An Introduction to Optical Stellar Interferometry by A. Labeyrie

By A. Labeyrie

Over the past twenty years, optical stellar interferometry has turn into a massive software in astronomical investigations requiring spatial answer way past that of conventional telescopes. This ebook, first released in 2006, used to be the 1st to be written at the topic. The authors offer a longer advent discussing uncomplicated actual and atmospheric optics, which establishes the framework essential to current the guidelines and perform of interferometry as utilized to the astronomical scene. They stick to with an summary of ancient, operational and deliberate interferometric observatories, and a variety of vital astrophysical discoveries made with them. ultimately, they current a few as-yet untested principles for tools either at the flooring and in area which could let us snapshot information of planetary structures past our personal.

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Techniques such as adaptive optics and speckle interferometry have been developed for measuring the effects of the atmosphere and correcting them, which improve ground-based resolution to the inherent limit. By putting a telescope in space, the atmospheric disturbance problems can indeed be avoided, so that the inherent diffraction-limited angular resolution of about λ/D can be obtained. 4-m Hubble Telescope optics had to be corrected by the addition of the COSTAR system before this could be realized.

This is called an interferometer. There are specialist texts on interferometry in general, for example Hariharan (2003) and Steel (1983), so we will limit our discussion here to one particular interferometer which is closest to the practical needs of astronomy. This is the Michelson interferometer, which amongst other things was instrumental in putting the theory of relativity on an experimental footing, and earned Albert A. Michelson the Nobel Prize in 1907. 1, and consists basically of two mirrors M1 and M2 , a plane-parallel “beam-splitter” which reflects about 50% of the light falling on it, the rest being transmitted, and a glass “compensator” plate of the same glass and having the same thickness as the beam-splitter plate.

He discusses the expected results not only for uniform disklike and binary stars, but also for limb-darkened stars, using a model previously developed to describe the intensity profile of the Sun. The technique he used for these calculations was to superpose the interference fringes created from each point on the extended disk of the star. The concept of the coherence function, usually used for such calculations today, arose decades later from the work of F. Zernike in 1938. From the instrumental point of view, Michelson pointed out that for useful 4 Introduction measurements of stellar diameters to be made, apertures separated by up to 10 m would be required, and suggested a method using a beam-splitter by which this could be carried out, although eventually this method was not used till the modern era of stellar interferometry.

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