24 October 2012 LINC-NIRVANA for the LBT: setting up the world's largest NIR binoculars for astronomy
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LINC-NIRVANA (LN) is the near-infrared, Fizeau-type imaging interferometer for the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) on Mt. Graham, Arizona, USA (3267m of elevation). The instrument is currently being built by a consortium of German and Italian institutes under the leadership of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg, Germany. It will combine the radiation from both 8.4m primary mirrors of LBT in such a way that the sensitivity of a 11.9m telescope and the spatial resolution of a 22.8m telescope will be obtained within a 10.5arcsec x 10.5arcsec scientific field of view. Interferometric fringes of the combined beams are tracked in an oval field with diameters of 1 and 1.5arcmin. In addition, both incoming beams are individually corrected by LN’s multi-conjugate adaptive optics (MCAO) system to reduce atmospheric image distortion over a circular field of up to 6arcmin in diameter. This paper gives a comprehensive technical overview of the instrument comprising the detailed design of LN’s four major systems for interferometric imaging and fringe tracking, both in the NIR range of 1 - 2.4μm, as well as atmospheric turbulence correction at two altitudes, both in the visible range of 0.6 - 0.9μm. The resulting performance capabilities and a short outlook of some of the major science goals will be presented. In addition, the roadmap for the related assembly, integration and verification (AIV) process will be discussed. To avoid late interface-related risks, strategies for early hardware as well as software interactions with the telescope have been elaborated. The goal is to ship LN to the LBT in 2014.
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