The spectral resolution of a dispersive astronomical spectrograph is limited by the trade-off between throughput and the width of the entrance slit. Photonic guided wave transitions have been proposed as a route to bypass this trade-off, by enabling the efficient reformatting of incoherent seeing-limited light collected by the telescope into a linear array of single modes: a pseudo-slit which is highly multimode in one axis but diffraction-limited in the dispersion axis of the spectrograph. It is anticipated that the size of a single-object spectrograph fed with light in this manner would be essentially independent of the telescope aperture size. A further anticipated benefit is that such spectrographs would be free of 'modal noise', a phenomenon that occurs in high-resolution multimode fibre-fed spectrographs due to the coherent nature of the telescope point spread function (PSF). We seek to address these aspects by integrating a multicore fibre photonic lantern with an ultrafast laser inscribed three-dimensional waveguide interconnect to spatially reformat the modes within the PSF into a diffraction-limited pseudo-slit. Using the CANARY adaptive optics (AO) demonstrator on the William Herschel Telescope, and 1530 ± 80 nm stellar light, the device exhibits a transmission of 47-53 per cent depending upon the mode of AO correction applied. We also show the advantage of using AO to couple light into such a device by sampling only the core of the CANARY PSF. This result underscores the possibility that a fully optimized guided-wave device can be used with AO to provide efficient spectroscopy at high spectral resolution.
Bibliographical noteCopyright 2016 The Authors. First published in Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 464(4), pp.4950–4957. The original publication is available at https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stw2558, published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.
- Instrumentation: adaptive optics
- Instrumentation: spectrographs