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Group members: Bianca Garilli, Marco Scodeggio

MOONS is a new conceptual design for a Multi-Object Optical and Near-infrared Spectrograph for the Very Large Telescope (VLT), selected by ESO for a Phase A study. The wealth of science that an efficient, highly-multiplexed, near-IR spectrograph can generate is undeniably vast and it has been a common aspiration for the VLT for long time. MOONS is designed to be extremely versatile and provide the ESO community with a world-leading work-horse capability able to serve a wide range of Galactic, Extragalactic and Cosmological studies.

The baseline design consists of ~1000 fibers deployable over a field of view of ~500 square arcmin, the largest patrol field offered by the Nasmyth focus at the VLT. The total wavelength coverage is 0.8μm-1.8μm and two resolution modes are foreseen: medium resolution and high resolution. In the medium resolution mode (R~4,000-6,000) the entire wavelength range 0.8μm-1.8μm is observed simultaneously, while the high resolution mode covers simultaneously three selected spectral regions: one around the CaII triplet (at R~8,000) to measure radial velocities, and two regions at R~20,000 one in the J-band and one in the H-band, for detailed measurements of chemical abundances.
The grasp of the 8.2m Very Large Telescope (VLT) combined with the large multiplex and wavelength coverage of MOONS extending into the near-IR will provide the observational power necessary to study galaxy formation and evolution over the entire history of the Universe, from our Milky Way, through the redshift desert and up to the epoch of re-ionization at z>8-9. At the same time, the high spectral resolution mode will allow astronomers to study chemical abundances of stars in our Galaxy, in particular in the highly obscured regions of the Bulge, and provide the necessary follow-up of the Gaia mission. Such characteristics and versatility make MOONS the long-awaited workhorse near-IR MOS for the VLT, which will perfectly complement optical spectroscopy performed by FLAMES and VIMOS.

IASF-Milano is involved in the scientific group, within which it carries out the trade-off studies for the different positioner options, while on the instrumental site it leads the study and development of the Fiber Allocation Optimization Sofwatre

Related links :

MOONS: The Multi-Object Optical and Near-infrared Spectrograph