The new VLTI/GRAVITY instrument is a four telescope beam combiner installed at the VLT Interferometer. The principal novelty of this instrument is the availability of a dual field mode enabling narrow-angle relative astrometry at micro-arcsecond accuracy between two objects separated by several arcseconds. The fringe tracker (FT) stabilizes the interference fringes at up to 1 kHz frequency, allowing for long exposures with the science combiner (SC) as well as phase referenced imaging and differential astrometry (in dual field mode). The FT and SC beam combiners are integrated optics (IO) components, whose 24 outputs are (optionally) polarization-split and spectrally dispersed.
The processing of the photometric signals from the IO components is based on the pixel-to-visibility matrix (P2VM) formalism, that translates them into complex visibilities. The retrieval of the relative phase of the two objects subsequently relies on the combination of the phases measured from the FT, SC and the laser metrology. We will present the adopted algorithms, and an overview of the structure of the developed software. The calibration of the wavelength scales of the FT and SC at the required accuracy presents specific difficulties that we will briefly discuss. Examples of the reduction of on-sky data obtained during the commissioning will also be presented.
Since its first light at the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI), GRAVITY has reached new regimes in optical interferometry, in terms of accuracy as well as sensitivity.<sup>1</sup> GRAVITY is routinely doing phase referenced interferometry of objects fainter than K > 17 mag, which makes for example the galactic center black hole Sagittarius A*<sup>2</sup> detectable 90 % of the times. However from SNR calculations we are confident that even a sensitivity limit of K ~ 19 mag is possible. We therefore try to push the limits of GRAVITY by improving the observations as well as the calibration and the data reduction. This has further improved the sensitivity limit to K > 18 mag in the beginning of this year. Here we present some work we are currently doing in order to reach the best possible sensitivity.
After the first year of observations with the GRAVITY fringe tracker, we compute correlations between the optical path residuals and atmospheric and astronomical parameters. The median residuals of the optical path residuals are 180nm on the ATs and 270nm on the UTs. The residuals are uncorrelated with the target magnitudes for Kmag below 5.5 on ATs (9 on UTs). The correlation with the coherence time is however extremely clear, with a drop-off in fringe tracking performance below 3 ms.
The GRAVITY instrument installed at VLTI uses differential fibered delay lines to spatially filter the incoming wavefronts and accurately control the optical path difference between the Fringe Tracker (FT) and Scientific Detector (SC) parts of the instrument. On top of the differential dispersion occurring in the air, the chromatic dispersion introduced by these fibers impacts the real time performances of the fringe tracker by generating a second-order chromatic phase shift. Moreover, differential dispersion also affects GRAVITY dual-feed measurements that require a length adjustment of both FT and SC fibers. In this contribution, we show how chromatic dispersion can be corrected both in the fringe tracker real-time control as well as in the astrometric data reduction.
The use of optical fibers in astronomical instrumentation has been becoming more and more common. High transmission, polarization control, compact and easy routing are just a few of the advantages in this respect. But fibers also bring new challenges for the development of systems. During the assembly of the VLTI beam combiner GRAVITY different side effects of the fiber implementation had to be taken into account. In this work we summarize the corresponding phenomena ranging from the external factors influencing the fiber performance, like mechanical and temperature effects, to inelastic scattering within the fiber material.
We present a solution to the challenges of interfacing the ELT’s METIS to the telescope using a steerable hexapod structure. To guide the architectural choices, lumped physical models were derived from inverse kinematics in order to address the load distribution in each arm. Complete FE Analysis is carried on the optimal solutions of these models. The hexapod arms, which are high precision heavy duty linear actuators enduring forces in the excess of 30 tons, are designed using standard components whenever possible. An overall fully functional support structure design, satisfying the ESO/ELT and METIS requirements, is described.
The development and validation of small size laser sources for space based range finding is of crucial importance to the development of miniature LIDAR devices for European space missions, particularly for planet lander probes. In this context, CENTRA-SIM is developing a passively q-switched microchip laser in the 1.5μm wavelength range. Pulses in the order of 2 ns and 100μJ were found to be suitable for range finding for small landing platforms.<p> </p>Both glass and crystalline Yb-Er doped active media are commonly available. Crystalline media present higher thermal conductivity and hardness, which allows for higher pumping intensities. However, glass laser media present longer laser upper-state lifetime and 99% Yb-Er transfer efficiency make phosphate glasses the typically preferred host for this type of application. In addition to this, passively q-switched microchip lasers with Yb-Er doped phosphate glass have been reported to output >100μJ pulses while their crystalline host counterparts achieve a few tens of μJ at best.<p> </p>Two different types of rate equation models have been found: microscopic quantities based models and macroscopic quantities based models. Based on the works of Zolotovskaya et al. and Spühler et al, we have developed a computer model that further exploits the equivalence between the two types of approaches. The simulation studies, using commercial available components allowed us to design a compact laser emitting 80μJ pulses with up to 30kW peak power and 1 to 2 ns pulse width.<p> </p>We considered EAT14 Yb-Er doped glass as active medium and Co<sup>2+</sup>:MgAl<sub>2</sub>O<sub>4</sub> as saturable absorber. The active medium is pumped by a 975nm semiconductor laser focused into a 200μm spot. Measurements on an experimental test bench to validate the numerical model were carried out. Several different combinations of, saturable absorber length and output coupling were experimented.
GRAVITY acquisition camera implements four optical functions to track multiple beams of Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI): a) pupil tracker: a 2×2 lenslet images four pupil reference lasers mounted on the spiders of telescope secondary mirror; b) field tracker: images science object; c) pupil imager: reimages telescope pupil; d) aberration tracker: images a Shack-Hartmann. The estimation of beam stabilization parameters from the acquisition camera detector image is carried out, for every 0.7 s, with a dedicated data reduction software. The measured parameters are used in: a) alignment of GRAVITY with the VLTI; b) active pupil and field stabilization; c) defocus correction and engineering purposes. The instrument is now successfully operational on-sky in closed loop. The relevant data reduction and on-sky characterization results are reported.
The VLTI instrument GRAVITY combines the beams from four telescopes and provides phase-referenced imaging as well as precision-astrometry of order 10 μas by observing two celestial objects in dual-field mode. Their angular separation can be determined from their differential OPD (dOPD) when the internal dOPDs in the interferometer are known. Here, we present the general overview of the novel metrology system which performs these measurements. The metrology consists of a three-beam laser system and a homodyne detection scheme for three-beam interference using phase-shifting interferometry in combination with lock-in amplifiers. Via this approach the metrology system measures dOPDs on a nanometer-level.
GRAVITY is a near-infrared interferometric instrument that allows astronomers to combine the light of the four unit or four auxiliary telescopes of the ESO Very Large Telescope in Paranal, Chile. GRAVITY will deliver extremely precise relative astrometry and spatially resolved spectra. In order to study objects in regions of high extinction (e.g. the Galactic Center, or star forming regions), GRAVITY will use infrared wavefront sensors. The suite of four wavefront sensors located in the Coudé room of each of the unit telescopes are known as the Coudé Integrated Adaptive Optics (CIAO). The CIAO wavefront sensors are being constructed by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) and are being installed and commissioned at Paranal between February and September of 2016. This presentation will focus on system tests performed in the MPIA adaptive optics laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany in preparation for shipment to Paranal, as well as on-sky data from the commissioning of the first instrument. We will discuss the CIAO instruments, control strategy, optimizations, and performance at the telescope.
GRAVITY, a second generation instrument for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI), will provide an astrometric precision of order 10 micro-arcseconds, an imaging resolution of 4 milli-arcseconds, and low/medium resolution spectro-interferometry. These improvements to the VLTI represent a major upgrade to its current infrared interferometric capabilities, allowing detailed study of obscured environments (e.g. the Galactic Center, young dusty planet-forming disks, dense stellar cores, AGN, etc...). Crucial to the final performance of GRAVITY, the Coudé IR Adaptive Optics (CIAO) system will correct for the effects of the atmosphere at each of the VLT Unit Telescopes. CIAO consists of four new infrared Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensors (WFS) and associated real-time computers/software which will provide infrared wavefront sensing from 1.45-2.45 microns, allowing AO corrections even in regions where optically bright reference sources are scarce. We present here the latest progress on the GRAVITY wavefront sensors. We describe the adaptation and testing of a light-weight version of the ESO Standard Platform for Adaptive optics Real Time Applications (SPARTA-Light) software architecture to the needs of GRAVITY. We also describe the latest integration and test milestones for construction of the initial wave front sensor.
The work package of the University of Cologne within the GRAVITY consortium included the development and
manufacturing of two spectrometers for the beam combiner instrument. Both spectrometers are optimized for
different tasks. The science spectrometer provides 3 different spectral resolutions. In the highest resolution the
length of the spectral lines is close to the borders of the imaging area of the detector. Also the integration time
of these high resolution images is relative long. Therefor the optical pathes have to be controlled by the feedback
of a faster spectrometer. The fringe tracking spectrometer has only one low resolution to allow much shorter
integration times. This spectrometer provides a feedback for the control loops which stabilize the optical pathes
of the light from the telescope to the instrument. This is a new key feature of the whole GRAVITY instrument.
Based on the optical layout my work was the design of the mechanical structure, mountings, passive and
active adjustment mechanisms. This paper gives a short review about the active mechanisms and the compliant
lens mounts. They are used similarly in both spectrometers. Due to the observation and analysis of near-infrared
light the mechanisms have to run at cryogenic temperatures and in a high vacuum. Except the linear stages, the
motorized mechanisms will get used for several times per observation.
GRAVITY is the four-beam, near-infrared, AO-assisted, fringe tracking, astrometric and imaging instrument for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). It is requiring the development of one of the most complex instrument software systems ever built for an ESO instrument. Apart from its many interfaces and interdependencies, one of the most challenging aspects is the overall performance and stability of this complex system. The three infrared detectors and the fast reflective memory network (RMN) recorder contribute a total data rate of up to 20 MiB/s accumulating to a maximum of 250 GiB of data per night. The detectors, the two instrument Local Control Units (LCUs) as well as the five LCUs running applications under TAC (Tools for Advanced Control) architecture, are interconnected with fast Ethernet, RMN fibers and dedicated fiber connections as well as signals for the time synchronization. Here we give a simplified overview of all subsystems of GRAVITY and their interfaces and discuss two examples of high-level applications during observations: the acquisition procedure and the gathering and merging of data to the final FITS file.
We present in this paper the design and characterisation of a new sub-system of the VLTI 2<sup><i>nd</i></sup> generation instrument GRAVITY: the Calibration Unit. The Calibration Unit provides all functions to test and calibrate the beam combiner instrument: it creates two artificial stars on four beams, and dispose of four delay lines with an internal metrology. It also includes artificial stars for the tip-tilt and pupil guiding systems, as well as four metrology pick-up diodes, for tests and calibration of the corresponding sub-systems. The calibration unit also hosts the reference targets to align GRAVITY to the VLTI, and the safety shutters to avoid the metrology light to propagate in the VLTI-lab. We present the results of the characterisation and validtion of these differrent sub-units.
GRAVITY is the second generation VLT Interferometer (VLTI) instrument for high-precision narrow-angle astrometry and phase-referenced interferometric imaging. The laser metrology system of GRAVITY is at the heart of its astrometric mode, which must measure the distance of 2 stars with a precision of 10 micro-arcseconds. This means the metrology has to measure the optical path difference between the two beam combiners of GRAVITY to a level of 5 nm. The metrology design presents some non-common paths that have consequently to be stable at a level of 1 nm. Otherwise they would impact the performance of GRAVITY. The various tests we made in the past on the prototype give us hints on the components responsible for this error, and on their respective contribution to the total error. It is however difficult to assess their exact origin from only OPD measurements, and therefore, to propose a solution to this problem. In this paper, we present the results of a semi-empirical modeling of the fibered metrology system, relying on theoretical basis, as well as on characterisations of key components. The modeling of the metrology system regarding various effects, e.g., temperature, waveguide heating or mechanical stress, will help us to understand how the metrology behave. The goals of this modeling are to <i>1)</i> model the test set-ups and reproduce the measurements (as a validation of the modeling), <i>2)</i> determine the origin of the non-common path errors, and <i>3)</i> propose modifications to the current metrology design to reach the required 1nm stability.
We focus on the main algorithms of the data reduction software for the second generation VLTI instrument GRAVITY. From the interferometric data and the metrology signal, the pipeline recovers the complex visibility of the science target with an absolute phase with respect to the fringe tracker target. Visibilities are then calibrated and the relative astrometry is eventually computed when possible.
We use a numerical model of the birefringence in the VLT Interferometer (VLTI) and the Gravity instrument to study the astrometric phase errors that arise when two conditions are simultaneously present: differential birefringence between two VLTI arms, and different polarizations of the science and fringe tracker sources. We present measurements of the VLTI birefringence, that are used to validate our model. We show how a suitable alignment of the eigenvectors of the optical train eliminates the phase error.
The GRAVITY Instrument Software (INS) is based on the common VLT Software Environment. In addition to the basic Instrument Control Software (ICS) which handles Motors, Shutters, Lamps, etc., it also includes three detector subsystems, several special devices, field bus devices, and various real time algorithms. The latter are implemented using ESO TAC (Tools for Advanced Control) and run at a frequency of up to 4 kHz. In total, the instrument has more than 100 ICS devices and runs on five workstations and seven vxWorks LCUs.
GRAVITY is a 2nd generation VLTI Instrument o which operates on 6 interferometric baselines by using all 4 Unit Telescopes. It will deliver narrow angle astrometry with 10μas accuracy at the infrared K-band. At the 1. Physikalische Institut of the University of Cologne, which is part of the international GRAVITY consortium, two spectrometers, one for the sciene object, and one for the fringe tracking object, have been designed, manufactured and tested. These spectrometers are two individual devices, each with own housing and interfaces. For a minimized thermal background, the spectrometers are actively cooled down to an operating temperature of 80K in the ambient temperature environment of the Beam Combiner Instrument (BCI) cryostat. The outer casings are mounted thermal isolated to the base plate by glass fiber reinforced plastic (GRP) stands, copper cooling structures conduct the cold inside the spectrometers where it is routed to components via Cu cooling stripes. The spectrometers are covered with shells made of multi insulation foil. There will be shown and compared 3 cooling installations: setups in the Cologne test dewar, in the BCI dewar and in a mock-up cad model. There are some striking differences between the setup in the 2 different dewars. In the Cologne Test dewar the spectrometers are connected to the coldplate (80K); a Cu cooling structure and the thermal isolating GRP stands are bolted to the coldplate. In the BCI dewer Cu cooling structure is connected to the bottom of the nitrogen tank (80K), the GRP stands are bolted to the base plate (240K). The period of time during the cooldown process will be analyzed.
The VLTI instrument GRAVITY will provide very powerful astrometry by combining the light from four tele- scopes for two objects simultaneously. It will measure the angular separation between the two astronomical objects to a precision of 10 μas. This corresponds to a differential optical path difference (dOPD) between the targets of few nanometers and the paths within the interferometer have to be maintained stable to that level. For this purpose, the novel metrology system of GRAVITY will monitor the internal dOPDs by means of phase- shifting interferometry. We present the four-step phase-shifting concept of the metrology with emphasis on the method used for calibrating the phase shifts. The latter is based on a phase-step insensitive algorithm which unambiguously extracts phases in contrast to other methods that are strongly limited by non-linearities of the phase-shifting device. The main constraint of this algorithm is to introduce a robust ellipse fitting routine. Via this approach we are able to measure phase shifts in the laboratory with a typical accuracy of λ=2000 or 1 nm of the metrology wavelength.
The acquisition camera for the GRAVITY/VLTI instrument implements four functions: a) field imager: science field imaging, tip-tilt; b) pupil tracker: telescope pupil lateral and longitudinal positions; c) pupil imager: telescope pupil imaging and d) aberration sensor: The VLTI beam higher order aberrations measurement. We present the dedicated algorithms that simulate the GRAVITY acquisition camera detector measurements considering the realistic imaging conditions, complemented by the pipeline used to extract the data. The data reduction procedure was tested with real aberrations at the VLTI lab and reconstructed back accurately. The acquisition camera software undertakes the measurements simultaneously for all four AT/UTs in 1 s. The measured parameters are updated in the instrument online database. The data reduction software uses the ESO Common Library for Image Processing (CLIP), integrated in to the ESO VLT software environment.
The laser metrology system in the GRAVITY instrument plays a crucial role in an attempt at high-precision narrow-angle astrometry. With a design goal of achieving 10 microarcseconds precision in astrometry, the system must measure the optical path difference between two beam combiners within GRAVITY to an accuracy of better than 5nm. However in its current design, some parts of the optical paths of the metrology system are not common to the optical paths of starlight (the science path) which it must measure with high accuracy. This state of the design is true for most but not all the baselines which will be used by the GRAVITY instrument. The additional non-common optical paths could produce inaccurate path length measurements and consequently inaccurate measurements of the differential phase between fringe packets of two nearby celestial objects, which is the main astrometric observable of the instrument. With reference to the stability and the sensitivity of the non-common paths, this paper describes the impact of a biased differential phase measurement on the narrowangle astrometry and the image reconstruction performance of the GRAVITY instrument. Several alternative designs are also discussed.
We present the installed and fully operational beam stabilization and fiber injection subsystem feeding the 2nd generation VLTI instrument GRAVITY. The interferometer GRAVITY requires an unprecedented stability of the VLTI optical train to achieve micro-arcsecond astrometry. For this purpose, GRAVITY contains four fiber coupler units, one per telescope. Each unit is equipped with actuators to stabilize the telescope beam in terms of tilt and lateral pupil displacement, to rotate the field, to adjust the polarization and to compensate atmospheric piston. A special roof-prism offers the possibility of on-axis as well as off-axis fringe tracking without changing the optical train. We describe the assembly, integration and alignment and the resulting optical quality and performance of the individual units. Finally, we present the closed-loop performance of the tip-tilt and pupil tracking achieved with the final systems in the lab.
Operating on 6 interferometric baselines, i.e. using all 4 unit telescopes (UTs) of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) simultaneously, the 2nd generation VLTI instrument GRAVITY will deliver narrow-angle astrometry with 10μas accuracy at the infrared K-band. At this angular resolution, GRAVITY will e.g. be able to detect the positional shift of the photo-center of a flare at the Galactic Center within its orbital timescale of about 20 minutes, using the observed motion of the flares as dynamical probes of the gravitational field around the supermassive black hole Sgr A*. Within the international GRAVITY consortium, the 1. Physikalische Institut of the University of Cologne is responsible for the development and construction of the two spectrometers of the camera system: one for the science object, and one for the fringe tracking object, both being operated in cryo-vacuum conditions. In this contribution we describe the basic functionality of the two units and present the final optical design of the two spectrometers as it got realised successfully until end of 2013 with minor changes to the Final Design Review (FDR) of October 2011. In addition we present some of the first light images of the two spectrometers, taken at the laboratory of the Cologne institute between Dec. 2012 and Oct. 2013 respectively. By the end of 2013 both spectrometers got transferred to the PI institute of GRAVITY, the Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, where at the time of writing they are undergoing system-level testing in combination with the other sub-systems of GRAVITY.
The GRAVITY Acquisition Camera was designed to monitor and evaluate the optical beam properties of the four ESO/VLT telescopes simultaneously. The data is used as part of the GRAVITY beam stabilization strategy. Internally the Acquisition Camera has four channels each with: several relay mirrors, imaging lens, H-band filter, a single custom made silica bulk optics (i.e. Beam Analyzer) and an IR detector (HAWAII2-RG). The camera operates in vacuum with operational temperature of: 240k for the folding optics and enclosure, 100K for the Beam Analyzer optics and 80K for the detector. The beam analysis is carried out by the Beam Analyzer, which is a compact assembly of fused silica prisms and lenses that are glued together into a single optical block. The beam analyzer handles the four telescope beams and splits the light from the field mode into the pupil imager, the aberration sensor and the pupil tracker modes. The complex optical alignment and focusing was carried out first at room temperature with visible light, using an optical theodolite/alignment telescope, cross hairs, beam splitter mirrors and optical path compensator. The alignment was validated at cryogenic temperatures. High Strehl ratios were achieved at the first cooldown. In the paper we present the Acquisition Camera as manufactured, focusing key sub-systems and key technical challenges, the room temperature (with visible light) alignment and first IR images acquired in cryogenic operation.
GRAVITY is a new generation beam combination instrument for the VLTI. Its goal is to achieve microarsecond astrometric accuracy between objects separated by a few arcsec. This 10<sup>6</sup> accuracy on astrometric measurements is the most important challenge of the instrument, and careful error budget have been paramount during the technical design of the instrument. In this poster, we will focus on baselines induced errors, which is part of a larger error budget.
GRAVITY<sup>1</sup> is a 2<i><sup>nd</sup></i> generation Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) operated in the astronomical K-band. In the Beam Combiner Instrument<sup>2</sup> (BCI) four Fiber Couplers<sup>3</sup> (FC) will feed the light coming from each telescope into two fibers, a reference channel for the fringe tracking spectrometer<sup>4</sup> (FT) and a science channel for the science spectrometer<sup>4</sup> (SC). The differential Optical Path Difference (dOPD) between the two channels will be corrected using a novel metrology concept.<sup>5</sup> The metrology laser will keep control of the dOPD of the two channels. It is injected into the spectrometers and detected at the telescope level. Piezo-actuated fiber stretchers correct the dOPD accordingly. Fiber-fed Integrated Optics<sup>6</sup> (IO) combine coherently the light of all six baselines and feed both spectrometers. Assisted by Infrared Wavefront Sensors<sup>7</sup> (IWS) at each Unit Telescope (UT) and correcting the path difference between the channels with an accuracy of up to 5 nm, GRAVITY will push the limits of astrometrical accuracy to the order of 10 <i>μ</i>as and provide phase-referenced interferometric imaging with a resolution of 4 mas. The University of Cologne developed, constructed and tested both spectrometers of the camera system. Both units are designed for the near infrared (1.95 - 2.45 <i>μ</i>m) and are operated in a cryogenic environment. The Fringe Tracker is optimized for highest transmission with fixed spectral resolution (R = 22) realized by a double-prism.<sup>8</sup> The Science spectrometer is more diverse and allows to choose from three different spectral resolutions<sup>8</sup> (R = [22, 500, 4000]), where the lowest resolution is achieved with a prism and the higher resolutions are realized with grisms. A Wollaston prism in each spectrometer allows for polarimetric splitting of the light. The goal for the spectrometers is to concentrate at least 90% of the ux in 2 × 2 pixel (36 × 36 <i>μ</i>m<sup>2</sup>) for the Science channel and in 1 pixel (24 × 24 <i>μ</i>m) in the Fringe Tracking channel. In Section 1, we present the arrangement, direction of spectral dispersion and shift of polarization channels for both spectrometers, and the curvature of the spectra in the science spectrometer. In Section 2 we determine the best focus position of the detectors. The overall contrast of images at different positions of the detector stage is computed with the standard deviation of pixel values in the spectra containing region. In Section 3 we analyze high dynamic range images for each spectrometer and resolution obtained at the afore determined best focus positions. We deduce the ensquared energy from the FWHM of Gaussian fits perpendicular to the spectra.
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.
Differential chromatic dispersion in single-mode optical fibres leads to a loss of contrast of the white light fringe. For the GRAVITY instrument, this aspect is critical since it limits the fringe tracking performance. We present a real-time algorithm that compensates for differential dispersion due to varying fibre lengths using prior calibration of the optical fibres. This correction is limited by the accuracy to which the fibres stretch is known. We show how this affects the SNR on the white light fringe for different scenarios and we estimate how this phenomenon might eventually impact the astrometric accuracy of GRAVITY observations.
The GRAVITY acquisition camera has four 9x9 Shack-Hartmann sensors operating in the near-infrared. It measures the slow variations of a quasi-distorted wavefront of four telescope beams simultaneously, by imaging the Galactic Center field. The Shack-Hartmann lenslet images of the Galactic Center are generated. Since the lenslet array images are filled with the crowded Galactic Center stellar field, an extended object, the local shifts of the distorted wavefront have to be estimated with a correlation algorithm. In this paper we report on the accuracy of six existing centroid algorithms for the Galactic Center stellar field. We show the VLTI tunnel atmospheric turbulence phases are reconstructed back with a precision of 100 nm at 2 s integration.
GRAVITY is a second generation instrument for the VLT Interferometer, designed to enhance the near-infrared
astrometric and spectro-imaging capabilities of VLTI. Combining beams from four telescopes, GRAVITY will
provide an astrometric precision of order 10 micro-arcseconds, imaging resolution of 4 milli-arcseconds, and low
and medium resolution spectro-interferometry, pushing its performance far beyond current infrared interferometric
capabilities. To maximise the performance of GRAVITY, adaptive optics correction will be implemented
at each of the VLT Unit Telescopes to correct for the e_ects of atmospheric turbulence. To achieve this, the
GRAVITY project includes a development programme for four new wavefront sensors (WFS) and NIR-optimized
real time control system. These devices will enable closed-loop adaptive correction at the four Unit Telescopes
in the range 1.4-2.4 μm. This is crucially important for an e_cient adaptive optics implementation in regions
where optically bright references sources are scarce, such as the Galactic Centre. We present here the design of
the GRAVITY wavefront sensors and give an overview of the expected adaptive optics performance under typical
observing conditions. Bene_ting from newly developed SELEX/ESO SAPHIRA electron avalanche photodiode
(eAPD) detectors providing fast readout with low noise in the near-infrared, the AO systems are expected to
achieve residual wavefront errors of 400 nm at an operating frequency of 500 Hz.≤
Operating on 6 interferometric baselines, i.e. using all 4 unit telescopes (UTs) of the Very Large Telescope
Interferometer (VLTI) simultaneously, the 2<sup>nd</sup> generation VLTI instrument GRAVITY will deliver narrow-angle
astrometry with 10μ<i>as</i> accuracy at the infrared K-band. At this angular resolution, GRAVITY will be able to
detect the positional shift of the photo-center of a flare at the Galactic Center within its orbital timescale of
about 20 minutes, using the observed motion of the flares as dynamical probes of the gravitational field around
the supermassive black hole Sgr A*.
Within the international GRAVITY consortium, the 1. Physikalische Institut of the University of Cologne
is responsible for the development and construction of the two spectrometers of the camera system: one for
the science object, and one for the fringe tracking object, both being operated at cryo-vacuum. In this paper
we present the phase-C final optical design of the two spectrometers as it got derived from the scientific and
technical requirements and as it was presented and reviewed successfully at the Final Design Review (FDR) at
the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in October 2011.
GRAVITY belongs to the 2nd generation of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) and will operate inK-band on 6 baselines using all 4 Unit Telescopes of the VLT. With an unprecedented astrometrical accuracy of l0μas it will be, amongst others, capable of detecting the highly relativistic motion of the photocenter of a flare surrounding the supermassive black hole at the Galactic Centre, and thus probe General Relativity. The contribution of the University of Cologne within the international GRAVITY-Consortium is the design, manufacturing, qualification and assembly of the Fringe Tracking Spectrometer and the Science Spectrometer in the Beam Combiner Instrument (BCI). The BCI will be located in the interferometric lab of the VLTI. The spectrometers will be operated at 85K in a 200K environment in the BCI. We present the design and qualification of a linear displacement mechanism, which will be used at the focus stages of the detectors in both spectrometers and at the zoom stage in the Fringe Tracking Spectrometer. The mechanism consists of 4 double-hinged compliant joints which support the stage and provide a linear motion along the optical axis. The stage characterization at room and cryogenic conditions are presented.
A two stage blocking system is implemented in the GRAVITY science and the fringe tracking spectrometer optical
design. The blocking system consists of a dichroic beam splitter and two long wave band-pass filters with the top
level requirements of high transmission of the science light in the K-Band (1.95 - 2.45 μm) region and high blocking power optical density (OD) ≥ 8 for each filter at the metrology laser wavelength of 1.908 μm. The laser metrology blocking filters were identified as one critical optical component in the GRAVITY science and fringe tracker
spectrometer design. During the Phase-C study of GRAVITY all the filters were procured and individually tested in terms of spectral response at K-band, transmission, blocking (OD) and reflection at the metrology laser wavelength. We present the measurements results of the full metrology blocking system in its final configuration as to be implemented in the GRAVITY spectrometers.
We present design results of the 2nd generation VLTI instrument GRAVITY beam stabilization and light injection
subsystems. Designed to deliver micro-arcsecond astrometry, GRAVITY requires an unprecedented stability of the
VLTI optical train. To meet the astrometric requirements, we have developed a dedicated 'laser guiding system',
correcting the longitudinal and lateral pupil position as well as the image jitter. The actuators for the correction are
provided by four 'fiber coupler' units located in the GRAVITY cryostat. Each fiber coupler picks the light of one
telescope and stabilizes the beam. Furthermore each unit provides field de-rotation, polarization analysis as well as
atmospheric piston correction. Using a novel roof-prism design offers the possibility of on-axis as well as off-axis fringe
tracking without changing the optical train. Finally the stabilized beam is injected with minimized losses into singlemode
fibers via parabolic mirrors. We present lab results of the first guiding- as well as the first fiber coupler prototype
regarding the closed loop performance and the optical quality. Based on the lab results we discuss the on-sky
performance of the system and the implications concerning the sensitivity of GRAVITY.
The GRAVITY acquisition camera measurements are part of the overall beam stabilization by measuring each second
the tip-tilt and the telescope pupil lateral and longitudinal positions, while monitoring at longer intervals the full
telescope pupil, and the VLTI beam higher order aberrations.
The infrared acquisition camera implements a mosaic of field, pupil, and Shack Hartman type images for each telescope.
Star light is used to correct the tip-tilt while laser beacons placed at the telescope spiders are used to measure the pupil
lateral positions. Dedicated optimized algorithms are applied to each image, extracting the beam parameters and storing
them on the instrument database.
The final design is built into the GRAVITY beam combiner, around a structural plane where the 4 telescope folding
optics and field imaging lenses are attached. A fused silica prism assembly, kept around detector temperature, is placed
near to the detector implementing the different image modes.
Operating on 6 interferometric baselines, i.e. using all 4 UTs, the 2nd generation VLTI instrument GRAVITY will deliver narrow angle astrometry with 10μas accuracy at K-band.
We present the system design of the science and fringe tracking spectrometers of GRAVITY: The fringe tracking spectrometer is optimised for highest sensitivity, providing a fixed spectral resolution. The science spectrometer provides 3 different low - medium spectral resolutions. Both spectrometers provide detector focus stages and deployable Wollaston prisms. The two spectrometers also feed the beams of the metrology laser system of GRAVITY backwards into the integrated optics beam-combiner, propagating back to the M2 mirrors of the 4 telescopes.
Gravity aims at enhancing infrared imaging at VLTI to significantly improve our understanding of the physical processes
related to gravitation and accretion within compact objects. With its fiber-fed integrated optics, infrared wavefront
sensors, fringe tracker, beam stabilization and a novel metrology concept, GRAVITY will push the sensitivity and
accuracy of astrometry and interferometric imaging far beyond what is offered today. Four telescopes will be combined
in dual feed in the K band providing precision astrometry of order 10 micro-arcseconds, and imaging with 4-
milliarcsecond resolution. The fringe tracker and the scientific instrument host an identical integrated optics beam
combiner made by silica-on-silicon etching technology that is put inside a cryogenic vessel and cooled down to 200K to reduce thermal background and increase sensitivity.
This paper gives the design of the integrated beam combiner and of its fibered array that allows feeding the combiner
with stellar light. Lab measurement of spectral throughput and interferometric performance for beam combiners made by Flame Hydrolysis Deposition and by Plasma-Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (PECVD) are given. The procedure
to glue together the beam combiner and its fibered array is described as well as the tests to validate the performance and the ageing effects at low temperature. Finally the thermal analysis and the eigen-frequency study of the whole device are presented.
We present the adaptive optics simulations we have performed to dimension the Gravity adaptive optics wavefront
sensor. We first computed the optimal WFS bandpass, depending on the sampling frequency, detector readout
noise and reference source colour/temperature. We then performed adaptive optics simulations with the YAO
simulation tool for different WFS parameters (number of subpupils, number of pixels per subpupil, loop frequency,
reference source magnitude, etc). Results demonstrate that the Gravity adaptive optics top-level requirements
can be fulfilled with a 9×9 subaperture Shack-Hartmann with 4 pixels per subaperture using an H+K filter, a
larger filter being recommended for sources bluer than 770 K reference source of the Galactic Centre.
Operating on 6 interferometric baselines, i.e. using all 4 UTs, the 2nd generation VLTI instrument GRAVITY will
deliver narrow angle astrometry with 10μas accuracy at the infrared K-band.
Within the international GRAVITY consortium, the Cologne institute is responsible for the development and
construction of the two spectrometers: one for the science object, and one for the fringe tracking object.
Optically two individual components, both spectrometers are two separate units with their own housing and interfaces
inside the vacuum vessel of GRAVITY. The general design of the spectrometers, however, is similar. The optical layout
is separated into beam collimator (with integrated optics and metrology laser injection) and camera system (with
detector, dispersive element, & Wollaston filter wheel). Mechanically, this transfers to two regions which are separated
by a solid baffle wall incorporating the blocking filter for the metrology Laser wavelength. The optical subunits are
mounted in individual rigid tubes which pay respect to the individual shape, size and thermal expansion of the lenses.
For a minimized thermal background, the spectrometers are actively cooled down to an operating temperature of 80K in
the ambient temperature environment of the GRAVITY vacuum dewar. The integrated optics beam combiner and the
metrology laser injection, which are operated at 200/240K, are mounted thermally isolated to the cold housing of the
The optical design has shown that the alignment of the detector is crucial to the performance of the spectrometers.
Therefore, in addition to four wheel mechanisms, six cryogenic positioning mechanisms are included in the mechanical
design of the detector mount.
GRAVITY is an adaptive optics assisted Beam Combiner for the second generation VLTI instrumentation. The
instrument will provide high-precision narrow-angle astrometry and phase-referenced interferometric imaging in the
astronomical K-band for faint objects. We describe the wide range of science that will be tackled with this instrument,
highlighting the unique capabilities of the VLTI in combination with GRAVITY. The most prominent goal is to observe
highly relativistic motions of matter close to the event horizon of Sgr A*, the massive black hole at center of the Milky
Way. We present the preliminary design that fulfils the requirements that follow from the key science drivers: It includes
an integrated optics, 4-telescope, dual feed beam combiner operated in a cryogenic vessel; near-infrared wavefrontsensing
adaptive optics; fringe-tracking on secondary sources within the field of view of the VLTI and a novel metrology
concept. Simulations show that 10 μas astrometry within few minutes is feasible for a source with a magnitude of
m<sub>K</sub> = 15 like Sgr A*, given the availability of suitable phase reference sources (m<sub>K</sub> = 10). Using the same setup, imaging of m<sub>K</sub> = 18 stellar sources in the interferometric field of view is possible, assuming a full night of observations and the corresponding UV coverage of the VLTI.
GRAVITY is a VLTI second generation instrument designed to deliver astrometry at the level of 10 μas. The
beam transport to the beam combiner is stabilized by means of a dedicated guiding system whose specifications
are mainly driven by the GRAVITY astrometric error budget. In the present design, the beam is monitored using
an infrared acquisition camera that implements a mosaic of field, pupil and Shack-Hartmann images for each of the telescopes. Star and background H-band light from the sky can be used to correct the tip-tilt and pupil lateral position, within the GRAVITY specifications, each 10 s. To correct the beam at higher frequencies laser guiding beams are launched in the beam path, on field and pupil planes, and are monitored using position sensor detectors. The detection, in the acquisition camera, of metrology laser light back reflected from the telescopes, is also being investigated as an alternative for the pupil motion control.
We present the Fiber Coupler subsystem of the future VLTI instrument GRAVITY. GRAVITY is specifically designed
to deliver micro-arcsecond astrometry and deep interferometric imaging. The Fiber Coupler is designed to feed the light
from a science and a reference object into single-mode fibers. The Fiber Coupler consists of four independent units. The
units de-rotate the FoV. A motorized half-wave plate allows rotating the liner polarization axis. Each unit provides
actuators for fast piston actuation, tip-tilt correction and pupil stabilization for one of the beams from four VLT
telescopes. The actuators are operated in closed-loop. Together with a dedicated Laser Guiding System, this allows to
stabilize the beams and maximize the coherently coupled light. The fast piston actuator provides the crucial fringe
tracking capability at a bandwidth of >220Hz. A special roof prism design allows to either split the FoV or to serve as a
50/50 beam splitter without changing the optical path. This offers the possibility of on-axis as well as off-axis fringe
tracking. The optical train consists solely of mirrors, which ensures an achromatic behavior and maximum throughput.
The sophisticated optical design compensates for aberrations which are introduced by off-axis parabolic mirrors. This
allows to achieve Strehl ratios of >95% across the FoV.
The dynamics of stars and gas undoubtedly shows the existence of a 4 million solar mass black hole at the
center of the Milky Way: Sagittarius A* (SgrA*). Violent flare emission allows us to probe the immediate
environment of the central mass. Near-infrared polarimetry now shows signatures of strong gravity that are
statistically significant against randomly polarized red noise. Using these signatures we can derive spin and
inclination information of SgrA*. A combined synchrotron self Compton (SSC) and adiabatic expansion model
with source components peaking in the sub-mm domain can fully account for the observed flare flux densities
and the time delays towards the (sub-)mm flares that have been reported in some cases. We discuss the expected
centroid paths of the NIR images and summarize how the geometrical structure of the emitting region (i.e.
spot shape, presence of a torus or spiral-arm pattern etc.) affects this centroid tracks. While most of the
mentioned geometries are able to fit the observed fluxes, future NIR interferometry with GRAVITY at the
VLT will break some of the degeneracies between different emission models. In this contribution we summarize
several GRAVITY science cases for SgrA*. Our simulations propose that focusing GRAVITY observations on
the polarimetry mode could reveal a clear centroid track of the spot(s). A non-detection of centroid shifts cannot
rule out the multi-component model or spiral arms scenarios. However, a clear wander between alternating
centroid positions during the flares will prove the idea of bright long-lived spots occasionally orbiting the central
Operating on 6 interferometric baselines, i.e. using all 4 unit telescopes (UTs) of the Very Large Telescope
Interferometer (VLTI) simultaneously, the 2<sup>nd</sup> generation VLTI instrument GRAVITY will deliver narrow-angle
astrometry with 10<i>μa</i>s accuracy at the infrared K-band. At this angular resolution, GRAVITY will be able to
detect the positional shift of the photo-center of a flare at the Galactic Center within its orbital timescale of
about 20 minutes, using the observed motion of the flares as dynamical probes of the gravitational field around
the supermassive black hole Sgr A*.
Within the international GRAVITY consortium, the 1. Physikalische Institut of the University of Cologne is
responsible for the development and construction of the two spectrometers of the camera system: one for the
science object, and one for the fringe tracking object. In this paper we present the phase-B optical design of the
two spectrometers as it got derived from the scientific and technical requirements and as it passed the preliminary
design review (PDR) at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) successfully in late 2009.
Interferometric measurements of optical path length differences of stars over large baselines can deliver extremely
accurate astrometric data. The interferometer GRAVITY will simultaneously measure two objects in the field
of view of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and
determine their angular separation to a precision of 10 μas in only 5 minutes. To perform the astrometric
measurement with such a high accuracy, the differential path length through the VLTI and the instrument has
to be measured (and tracked since Earth's rotation will permanently change it) by a laser metrology to an even
higher level of accuracy (corresponding to 1 nm in 3 minutes). Usually, heterodyne differential path techniques
are used for nanometer precision measurements, but with these methods it is difficult to track the full beam size
and to follow the light path up to the primary mirror of the telescope. Here, we present the preliminary design of a differential path metrology system, developed within the GRAVITY project. It measures the instrumental differential path over the full pupil size and up to the entrance pupil location. The differential phase is measured by detecting the laser fringe pattern both on the telescopes' secondary mirrors as well as after reflection at the primary mirror. Based on our proposed design we evaluate the phase measurement accuracy based on a full budget of possible statistical and systematic errors. We show that this metrology design fulfills the high precision requirement of GRAVITY.
A two stage blocking system is implemented in the GRAVITY science and the fringe tracking spectrometer optical
design. The blocking system consists of a dichroic mirror and a long wave band-pass filter with the top level
requirements of high transmission of the science light in the K-Band (1.95 - 2.5 μm) region and high blocking power
optical density (OD) ≥ 8 for the metrology laser wavelength at 1.908 μm. The laser metrology blocking filters have been
identified as one critical optical component in the GRAVITY science and fringe tracker spectrometer design.
During the Phase-B study of GRAVITY we procured 3 blocking filter test samples for demonstration and qualification
tests. We present the measurements results of an effective blocking of the metrology laser wavelength with a long wave
band-pass filter at OD=12.
GRAVITY is a 2nd generation VLTI Instrument which operates on 6 interferometric baselines by using all 4
UTs. It will offer narrow angle astrometry in the infrared K-band with an accuracy of 10 ìas.
The University of Cologne is part of the international GRAVITY consortium and responsible for the design
and manufacturing of the two spectrometers. One is optimized for observing the science object, providing three
different spectral resolutions and optional polarimetry, the other is optimized for a fast fringe tracking at a spectral
resolution of R=22 with optional polarimetry. In order to achieve the necessary image quality, the current
mechanical design foresees 5 motorized functions, 2 linear motions and 3 filter wheels. Additionally the latest
optical design proposal includes 20 degrees of freedom for manual adjustments distributed over the different
Both spectrometers require precise linear and rotational movements on micrometer or arcsecond scales. These
movements will be realized using custom linear stages based on compliant joints. These stages will be driven
by actuators based on a Phytron/Harmonic Drive combination. For dimensioning and in order to qualify the
reliability of these mechanisms, it is necessary to evaluate the mechanisms on the base of several prototypes. Due
to the cryogenic environment the wheel mechanisms will be driven by Phytron stepper motors, too. A ratchet
mechanism, which is currently in the beginning of his design phase, will deliver the required precision to the
This contribution will give a first impression how the next mechanical prototypes will look like. Besides, advantages
of purchasing and integrating a distance sensor and a resolver are reported. Both are supposed to work
under cryogenic conditions and should achieve high resolutions for the measuring of movements inside the test
The first purpose of ESPRESSO is to develop a competitive, innovative high-resolution spectrograph to fully exploit the
potentiality of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory and to allow new science. It is
thus important to develop the VLT array concept bearing in mind the need to obtain the highest stability, while
preserving an excellent efficiency. This high-resolution ultra-stable spectrograph will be installed at the VLT Combined
Coudé Laboratory. A Coudé Train carries the light from the Nasmyth platforms to the Combined Coudé Laboratory,
where it feeds the spectrograph. Several concepts can be envisaged for the Coudé Train depending on the use of mirrors,
prisms and lenses or fibers or any of the possible combinations of these elements. Three concepts were selected for
analysis, one based on purely optical components and two other using fibers (with different lengths). These concepts
have different characteristics in terms of efficiency, stability, complexity, and cost. The selection of the baseline concept
took into account all these issues. In this paper, we present for each concept the optical setups, their opto-mechanical
implementation and analyze the expected throughput efficiency budget, and we also detail the current baseline concept.
ESPRESSO, the Echelle SPectrograph for Rocky Exoplanets and Stable Spectroscopic Observations, will combine the
efficiency of modern echelle spectrograph design with extreme radial-velocity precision. It will be installed on ESO's
VLT in order to achieve a gain of two magnitudes with respect to its predecessor HARPS, and the instrumental radialvelocity
precision will be improved to reach cm/s level. Thanks to its characteristics and the ability of combining
incoherently the light of 4 large telescopes, ESPRESSO will offer new possibilities in various fields of astronomy. The
main scientific objectives will be the search and characterization of rocky exoplanets in the habitable zone of quiet, nearby
G to M-dwarfs, and the analysis of the variability of fundamental physical constants. We will present the ambitious
scientific objectives, the capabilities of ESPRESSO, and the technical solutions of this challenging project.
The VLTI Spectro Imager (VSI) was proposed as a second-generation instrument of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer
providing the ESO community with spectrally-resolved, near-infrared images at angular resolutions
down to 1.1 milliarcsecond and spectral resolutions up to R = 12000. Targets as faint as K = 13 will be imaged
without requiring a brighter nearby reference object; fainter targets can be accessed if a suitable reference is
available. The unique combination of high-dynamic-range imaging at high angular resolution and high spectral
resolution enables a scientific program which serves a broad user community and at the same time provides the
opportunity for breakthroughs in many areas of astrophysics. The high level specifications of the instrument are
derived from a detailed science case based on the capability to obtain, for the first time, milliarcsecond-resolution
images of a wide range of targets including: probing the initial conditions for planet formation in the AU-scale
environments of young stars; imaging convective cells and other phenomena on the surfaces of stars; mapping
the chemical and physical environments of evolved stars, stellar remnants, and stellar winds; and disentangling the central regions of active galactic nuclei and supermassive black holes. VSI will provide these new capabilities
using technologies which have been extensively tested in the past and VSI requires little in terms of new
infrastructure on the VLTI. At the same time, VSI will be able to make maximum use of new infrastructure as it
becomes available; for example, by combining 4, 6 and eventually 8 telescopes, enabling rapid imaging through
the measurement of up to 28 visibilities in every wavelength channel within a few minutes. The current studies
are focused on a 4-telescope version with an upgrade to a 6-telescope one. The instrument contains its own
fringe tracker and tip-tilt control in order to reduce the constraints on the VLTI infrastructure and maximize
the scientific return.
The VLTI Spectro Imager project aims to perform imaging with a temporal resolution of 1 night and with a maximum
angular resolution of 1 milliarcsecond, making best use of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer capabilities. To
fulfill the scientific goals (see Garcia et. al.), the system requirements are: a) combining 4 to 6 beams; b) working in
spectral bands J, H and K; c) spectral resolution from R= 100 to 12000; and d) internal fringe tracking on-axis, or off-axis
when associated to the PRIMA dual-beam facility.
The concept of VSI consists on 6 sub-systems: a common path distributing the light between the fringe tracker and the
scientific instrument, the fringe tracker ensuring the co-phasing of the array, the scientific instrument delivering the
interferometric observables and a calibration tool providing sources for internal alignment and interferometric
calibrations. The two remaining sub-systems are the control system and the observation support software dedicated to the
reduction of the interferometric data.
This paper presents the global concept of VSI science path including the common path, the scientific instrument and the
calibration tool. The scientific combination using a set of integrated optics multi-way beam combiners to provide high-stability
visibility and closure phase measurements are also described. Finally we will address the performance budget of
the global VSI instrument. The fringe tracker and scientific spectrograph will be shortly described.
The Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics Demonstrator (MAD) built by ESO with the contribution of two external consortia
is a powerful test bench for proving the feasibility of Multi-Conjugate (MCAO) and Ground Layer Adaptive Optics
(GLAO) techniques both in the laboratory and on the sky. MAD is based on a two deformable mirrors correction system
and on two multi-reference wavefront sensors (Star Oriented and Layer Oriented) capable to observe simultaneously
some pre-selected configurations of Natural Guide Stars. MAD corrects up to 2 arcmin field of view in K band. After a
long laboratory test phase, it has been installed at the VLT and it successfully performed on-sky demonstration runs on
several astronomical targets for evaluating the correction performance under different atmospheric turbulence conditions.
In this paper we present the results obtained on the sky in Star Oriented mode for MCAO and GLAO configurations and
we correlate them with different atmospheric turbulence parameters. Finally we compare some of the on-sky results with
numerical simulations including real turbulence profile measured at the moment of the observations.
The Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics Demonstrator (MAD) built by ESO with the contribution of two external consortia is a powerful test bench for proving the feasibility of Ground Layer (GLAO) and Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics (MCAO) techniques both in the laboratory and on the sky. The MAD module will be installed at one of the VLT unit telescope in Paranal observatory to perform on-sky observations. MAD is based on a two deformable mirrors correction system and on two multi-reference wavefront sensors (Star Oriented and Layer Oriented) capable to observe simultaneously some pre-selected configurations of Natural Guide Stars. MAD is expected to correct up to 2 arcmin field of view in K band. MAD is completing the test phase in the Star Oriented mode based on Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensing. The GLAO and MCAO loops have been successfully closed on simulated atmosphere after a long phase of careful system characterization and calibration. In this paper we present the results obtained in laboratory for GLAO and MCAO corrections testing with bright guide star flux in Star Oriented mode paying also attention to the aspects involving the calibration of such a system. A short overview of the MAD system is also given.
This paper presents the integration and first results for the CAMCAO NIR camera. The camera was built
for the ESO Multi-conjugate Adaptive optics Demonstrator, where it is presently operating, to evaluate the
feasibility of this Adaptive Optics technique. On a second phase it will work directly at the Nasmyth focus of the
VLT. CAMCAO is a high resolution, wide field of view NIR camera, that is using the 2k×2k HgCdTe HAWAII-
2 infrared detector from Rockwell Scientific, controlled by the ESO IRACE system. The camera operates in
the near infrared region between 1.0 μm and 2.5 μm wavelength using an eight position filter wheel with J, H,
K', K-continuum and Brγ filters. Both the integration experience and the results obtained in the mechanical,
vacuum, cryogenics and optical tests are presented, including all relevant parameters in the ESO specifications.
The requirement of mechanical stiffness together with light weight was achieved yielding a total weight of less
than 90 Kg. The camera fulfills both cryogenic and vacuum stability requirements. The temperature within
the detector is maintained at 80K by an accurate control loop, ensuring mK stability, after cooling down the
detector at a rate kept below 0.5 K/min. The optical performance tests were made using a Fizeau interferometer
both for the individual optical components and complete setup. The infrared optical validation measurements
were performed by re-imaging a point source in the camera focal plane and measuring the PSF with the detector.
The computed Strehl ratio reached 95% in the central region of the FoV, with values larger than 90% in a area
covering 88% of the focal plane.
The CAMCAO instrument is a high resolution near infrared (NIR) camera conceived to operate together with the new ESO Multi-conjugate Adaptive optics Demonstrator (MAD) with the goal of evaluating the feasibility of Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics techniques (MCAO) on the sky. It is a high-resolution wide field of view (FoV) camera that is optimized to use the extended correction of the atmospheric turbulence provided by MCAO. While the first purpose of this camera is the sky observation, in the MAD setup, to validate the MCAO technology, in a second phase, the CAMCAO camera is planned to attach directly to the VLT for scientific astrophysical studies. The camera is based on the 2kx2k HAWAII2 infrared detector controlled by an ESO external IRACE system and includes standard IR band filters mounted on a positional filter wheel. The CAMCAO design requires that the optical components and the IR detector should be kept at low temperatures in order to avoid emitting radiation and lower detector noise in the region analysis. The cryogenic system inclues a LN2 tank and a sptially developed pulse tube cryocooler. Field and pupil cold stops are implemented to reduce the infrared background and the stray-light. The CAMCAO optics provide diffraction limited performance down to J Band, but the detector sampling fulfills the Nyquist criterion for the K band (2.2mm).
Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics (MCAO) is working on the principle to perform wide field of view atmospheric turbulence correction using many Guide Stars located in and/or surrounding the observed target. The vertical distribution of the atmospheric turbulence is reconstructed by observing several guide stars and the correction is applied by some deformable mirrors optically conjugated at different altitudes above the telescope.
The European Southern Observatory together with external research institutions is going to build a Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics Demonstrator (MAD) to perform wide field of view adaptive optics correction. The aim of MAD is to demonstrate on the sky the feasibility of the MCAO technique and to evaluate all the critical aspects in building such kind of instrument in the framework of both the 2nd generation VLT instrumentation and the 100-m telescope OWL.
In this paper we present the conceptual design of the MAD module that will be installed at one of the VLT unit telescope in Paranal to perform on-sky observations. MAD is based on a two deformable mirrors correction system and on two multi-reference wavefront sensors capable to observe simultaneously some pre-selected configurations of Natural Guide Stars. MAD is expected to correct up to 2 arcmin field of view in K band.