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Contract signed for detectors of ESO’s ELT instruments

Wednesday, June 20, 2018 7:44
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ESO has signed a contract with the California-based company Teledyne Imaging Sensors for the purchase of the detectors needed to build three instruments for ESO’s upcoming Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), which is currently under construction at the summit of Cerro Armazones in Chile.

This contract secures the state-of-the art infrared detecting devices necessary to construct the sensitive eyes of MICADO, HARMONI, and METIS, cutting-edge instruments which will allow astronomers to probe galaxies in the early Universe, study the stars and gas of nearby galaxies, and characterise exoplanets using the largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world.

MICADO, the Multi-Adaptive Optics Imaging Camera for Deep Observations will be the first dedicated imager for the ELT. It will also have spectroscopic capabilities, ideal for obtaining spectra of compact objects such as supernovae. The design of MICADO was driven by a desire for high sensitivity and resolution, and will result in an imager with unprecedented capabilities. Constructing the MICADO instrument will require many individual devices to be combined into a single large detector mosaic.

HARMONI, the High Angular Resolution Monolithic Optical and Near-infrared Integral field spectrograph, will allow the ELT to capture near-infrared data using integral field spectroscopy [1]. HARMONI’s new, unique design makes it easy to calibrate and operate, and will push integral field spectroscopy to the next level. The HARMONI project will also require many detectors to be combined into four individual mosaics.

The third instrument, METIS, the Mid-infrared ELT Imager and Spectrograph, will require 5 smaller detector devices, four of which will be configured as a mosaic, with the fifth functioning as a separate high-speed imager. The instrument’s powerful spectrograph will allow astronomers to investigate the properties of exoplanets, such as their orbital parameters, structures, temperature, and even the composition of their atmospheres.

All three instruments are the result of extensive development work over many years, both at ESO and in the wider community. With the signing of this contract, assembling the sensitive cores of these state-of-the-art instruments can begin, taking ESO a step closer to completing the world’s biggest eye on the sky.


[1] With integral field spectroscopy, the signal from each cell or pixel of the field is fed into a spectrograph, which then generates a spectrum for each individual pixel.

Courtesy of European Southern Observatory


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