WEAVE - instrumental overview
Below are summarised the expected observing capabilities of the WHT's
new multi-object fibre-fed spectrograph WEAVE.
As of February 2023,
the LIFU (large integral-field unit) mode of WEAVE is nearly
LIFU science-verification observations, and then WEAVE survey-mode observations, will follow soon.
WEAVE/LIFU is being offered for open-time observations in 2023B.
Commissioning of the MOS and mIFU modes of WEAVE is ongoing.
As a result of the
commissioning tests (a summary of key results will be provided on a
separate page soon), there may be small changes to some of the
numbers given on this page.
WEAVE is mounted at the WHT prime
focus, behind a new field corrector / ADC, which provides good
image quality over a 2-degree field of view, at zenith distances up
to 65 deg.
(Photo by Émilie Lhomé, September 2020. Click to see full size.)
The instrument can be used in any of
3 focal-plane modes:
MOS (multi-object spectroscopy), mIFU (mini integral-field units)
and LIFU (large integral-field unit). The key parameters of each mode are
|MOS fibres||Mini-IFUs (20)||LIFU
|Diameter of field over which deployable (deg)
|Diameter of individual fibres (arcsec)||1.3||1.3||2.6
|IFU field of view (arcsec)||-||11 x 12||90 x 78
|Fibres per IFU (and filling factor)||-
||37 (0.50)||547 (0.55)
|Minimum separation on sky (arcsec)||60||60||-
|Tumbler position (deg)
||0 or 180
|Configuration time (minutes)||55||<20||~ 1
|When available in open time ||Not yet||Not yet||2023B
In MOS mode, each of up to ~ 1000 individual fibres can be positioned
anywhere within the field of view, with
each fibre intercepting a circular area of sky of diameter 1.3 arcsec.
There are actually two sets of MOS fibres, one for each of two focal-plane
plates A (960 fibres) and B (940 fibres), and
WEAVE is designed so that configuration of one of the
two sets of fibres (e.g. for plate A) takes
place during a 1-hour observation with the other set (e.g. on plate B).
Then the tumbler is rotated by 180 deg so that plates A and B swap positions.
In mIFU mode, up to 20 fibre bundles (each 11 x 12 arcsec2
on the sky) can be positioned anywhere within the field of view, on plate B.
For any given observation, the MOS and mIFU modes cannot be mixed.
In LIFU mode, a single IFU is positioned at the centre of the field of
view. The hexagonal array of 547 fibres provides a (hexagonal) field
of view of 78 x 90 arcsec2. The fibres have circular cross-section
with diameter D =
2.6 arcsec on the sky, and the centre-to-centre fibre separation S =
3.4 arcsec. The filling factor in the focal plane is π x (D/S)^2 /
(2√3) = 0.55. Standard patterns are available for carrying out dithered observations.
The scale in the WEAVE focal plane is 17.8 arcsec mm-1
for MOS/mIFU modes and 15.4 arcsec mm-1 at the LIFU fibre array.
WEAVE's fibres feed a dual-arm (blue + red) spectrograph housed on one
Nasmyth platform of the WHT. A 5900-A
dichroic splits the light between the blue and red arms.
Dispersion is effected by inserting
one of three VPH gratings in the blue arm, and one of two in the red arm,
giving five spectroscopic modes. In low-resolution mode, WEAVE covers the
wavelength range 3660 - 9590 A.
For any given observation, low- and high-resolution
modes can't be mixed, e.g. it's not possible to observe at low resolution in the blue
arm and high resolution in the red arm.
|Wavelength range (A)
|Inter-CCD gap (A)
|Spec. resolution for MOS, mIFUs
|Spec. resolution for LIFU
|Scale (A pixel-1)
|WHT/WEAVE throughput (expected)
|| ~ 0.25
|| ~ 0.15 to 0.20
Note that because of the larger fibre size, the spectroscopic
resolution of a LIFU observation is half that of a MOS or mIFU obsevation.
Note also that in high-resolution mode, observers have a choice of two possible VPH
gratings, for wavelength range 4040 - 4650 A ('blue') or 4730 - 5450 A
('green'); they can't be deployed simultaneously.
The inter-CCD gap in the wavelength coverage (tabulated above)
arises from the join between
the two 6k x 6k low-fringing EEV CCDs comprising the science detector on each arm.
Each MOS/mIFU spectrum on the CCD has FWHM ~ 3 pixels (6 for LIFU spectra)
to the dispersion direction.
The detector readout noise is expected to be about 3 electrons rms
per 15-micron pixel. The CCD readout time for the default mode
(slow, binning 1x1) is ~ 150 sec. No detector windowing is currently possible.
WEAVE exposure-time calculator can be used to estimate
the signal-to-noise ratio per A for
each focal-plane (fibre) and spectrograph mode, and as a function of sky brightness
and seeing. Some results from the calculator can be found in
this table provided by Scott Trager.
Autoguiding for MOS and mIFU modes is provided by positioning
guide-fibre bundles (diameter 4.8 arcsec) at the positions of
up to 8 guide stars (mag <~ 15).
For LIFU mode, a separate guide camera is provided.
The sky background is measured
in MOS mode by assigning 5 - 10% of the science
fibres to sky, in MIFU mode by assigning one of the mIFUs to sky, and in LIFU mode
by sampling sky through 8 dedicated peripheral bundles.
Observations with WEAVE are specified as observing blocks (OBs), with each OB
containing all the information required to make a 1-hour observation, which might
include e.g. 3 autoguided science exposures, an arc and a flat.
The 1 hour includes any observing overheads.
The overheads for target acquisition, CCD readout and calibrations are
expected to be <~ 10%.
WEAVE observations are carried out in service mode, by ING staff,
with the aid of an OB scheduler. The scheduler tool optimises the use of
the night by matching OBs with required
observing conditions, and by
taking into account the RA, science priority, change overheads etc.
Data reduction and analysis
Data-reduction and analysis (and archiving) are carried out automatically
by the WEAVE pipelines at CASU in Cambridge, and the raw and processed data will
be made available to the PI teams through the WEAVE archive.
The results of a quick-look data reduction are visible to observers
at the telescope.
Availability of time on the WHT during the WEAVE years
This is described in the
document linked here.
An average of 70% of the
time on the WHT will be used for the eight designated (pre-planned) surveys
(~ 15 million spectra) with WEAVE,
while the other 30% is
for 'open-time' community observations with WEAVE or with the existing Cassegrain
instruments (ISIS, LIRIS, ACAM), or with visiting instruments.
The above-linked document also discusses the frequency with which WEAVE will be taken on and
off the telescope. The cadence was planned to be ~ 9 months, but this is under review.
WEAVE data policy
The approved WEAVE Data Policy is described in