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  • MUSE, a second-generation integral-field spectrograph for the VLT


    We describe MUSE (Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer), a second-generation integral-field spectrograph for the VLT, operating in the visible and near IR wavelength range. It combines a 1’ x 1’ Field of View with the improved spatial resolution (0.2”) provided by adaptive optics and covers a large simultaneous spectral range (0.48-1 µm). With this unique combination of capabilities, MUSE has a wide domain of application, and a large discovery potential. It will provide ultra deep fields with a limiting magnitude for spectroscopy of R = 28. After a brief presentation of the scientific case and the derived instrument requirements, we will focus on the MUSE optical design, including the overall architecture, the major trade-off that were conducted in order to optimize the cost and performance, and a provisional implementation scheme of the instrument on the VLT Nasmyth platform. Then the most important optical subsystems (as the 3 x 8 Field-splitter, the Image Slicers and the Spectrometers) are described. One of MUSE special feature is the impressive number of Image Slicer and Spectrometer modules which must be manufactured, that is 24. The realization of such series has been studied in collaboration with an industrial company. Finally, a preliminary estimation of the expected performance and a technological development program in order to secure the realization of the critical optical subsystems will be presented. Keywords: Integral Field Spectroscopy, Field-splitter, Image Slicer, Spectrometer, VLT instrumentation

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