New techniques in astronomical spectroscopy for 8-m telescopes
The purpose of this thesis is to investigate new instrument technology to enhance the capabilities of 8-m telescopes. This thesis first describes the theory, design, construction, and testing of an immersed grating. Immersed gratings can be used to provide R≥ 10(^4) with a multi-object and/or integral field spectrograph on an 8-m telescope. Immersed gratings allow high resolution to be achieved whilst maintaining the required pupil size at a level similar to that on 4-m telescopes. This thesis describes laboratory tests which verify that immersed gratings provide high resolution. The throughput penalty in using an immersed grating is shown to be small with losses due to air-glass reflections, which can be eliminated with antireflection coatings, and metal-dielectric losses. This work demonstrates that immersed gratings provide a good method to reach R=10(^4) (and above) with a multi-aperture spectrograph on an 8-m telescope. The second part of this thesis describes the construction of a microlens-fibre based integral field unit (IFU): the SMIRFS-IFU. This instrument provides a unique J and H-band integral field capability for use with the CGS4 spectrograph at UKIRT. The optical design, assembly, laboratory testing, and telescope commissioning of the SMIRFS-IFU are described. The microlens arrays for use with SMIRFS-IFU were tested in detail and found to provide excellent image quality but with some scattered light. The assembly of the SMIRFS-IFU was achieved with high precision. The overall performance of the SMIRFS-IFU was found to be high and close to theoretical expectations. This instrument demonstrates that the technology of microlenses linked to fibres does provide a means of constructing high performance (i.e. high throughput, high spatial and spectral resolution) IFUs. Integral field spectroscopy is even more important for 8-m telescopes to take advantage of their enormous fight gathering power. The SMIRFS-IFU is an important upgrade to CGS4 to perform high spatial resolution integral field spectroscopy.