We present the recent developments preparing the construction of a new visible 6T beam combiner for the CHARA Array, called SPICA. This instrument is designed to achieve a large survey of stellar parameters and to image surface of stars. We first detail the science justification and the general idea governing the establishment of the sample of stars and the main guidance for the optimization of the observations. After a description of the concept of the instrument, we focus our attention on the first important aspect: optimizing and stabilizing the injection of light into single mode fibers in the visible under partial adaptive optics correction. Then we present the main requirements and the preliminary design of a 6T-ABCD integrated optics phase sensor in the H-band to achieve long exposures and reach fainter magnitudes in the visible.
MATISSE (Multi AperTure mid-Infrared SpectroScopic Experiment) is the spectro-interferometer for the VLTI of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), operating in the L-, M- and N- spectral bands, and combining up to four beams from the unit or the auxiliary telescopes (UTs or ATs). MATISSE will offer new breakthroughs in the study of circumstellar environments by allowing the mapping of the material distribution, the gas and essentially the dust. The instrument consists in a warm optical system (WOP) accepting four beams from the VLTI and relaying them after a spectral splitting to cold optical benches (COB) located in two separate cryostats, one in L-M- band, and one in N-band. The test plan of the complete instrument has been conducted at the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur in order to confirm the compliance of the performance with the high-level requirements. MATISSE has successfully passed the Preliminary Acceptance in Europe the 12th September 2017. Following this result, ESO gave approval for the instrument to be shipped to Paranal. The Alignment, Integration and Verification phase was conducted until end of February 2018, at the end of which first observations on sky have been performed to test the operations with the VLTI and to obtain first stellar light. The two first runs of the commissioning followed, respectively in March and in May 2018. It has the goal to optimize the MATISSE-VLTI communication, the acquisition procedures and the interface parameters. The observations were performed on bright L-M- and N- stars, with four ATs located on short baselines and UTs. The limit magnitudes will be deduced.
This paper reports on the performance of the instrument measured in laboratory (results of test plan in Nice and AIV in Paranal) in terms of spectral coverage, dispersion laws and spectral resolutions, and transfer function analysis: instrumental contrast, visibility accuracy, accuracy of the differential phase, of the closure-phase and of the differential visibility. It also provides results of the first tests on sky and the planning of the on-going commissioning.
In the coming year, the CHARA 1-meter telescopes will be equipped with Adaptive Optics (AO) systems. This improvement opens the possibility to apply, in the visible domain, the principle of spatial filtering with single mode fibers well demonstrated in the near-infrared. It will clearly open new astrophysical fields by taking benefit of an improved sensitivity and state-of-the-art precision and accuracy on interferometric observables. A demonstrator called FRIEND (Fibered and spectrally Resolved Interferometric Experiment - New Design) has been developed. FRIEND combines the beams coming from 3 telescopes after injection in single mode optical fibers and provides photometric channels as well as some spectral capabilities for characterization purposes. It operates around the R spectral band (from 600nm to 750nm) and uses the fast and sensitive analog detector OCAM2. On sky tests at the focus of the CHARA interferometer have been performed during the last year to get the optimal DIT or an estimation of the stability of the instrumental visibility. Complementary lab tests have permitted to characterize the birefringence of the fibers, and the characteristics of the detector. In this paper, we present the results of these tests.
MATISSE (Multi AperTure mid-Infrared SpectroScopic Experiment) is the spectro-interferometer for the VLTI of the European Southern Observatory, operating in near and mid-infrared, and combining up to four beams from the unit or the auxiliary telescopes. MATISSE will offer new breakthroughs in the study of circumstellar environments by allowing the multispectral mapping of the material distribution, the gas and essentially the dust.
The instrument consists in a warm optical system (WOP) accepting four optical beams and relaying them after a dichroic splitting (for the L and M- and N- spectral bands) to cold optical benches (COB) located in two separate cryostats. The Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur is in charge of the WOP providing the spectral band separation, optical path equalization and modulation, pupil positioning, beam anamorphosis, beam commutation, and calibration. NOVA-ASTRON is in charge of the COB providing the functions of beam selection, reduction of thermal background emission, spatial filtering, pupil transfer, photometry and interferometry splitting, additional beam anamorphosis, spectral filtering, polarization selection, image dispersion, and image combination. The Max Planck Institut für Radio Astronomie is in charge of the operation and performance validation of the two detectors, a HAWAII-2RG from Teledyne for the L- and M- bands and a Raytheon AQUARIUS for the N-band. Both detectors are provided by ESO. The Max Planck Institut für Astronomie is in charge of the electronics and the cryostats for which the requirements on space limitations and vibration stability resulted on very specific and stringent decisions on the design.
The integration and test of the COB: the two cryogenic systems, including the cold benches and the detectors, have been conducted at MPIA in parallel with the integration of the WOP at OCA. At the end of 2014, the complete instrument was integrated at OCA. Following this integration, a period of interface and alignment between the COB and the WOP took place resulting in the first interference fringes in the L-band during summer 2015 and the first interference fringes in the N-ban in March 2016.
After a period of optimization of both the instrument reliability and the environmental working conditions, the test plan is presently being conducted in order to evaluate the complete performance of the instrument and its compliance with the high-level requirements. The present paper gives the first results of the alignment, integration and test phase of the MATISSE instrument.
MATISSE is the second-generation mid-infrared spectrograph and imager for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) at Paranal. This new interferometric instrument will allow significant advances by opening new avenues in various fundamental research fields: studying the planet-forming region of disks around young stellar objects, understanding the surface structures and mass loss phenomena affecting evolved stars, and probing the environments of black holes in active galactic nuclei. As a first breakthrough, MATISSE will enlarge the spectral domain of current optical interferometers by offering the L and M bands in addition to the N band. This will open a wide wavelength domain, ranging from 2.8 to 13 μm, exploring angular scales as small as 3 mas (L band) / 10 mas (N band). As a second breakthrough, MATISSE will allow mid-infrared imaging - closure-phase aperture-synthesis imaging - with up to four Unit Telescopes (UT) or Auxiliary Telescopes (AT) of the VLTI. Moreover, MATISSE will offer a spectral resolution range from R ∼ 30 to R ∼ 5000. Here, we present one of the main science objectives, the study of protoplanetary disks, that has driven the instrument design and motivated several VLTI upgrades (GRA4MAT and NAOMI). We introduce the physical concept of MATISSE including a description of the signal on the detectors and an evaluation of the expected performances. We also discuss the current status of the MATISSE instrument, which is entering its testing phase, and the foreseen schedule for the next two years that will lead to the first light at Paranal.
MATISSE is the mid-infrared spectrograph and imager for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) at Paranal. This second generation interferometry instrument will open new avenues in the exploration of our Universe. Mid-infrared interferometry with MATISSE will allow significant advances in various fundamental research fields: studies of disks around young stellar objects where planets form and evolve, surface structures and mass loss of stars in late evolutionary stages, and the environments of black holes in active galactic nuclei. MATISSE is a unique instrument. As a first breakthrough it will enlarge the spectral domain used by optical interferometry by offering the L & M bands in addition to the N band, opening a wide wavelength domain, ranging from 2.8 to 13 μm on angular scales of 3 mas (L/M band) / 10 mas (N band). As a second breakthrough, it will allow mid-infrared imaging – closure-phase aperture-synthesis imaging – with up to four Unit Telescopes (UT) or Auxiliary Telescopes (AT) of the VLTI. MATISSE will offer various ranges of spectral resolution between R~30 to ~5000. In this article, we present some of the main science objectives that have driven the instrument design. We introduce the physical concept of MATISSE including a description of the signal on the detectors and an evaluation of the expected performance and discuss the project status. The operations concept will be detailed in a more specific future article, illustrating the observing templates operating the instrument, the data reduction and analysis, and the image reconstruction software.
MATISSE (Multi AperTure mid-Infrared SpectroScopic Experiment) is the spectro-interferometer of the European Southern Observatory VLT operating in the spectral bands L, M and N, and, combining four beams from the unit or auxiliary telescopes. The concept constitutes an evolution of the two-beam interferometric instrument MIDI operating on the VLTI. It will give access to the mapping and the distribution of the material, the gas and essentially the dust, in the circumstellar environments and will provide aperture synthesis images in the mid-infrared spectral regime. The Warm OPtics (WOP) of the instrument provides the functions of spectral band separation, optical path equalization and modulation, pupil positioning, beam anamorphosis, beam positioning, and beam commutation. It also allows the alignment function of the beams with the Cold Optics contained in two separate cryostats. This sub-system is presently aligned and tested at the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur in Nice, France, to validate accuracy and stability. The present paper gives the results of the Warm OPtics laboratory tests.
In the next 2 or 3 years, the two major interferometric arrays, VLTI and CHARA, will equip their telescopes of 1.8m and 1m respectively with Adaptive Optics (AO hereafter) systems. This improvement will permit to apply with a reasonable e_ciency in the visible domain, the principle of spatial filtering with single mode fibers demonstrated in the near-infrared. It will clearly open new astrophysical fields by taking benefit of an improved sensitivity and state-of-the-art precision and accuracy on interferometric observables. To prepare this future possibility, we started the development of a demonstrator called FRIEND (Fibered and spectrally Resolved Interferometric Experiment - New Design). FRIEND combines the beams coming from 3 telescopes after injection in single mode optical fibers and provides some spectral capabilities for characterization purposes as well as photometric channels. It operates in the R spectral band (from 600nm to 750nm) and uses the world's fastest and more sensitive analogic detector OCAM2. Tests on sky at the focus of the CHARA interferometer are scheduled for December 2014. In this paper, we present the first interferometric tests of the OCAM2 detector performed on CHARA in November 2012 and the concept, the expected performance and the opto-mechanical design of FRIEND.
MATISSE is a mid-infrared spectro-interferometer combining the beams of up to four Unit Telescopes or Auxiliary
Telescopes of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) of the European Southern Observatory.
MATISSE will constitute an evolution of the two-beam interferometric instrument MIDI. New characteristics present in
MATISSE will give access to the mapping and the distribution of the material, the gas and essentially the dust, in the
circumstellar environments by using the mid-infrared band coverage extended to L, M and N spectral bands. The four
beam combination of MATISSE provides an efficient uv-coverage: 6 visibility points are measured in one set and 4
closure phase relations which can provide aperture synthesis images in the mid-infrared spectral regime.
We give an overview of the instrument including the expected performances and a view of the Science Case. We present
how the instrument would be operated. The project involves the collaborations of several agencies and institutes: the
Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur of Nice and the INSU-CNRS in Paris, the Max Planck Institut für Astronomie of
Heidelberg; the University of Leiden and the NOVA-ASTRON Institute of Dwingeloo, the Max Planck Institut für
Radioastronomie of Bonn, the Institut für Theoretische Physik und Astrophysik of Kiel, the Vienna University and the
We have built at the Haute-Provence observatory (France) the rst diluted telescope in the world. We describe
this prototype called Carlina, made of three 25 cm mirrors separated by a maximum baseline of 10.5 m. The
three mirrors in place are already coherenced and rst light is scheduled for June-July 2012. In this article, we
will mainly describe the focal gondola. We propose to build in the near future a 100 m aperture Large Diluted
Telescope. This diluted telescope will be more sensitive than regular interferometers (Keck, VLTI, etc.), with
higher imaging capabilities. A LDT will open new elds of research in astrophysics thanks to very high angular
resolution imaging of the surface of supergiant stars, AGN, gravitational micro-lens systems, exo-planets, etc.
In this paper, we review the current performance of the VEGA/CHARA visible spectrograph and make a review of
the most recent astrophysical results. The science programs take benefit of the exceptional angular resolution, the
unique spectral resolution and one of the main features of CHARA: Infrared and Visible parallel operation. We
also discuss recent developments concerning the tools for the preparation of observations and important features
of the data reduction software. A short discussion of the future developments will complete the presentation,
directed towards new detectors and possible new beam combination scheme for improved sensitivity and imaging
This paper reviews the recent laboratory results we have obtained on the demonstration of a cophasing algorithm
based on the chromatic phase diversity method. The SIRIUS testbed was initially dedicated to the demonstration
of the direct imaging capabilities of arrays of telescope. We have developed and numerically modeled a piston
sensor based on the chromatic dependance of the spectral density phase. This method allows a global cophasing
of the array over a capture range of many wavelengths aiming at improving the robustness of the method.
We present a review of our activities on PERSEE (Pégase Experiment for Research and Stabilization of Extreme Extinction) at Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur (OCA). PERSEE is a laboratory testbench aiming at achieving a stabilized
nulling ratio better than 10-4 in the astronomical bands K and M, in presence of flight-representative spacecraft
perturbations. The bench has been jointly developed by a Consortium of six French institutes and companies, among
which OCA was responsible for the star simulator and of the opto-mechanical studies, procurement and manufacturing
of the optical train. In this communication are presented the alignment and image quality requirements and the optomechanical
design of the illumination module and main optical train, including a periscope Achromatic Phase Shifter
(APS), tip-tilt mirrors used to introduce and then compensate for dynamic disturbances, delay lines, beam compressors
and fiber injection optics. Preliminary test results of the star simulator are also provided.
As for large interferometers, the crucial point to solve is the cophasing issue. Indeed, the cophasing device must
be both efficient and independent of the number of telescopes allowing a large capture range and accurate piston
measurements while being easy to implement. We developed such a cophasing method named the Chromatic
Phase Diversity (CPD) method. Actually, using three spectral channels, the CPD method can determine the
piston errors without ambiguity and on a range much larger than ± half a wave. This method makes it possible
to work whether in coherencing mode or in cophasing mode. We designed and implemented this method on
the SIRIUS test bench1 at the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur, France. We present the instrument design, the
results obtained with the CPD method. The performances such as the achieved capture range, the accuracy of
the piston values extraction and the attainable magnitude are described and analyzed.
This paper presents the current status of the VEGA (Visible spEctroGraph and polArimeter) instrument installed
at the coherent focus of the CHARA Array, Mount Wilson CA. Installed in september 2007, the first science
programs have started during summer 2008 and first science results are now published. Dedicated to high angular (0.3mas) and high spectral (R=30000) astrophysical studies, VEGA main objectives are the study of circumstellar environments of hot active stars or interactive binary systems and a large palette of new programs dedicated to fundamental stellar parameters. We will present successively the main characteristics of the instrument and its current performances in the CHARA environment, a short summary of two science programs and finally we will develop some studies showing the potential and difficulties of the 3 telescopes mode of VEGA/CHARA.
The VEGA spectrograph and polarimeter has been recently integrated on the visible beams of the CHARA
Array. With a spectral resolution up to 35000 and thanks to operation at visible wavelengths, VEGA brings
unique capabilities in terms of spatial and spectral resolution to the CHARA Array. We will present the main
characteristics of VEGA on CHARA, some results concerning the performance and a preliminary analysis of the
first science run.
MATISSE is foreseen as a mid-infrared spectro-interferometer combining the beams of up to four UTs/ATs of the Very
Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) of the European Southern Observatory. The related science case study
demonstrates the enormous capability of a new generation mid-infrared beam combiner.
MATISSE will constitute an evolution of the two-beam interferometric instrument MIDI. MIDI is a very successful
instrument which offers a perfect combination of spectral and angular resolution. New characteristics present in
MATISSE will give access to the mapping and the distribution of the material (typically dust) in the circumstellar
environments by using a wide mid-infrared band coverage extended to L, M and N spectral bands. The four beam
combination of MATISSE provides an efficient UV-coverage : 6 visibility points are measured in one set and 4 closure
phase relations which can provide aperture synthesis images in the mid-infrared spectral regime.
VEGA (Visible spEctroGraph and polArimeter) is one of the focal instruments of the CHARA array at Mount Wilson
near Los Angeles. Its control system is based on techniques developed on the GI2T interferometer (Grand Interferometre
a 2 Telescopes) and on the SIRIUS fibered hyper telescope testbed at OCA (Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur). This article
describes the software and electronics architecture of the instrument. It is based on local network architecture and uses
also Virtual Private Network connections. The server part is based on Windows XP (VC++). The control software is on
Linux (C, GTK). For the control of the science detector and the fringe tracking systems, distributed API use real-time
techniques. The control software gathers all the necessary informations of the instrument. It allows an automatic
management of the instrument by using an original task scheduler. This architecture intends to drive the instrument from
remote sites, such as our institute in South of France.
We describe a project for the installation of a visible focal instrument at the CHARA Array, named VEGA for Visible spEctroGraph and polArimeter. This new instrument will further open the visible domain and offer both spectral and polarimetric capabilities at the CHARA Array. It will create a new and unique scientific niche for the CHARA Array, especially in the context of international competition. The combination of the visible domain and high spectral resolution mode combined with a good sensitivity will allow VEGA/CHARA to carve out a new piece of observational phase space and compliment many existing or planned near-infrared interferometers. VEGA will help make CHARA the interferometer with the largest spectral and spatial resolution worldwide.
We present a test bench designed to study the performances of interferometric recombination systems, mainly for direct imaging applications (hypertelescope principle). It aims at comparing the aperture synthesis, Fizeau and densified pupils beam combination schemes. It allows identification of the technical requirements like photometry and cophasing correction of the future imaging recombiners for large arrays. A densified assembly has been designed in the visible wavelengths, using a multi-apertures mask associated with a wavefront sensor. It allows pupil rearrangement and spatial filtering by using single mode fibers. The technical specifications and the conception of the fiber densifier are described here, with a particular attention to the correction of the differential chromatic dispersion.
Our objective is the development of mid-infrared imaging at the VLTI. The related science case study demonstrates the enormous capability of a new generation mid-infrared beam combiner. MATISSE will constitute an evolution of the two-beam interferometric instrument MIDI by increasing the number of recombined beams up to four. MIDI is a very successful instrument which offers a perfect combination of spectral and angular resolution. New characteristics present in MATISSE will give access to the mapping and the distribution of the material (typically dust) in the circumstellar environments by using a wide mid-infrared band coverage extended to L, M, N and Q spectral bands. The four beam combination of MATISSE provides an efficient UV-coverage: 6 visibility points are measured in one set and 4 closure phase relations which can provide for the first time aperture synthesis images in the mid-infrared spectral regime. The mid-infrared spectral domain is very relevant for the study of the environment of various astrophysical sources. Our science case studies show the wide field of applications of MATISSE. They will be illustrated in the first part of this presentation through the perspective of imaging the circumstellar environments/discs of young stellar objects. The MATISSE characteristics will be given in a second part of the presentation.
We give an overview of recent results obtained with the GI2T interferometer. On the technical side, great improvements have been obtained on photon counting detectors, especially in terms of quantum efficiency and of photon centroiding algorithms. Piston measurements with the GI2T dispersed fringes have been made during
coordinate observations with the Generalized Seeing Monitor GSM. These observations have lead to wavefront outer scale determinations. The last topic we will present concerns the polarimetric measurements done with the SPIN device on the GI2T spectrograph. We conclude this paper by a summary of the results obtained with the GI2T during its scientific life.
In stellar interferometry, the raw fringe visibilities must be calibrated to obtain the intrinsic object visibilities and then object parameters which can be interpreted in term of astrophysical parameters. The selection of suitable calibration stars is crucial to reach the ultimate precision of the interferometric instruments like VLTI. So, we have developed a user-dedicated software to create an evolutive catalog of such calibration stars. This gives useful information for the selection of calibrators with respect to the requirements of the astrophysical program and of the instrumental configuration. A list of potential calibrators is obtained from a set of catalogs available at the Centre de Donnees Astronomiques de Strasbourg (CDS). The CDS request is based on some selection criteria like the maximum angular distance and the range of magnitude around the scientific target. This calibrator selection tool is integrated into ASPRO the interferometric observing preparation software developed by the Jean-Marie Marriotti Center (JMMC), and which is accessible at http://mariotti.ujf-grenoble.fr/~aspro/
We describe a test bench designed to study the performances of interferometric imaging systems. The main goal is to study the densified pupil concept in the framework of the VLTI. This work is linked to the proposition of a second generation instrument called VIDA (VLTI Imaging with a Densified Array). This bench aims at comparing the imaging performances of the aperture synthesis, Fizeau and densified pupils beam combination schemes and at specifying the technical requirements like cophasing and tip-tilt correction. A Fizeau assembly, using a multi-apertures mask and associated with a wavefront sensor, has been designed. It allows to measure the differential piston between sub-apertures and to link them to the characteristics of the image recovered. A densified assembly is under study by using reflective surfaces or optical fibers to carry the beams and to densify the pupils before the combination.
AMBER (Astronomical Multiple BEam Recombiner) is a 3 aperture
interferometric recombiner operating between 1 and 2.5 um, for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). The control software of the instrument, based on the VLT Common Software, has been written to comply with specific features of the AMBER hardware, such as the Infrared detector read out modes or piezo stage drivers, as well as with the very specific operation modes of an interferomtric instrument.
In this respect, the AMBER control software was designed to insure that all operations, from the preparation of the observations to the control/command of the instrument during the observations, would be kept as simple as possible for the users and operators, opening the use of an interferometric instrument to the largest community of astronomers. Peculiar attention was given to internal checks and calibration procedures both to evaluate data quality in real time,
and improve the successes of long term UV plane coverage observations.
We present the general architecture of the GI2T/REGAIN control system. Based on a Graphical User Interface and different client-server communications, the system has to control both telescopes, the delay line, the beam-combiner, the data acquisition system and the real-time processing used as fringe tracker. We also describe in details the implementation of a real-time fringe tracker based on 4 monochromatic images and which used the fractional excess algorithm. Numerical simulations are shown. The control system is also dedicated to the acquisition of all the relevant data for the visibility calibration. We will also describe in details the data reduction package that provides the corrected visibilities. This architecture is very general and robust and has been developed having in mind that GI2T/REGAIN should be used by a wide community of astronomers.
This paper presents the optical layout of the REGAIN beam combiner including the optical delay line LAROCA with its variable curvature mirror, the field rotator devices, the image and pupil tracking systems and the dedicated visible spectrography. Preliminary studies of foreseen improvements, such as adaptive optics, IR spectrograph and addition of a third telescope, will be discussed.