The Visible Integral-Field Replicable Unit Spectrograph (VIRUS) instrument is being built at Texas A&M University in collaboration with University of Texas--Austin. VIRUS is the instrument that enables observations for the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment HETDEX project, an experiment designed to learn more about Dark Energy--a mysterious force in our Universe that astronomers are only now beginning to be able to describe.


VIRUS spectrographs on HET

Figure 1: The Hobby-Eberly Telescope with up to 192 spectrographs.

The VIRUS instrument consists of up to 192 identical fiber-fed integral field optical spectrographs. VIRUS provides a unique challenge in astronomical instrumentation: each of the 192 instruments must be identical and each component must be interchangeable amongst every other spectrograph in order to ease assembly and maintenance of the instrument. The spectrographs will be assembled production-line-stye, and will be optically aligned and tested at Texas A&M before being shipped to McDonald Observatory to be installed on the Hobby-Eberly Telescope.


VIRUS Spectrograph

Figure 2: Section-view drawing of a pair of VIRUS spectrographs


Figure 3: Picture of an IFU input head assembly in a preliminary plug plate using the first nine fiber bundles, featuring some 4000 individual fibers, which will feed 18 VIRUS-spectrographs.


VIRUS Staff in Summer 2011 with a partially assembled spectrograph

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 0928636. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

For more information about VIRUS, please see our Publications section.

VIRUS documents
Astronomy Group
4242 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-4242
Ph: (979) 845 7717
Texas A&M University - College of Science