by, - 17 July 2007
The Mutli Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) is a second generation instrument in development for the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). MUSE will be an extraordinarily powerful integral field spectrograph fed by a new adaptive optics system on the VLT. In its usual operating mode, MUSE will, in a single observation, produce a 3-dimensional data cube consisting of 90,000 R 3000 spectra, each covering a full spectral octave (465-930 nm), and fully sampling a contiguous 1x1 arcmin² field with 0.2x0.2 arcsec² apertures. A high-resolution mode will increase the spatial sampling to 0.025 arcsec per pixel. MUSE is built around a novel arrangement of 24 identical spectrographs (each comparable to a 1st generation VLT instrument), which are fed by a set of 24 precision image slicers. MUSE is designed for extreme stability, with no moving parts, allowing very long exposures to be accumulated. Together with high throughput, this ensures that MUSE will have extreme sensitivity for observing faint objects.