arcminute field of view: • Long-slit spectroscopy. Six gratings provide resolving powers ranging from 800 to 11,000 and wavelength coverage from the blue atmospheric cutoff (320 nm) to around 1000 nm. • Multi-object spectroscopy using laser-cut slit masks. • High speed spectroscopy. By restricting the field of view in a slot mode, spectra can be read out as rapidly as 10 Hz. • Fixed band imaging. In addition to providing help with target acquisition, the RSS imaging mode is a powerful narrow-band imaging system, with a suite of narrow-band filters nearly continuously covering the wavelength range 430 - 900 nm. • Fabry-Perot imaging. The system can operate with either one or two etalons, providing a range in spectral resolving power from 250 to 10,000 over 430- 900 nm. • Polarimetry. All of the modes listed above also support polarimetric modes (linear and circular). Two next-generation instruments are under construction: a high-resolution fiber-fed spectrograph with resolving power reaching 65,000; and a near-infrared sibling of RSS, which will extend the spectral coverage to 1.7 microns.
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