The FLOYDS spectrograph sees first light at FTS, and types its first supernova

The first Folded Low Order whYte-pupil Double-dispersed Spectrograph (FLOYDS, for short) was commissioned at Faulkes Telescope South (FTS) at Siding Spring Observatory during the first two weeks of May, and
first light was achieved on May 7th.  FLOYDS is a spectrograph, which means that it does more than take a picture, it splits incoming light into it constituent wavelengths (just like a prism splits light into the colors of the rainbow; in fact, FLOYDS uses a prism!) so that the astronomer can get a more detailed view of the make-up and physics of the target.

Four years ago, FLOYDS was only a twinkle in the eye of LCOGT scientists, but through hard work by both them and the engineering team, the spectrograph's detailed design and construction rapidly came together over the last two years.

The FLOYDS spectrograph is already doing exciting science.  The science team is monitoring several bright supernovae to study their evolution, and has recently 'typed' its first supernova and announced it to the astronomical community.

Future Developments -- Although installation is complete, we continue to work on the operations and software side of FLOYDS-FTS in order to fully incorporate it into the LCOGT robotic network.  The FLOYDS team plans to complete construction of a second, identical spectrograph and to send it to Faulkes Telescope North on Haleakala, Maui some time in mid-July 2012.  It will be installed around the 1st of August.  Expect more great results soon!

(Matt Dubberley (left) and David Sand at Faulkes Telescope South, standing by the FLOYDS spectrograph mounted on the telescope, just after first light was achieved.)

(Above:  One of the first spectra taken by FLOYDS of the nearby type Ia supernova SN2012cg (in black), placed alongside a spectrum taken with the 8-meter Gemini telescope.  FLOYDS is very competitive.  Below:  The image on the right shows light from the supernova entering the 'slit', where it goes through the optical path from FLOYDS to produce the spectrum on the left.)