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Published May 1, 2002 | Published
Journal Article Open

SPIFI: a Direct-Detection Imaging Spectrometer for Submillimeter Wavelengths


The South Pole Imaging Fabry-Perot Interferometer (SPIFI) is the first instrument of its kind -a direct-detection imaging spectrometer for astronomy in the submillimeter band. SPIFI 's focal plane is a square array of 25 silicon bolometers cooled to 60 mK; the spectrometer consists of two cryogenic scanning Fabry-Perot interferometers in series with a 60-mK bandpass filter. The instrument operates in the short submillimeter windows (350 and 450 μm) available from the ground, with spectral resolving power selectable between 500 and 10,000. At present, SPIFI's sensitivity is within a factor of 1.5-3 of the photon background limit, comparable with the best heterodyne spectrometers. The instrument 's large bandwidth and mapping capability provide substantial advantages for specific astrophysical projects, including deep extragalactic observations. We present the motivation for and design of SPIFI and its operational characteristics on the telescope.

Additional Information

© 2002 Optical Society of America Received 18 October 2001; revised manuscript received 9 January 2002. We are indebted to S. H. Moseley and C. A. Allen at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for providing SPIFI's bolometers. We thank several undergraduate students at Cornell University for their diligent efforts. Chuck Henderson, Wayne Holland, and the JCMT staff and operators deserve credit for their help interfacing SPIFI with the telescope, and we acknowledge Antony Stark and Peter Hargrave for their support during our first observing run. Finally, we thank an anonymous referee for several helpful suggestions. This research was made possible with NASA grants NAGW-4503 and NAGW-3925 and National Science Foundation grants OPP-8920223 and OPP-0085812.

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