FIREBall-2: The Faint Intergalactic Medium Redshifted Emission Balloon Telescope

Erika Hamden, D. Christopher Martin, Bruno Milliard, David Schiminovich, Shouleh Nikzad, Jean Evrard, Gillian Kyne, Robert Grange, Johan Montel, Etienne Pirot, Keri Hoadley, Donal O'Sullivan, Nicole Melso, Vincent Picouet, Didier Vibert, Philippe Balard, Patrick Blanchard, Marty Crabill, Sandrine Pascal, Frederi MircNicolas Bray, April Jewell, Julia Blue Bird, Jose Zorilla, Hwei Ru Ong, Mateusz Matuszewski, Nicole Lingner, Ramona Augustin, Michele Limon, Albert Gomes, Pierre Tapie, Xavier Soors, Isabelle Zenone, Muriel Saccoccio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The Faint Intergalactic Medium Redshifted Emission Balloon (FIREBall) is a mission designed to observe faint emission from the circumgalactic medium of moderate-redshift (z ∼ 0.7) galaxies for the first time. FIREBall observes a component of galaxies that plays a key role in how galaxies form and evolve, likely contains a significant amount of baryons, and has only recently been observed at higher redshifts in the visible. Here we report on the 2018 flight of the FIREBall-2 Balloon telescope, which occurred on 2018 September 22 from Fort Sumner, New Mexico. The flight was the culmination of a complete redesign of the spectrograph from the original FIREBall fiber-fed integral field unit to a wide-field multiobject spectrograph. The flight was terminated early owing to a hole in the balloon, and our original science objectives were not achieved. The overall sensitivity of the instrument and telescope was 90,000 LU, due primarily to increased noise from stray light. We discuss the design of the FIREBall-2 spectrograph, including modifications from the original FIREBall payload, and provide an overview of the performance of all systems. We were able to successfully flight-test a new pointing control system, a UV-optimized, delta-doped, and coated electron multiplying CCD, and an aspheric grating. The FIREBall-2 team is rebuilding the payload for another flight attempt in the fall of 2021, delayed from 2020 as a result of COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number170
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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