8.1 Grism Overview

WFC3 provides a slitless spectroscopy mode in both of its channels. The UVIS channel has a single grism and the IR channel two grisms, enabling low-resolution slitless spectroscopy over the entire field of view of both detectors.

In the UVIS channel, the G280 grism provides spectroscopy over a useful wavelength range of 190–800 nm (WFC3 ISR 2020-09), at an average dispersion of about 1.3 nm per pixel in the first order. Note, however, that beyond ~450 nm, reduced sensitivity and overlapping orders interfere with grism observations. 

The two grisms for the IR channel cover the wavelength ranges 800–1150 nm (G102), and 1075 nm to 1700 nm (G141). The dispersions are 2.45 and 4.65 nm per pixel, respectively.

The observing technique of spatial scanning can be used for WFC3 spectroscopic observations. See Section 8.6.

Table 8.1 summarizes the capabilities of the three WFC3 grisms in first-order mode. The resolving power is listed for each grism at a wavelength near the center of its range of coverage. The dispersion differs slightly between the two chips of the UVIS channel, and the mean value is listed. The tilt of the dispersion direction relative to the detector x-axis is also listed.

 Table 8.1: WFC3 UVIS and IR Grisms.



Wavelength range (nm)

Resolving power1





190 – 800

70 @ 300 nm





800 – 1150

210 @ 1000 nm





1075 – 1700

130 @ 1400 nm



Resolving power is based on the FWHM of the Gaussian image core measured in direction perpendicular to the dispersion.
Tilt of dispersion direction with respect to the positive x-axis of the image frame.
3 The dispersion varies over the field by ±4%; the tabulated value refers to the field center.


For the latest information on WFC3 spectroscopy, see the WFC3 Spectroscopy Resource page.