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STELES: a high resolution spectrograph for SOAR

Abstract

High resolution spectroscopy is necessary, among other approaches, to derive chemical abundances from stars in galaxies of the Local Group. The same is valid for galaxy forming clouds projected against background Quasars. Such data enable the study of chemical evolution in neighbor galaxies and at high redshifts. The comparison between galaxies in the local universe with those at high redshifts gives cosmological information on the first stellar generation, the epoch of re-ionization and galaxy formation. A large fraction of astronomers from our community, specially from São Paulo state will benefit from STELES. We did not have until now access to such kind of instrument in a telescope like SOAR, where we own 30% of the observing time in a superb site. The construction of the STELES spectrograph (SOAR Telescope Èchelle Spectrograph) was already approved by the SOAR project (Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope) as a second generation instrument to be available to all the partners. Our astronomical community and the Brazilian government are committed to deliver this instrument on time (year 2010). Building instruments for a 4-m class telescope like SOAR demands diverse and complex technologies like fine mechanical engineering, electronics, software, optics and cryogenics. All the parts are developed simultaneously. It was proposed by Bruno Castilho (LNA/MCT), reviewed and approved by the SOAR Board of Directors. The STELES optical and mechanical design was developed in the period 2001-2006, as part of the Instituto do Milênio MEGALIT (lead by Beatriz Barbuy from IAGUSP). We already purchased 2 CCD detectors, the controller and the cryogenics, what amounts to 1/3 of the total project cost. We plan to continue the collaboration between IAGUSP and LNA, bringing together the complimentary features of these two institutions, to complete the construction and commissioning of the instrument. The construction of this class of instrument is a good opportunity for the astronomical community to interact with the local industry, developing know-how and promoting higher industrial standards. In addition to increasing the scientific productivity, this instrument will be exposed to international community, bringing better visibility to the national science and technology. (AU)

Articles published in Pesquisa FAPESP Magazine about the research grant:
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Articles published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the research grant:
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