Giant Leap Forward in Near-Infrared Astronomy
A new high-tech instrument with 24 robotic arms has crossed the Atlantic from Edinburgh to a mountain top in Chile to address in more detail than ever before, some of the key questions surrounding the beginnings of the Universe, stars and galaxies. KMOS (K-Band Multi Object Spectrometer) has been provisionally accepted by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) after it completed final assembly and testing at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) in Edinburgh. It will now be fitted to one of the four telescopes which make up the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO-VLT) at Paranal in Chile, providing astronomers with a far quicker solution to uncover details about galaxies and their properties.
What makes KMOS unique is its ability to image many galaxies simultaneously either in a cluster or in isolation but in both cases, still see the individual properties of each single galaxy. Until now, each galaxy has had to be identified individually to obtain that information, a process that takes years. KMOS will be able to see the same amount of detail in just two months.
Each of the 24 cryogenic robotic arms, which have gold plated mirrors on their tips, can be moved into position to pinpoint with extreme accuracy the light coming from distant galaxies.