WEAVE: The WHT Enhanced Area Velocity Explorer

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics


WEAVE is a concept for a new wide-field, high multiplex spectroscopy facility for the 4.2m William Herschel Telescope(WHT). WEAVE will equip the WHT with a new medium/high spectral resolution dual-beam optical spectrograph (R=5000/R=20000) that will be fed with up to 1000 simultaneous fibre-optic feeds from a new 2 degree field of view prime- focus instrument. The same spectrograph can also be fed with a large single fibre-based integral field unit (IFU) with a 3x2 arcminute field of view, or with up to 30 small, individually deployable IFUs, each with a 10x12 arcsecond field of view. The main scientific objectives for WEAVE are spectroscopic follow-up of the GAIA catalogue to sample the dynamics and chemical evolution of the Milky Way at faint magnitudes and large radial distances; to study galaxy evolution at modest redshifts (z<0.4) using resolved kinematics of up to 100,000 galaxies with complementary neutral hydrogen observations from the APERTIF instrument at Westerbork, and to study the evolution of the large-scale structure of the Universe and test theories of Dark Energy by means of follow-up observations of the LOFAR medium deep wide-field radio imaging survey.
This proposal covers the second stage of Oxford's work on the fibre positioning system for the Preliminary Design Phase of WEAVE with the primary objective of developing the complete positioner concept and the interfaces between the positioner system and the telescope top-end ring structure.

Planned Impact

The structure of the WEAVE consortium explicitly draws in scientific engagement from the wider scientific community through the GAIA-GREAT consortium, the LOFAR collaboration and the close-knit community that works on wide-field cosmological surveys (EUCLID, SDSS). As the WEAVE project develops into the operational phase, we plan a strong community development of the detailed survey programmes (building on the existing WEAVE science team) to maximize the output and impact of the instrument.
The science addressed by WEAVE is, by nature, large-scale science, with a high potential for impact on the scientific understanding available to the wider public in these areas. We will incorporate information on the WEAVE project into existing local and national outreach strategies within Oxford and STFC, and are discussing longer-term plans for incorporating the WEAVE data-sets into Oxford's groundbreaking citizen science programme (www.zooniverse.org).


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