Just installed on the VLT, MUSE captures its first light with success!

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This Saturday, January 31, the first photons coming from the star of Kapeteyn reached the surface of the MUSE instrument, whose installation on the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, has just ended. Many spectra have been acquired, a few ongoing tests will soon validate the full functionality of the instrument. It is therefore a great success for the team of IRAP (CNRS / University of Toulouse 3) involved in this project piloted by the CRAL (Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon).

Reconstructed image of the star Kapeteyn

The star Kapeteyn was not chosen at random. Discovered in 1898 by the Dutch astronomer Jacobus Kapeteyn, this red dwarf of magnitude 9 is located in the constellation Pictorus, 13 light years away from Earth. Thirteen years is the time the photons emitted by the star needed to travel the distance separating them from Earth, to reach the collector surface of the VLT and the MUSE detectors especially. These thirteen years also represent the time elapsed since the launch, by ESO, of the Call for Ideas concerning the design of the second-generation instruments to equip the VLT. A call for ideas after which the MUSE project was selected.

Spectra of the star Kapeteyn

Within these thirteen years, MUSE has risen from the conceptual phase to the operational condition of an instrument: an instrument of seven tons stuffed with opto-mechanical and electronic components. An instrument that operates in accordance with the specifications established and with the numerous tests made before its final installation on the VLT.

Eventually, this 3D spectrograph will allow to observe the distant universe and to answer fundamental questions regarding the early stages of the formation and the evolution of galaxies.

More about MUSE :

IRAP researchers :

  • Thierry Contini, thierry.contini@irap.omp.eu
  • Nicolas Bouché, nicolas.bouche@irap.omp.eu

Technical Team :

  • Laurent Pares, Michel Dupieux, Marie Larrieu

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