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A. Smette, S.R. Heap, G.M. Williger (NASA/GSFC), A. Songaila (Hawaii), D. Reimers (Hamburg), E.B. Jenkins, T.M. Tripp (Princeton)
We present new HST-STIS spectra of the z = 2.885 quasar HE~2347--4342 which allow to study the HeII Gunn-Peterson absorption in the redshift range 2.769 < z < 2.885. Thanks to complementary Keck-HIRES spectra of the HI Ly-\alpha forest, we provide new constraints on the softness and fluctuations of the UV background. We also present a model for the observed HeII opacity gaps. This research was supported by NASA through funding by the STIS IDT.