Heraeus contributes in MOONS – Next generation spectrograph for the Very Large Telescope (VLT)

  • Heraeus Conamic is a major industrial partner of the project MOONS
  • Moons is a project giving astronomers a new way to study our universe
MOONS at the VLT (Credit: MOONS)

In labs across Europe and Chile MOONS (Multi-Object Optical and Near-infrared Spectrograph) is currently being built. In a few years’ time, this instrument will become the next generation spectrograph for ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, giving astronomers a new way to study our universe.

Heraeus Conamic’s unique low OH fused silica grades and in depth technical support is enabling advancements in IR astronomy. For this reason, we can count ourselves among the major industrial partners of MOONS. With our help and the help of many other specialist industrial partners from across the globe MOONS will enable the study of the first galaxies and the growth of galaxies in the galactic archeology. Beyond this MOONS will also provide the essential deep spectroscopic follow-up of current and future optical and near-IR imaging surveys. One example is VISTA, where in 2003 Heraeus Conamic also supplied the raw material for the critical transmissive optics.

From a technical perspective, MOONS can be easily broken down into two main sections:

  • the part that is mechanically attached to the telescope and couples the light into the optical fibers and
  • the static spectrograph wherein the light from the fibers is dispersed and recorded
Moons Project
First set of optics for a MOONS camera supplied by Heraeus (Credit: MOONS)

The major component in the first section of MOONS is the field corrector. It is comprised of plano-convex lenses followed by a symmetrical biconcave element, all made out of low OH fused silica supplied by Heraeus, both with a diameter of 900mm. Almost all the other transmissive elements in the second section of MOONS are also made out of low OH fused silica from Heraeus. Two spectrographs with a total of 6 cameras detect the light in the wavelength range from 650-1800nm. For more information visit the website of MOONS .

The grasp of the 8.2-metre Very Large Telescope (VLT) combined with the large multiplex and wavelength coverage of MOONS - extending into the near infrared - will provide the observational power necessary to study galaxy formation and evolution over the entire history of the Universe.