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28 July 2008 The ESPRI project: astrometric exoplanet search with PRIMA
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PRIMA, the instrument for Phase-Referenced Imaging and Micro-arcsecond Astrometry at the VLTI, is currently being developed at ESO. PRIMA will implement the dual-feed capability, at first for two UTs or ATs, to enable simultaneous interferometric observations of two objects that are separated by up to 1 arcmin. PRIMA is designed to perform narrow-angle astrometry in K-band with two ATs as well as phase-referenced aperture synthesis imaging with instruments like Amber and Midi. In order to speed up the full implementation of the 10 microarcsec astrometric capability of the VLTI and to carry out a large astrometric planet search program, a consortium lead by the Observatoire de Genève, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, and Landessternwarte Heidelberg, has built Differential Delay Lines for PRIMA and is developing the astrometric observation preparation and data reduction software. When the facility becomes fully operational in 2009, we will use PRIMA to carry out a systematic astrometric Exoplanet Search program, called ESPRI. In this paper, we describe the narrow-angle astrometry measurement principle, give an overview of the ongoing hardand software developments, and outline our anticipated astrometric exoplanet search program.
© (2008) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.

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