Optical design of SAURON.

Below is a description of some of the work I have done and some of the projects I have participated in regarding instrumentation. Unfortunately, lack of time prevents me from putting on the web everything I am involved in, but my publications list (which is up-to-date) should alleviate this problem somewhat.

As you can see, my involvement in instrumentation has so far concentrated mainly on the SAURON spectrograph... but I am always on the look-out for new instruments providing innovative ways of probing galaxies!



As part of the SAURON project, a collaboration with a core of 12 members, I have been involved in the developement and operation of the SAURON spectrograph (Spectrographic Areal Unit for Research on Optical Nebulae), which is mounted on the William Herschel Telescope (WHT) in La Palma. SAURON is an integral-field spectrograph (IFS) based on the TIGER principle and uses a lenslet array. It has a large field-of-view (the largest of any IFS with similar spectral resolution), high throughput, and allows simultaneous sky subtraction. Its design is optimized for studies of the stellar kinematics, gas kinematics, and line-strength distributions of nearby early-type galaxies. This is achieved by simultaeously observing (spatially and spectrally) the H_beta, Mg_b, and FeI absorption lines (stellar kinematics and linestrengths) and the H_beta, [OIII], and [NI] emission lines (gaseous kinematics and emission line ratios). Extensive data reduction and analysis software called XSAURON was developed to obtain fully calibrated spectra and the associated kinematic and line-strength measurements. A pipeline called PALANTIR is also available to reduce the data in an automated fashion. The main goal of SAURON is to study the dynamics and stellar populations of early-type galaxies (ellipticals, lenticulars, and early spiral bulges).

Left: SAURON (and its electronics box) mounted on the WHT. Right: SAURON's characteristics for low (LR) and high (HR) resolution modes.

A paper describing the design and performance of SAURON has appeared in Bacon et al. (2001). You can also download it here in preprint format.


During my undergraduate years at the Université de Montréal, I worked with the Astrophysics Group. I spent my first summer writing data reduction software for MONICA, a near infrared camera (MOntréal Near Infrared CAmera), and analysing images of quasar fields to study their environment. The observations were obtained at the Observatoire du Mont Mégantic and the work was done under the supervision of Prof. Daniel Nadeau (Université de Montréal).

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This page was last modified on May 10 2005