Hector First Light

The Hector Instrument and Science teams have been up at the Anglo Australian Telescope (AAT) over the last month (Instrument Team) and two weeks (Science Team) for the first Hector commissioning run.

Hector is a multi-Integral Field Unit (mIFU) spectrograph for the AAT using hexabundle IFUs that are positionable over the telescope’s 2-degree field. Hector builds on the highly successful SAMI instrument and boasts new larger hexabundles plus a novel new positioner that will correct for telecentricity losses on the AAT for the first time.

The Hector instrument on the AAT’s top end. You can see the futuristic-looking silver hexabundles plugged on the circular magnetic plate in the centre of this image. Credit: Dr Jesse van de Sande, The University of Sydney

This is only the first of several commissioning runs and yet the commissioning team made enormous progress.

And there was light in the bundles! Bright horizontal lines show traces of light from the superposed galaxies. Each horizontal line represents a fibre. Vertical/diagonally aligned dots show emission lines and the more inclined the pattern, the higher the rotation of the stars across the face of the galaxy. What a fantastic outcome for a first commissioning run. Credit: The Hector Team

Thanks and hats off to the Instrument team: Barnaby, Seong-Sik, Fred, Adeline, Rebecca B., Gurashish, Elton, Ayoan, Rebecca K. and Manoj from Astralis-USyd, as well as Mahesh, Naveen, Tony, David, Lew, Ellen, Ross, Jessica plus the rest of the Astralis-MQ team on a successful first commissioning run! Let us not forget the Hector team’s fearless leader and Astralis-Usyd Director: Julia.

Thanks also to the science team, some of whom joined Julia at site for the commissioning – Scott, Madusha, Sam and Jesse. The legendary (and yet unexplained) correlation from the SAMI years between Jesse’s Tim Tam consumption and clear skies continues.

Particularly we want everyone to know how incredible the AAT site staff are. They have the best “can do” attitude. They really know their stuff and nothing is too hard. A special shout out to Randal, Ashley, Mike S, Rob B, Chris R, Murray R. and Glen, and David B from ANU!

Hector Science commissioning team celebrating first light in style in the AAT control room (left to right: Astralis-USyd Director Prof. Julia Bryant, and University of Sydney staff Dr Madusha Gunawhardana, Dr Jesse van de Sande, Dr Sam Vaughan, and AAT telescope operator Steve Chapman (ANU)). Credit: Dr Jesse van de Sande (University of Sydney)

Raise a glass and a Tim Tam Slam to the Hector Team!

The second commissioning run is scheduled for next January. Stay tuned!