In the middle of the Atacama Desert in Chile stands one of the most important facilities for astronomical observations – the Paranal Observatory. The "Very Large Telescope" set up there is the most advanced optical observatory in the world.
With MOONS, a multi-object spectrograph, the European Southern Observatory wants to expand the telescope. It splits the light into its spectrum. MOONS enlarges the wavelength range of light to be observed to the near infrared range. When a star moves away from us, its light is shifted to longer wavelengths – the near-infrared. This opens up new opportunities for astronomers to explore the universe. For example, scientists can study in even greater detail how galaxies form and evolve – providing information about the history of our universe. In addition, researchers will be able to use MOONS to study the properties of millions of stars in our Milky Way.
Heraeus is an important industrial partner of the project. MOONS consists of a large telescope mirror that couples the detected light into the spectrograph via field correction lenses made of Heraeus fused silicas. The light is then distributed to optical fibers and recorded by a system of special optics made of the special Heraeus fused silica Infrasil .
Infrasil has a very low chemical content of hydroxyl (OH bonds). This gives it very high light transmission in the infrared wavelength range compared to other fused silica.
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