FLEX: the first light explorer. A fully OH-suppressed near-infrared integral field spectrograph

Simon C. Ellis, Joss Bland-Hawthorn, Anthony Horton, Roger Haynes, Andrew McGrath

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


FLEX is a concept for a fully OH suppressed near infrared integral field spectrograph, being developed at the AAO.FLEX will be the first instrument to employ fibre Bragg gratings for OH suppression, a radical new technology which cleanly suppresses the atmospheric OH emission lines at 30dB whilst maintaining a high overall throughout of ~90%. In this paper we simulate the expected performance of FLEX, and discuss its impact on the science case. FLEX will effectively make the near-infrared sky 4 mags fainter in the H band and 3 mags fainter in the J band, offering unprecedentedly deep views of the near-infrared Universe. The FLEX concept is optimised for the identification of the sources of first light in the Universe - high redshift galaxies or quasars identified through Lyman-alpha emission or a Lyman break in the continuum spectrum. As such it will consist of a 2x2" integral field unit, composed of a 61 lenslet hexagonal array, feeding an existing moderate spectral resolution spectrograph, via an OH-suppression unit. We have simulated the performance of FLEX and show that it can provide robust identification of galaxies at the epoch of reionisation. A FLEX-like instrument on an ELT could measure the ionisation and enrichment of the inter-galactic medium beyond a redshift of 7 via metal absorption lines.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGround-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy II
EditorsIan S. McLean, Mark M. Casali
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780819472243
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes
EventGround-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy II - Marseille, France
Duration: 23 Jun 200828 Jun 2008


ConferenceGround-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy II


  • Cosmology
  • Fibre Bragg gratings
  • OH suppression
  • Photonics
  • Spectroscopy


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