Development of a new low resolution spectrograph for probing Lyman-alpha emitters in the HETDEX survey
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The Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) will map the power spectrum of 0.8 million blindly discovered Lyman-alpha Emitting Galaxies (LAE) using a revolutionary new array of massively replicated, fiber-fed spectrographs dubbed the Visible Integral-Field Replicable Unit Spectrograph (VIRUS). In the era of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope wide-field upgrade, the current Low Resolution Spectrograph (LRS) must be replaced with a fiber instrument. In this thesis, I discuss the development of the second generation LRS (LRS2), which is an R>1200 multi-channel instrument based on the VIRUS design and fed by a 287 fiber, 7” x 12” microlens coupled integral field unit. I focus on the blue optimized version of the instrument (3720<[lamda] (Angstroms)<7000), specifically on the opto-mechanical design of the VPH grisms. With the purpose of making the instrument ideal for the follow-up of LAE in the HETDEX survey, I discuss the science drivers for selecting the spectral resolution of the instrument. To test the utility of such an instrument, I present R~2400 spectra of two LAE that were originally discovered in the HETDEX Pilot Survey (Adams et al. 2011). These data were taken with the VIRUS prototype spectrograph in a high-resolution mode at the McDonald Observatory Harlan J. Smith 2.7 m telescope. The Lyman-alpha line profiles are constrained by near-infrared observations of rest-frame optical emission lines from Finkelstein et al. (2011), which set the systemic redshift of the galaxies. I discuss the velocity offsets of the Lyman-alpha line from the systemic line center and the implications for the HETDEX survey. I compare the line profiles to theory, specifically to those describing dust attenuation, outflows or inflows of neutral gas on the galactic scale, and attenuation in the intergalactic medium. This study provides an example of how LRS2 can be used to probe Lyman-alpha emission in 2<z<3 star-forming galaxies.