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16 August 2000 Design study of an adaptive optics visual echelle spectrograph and imager for the VLT
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We present a preliminary design study for an adaptive optics visual echelle spectrograph and imager/coronograph for use as parallel instrument of the Nasmyth Adaptive Optics System (NAOS) on unit UT3 of the VLT. The spectrograph is intended for intermediate resolution spectroscopy of faint sources. It could be used for observations of late-type dwarfs in distant Galactic clusters and in galaxies of the local group as well as for spectroscopy of extra galactic objects like quasars and Lyman break galaxies down to a limiting magnitude of V equals 22.5. The implementation of an imaging gand coronograph mode increases the versatility of the instrument and its scientific objectives. The instrument takes advantage of Adaptive Optics at visible wavelengths both for imaging and spectroscopy. With NAOS at the VLT, the light concentration in these bands will be above approximately 60 percent of the flux in a 0.3 arcsec aperture for typical Paranal conditions. Simulations show that a gain of more than one magnitude with respect to compatible non-adaptive optical spectrography will be possible for sky- and/or detector limited observations. In addition, the smaller diffraction limit in the optical than in the IR will allow a significant gain in imaging and coronography as well. Finally, the instrument will allow gathering unprecedented experience on the performances of AO at visible wavelengths, which will be fundamental for further development of AO systems, in particular for very large telescopes.
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