24 July 2014 The beam combiners of Gravity VLTI instrument: concept, development, and performance in laboratory
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Abstract
Gravity is one of the second-generation instruments of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer that operates in the near infrared range and that is designed for precision narrow-angle astrometry and interferometric imaging. With its infrared wavefront sensors, pupil stabilization, fringe tracker, and metrology, the instrument is tailored to provide a high sensitivity, imaging with 4-millisecond resolution, and astrometry with a 10μarcsec precision. It will probe physics close to the event horizon of the Galactic Centre black hole, and allow to study mass accretion and jets in young stellar objects and active galactic nuclei, planet formation in circumstellar discs, or detect and measure the masses of black holes in massive star clusters throughout the Milky Way. As the instrument required an outstanding level of precision and stability, integrated optics has been chosen to collect and combine the four VLTI beams in the K band. A dedicated integrated optics chip glued to a fiber array has been developed. Technology breakthroughs have been mandatory to fulfill all the specifications. This paper is focused on the interferometric beam combination system of Gravity. Once the combiner concept described, the paper details the developments that have been led, the integration and the performance of the assemblies.
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L. Jocou, L. Jocou, K. Perraut, K. Perraut, T. Moulin, T. Moulin, Y. Magnard, Y. Magnard, P. Labeye, P. Labeye, V. Lapras, V. Lapras, A. Nolot, A. Nolot, G. Perrin, G. Perrin, F. Eisenhauer, F. Eisenhauer, C. Holmes, C. Holmes, A. Amorim, A. Amorim, W. Brandner, W. Brandner, C. Straubmeier, C. Straubmeier, } "The beam combiners of Gravity VLTI instrument: concept, development, and performance in laboratory", Proc. SPIE 9146, Optical and Infrared Interferometry IV, 91461J (24 July 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2054159; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2054159
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