(SPectropolarimètre InfraROUge)

Near-infrared spectropolarimeter with high radial-velocity precision

Last update: July 2017

SPIRou is a near-infrared spectropolarimeter, optimized for high-precision radial velocity measurements, utilizing the unique capabilities and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) on Maunakea, Hawaii.

SPIRou is fiber-fed from the Cassegrain focus of the CFHT and is built to obtain very high radial velocity accuracy, of the order of meters/second over several years. SPIRou is designed as an echelle spectrograph that allows to observe a reference spectrum simultaneously to the object of interest. The SPIRou Cassegain unit includes a polarimeter to change the polarization of the incident light and derive linear or circular polarization states of the observed target. The SPIRou spectrograph is embedded in a cryogenic vessel cooled down to a temperature of 90 K and stabilized at a precision below 2 mK. The spectrograph provides YJHK spectra from 0.95 to 2.35 microns in a single shot, at a spectral resolution of ~75,000.

SPIRou is designed to conduct a broad range of scientific programs. Foremost among these, is the ability to search for exoplanets around low-mass stars and T Tauri stars, as well as study these star's magnetic fields. The SPIRou science team will conduct a large-scale survey with the objectives to: explore the diversity of exoplanet systems of M stars, identify habitable telluric planets for future space-based atmospheric studies, investigate the physical processes at play during the first million years of star-and-planet systems. SPIRou's other scientific capabilities include the ability to study space weather of brown dwarfs, and to conduct a wide range of solar-system and stellar studies.

SPIRou is currently in the 'Assembly and Test' phase at IRAP (Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie), in Toulouse, France. During this phase, the spectrograph alignment and focus are optimized, the accepted sub-systems are interfaced, and the instrument performances are scrutinized and maximized. Additionally, the control sotware is being written concurrently. After this phase, the instrument will be shipped to Hawaii, transported the summit of Maunakea and reassembled in the CFHT coudé room. Here SPIRou will be tested to ensure it performs just as it did in France. Once this testing is complete, technical commissioning and science verification will take place, allowing SPIRou to be offered to the CFHT community.
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As with CFHT's other instruments, SPIRou will be offered in Queued Service Observing (QSO) mode only, during specific SPIRou instrument runs. SPIRou data will be distributed to PIs by the Data Archiving & Distribution System (DADS) and then archived at CADC. Raw and processed data will be delivered.

SPIRou is an international project lead by IRAP, involving CFHT along with the countries of France, Canada, Switzerland, Portugal, Brazil, Taiwan and Portugal. The Project page covers, in detail, the various parts of the project, milestones, and those involved.