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27 June 2006 Probing unexplored territories with MUSE: a second generation instrument for the VLT
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The Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) is a second-generation VLT panoramic integral-field spectrograph under preliminary design study. MUSE has a field of 1x1 arcmin2 sampled at 0.2x0.2 arcsec2 and is assisted by the VLT ground layer adaptive optics ESO facility using four laser guide stars. The simultaneous spectral range is 0.465-0.93 μm, at a resolution of R~3000. MUSE couples the discovery potential of a large imaging device to the measuring capabilities of a high-quality spectrograph, while taking advantage of the increased spatial resolution provided by adaptive optics. This makes MUSE a unique and tremendously powerful instrument for discovering and characterizing objects that lie beyond the reach of even the deepest imaging surveys. MUSE has also a high spatial resolution mode with 7.5x7.5 arcsec2 field of view sampled at 25 milli-arcsec. In this mode MUSE should be able to obtain diffraction limited data-cubes in the 0.6-0.93 μm wavelength range. Although the MUSE design has been optimized for the study of galaxy formation and evolution, it has a wide range of possible applications; e.g. monitoring of outer planets atmosphere, environment of young stellar objects, super massive black holes and active nuclei in nearby galaxies or massive spectroscopic surveys of stellar fields in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies.
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