Skip to main navigationSkip to sub navigationSkip to main content

SPIRou / Infrared SpectroPolarimeter

2017 May: second cryogenic cycle for SPIRou

Spectrograph focus and thermal stability on good tracks

Second cryogenic cycle for SPIRou #1

Spectrum of a Th-Ar hollow cathode lamp
as measured with SPIRou during the 2nd
cycle (left) and as derived from
simulations (right). A number of spectral
orders / features are identified on the
image (©IRAP/OMP)

The second SPIRou cryogenic cycle is reaching completion, with the spectrograph now warming up since May 14th. Following the dewar closure on April 25th, the spectrograph started its cool down phase on April 27th and reached a temperature of 80K on May 8th, implying a total cooling time of under 10 days.
 In the mean time, hundreds of exposures were recorded with the instrument, showing spectra of calibration lamps (halogen lamps for flat fields, Th-Ar, U-Ar and U-Ne hollow cathode lamps, and a Fabry-Perot etalon fed with a laser-driven light source) collected with and without the Hartmann mask. The main goal was to diagnose how well the spectrograph focus was improved following the optical realignment achieved after cycle #1. We find that the spectrograph is now much better focussed, with a defocus reduced to about 0.25mm, a factor of 4 smaller than that in the first cycle. Given these two first steps, we are quite optimistic to reach a focus close to optimal for the next cooling cycle.

 The second main goal of this new cycle was to demonstrate that the spectrograph was compliant with our stringent specification (of 2 mK rms) on thermal stability. We showed that the spectrograph was stable down to a level of 1.6 mK rms during the last 24 hr of the second cycle (0.7 mK rms during the last 12 hr), i.e. about 5 days after reaching its nominal temperature of 80 K. This validates one of the most critical and toughest SPIRou technical specifications, establishing further that the team is on good tracks to validate the instrument in the coming months. Last but not least, this cycle was used to further qualify the calibration lamps to be used with SPIRou, and determine the light sources and flux levels that will produce the optimal calibration accuracy.

SPIRou will be opened for a few days (May 20th to 24th) before starting a new cooling cycle and hopefully a long series of validation tests if focussing is close to nominal. We expect SPIRou to reach nominal temperature on June 5th.

Second cryogenic cycle for SPIRou #4

Close up views on SPIRou spectra, with the instrument fed with light from a U-Ne hollow cathode lamp (left) and Fabry-Perot etalon (right) (©IRAP/OMP)

Second cryogenic cycle for SPIRou #3

Bench temperature at mid distance from the 3 control points, over the last 25 hr of the second SPIRou cryogenic cycle (red curve). The rms thermal stability over the last 24 hr is found to be 1.6 mK (well within our specification of 3 mK, with a goal at 2 mK), and as low as 0.7 mK over the last 12 hr. The residual thermal drift over the last 20 hr (green line) is about 0.19 mK/h, with a rms residual dispersion about the drift of 0.13 Mk (©J-F Donati - IRAP/OMP)

Second cryogenic cycle for SPIRou #2

Comparison between images obtained in the first and second cycle.
The improvement in focus is quite obvious (©IRAP/OMP)