The infrared optical telescope array (IOTA), one of the most productive interferometers in term of science and
new technologies was decommissioned in summer 2006. We discuss the testing of a low-resolution spectrograph
coupled with the IOTA-3T integrated-optics beam combiner and some of the scientific results obtained from this
We present a brief review of recent scientific and technical advances at the Infrared Optical Telescope Array (IOTA). IOTA is a long-baseline interferometer located atop Mount Hopkins, Arizona. Recent work has emphasized the use of the three-telescope interferometer completed in 2002. We report on results obtained on a range of scientific targets, including AGB stars, Herbig AeBe Stars, binary stars, and the recent outburst of the recurrent nova RS Oph. We report the completion of a new spectrometer which allows visibility measurements at several high spectral resolution channels simultaneously. Finally, it is our sad duty to report that IOTA will be closed this year.
Closure-phase science and technology are dominant features of the recent activity at IOTA.
Our science projects include imaging several spectroscopic binary stars, imaging YSOs including Herbig AeBe stars, detecting asymmetries in a large sample of Mira stars, and measuring water shells around Miras.
Many technology projects were pursued in order to make these science observations possible. These include installation of a third-generation integrated-optics 3-beam combiner (IONIC), completion of the real-time control system software, installation of fringe-packet tracking software, use of narrow sub-H band filters, validation of
the phase-closure operation, development of CPLD control of the science camera (PICNIC) and star-tracker camera (LLiST), installation of a new star-tracker camera, expansion of the observing facility, and installation of new semi-automated optical alignment tools.
The tip-tilt correction system at the Infrared Optical Telescope Array (IOTA) has been upgraded with a new star tracker camera.
The camera features a backside-illuminated CCD chip offering doubled overall quantum efficiency and a four times higher system gain compared to the previous system. Tests carried out to characterize the new system showed a higher system gain with a lower read-out noise electron level. Shorter read-out cycle times now allow to compensate tip-tilt fluctuations so that their error imposed on visibility measurements becomes comparable to, and even smaller than, that of higher-order aberrations.
We describe the fringe-packet tracking software installed at the infrared optical telescope array (IOTA). Three independently developed fringe-packet tracking algorithms can be used to equalise the optical path lengths at the interferometer. We compare the performance of these three algorithms and show results obtained tracking fringes for three independent baselines on the sky.
We are working towards imaging the surfaces and circumstellar envelopes of Mira stars in the near-infrared, using the IOTA interferometer and the IONIC integrated-optics 3-beam combiner. In order to study atmospheric structures of these stars, we installed 3 narrow-band filters that subdivide H-band into 3 roughly equal-width sub-bands - a central one for continuum, and 2 adjacent ones to sample Mira star's (mostly water) absorption-bands. We present here our characterization of the IOTA 3-Telescope interferometer for closure-phase measurements with broad and narrow-band filters in the H atmospheric window. This includes characterizing the stability, chromaticity, and polarization effects of the present IOTA optics with the IONIC beam-combiner, and characterizing the accuracy of our closure phase measurements.
We report the first long-baseline interferometric observations of R CrB. The observations were carried out at the Infrared Optical Telescope Array (IOTA), using our new JHK beam combiner which enables us to record fringes simultaneously in the J-, H-, and K-bands. The circumstellar envelope of R CrB is resolved at a baseline of 21 m, and the K-band visibility is derived to be 0.61 ± 0.03 along a position angle of about 170 degrees. The visibility obtained with IOTA, as well as speckle visibilities with baselines up to 6 m and the spectral energy distribution (SED), are fitted with 2-component models consisting of the central star and an optically thin dust shell. The K-band visibilities predicted by the models are about 10% smaller than the visibility obtained with IOTA. However, given the simplifications adopted in our models and the complex nature of the object, this can be regarded as rough agreement. As a hypothesis to explain the small discrepancy, we propose that there might be a group of newly formed dust clouds, which might appear as a third visibility component.
We describe the new control system for the PICNIC near-infrared camera and the visible star tracker, implemented at the IOTA interferometer, based on the ALTERA Complex Programmable Logic Device (CPLD) technology. These digital components provide an adaptive interface between the control system and the cameras used at IOTA, allowing flexibility when connecting very different devices. In particular the clocking and processing circuits used for the PICNIC camera can be changed in milliseconds during normal operation. The camera can then switch between full quadrant readout mode used for alignment and diagnostics, and a N pixel readout mode used for science operation.
The IOTA (Infrared Optical Telescope Array) has been routinely
operating with two-telescopes since 1994, a mode destined to become
obsolete following its recent conversion to a three-telescope
array. In two-telescope mode, the IOTA has made numerous
scientific and technical contributions, see e.g. our list of
publications at http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/cfa/oir/IOTA/PUBLI/publications.html.
We present preliminary results on three different topics using recent
data from the two-telescope IOTA: (1) measurements of Mira star
diameters simultaneously in three different near-infrared spectral
bands, (2) measurement of the characteristic size and shape of the
source of near-infared emission in the x-ray binary system CI Cam, and (3) aperture synthesis of the Carbon star V Hydrae combining data from the IOTA and from aperture masking at the Keck-I telescope.
Our new IOTA JHK-band beam combiner allows the simultaneous recording of spectrally dispersed J-, H- and K-band Michelson interferograms. In this paper we present our IOTA observations of the Mira star T Cep with this beam combiner (observations in June 2001; four baselines in the range of 14 m to 27 m). The beam combiner optics consists of an anamorphic cylindrical lens system and a prism. From the interferograms of T Cep we derive the visibilities and the J-, H-, and K-band uniform-disk diameters of 14.0 ± 0.6 mas, 13.7 ± 0.6 mas and 15.0 ± 0.6 mas, respectively. Angular stellar filter radii and Rosseland radii are derived from the measured visibilities by fitting theoretical center-to-limb intensity variations (CLVs) of different Mira star models. The available HIPPARCOS parallax (4.76 ± 0.75 mas) of T Cep allows us to determine linear radii. For example, from the K-band visibility we derive a Rosseland radius of 329-50/+70 solar radii if we use the CLVs of the M-models as fit functions. This radius is in good agreement with the theoretical M-model Rosseland radius of 315 solar radii. The comparison of measured stellar parameters (e.g. diameters, effective temperature, visibility shape) with theoretical parameters indicates whether any of the models is a fair representation of T Cep.
The ratios of visibilities of different spectral channels can be measured with higher precision than absolute visibilities. Therefore, we use the visibility ratios V(λ1)/V(λ2) to investigate the wavelength dependence of the stellar diameter. We find that the 2.03 μm uniform-disk diameter of T Cep is about 1.26 times larger than the 2.26 μm uniform-disk diameter.
As the number of optical interferometers increase, multi-facility observations become both feasible and scientifically interesting. For
imaging of complex sources, the capability of increasing (u,v) coverage by using multiple arrays may be necessary for accurately interpreting the fringe visibility and closure phase data. Toward this end, coordinated observations with the IOTA interferometer and Keck aperture masking have been carried out to test techniques for synthesizing images using data from heterogeneous arrays with sparse (u,v) coverage. In particular, we will focus on how the image prior in the Maximum Entropy Method can be used to efficiently incorporate very high spatial frequency information with "low-resolution" data for imaging the generic prototype "Star + Dust Shell" image morphology. Preliminary results using real data for a few dusty
evolved stars are presented.
We present observations of the symbiotic star CH Cyg with a new JHK-band beam combiner mounted to the IOTA interferometer. The new beam combiner consists of an anamorphic cylindrical lens system and a grism, and allows the simultaneous recording of spectrally dispersed J-, H- and K-band Michelson interferograms. The observations of CH Cyg were conducted on 5, 6, 8 and 11 June 2001 using baselines of 17m to 25m. From the interferograms of CH Cyg, J-, H-, and K-band visibility functions can be determined. Uniform-disk fits to the visibilities give, e.g., stellar diameters of (7.8 ± 0.6) mas and (8.7 ± 0.8) mas in H and K, respectively. Angular stellar filter radii and Rosseland radii are derived from the measured visibilities by fitting theoretical center-to-limb intensity variations (CLVs) of Mira star models. The available HIPPARCOS parallax of CH Cyg allows us to determine linear radii. For example, on the basis of the K-band visibility, Rosseland radii in the range of 214 to 243 solar radii can be derived utilizing CLVs of different fundamental mode Mira models as fit functions. These radii agree well within the error bars with the corresponding theoretical model Rosseland radii of 230 to 282 solar radii. Models of first overtone pulsators are not in good agreement with the observations. The wavelength dependence of the stellar diameter can be well studied by using visibility ratios V(λ1)/V(λ2) since ratios of visibilities of different spectral channels can be measured with higher precision than absolute visibilities. We found that the 2.03 μm uniform disk diameter of CH Cyg is approximately 1.1
times larger than the 2.15 μm and 2.26 μm uniform-disk diameter.
New beam combination techniques, using two and three telescopes, have been the focus of activity at IOTA during the past two years since our last update. In particular, we have added a third telescope, made closure-phase measurements, demonstrated two- and three-beam combination with integrated optics combiners, demonstrated two-beam combination with an asymmetric coupler, and made simultaneous JHK visibility measurements with an image-plane combiner.
Ten bright Miras and eight semi-regular variable giants and supergiants have been observed with the IOTA (Infrared and Optical Telescope Array) interferometer in the L' band (from 3.4 to 4.1 microns). Observations were carried out in March and November 2000 with the FLUOR/TISIS instrument. Variations in the diameter of R Leo are for the first time observed in the L' band, and our data show that the diameter of α Ori is remarkably stable. Important deviations from a uniform disk model are demonstrated for most of the Mira stars of our sample, and are particularly obvious for χ Cyg, R Cas and ο Cet. Observations of α Her carried out in March are consistent with previous estimates of its diameter published with the very first data of TISIS. The instrument has shown its reliability and the good quality of its data. The present results emphasize the importance of such data for a better comprehension of the circumstellar environment of evolved stars.
The third telescope project to enable phase-closure observations at the IOTA interferometer is well underway, and is anticipated to be completed later this year. For this project, we present the main technical improvements which we have already made or expect to make, including a new VxWorks control system, improved star acquisition cameras, improved siderostat and primary mirror supports, five-axis control of the telescope secondary mirrors, automated control of the long delay line, trihedral retroreflectors, three-beam combination, the PICNIC camera, and fringe packet tracking.
We present K-band observations of five Mira stars with the IOTA interferometer. The interferograms were obtained with the FLUOR fiber optics beam combiner which provides high- accuracy visibility measurements in spite of time-variable atmospheric conditions. For the Mira stars X Oph, R Aql, RU Her, R Ser, and V CrB we derived the uniform-disk diameters 11.7 mas, 10.9 mas, 8.4 mas, 8.1 mas, and 7.9 mas (+/- 0.3 mas), respectively. Simultaneous photometric observations yielded the bolometric fluxes. The derived angular Rosseland radii and the bolometric fluxes allowed the determination of effective temperatures. For instance, the effective temperature of R Aql was determined to be 3072 K +/- 161 K. A Rosseland radius for R Aql of 250 R. +/- 63 R. was derived from the angular Rosseland radius of 5.5 mas +/- 0.2 mas and the HIPPARCOS parallax of 4.73 mas +/- 1.19 mas. The observations were compared with theoretical Mira star models (D/P model Rosseland radius equals 255 R.; measured R Aql Rosseland radius equals 250 R. +/- 63 R.).
We report interferometric observations of the classical galactic Cepheid (zetz) Gem with FLUOR (Fiber Linked Unit for Optical Recombination), installed at the IOTA (Infrared Optical Telescope Array) interferometer. Thanks to the high precision of the visibility measurements with FLUOR, it has been possible to estimate its mean uniform disk angular diameter to a relative precision of 5% ((theta) ud equals 1.98 +/- 0.09 mas). Variations of the angular diameter of (zetz) Gem were marginally detected, with an amplitude of (Delta) (theta) ud equals 0.38 +/- 0.23 mas, but further observations should allow a more precise estimation of this value. The feasibility of the observation of Cepheids with the VLTI is also evaluated. When in operation, the VLTI will allow the precise measurement of the angular diameters of a large number of Cepheids. The zero point of the period- luminosity relation could then be set with a precision of less than 0.1 mag.
We report on first scientific observations of a few bright late type stars by direct long baseline interferometry in the thermal infrared (3.4 to 4.1 microns) obtained with the TISIS (Thermal Infrared Stellar Interferometric Set-up) experiment of the IOTA (Infrared and Optical Telescope Array) interferometer. Beam combination is provided by a single-mode fluoride glass coupler optimized for operation in that wavelength domain and yielding visibility measurements with 2% typical relative accuracy. First precise estimations of uniform disk diameters for (alpha) Orionis, (alpha) Herculis, o Ceti and R Leonis are presented in the L band. Very large increase (50 to 70%) in apparent angular diameters have been found for the 2 Mira stars o Ceti and R Leonis with respect to previous measurements obtained at shorter infrared wavelengths and same luminosity phase. Extended optically thin close-by dust shells characterized by Infrared Spatial Interferometer measurements are not found to play a significant role in the observed L band intensity distribution. Gas properties are likely to have a greater impact at these wavelengths. Our o Ceti interferometric observations look indeed in good agreement with the presence of very extended circumstellar gas layers (mostly H2O and SiO) derived from recent Infrared Space Observatory thermal infrared spectral data.
The FLUOR project started in 1991 with a prototype fiber recombination unit that transformed a pair of independent 80 cm telescopes into a stellar interferometer. An improved version of this unit is now used as part of the instrumentation at the IOTA interferometer on Mt Hopkins (Arizona). The system is based on fluoride glass single-mode waveguides (non polarization-preserving) for observations at infrared wavelengths between 2 and 2.4 μm. A triple coupler performs the coherent recombination of the beams and extracts two calibration signals. A passive polarization control is sufficient to maintain the interferornetric efficiency above 80 %, with variations of the order of a few percents from one night to the next. The combination FLUOR/JOTA now routinely provides stellar interferograms on baselines ranging between 5 and 38 m, with an accuracy of 1 % or better in the fringe visibility measurements.
The first two telescopes of the Infrared-Optical Telescope Array (IOTA) project are now in place and yielding data at the Smithsonian Institution's F. L. Whipple Observatory on Mt. Hopkins, near Tucson, Arizona. The IOTA collectors are 45 cm in diameter, and may be moved to various stations in an L-shaped configuration with a maximum baseline of 38 m. A third collector will be added as soon as funding permits. Each light-collector assembly consists of a siderostat feeding a stationary afocal Cassegrain telescope that produces a 10-X reduced parallel beam, which is in turn directed vertically downward by a piezo-driven active mirror that stabilizes the ultimate image position. The reduced beams enter an evacuated envelope and proceed to the corner of the array, where they are turned back along one arm for path compensation. The delay line, in one beam, consists of two parts: one dihedral reflector positioned in a slew-and-clamp mode to give the major part of the desired delay; and a second dihedral mounted on an air-bearing carriage to provide the variable delay that is needed. After delay, the beams exit from the vacuum and are directed by dichroic mirrors into the infrared beam-combination and detection system. The visible light passes on to another area, to the image-tracker detectors and the visible-light combination and detection system. The beams are combined in pupil-plane mode on beam splitters. The combined IR beams are conveyed to two cooled single-element InSb detectors. The combined visible-light beams are focussed by lenslet arrays onto multimode optical fibers that lead to the slit of a specially-designed prism spectrometer. For the visible mode, the delay line is run at several wavelengths on one side of the zero- path point, so that several cycles of interference occur across the spectrum. First results were obtained with the IR system, giving visibilities for several K and M stars, using 2.2 micrometers radiation on a N-S baseline of 21.2 m. From these measurements we obtained preliminary estimates of effective stellar diameters in the K band.
Pupil plane beam combination, spectral dispersion, detection, and fringe tracking are discussed for the IOTA interferometer. A new spectrometer design is presented in which the angular dispersion with respect to wavenumber is nearly constant. The dispersing element is a type of grism, a series combination of grating and prism, in which the constant parts of the dispersion add, but the slopes cancel. This grism is optimized for the display of channelled spectra. The dispersed fringes can be tracked by a matched-filter photon-counting correlator algorithm. This algorithm requires very few arithmetic operations per detected photon, making it well-suited for real-time fringe tracking. The algorithm is able to adapt to different stellar spectral types, intensity levels, and atmospheric time constants. The results of numerical experiments are reported.