Using and Improving the ELT-HARMONI Simulation Tool (HSIM)

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


The DPhil Project is part of the instrument development for ESO's Extrmely Large Telescope (ELT), namely the development of the first light, adaptive optics assisted, integral field spectrograph, HARMONI

In the context of HARMONI, the integral-field spectrograph for the E-ELT, this DPhil project develops detailed simulations of the observations carried out by HARMONI, using a dedicated software simulation tool HSIM. ELT observing time will be very expensive, with amortised costs of E10 per second! To make optimal use of the ELT+HARMONI, quantitative predictions of the instrument's sensitivity, applied to the specific observing project, are required. The HSIM simulator allows the user to create a "mock observed" data cube that mimics a real observation, including stochastic and systematic noise effects, as well as the instrument response. These mock data are then analysed as if they were real data, and the relevant physical parameters extracted from the analysis. The quantitative measure of the estimated error in these derived parameters allows fine tuning of the planned observations.

The thesis work involves enhancing the capabilities of the HSIM simulator, by including detector systematic noise effects. The detectors are the single component in the instrument whose properties and performance have a direct and substantial impact on instrument performance. Thus, developing the ability to simulate all the noise sources arising from detector artefacts, and inhomogeneities arising from the fabrication process, are key to quantitatively correct predictions of instrument performance. The thesis focusses on incorporating these effects in the simulator, and assessing their impact on observations through detailed simulations of kinematic studies of galaxy with the goal of measuring their rotation curves and thus estimating their dynamical mass.

HARMONI is a facility instrument, and will tackle a wide variety of questions in observational astrophysics. These have direct bearing on two of STFC's three science challenges: (B) How do stars and planetary systems develop and how do they support the existence of life? and (A) How did the Universe begin and how is it evolving?. This research falls with the PPAN remit, it is part of the "Astronomy and Space Sciences" research area.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/S001409/1 01/04/2019 31/03/2023
2374768 Studentship ST/S001409/1 03/10/2016 31/03/2020 Laurence Routledge