4 August 2016 Hierarchical fringe tracker to co-phase and coherence very large optical interferometers
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Abstract
The full scientific potential of the VLTI with its second generation instruments MATISSE and GRAVITY require fringe tracking up to magnitudes K>14 with the UTs and K>10 with the ATs. The GRAVITY fringe tracker (FT) will be limited to K~10.5 with UTs and K~7.5 with ATs, for fundamental conceptual reasons: the flux of each telescope is distributed among 3 cophasing pairs and then among 5 spectral channels for coherencing. To overcome this limit we propose a new FT concept, called Hierarchical Fringe Tracker (HFT) that cophase pairs of apertures with all the flux from two apertures and only one spectral channel. When the pair is cophased, most of the flux is transmitted as if it was produced by an unique single mode beam and then used to cophase pairs of pairs and then pairs of groups. At the deeper level, the flux is used in an optimized dispersed fringe device for coherencing. On the VLTI such a system allows a gain of about 3 magnitudes over the GRAVITY FT. On interferometers with more apertures such as CHARA (6 telescopes) or a future Planet Formation Imager (12 to 20 telescopes), the HFT would be even more decisive, as its performance does not decrease with the number of apertures. It would allow building a PFI reaching a coherent magnitude H~10 with 16 apertures with diameters smaller than 2 m. We present the HFT concept, the first steps of its feasibility demonstration from computer simulations and the optical design of a 4 telescopes HFT prototype.
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Romain G. Petrov, Romain G. Petrov, Abdelkarim Boskri, Abdelkarim Boskri, Yves Bresson, Yves Bresson, Karim Agabi, Karim Agabi, Jean-Pierre Folcher, Jean-Pierre Folcher, Thami Elhalkouj, Thami Elhalkouj, Stephane Lagarde, Stephane Lagarde, Zouhair Benkhaldoum, Zouhair Benkhaldoum, } "Hierarchical fringe tracker to co-phase and coherence very large optical interferometers", Proc. SPIE 9907, Optical and Infrared Interferometry and Imaging V, 99071F (4 August 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2233107; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2233107
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