A new instrument for GTC

The HORS spectrograph being installed on the Nasmyth platform of GTC, Roque de Los Muchachos
HORS being installed on the Nasmyth platform. Credit: Carlos Allende (IAC)


Gran Telescopio Canarias has a (sort of) new spectrograph.

The HORS spectrograph is very high resolution, and of course GTC’s huge mirror collects a lot of light from even the most distant object. Put them together and you can measure the abundances of the chemical elements in stars, determine the masses of black holes in binary systems, and the composition of the atmospheres of exoplanets.

I say it’s a (sort of) new spectrograph because the optical componanats have been recycled from the Utrecht Echelle Spectrograph (UES). This was built by the University of Utrecht (Netherlands) and operated by the Isaac Newton Group (ING) on the William Herschel Telescope from 1992 – 2002. Then the ING gave it to the IAC, who canibalised it for HORS. NAturally, this saved a lot of time and money.

The reincarnation of the spectrograph is smaller, fibre fed, and has a new CCD camera which works at -110 ºC. First light was on May 22nd.

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

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