MUSE, the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer, is a second-generation panoramic integral-field spectrograph for European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT), due to begin operation in 2012. The instrument consists of 24 combined identical integral-field spectrograph units, operating in the visible light. MUSE will have two modes of operation, both of which are explicitly designed to exploit a complex multi-laser guide star (LGS) Adaptive Optics (AO) system, called GALACSI (Ground Atmospheric Layer Adaptive Corrector for Spectroscopic Imaging), envisioned as part of the approved VLT AO Facility (AOF), at the heart of which is the development of a Deformable Secondary Mirror (DSM) for the VLT.

The primary mode of MUSE has a 1 x 1 square arcminute field of view sampled at 0.2 x 0.2 square arcseconds, a simultaneous spectral range of 465 - 930 nm, and a spectral resolving power ranging from 1750 at 465 nm to 3750 at 930 nm. This wide field mode will be used to conduct uniquely sensitive deep-field surveys, with the key goal of understanding the progenitor population of present-day ‘normal’ galaxies. The second mode of MUSE aims to provide the unique capability of near-diffraction limited spatial resolution at optical wavelengths over a large 7.5 x 7.5 square arcsecond field sampled at 25 milli-arcsec. This narrow field mode will be used for a variety of science goals, including monitoring solar-system bodies; studying the complex emission regions of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN), and studying young stellar objects.

The MUSE consortium consists of 7 major European research institutes: The Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon (CRAL, France) which is the leading institute, the European Southern Observatory (ESO), NOVA/Leiden Observatory (NOVA, the Netherlands), the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Tarbes-Toulouse (LATT, France), the Göttingen Astrophysics Institute (AIG, Germany), the Astrophysics department of the Zurich Polytechnic Institute of Technology (ETH, Switzerland) and the Potsdam Astrophysikalisches Institut (AIP, Germany).

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