From U Texas at Austin: Hobby-Eberly Telescope Updated

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University of Texas at Austin

Hobby-Eberly Telescope. 2011-05-10 | Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial physics

The HET was designed and constructed with a unique objective: to gather a very large amount of light, specifically for spectroscopy, at extremely low cost.

A fixed elevation-axis design, based on the radio telescope at Arecibo, and an innovative system for tracking stars, contributed to an 80% reduction in initial costs compared to optical telescopes of similar size. The primary mirror of the HET is the largest yet constructed, at 11.1 x 9.8 meters. At any given time during observations, only a portion of the mirror is utilized. The HET’s 10 meter effective aperture places it among the world’s five largest telescopes.

Work is underway to modify the telescope for the upcoming Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX). The addition of 150 integral field spectrographs (VIRUS), mounted to the sides of the main framework, will give the HET the ability to map the expansion rate of the early universe, looking back in time billions of years, to measure how clusters of galaxies moved in relation to one another as the universe evolved.

Wide Field Upgrade

The Wide Field Upgrade (WFU) is the first phase of the HETDEX retrofit. Keep up with progress at HET Blog, a forum where users can post articles, comments, and photos of the work. Time-lapse movies and live webcams are available at HETDEX WFU.

Artist’s concept of the upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope. The VIRUS spectrographs are contained in the curved gray “saddlebags” on the side of the telescope.

Unique and Powerful Survey Instrument

The deployment of the Visible Integral-field Replicable Unit Spectrograph (VIRUS), for the HETDEX project, will transform the HET into a powerful survey instrument like no other in astronomy, placing 35,000 fibers on the sky, each capable of collecting a distinct spectrum, with every exposure. VIRUS is scheduled to begin science operations in 2017.

See the full article here .

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In 1839, the Congress of the Republic of Texas ordered that a site be set aside to meet the state’s higher education needs. After a series of delays over the next several decades, the state legislature reinvigorated the project in 1876, calling for the establishment of a “university of the first class.” Austin was selected as the site for the new university in 1881, and construction began on the original Main Building in November 1882. Less than one year later, on Sept. 15, 1883, The University of Texas at Austin opened with one building, eight professors, one proctor, and 221 students — and a mission to change the world. Today, UT Austin is a world-renowned higher education, research, and public service institution serving more than 51,000 students annually through 18 top-ranked colleges and schools.