A new instrument, IFU-M (‘Integral Field Units for Magellan’), is being built at the University of Michigan to be used on the powerful Magellan telescopes at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile (www.lco.cl). IFU-M is designed to allow astronomers to take spectra of an entire region of the sky simultaneously. Such spectra record the light from celestial sources as it is spread out into its constituent colors, allowing researchers to measure the internal motions, physical properties (temperatures, densities), and even chemical compositions of a wide variety of astronomical phenomena. In the case of IFU-M, the light from each region of the sky is directed to the spectrograph via optical fibers. These fibers must be positioned relative to the telescope and IFU-M fore-optics to an extremely high precision.
To do this, Dr. Mateo enlisted the help of our company, National Jet Co., to manufacture these optical fiber mounts (see slides 5 & 12 in the link below). The necessary precision of these parts guarantees the proper position of the fibers’ ends.
IFU-M should provide a great deal of new information about planets beyond our solar system, the distribution and nature of dark matter, how stars and galaxies form and evolve, and the properties of the young Universe!