Astrophysics (Index)About

fiber positioner

(robotic fiber positioner)
(machine to set up fibers in multi-object spectrograph)

The term fiber positioner can refer to a mechanical instrument that positions optical fibers (long strands of glass which can carry light) for use in a multi-object spectrograph, placing it so that light from the image of a particular object on the focal plane is carried to a spot along the line in a spectrograph where the light is split by wavelength. the spectrograph's slit or its line corresponding to such a slit. Thus, objects spread out over the image at the focal plane are lined up in a row so that spectrograph can spread their spectrums, resulting in a bunch of spectrums laid out in parallel, which a CCD or similar sensor can record.

For such multi-object spectrographs this task was originally carried out by hand, and still would be when no such mechanical positioner is installed. By hand, the task is time-consuming, requiring very precise work, and spectrographs often can handle hundreds of objects simultaneously, resulting in a lot of time and effort. Incorporating mechanical positioners has been a natural development, as current technology allows relatively quick and accurate placement.

Naturally the term fiber positioner can refer to the person tasked with the positioning (like the word computer, which originally referred to someone who computes), and outside astronomy, the term can refer to devices that line up optical fibers for other uses, such as communication.

I believe the APOGEE spectrograph used by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, originally depended upon staff to position fibers, with cartridges holding positioned fibers that could be set up in advance and switched efficiently, so staff could prepare a number of them daily for the night's viewing. The spectrograph has been or will be automated. Some robotic fiber positioners:

(instrument type,spectrography)
Further reading:

Referenced by pages:
Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT)
Dark Energy Survey (DES)
Multi-object Optical and Near-IR Spectrograph (MOONS)
Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS)