The Southern Connecticut Stellar Interferometer (SCSI) is a two-telescope astronomical intensity interferometer that was completed in June 2016 and has been taking photon correlation data since that time. It uses single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) detectors at the telescope focal plane and a central timing module, which records the signals from both telescopes simultaneously. In the observations taken to date, single-pixel SPADs have been connected to signal cables that stretch from each telescope to the timing module. However, we are now in the process of making the instrument “wireless” by using a separate timing module at each telescope and synchronizing the signals recorded using GPS timing cards. We have also upgraded one of the two stations with an 8-pixel SPAD device, which allows us to achieve higher count rates in a variety of observing conditions. In this paper, we report on the current state of the instrument, including engineering tests made in preparation for wireless operation, and we discuss the expected capabilities in that mode.
The Southern Connecticut Stellar Interferometer (SCSI) is a portable optical intensity interferometer located on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Connecticut. Since its completion in 2016, the instrument has been used to take engineering data of bright stars. This paper will discuss the data collection and analysis methods, as well as the progress toward reliably measuring a significant stellar photon correlation. Vega has been the main star chosen for test observations to date because its diameter is well known by other methods, and it is not an extended source for the baselines used. The correlation peak in the processed data is compared to theoretical expectations. Given our expected sensitivity, a significant correlation peak is expected for small baselines (~2 m) to appear after a few hours of observation. So far, the observations indicate that the correlation peak is at the expected time delay, and the signal-to-noise ratio roughly scales as predicted.
The construction of a new prototype visible-light intensity interferometer for use in stellar astronomy is described. The instrument is located in New Haven, Connecticut, at Southern Connecticut State University, but key components of the system are also portable and have been taken to existing research-class telescopes to maximize sensitivity and baseline. The interferometer is currently a two-station instrument, but it is easily expandable to several stations for simultaneous measurement using multiple baselines. The design features single photon avalanche diode (SPAD) arrays, which increase the throughput and signal-to-noise ratio of the instrument. Predicted system performance and preliminary observations will be discussed.