We analyze the principal sources of thermal self-emission (TSE) in the European Southern Telescope (ELT) as they will be seen by the instruments observing in the infrared. Expected TSE levels for different mirror contamination levels and instrument cold stop types are provided.
The Prefocal Station (PFS) is the last opto-mechanical unit before the telescope focal plane in the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) optical train. The PFS distributes the telescope optical beam to the Nasmyth and Coudé instrument focal stations and it contains all of the sky metrology (imaging and wavefront sensing) that will be used by the active optics of the telescope and to support operations such as phasing the primary mirror (phasing and diagnostic station). It also hosts local metrology that will be used for coarse alignment and maintenance. We present the main results of a concept design study for the Nasmyth A prefocal station.
The near-infrared GRAVITY instrument has become a fully operational spectro-imager, while expanding its capability to support astrometry of the key Galactic Centre science. The mid-infrared MATISSE instrument has just arrived on Paranal and is starting its commissioning phase. NAOMI, the new adaptive optics for the Auxiliary Telescopes, is about to leave Europe for an installation in the fall of 2018. Meanwhile, the interferometer infrastructure has continuously improved in performance, in term of transmission and vibrations, when used with both the Unit Telescopes and Auxiliary Telescopes. These are the highlights of the last two years of the VLTI 2nd generation upgrade started in 2015.
The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT)<sup>1</sup> is a 25 m telescope composed of seven 8.4 m “unit telescopes”, on a common mount. Each primary and conjugated secondary mirror segment will feed a common instrument interface, their focal planes co-aligned and co-phased. During telescope operation, the alignment of the optical components will deflect due to variations in thermal environment and gravity induced structural flexure of the mount. The ultimate co-alignment and co-phasing of the telescope is achieved by a combination of the Acquisition Guiding and Wavefront Sensing system and two segment edge-sensing systems<sup>2</sup>. An analysis of the capture range of the wavefront sensing system indicates that it is unlikely that that system will operate efficiently or reliably with initial mirror positions provided by open-loop corrections alone<sup>3</sup>. <p> </p>The project is developing a Telescope Metrology System (TMS) which incorporates a large number of absolute distance measuring interferometers. The system will align optical components of the telescope to the instrument interface to (well) within the capture range of the active optics wavefront sensing systems. The advantages offered by this technological approach to a TMS, over a network of laser trackers, are discussed. Initial investigations of the Etalon Absolute Multiline Technology™ by Etalon Ag<sup>4</sup> show that a metrology network based on this product is capable of meeting requirements. A conceptual design of the system is presented and expected performance is discussed.
ESO is undertaking a large upgrade of the infrastructure on Cerro Paranal in order to integrate the 2nd generation of interferometric instruments Gravity and MATISSE, and increase its performance. This upgrade started mid 2014 with the construction of a service station for the Auxiliary Telescopes and will end with the implementation of the adaptive optics system for the Auxiliary telescope (NAOMI) in 2018. This upgrade has an impact on the infrastructure of the VLTI, as well as its sub-systems and scientific instruments.
For large telescopes, like the Very Large Telescope (VLT) unit telescopes, it is compulsory to use an effective and reliable Active Optics system in order to guarantee the optimal optical performance. The active optics ensures that the actual wavefront aberrations introduced by the telescope itself are kept as low as possible. In order to evaluate the longterm performance of this system, an extended timeseries data analysis for all four unit telescopes (UT) was performed. The results presented in this paper demonstrate that the VLT UT active optics system works very stable and reliable with no significant performance degradation over time.
EELT AIV is the activity of assembly, integration and verification of EELT (European Extremely Large Telescope) subsystems to deliver a telescope capable of fulfilling its top-level requirements and ready to start science commissioning, leading to operations. The AIV (Assembly Integration Verification) phase covers all technical activities on Armazones and nearby Paranal Observatory from the moment the sub-systems and components are delivered or accepted on-site (from the responsible sub-system project manager). AIV includes final system tests of the completed telescope (known as “Technical Commissioning”) and the installation, alignment and telescope integration of the science instruments. The AIV phase ends with the handover of the completed telescope with installed instruments, to the start of Science Commissioning. Responsibility then passes to the Commissioning team, however the technical resources for debugging and tuning the telescope and instrument will come from a combination of the AIV team working together with the Paranal operations staff. AIV is one of the major technical challenge of E-ELT. The sheer scale and complexity of the telescope involves challenging logistics and scheduling i.e. 798 mirror segments with a staged delivery over four years, including 9,048 edge sensor and 2,394 position actuators. More than ten major sub-systems e.g. M2-3-4-5, PreFocal Station (PFS) and instruments will be integrated and tested in parallel. Finally, the technical commissioning phase will be a significant challenge. E-ELT is a highly complex active telescope system with a fully-integrated adaptive optics (AO) system. During early testing nothing will be straightforward and there will be many system-level problems to overcome. It will take a dedicated team of the “best of the best” people to troubleshoot, debug, tune, and hand over as an operational facility.
We present the latest update of the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope interferometer (VLTI). The operations of VLTI have greatly improved in the past years: reduction of the execution time; better offering of telescopes configurations; improvements on AMBER limiting magnitudes; study of polarization effects and control for single mode fibres; fringe tracking real time data, etc. We present some of these improvements and also quantify the operational improvements using a performance metric. We take the opportunity of the first decade of operations to reflect on the VLTI community which is analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. Finally, we present briefly the preparatory work for the arrival of the second generation instruments GRAVITY and MATISSE.
The concept of "Virtual Image Slicer" was developed and implemented at the Very Large Telescope (VLT). The Virtual Image Slicer consists in elongating the stars in a given direction by the use of the Active Optics of the telescope. Alignment of the major axis of the elongated star along the entrance slit of the spectrograph allows to increase the total signal collected in a single (polarimetric) spectrum by a factor of up to 100 or more relative to a perfectly shaped image for bright sources.
As part of the preparation for the arrival of the MUSE instrument to the VLT, it was required to adapt the hosting
telescope (UT4) guide probe, to increase its back focal length. This is to allow enough space for the later deployment of
the MUSE Adaptive Optics module GALACSI, in-between the telescope adapter rotator and the instrument itself. The
UT guide probe is a critical component for the successful operation of the telescope, so its modification to increase the
telescope’s back focal length, while maintaining full compatibility with the existing operation model and other hardware,
was rather demanding.
The design, manufacture, assembly and test for the new supporting arm in the UT guiding probe is presented. It mixes
the use of novel materials (HB-CESIC® for the mirrors substrates) and state of the art manufacturing techniques (3D
printing mould production and rapid casting for the support structure), which allow producing easily a high performance
subsystem. Characterization of the system prior delivery to the telescope, its integration in the UT and results after
commissioning is presented. Its successful implementation has validated new manufacturing techniques that may prove
very useful for future instruments development.
The ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) offers access to the four 8-m Unit Telescopes (UT) and
the four 1.8-m Auxiliary Telescopes (AT) of the Paranal Observatory located in the Atacama Desert in
northern Chile. The two VLTI instruments, MIDI and AMBER deliver regular scientific results. In parallel to the
operation, the instruments developments are pursued, and new modes are studied and commissioned to offer
a wider range of scientific possibilities to the community and increase sensitivity. New configurations of the
ATs have been offered and are frequently discussed with the science users of the VLTI and implemented to
optimize the scientific return. The PRIMA instrument, bringing astrometry capability to the VLTI and phase
referencing to the instruments is being commissioned. The visitor instrument PIONIER is now fully operational
and bringing imaging capability to the VLTI.
The current status of the VLTI is described with successes and scientific results, and prospects on future
evolution are presented.
Multiple Application Curvature Adaptive Optics (MACAO) systems are used at the coud´e focus of the unit
telescopes (UTs) at the La-Silla Paranal Observatory, Paranal, to correct for the wave-front aberrations induced
by the atmosphere. These systems are in operation since 2005 and are designed to provide beams with 10 mas
residual rms tip-tilt error to the VLTI laboratory. We have initiated several technical studies such as measuring
the Strehl ratio of the images recorded at the guiding camera of the VLTI, establishing the optimum setup of
the MACAO to get collimated and focused beam down to the VLTI laboratory and to the instruments, and
ascertaining the data generated by the real time computer, all aimed at characterizing and improving the overall
performance of these systems. In this paper we report the current status of these studies.
The ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) offers access to the four 8-m Unit Telescopes (UT) and the four
1.8-m Auxiliary Telescopes (AT) of the Paranal Observatory located in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. The two
VLTI instruments, MIDI and AMBER deliver regular scientific results. In parallel to the operation, the instruments
developments are pursued, and new modes are studied and commissioned to offer a wider range of scientific possibilities
to the community. New configurations of the ATs array are discussed with the science users of the VLTI and
implemented to optimize the scientific return. The monitoring and improvement of the different systems of the VLTI is a
continuous work. The PRIMA instrument, bringing astrometry capability to the VLTI and phase referencing to the
instruments has been successfully installed and the commissioning is ongoing. The possibility for visiting instruments
has been opened to the VLTI facility.
The ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) offers access to the four 8 m Unit Telescopes (UT) and the four
1.8 m Auxiliary Telescopes (AT) of the Paranal Observatory located in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. The fourth
AT has been delivered to operation in December 2006, increasing the flexibility and simultaneous baselines access of the
VLTI. Regular science operations are now carried on with the two VLTI instruments, AMBER and MIDI. The FINITO
fringe tracker is now used for both visitor and service observations with ATs and will be offered on UTs in October
2008, bringing thus the fringe tracking facility to VLTI instruments. In parallel to science observations, technical periods
are also dedicated to the characterization of the VLTI environment, upgrades of the existing systems, and development
of new facilities. We will describe the current status of the VLTI and prospects on future evolution.
The ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) is the first general-user interferometer that offers near- and mid-infrared long-baseline interferometric observations in service and visitor mode to the whole astronomical community. Over the last two years, the VLTI has moved into its regular science operation mode with the two science instruments, MIDI and AMBER, both on all four 8m Unit Telescopes and the first three 1.8m Auxiliary Telescopes. We are currently devoting up to half of the available time for science, the rest is used for characterization and improvement of the existing system, plus additional installations. Since the first fringes with the VLTI on a star were obtained on March 17, 2001, there have been five years of scientific observations, with the different instruments, different telescopes and baselines. These observations have led so far to more than 40 refereed publications. We describe the current status of the VLTI and give an outlook for its near future.
The purpose of the Active Phasing Experiment, designed under the lead of ESO, is to validate wavefront control concepts for ELT class telescopes. This instrument includes an Active Segmented Mirror, located in a pupil image. It will be mounted at a Nasmyth focus of one of the Unit Telescopes of the ESO VLT. APE contains four different types of phasing sensors, which are developed by Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica in Arcetri, Instituto Astrofisica Canarias, Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille and ESO. These phasing sensors can be compared simultaneously under identical optical and environmental conditions. All sensors receive telecentric F/15 beams with identical optical quality and intensity. Each phasing sensor can measure segmentation errors of the active segmented mirror and correct them in closed loop. The phasing process is supervised by an Internal Metrology system developed by FOGALE Nanotech and capable of measuring piston steps with an accuracy of a few nanometers. The Active Phasing Experiment is equipped with a turbulence generator to simulate atmospheric seeing between 0.45 and 0.85 arcsec in the laboratory. In addition, the Active Phasing Experiment is designed to control simultaneously with the phasing corrections the guiding and the active optics of one of the VLT Unit Telescopes. This activity is supported by the European Community (Framework Programme 6, ELT Design Study, contract No 011863).
The future European Extremely Large Telescope will be composed of one or two giant segmented mirrors (up to 100 m of
diameter) and of several large monolithic mirrors (up to 8 m in diameter). To limit the aberrations due to misalignments and defective surface quality it is necessary to have a proper active optics system. This active optics system must include a phasing system to limit the degradation of the PSF due to misphasing of the segmented mirrors. We will present the lastest design and development of the Active Phasing Experiment that will be tested in laboratory and on-sky connected to a VLT at Paranal in Chile. It includes an active segmented mirror, a static piston plate to simulate a secondary segmented mirror and of four phasing wavefront sensors to measure the piston, tip and tilt of the segments and the aberrations of the VLT. The four phasing sensors are the Diffraction Image Phase Sensing Instrument developed by Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, the Pyramid Phasing Sensor developed by Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory, the Shack-Hartmann Phasing Sensor developed by the European Southern Observatory and the Zernike Unit for Segment phasing developed by Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille. A reference measurement of the segmented mirror is made by an internal metrology developed by Fogale Nanotech. The control system of Active Phasing Experiment will perform the phasing of the segments, the guiding of the VLT and the active optics of the VLT. These activities are included in the Framework Programme 6 of the European Union.
The ARAL system of the VLTI is a multipurpose facility that helps to
have the interferometric instruments ready for night observations. It
consists of an artificial source (allowing a Mach-Zehnder mode of the
interferometric instruments for autotest), an alignment unit (verifying the position of the celestial target in the VLTI field-of-view), and an optical path router (controlling the optical switchyard and the instrument feeding-optics in the VLTI laboratory). With the multiplication of VLTI instruments and their specific features (wavelength coverage, number of beams), an upgrade of ARAL (from its November 2002 version) had to be carried out: the alignment unit has been redesigned, as well as the artificial source. This source will provide a point in the visible and in J, H, K and N infrared bands, split into four beams (with a zero optical path difference at the reference position). After a description of the optomechanics and of the computer architecture of ARAL, we detail the difficulties of building an interferometric artificial source with a wide spectral range.
Since mid 2002, the complete optical trains of the four 8m Unit Telescopes (UT) are installed and aligned to provide the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) with a unique choice of beam combination possibilities . A description of the optical alignment method used and of the final image quality has been given in . We describe in this document the analytical approach used to quantify the geometrical alignment errors not only at the end of the optical train but also at each optical subsystem level.
The Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) on Cerro Paranal (2635 m) in Northern Chile reached a major milestone in September 2003 when the mid infrared instrument MIDI was offered for scientific observations to the community. This was only nine months after MIDI had recorded first fringes. In the meantime, the near infrared instrument AMBER saw first fringes in March 2004, and it is planned to offer AMBER in September 2004.
The large number of subsystems that have been installed in the last two years - amongst them adaptive optics for the 8-m Unit Telescopes (UT), the first 1.8-m Auxiliary Telescope (AT), the fringe tracker FINITO and three more Delay Lines for a total of six, only to name the major ones - will be described in this article. We will also discuss the next steps of the VLTI mainly concerned with the dual feed system PRIMA and we will give an outlook to possible future extensions.
On March 17, 2001, the VLT interferometer saw for the first time interferometric fringes on sky with its two test siderostats on a 16m baseline. Seven months later, on October 29, 2001, fringes were found with two of the four 8.2m Unit Telescopes (UTs), named Antu and Melipal, spanning a baseline of 102m. First shared risk science operations with VLTI will start in October 2002. The time between these milestones is used for further integration as well as for commissioning of the interferometer with the goal to understand all its characteristics and to optimize performance and observing procedures. In this article we will describe the various commissioning tasks carried out and present some results of our work.
When completed the VLTI project will be composed by four 8.2 m Unit Telescopes (UT) and four 1.8 m Auxiliay Telescopes (AT) with their respective Coude trains and relay optics, two test siderostats, 6 (up to 8) Delay lines and 8 Beam compressors with their corresponding feeding mirrors. There will be more than 200 optical components, mirrors and lenses, with diameters ranging from 5 mm to 8200 mm. Their surface shapes range from flat to off-axis ellipsoid, including also spherical, on and off-axis hyperbolae and parabolas as well as cylindrical surfaces. Depending on the interferometer configuration, the different possible optical path lengths are of the order of 100 to 300 meters. We describe briefly the principles chosen as well as the types of criteria and method used for the alignment. The method can certainly be applied to other optical systems. The explanations given are understandable to the non-optician, this text is not intended to be an alignment procedure.
The Very Large Telescope (VLT) Observatory on Cerro Paranal (2635 m) in Northern Chile is approaching completion. After the four 8-m Unit Telescopes (UT) individually saw first light in the last years, two of them were combined for the first time on October 30, 2001 to form a stellar interferometer, the VLT Interferometer. The remaining two UTs will be integrated into the interferometric array later this year. In this article, we will describe the subsystems of the VLTI and the planning for the following years.
After the installation of the four Unit Telescopes of the VLT in the years 1998 till 2000 more than 1.5 million active optics measurements and corrections have been performed. Since all active optics data are logged together with various environmental parameters (external seeing, temperatures, wind, etc.) extensive statistical studies of the dependence of the optical performance of the telescope on the external parameters can be made. Improvements of the functionality and the performance of the telescopes include the use of a Kalman filter in the Active Optics correction loop and the possibility to adjust actively the plate scale of the telescope.
The active optics system of the ESO Very Large Telescope has now been in operation since May 1998. All results from the wavefront analyses as well as numerous other telescope and environmental data are continuously logged. This allows for an accurate assessment of the performance of the active optics system and yields statistical correlations between the wavefront data and other telescope or external parameters.
In a recent paper McLeod proposed and used measurements of the field dependence of third order astigmatism to collimate a Ritchey-Chretien telescope with the stop at the primary mirror. We adapt this method to the Cassegrain focus of the ESO Very Large Telescope, where the stop is at the secondary mirror and the telescope is only corrected for spherical aberration. In addition, we study the effects of the practical definition that the center of the field is the center of the adapter. We present measurements of the field astigmatism and discuss the accuracy of this collimation method.