Extragalactic sensors

Essex-based e2v said it has accepted a contract from the European Southern Observatory to provide CCD image sensors for the Very Large Telescope operated in Chile.


Essex-based e2v has accepted a contract from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) to provide CCD image sensors for the Very Large Telescope operated in Chile.



E2v will supply ESO, the largest astronomical institute in Europe, with a set of CCD231-84 sensors over a two-year period.



The image sensors will be used on a new Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE); a second-generation instrument being built for the Very Large Telescope, which will be used by European astronomy researchers.



According to e2v, the instrument will allow many thousands of spectra to be recorded simultaneously to allow high-efficiency studies of dense stellar and extragalactic astrophysical fields.



ESO is said to have selected the e2v devices for their high technical performance, which includes area 4k x 4k pixels; high quantum efficiency through the use of backthinned deep depletion silicon with an optimised graded thickness coating; and very low readout noise, with 2 e-rms nominal noise level.



Roland Bacon, principal investigator of the MUSE project, said: ‘MUSE is built to observe very distant galaxies, where the light has taken billions of years to travel and reach our telescopes.



‘Observing galaxies when the Universe was only a few billion years old is a big challenge as, at such distances, galaxies look tiny and are dramatically faint. The ESO second-generation VLT instrument MUSE is built to face this challenge.


‘The high performance of the new e2v large-format CCDs are central to the performance of MUSE, enabling each of the few remaining photons received from these young galaxies to be collected at a very high efficiency.’