We describe the design, manufacture, and performance of bare-fiber integral field units (IFUs) for the SDSS-IV survey Mapping Nearby Galaxies at Apache Point Observatory (MaNGA) on the the Sloan 2.5 m telescope at Apache Point Observatory. MaNGA is a luminosity-selected integral-field spectroscopic survey of 104 local galaxies covering 360–1030 nm at R ~ 2200. The IFUs have hexagonal dense packing of fibers with packing regularity of 3 μm (rms), and throughput of 96 ± 0.5% from 350 nm to 1 μm in the lab. Their sizes range from 19 to 127 fibers (3–7 hexagonal layers) using Polymicro FBP 120:132:150 μm core:clad:buffer fibers to reach a fill fraction of 56%. High throughput (and low focal-ratio degradation (FRD)) is achieved by maintaining the fiber cladding and buffer intact, ensuring excellent surface polish, and applying a multi-layer anti-reflection (AR) coating of the input and output surfaces. In operations on-sky, the IFUs show only an additional 2.3% FRD-related variability in throughput despite repeated mechanical stressing during plate plugging (however other losses are present). The IFUs achieve on-sky throughput 5% above the single-fiber feeds used in SDSS-III/BOSS, attributable to equivalent performance compared to single fibers and additional gains from the AR coating. The manufacturing process is geared toward mass-production of high-multiplex systems. The low-stress process involves a precision ferrule with a hexagonal inner shape designed to lead inserted fibers to settle in a dense hexagonal pattern. The ferrule ID is tapered at progressively shallower angles toward its tip and the final 2 mm are straight and only a few microns larger than necessary to hold the desired number of fibers. Our IFU manufacturing process scales easily to accommodate other fiber sizes and can produce IFUs with substantially larger fiber counts. To assure quality, automated testing in a simple and inexpensive system enables complete characterization of throughput and fiber metrology. Future applications include larger IFUs, higher fill factors with stripped buffer, de-cladding, and lenslet coupling.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in The Astronomical Journal, v. 149, no. 2, article 77, p. 1-24.

© 2015. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Reproduced by permission of the AAS.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information

N.D. acknowledges support through CONACyT grants 167332 and 180125, and the hospitality of the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics during the writing of this manuscript. K.B. was supported by World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI Initiative), MEXT, Japan. M.A.B. acknowledges the hospitality of the Institute for Cosmology and Gravitation (Portsmouth University), and support from the Leverhulme Foundation. . . . Funding for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Participating Institutions. SDSS-IV acknowledges support and resources from the Center for High-Performance Computing at the University of Utah. The SDSS web site is www.sdss.org.SDSS-IV is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium for the Participating Institutions of the SDSS Collaboration including the Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Mellon University, the Chilean Participation Group, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, The Johns Hopkins University, Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU)/University of Tokyo, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Leibniz Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik (MPA Garching), Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik (MPE), Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA Heidelberg), National Astronomical Observatory of China, New Mexico State University, New York University, The Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, United Kingdom Participation Group, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, University of Arizona, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Portsmouth, University of Utah, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University, and Yale University.