AAS 198th Meeting, June 2001
Session 4. Instruments: Real and Proposed
Display, Monday, June 4, 2001, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[4.10] Velocity Imager for Resolving Galaxy Origins (VIRGO): A Proposed Midex Mission

C. L. Joseph (Rutgers University), VIRGO Science Team Team

The proposed Velocity Imager for Resolving Galaxy Origins (VIRGO) is a highly capable instrument for collecting 3-D data cubes, one spectral and two spatial dimensions. The telescope will be a Hubble-class instrument having a 2.5 m aperture primary. The instrument will include an Integral Field Spectrograph (IFS) covering approx. 2"x4" FOV and simultaneously a Fabry-Perot (FP) extending the field of view out to 100x100 arcsec. The instrument will provide diffraction limited spatial resolution with a variety of velocity resolutions.

VIRGO will study the evolution of spiral galaxies over redshifts 0 < z < ~1.5. VIRGO will be able to sample a 1 Mpc x 1 Mpc x 10 Mpc volume center around z=1 and be able to map the locations and velocities of essentially all gas components internal and external to partially formed galaxies. VIRGO will be able to follow the internal kinematical evolution of spiral galaxies from early formation stages through to their well organized states, mapping the distribution of luminous and dark matter content as a function of time.

Furthermore, detailed 2-D spectrographic studies of the cores of near-by elliptical galaxies can constrain formation histories of these galaxies as well as that of their central, supermassive black holes. Most formation processes leave distinct fossil imprints in the stellar density and phase-space distributions. A measurement of the 2-D stellar velocity anisotropy, for example, will reveal evidence (or lack) of mergers and will provide information on the causes for the end of the quasar epoch.

Only a 2-D spectrograph with angular resolution greater than or equal to that of HST and with an aperture at least as great as HST is capable of performing such surveys. No other instrument, either extant or planned, can accomplish this effort within a reasonable time. For example, it would take HST more than 30 years of dedicated continuous observing to produce an inferior data set. Such data will place strong constraints on theories of galaxy formation.


If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.physics.rutgers.edu/~cjoseph/midex.htm. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: cjoseph@physics.rutgers.edu

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