The Pathfinder testbed: Exploring techniques for achieving precision radial velocities in the near-infrared

Larry W. Ramsey, Suvrath Mahadevan, Stephen Redman, Chad Bender, Arpita Roy, Stephanie Zonak, Steinn Sigurdsson, Alex Wolszczan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Scopus citations


The Penn State Pathfinder is a prototype warm fiber-fed Echelle spectrograph with a Hawaii-1 NIR detector that has already demonstrated 7-10 m/s radial velocity precision on integrated sunlight. The Pathfinder testbed was initially setup for the Gemini PRVS design study to enable a systematic exploration of the challenges of achieving high radial velocity precision in the near-infrared, as well as to test possible solutions to these calibration challenges. The current version of the Pathfinder has an R3 echelle grating, and delivers a resolution of R∼50,000 in the Y, J or H bands of the spectrum. We will discuss the on sky-performance of the Pathfinder during an engineering test run at the Hobby Eberly Telescope as well the results of velocity observations of M dwarfs. We will also discuss the unique calibration techniques we have explored, like Uranium-Neon hollow cathode lamps, notch filter, and modal noise mitigation to enable high precision radial velocity observation in the NIR. The Pathfinder is a prototype testbed precursor of a cooled high-resolution NIR spectrograph capable of high radial velocity precision and of finding low mass planets around mid-late M dwarfs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGround-Based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy III
EditionPART 1
StatePublished - 2010
EventGround-Based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy III - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Jun 27 2010Jul 2 2010

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
NumberPART 1
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherGround-Based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy III
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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