The laser metrology system in the GRAVITY instrument plays a crucial role in an attempt at high-precision narrow-angle astrometry. With a design goal of achieving 10 microarcseconds precision in astrometry, the system must measure the optical path difference between two beam combiners within GRAVITY to an accuracy of better than 5nm. However in its current design, some parts of the optical paths of the metrology system are not common to the optical paths of starlight (the science path) which it must measure with high accuracy. This state of the design is true for most but not all the baselines which will be used by the GRAVITY instrument. The additional non-common optical paths could produce inaccurate path length measurements and consequently inaccurate measurements of the differential phase between fringe packets of two nearby celestial objects, which is the main astrometric observable of the instrument. With reference to the stability and the sensitivity of the non-common paths, this paper describes the impact of a biased differential phase measurement on the narrowangle astrometry and the image reconstruction performance of the GRAVITY instrument. Several alternative designs are also discussed.
The conventional approach to high-precision narrow-angle astrometry using a long baseline interferometer is to directly measure the fringe packet separation of a target and a nearby reference star. This is done by means of a technique known as phase-referencing which requires a network of dual beam combiners and laser metrology systems. Using an alternative approach that does not rely on phase-referencing, the narrow-angle astrometry of several closed binary stars (with separation less than 2′′), as described in this paper, was carried out by observing the fringe packet crossing event of the binary systems. Such an event occurs twice every sidereal day when the line joining the two stars of the binary is is perpendicular to the projected baseline of the interferometer. Observation of these events is well suited for an interferometer in Antarctica. Proof of concept observations were carried out at the Sydney University Stellar Interferometer (SUSI) with targets selected according to its geographical location. Narrow-angle astrometry using this indirect approach has achieved sub-100 micro-arcsecond precision.
The VLTI instrument GRAVITY will provide very powerful astrometry by combining the light from four tele- scopes for two objects simultaneously. It will measure the angular separation between the two astronomical objects to a precision of 10 μas. This corresponds to a differential optical path difference (dOPD) between the targets of few nanometers and the paths within the interferometer have to be maintained stable to that level. For this purpose, the novel metrology system of GRAVITY will monitor the internal dOPDs by means of phase- shifting interferometry. We present the four-step phase-shifting concept of the metrology with emphasis on the method used for calibrating the phase shifts. The latter is based on a phase-step insensitive algorithm which unambiguously extracts phases in contrast to other methods that are strongly limited by non-linearities of the phase-shifting device. The main constraint of this algorithm is to introduce a robust ellipse fitting routine. Via this approach we are able to measure phase shifts in the laboratory with a typical accuracy of λ=2000 or 1 nm of the metrology wavelength.
GRAVITY is the four-beam, near-infrared, AO-assisted, fringe tracking, astrometric and imaging instrument for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). It is requiring the development of one of the most complex instrument software systems ever built for an ESO instrument. Apart from its many interfaces and interdependencies, one of the most challenging aspects is the overall performance and stability of this complex system. The three infrared detectors and the fast reflective memory network (RMN) recorder contribute a total data rate of up to 20 MiB/s accumulating to a maximum of 250 GiB of data per night. The detectors, the two instrument Local Control Units (LCUs) as well as the five LCUs running applications under TAC (Tools for Advanced Control) architecture, are interconnected with fast Ethernet, RMN fibers and dedicated fiber connections as well as signals for the time synchronization. Here we give a simplified overview of all subsystems of GRAVITY and their interfaces and discuss two examples of high-level applications during observations: the acquisition procedure and the gathering and merging of data to the final FITS file.
GRAVITY is the second generation VLT Interferometer (VLTI) instrument for high-precision narrow-angle astrometry and phase-referenced interferometric imaging. The laser metrology system of GRAVITY is at the heart of its astrometric mode, which must measure the distance of 2 stars with a precision of 10 micro-arcseconds. This means the metrology has to measure the optical path difference between the two beam combiners of GRAVITY to a level of 5 nm. The metrology design presents some non-common paths that have consequently to be stable at a level of 1 nm. Otherwise they would impact the performance of GRAVITY. The various tests we made in the past on the prototype give us hints on the components responsible for this error, and on their respective contribution to the total error. It is however difficult to assess their exact origin from only OPD measurements, and therefore, to propose a solution to this problem. In this paper, we present the results of a semi-empirical modeling of the fibered metrology system, relying on theoretical basis, as well as on characterisations of key components. The modeling of the metrology system regarding various effects, e.g., temperature, waveguide heating or mechanical stress, will help us to understand how the metrology behave. The goals of this modeling are to 1) model the test set-ups and reproduce the measurements (as a validation of the modeling), 2) determine the origin of the non-common path errors, and 3) propose modifications to the current metrology design to reach the required 1nm stability.
GRAVITY is a new generation beam combination instrument for the VLTI. Its goal is to achieve microarsecond astrometric accuracy between objects separated by a few arcsec. This 106 accuracy on astrometric measurements is the most important challenge of the instrument, and careful error budget have been paramount during the technical design of the instrument. In this poster, we will focus on baselines induced errors, which is part of a larger error budget.
We present in this paper the design and characterisation of a new sub-system of the VLTI 2nd generation instrument GRAVITY: the Calibration Unit. The Calibration Unit provides all functions to test and calibrate the beam combiner instrument: it creates two artificial stars on four beams, and dispose of four delay lines with an internal metrology. It also includes artificial stars for the tip-tilt and pupil guiding systems, as well as four metrology pick-up diodes, for tests and calibration of the corresponding sub-systems. The calibration unit also hosts the reference targets to align GRAVITY to the VLTI, and the safety shutters to avoid the metrology light to propagate in the VLTI-lab. We present the results of the characterisation and validtion of these differrent sub-units.
The GRAVITY Instrument Software (INS) is based on the common VLT Software Environment. In addition to the basic Instrument Control Software (ICS) which handles Motors, Shutters, Lamps, etc., it also includes three detector subsystems, several special devices, field bus devices, and various real time algorithms. The latter are implemented using ESO TAC (Tools for Advanced Control) and run at a frequency of up to 4 kHz. In total, the instrument has more than 100 ICS devices and runs on five workstations and seven vxWorks LCUs.
We present the installed and fully operational beam stabilization and fiber injection subsystem feeding the 2nd generation VLTI instrument GRAVITY. The interferometer GRAVITY requires an unprecedented stability of the VLTI optical train to achieve micro-arcsecond astrometry. For this purpose, GRAVITY contains four fiber coupler units, one per telescope. Each unit is equipped with actuators to stabilize the telescope beam in terms of tilt and lateral pupil displacement, to rotate the field, to adjust the polarization and to compensate atmospheric piston. A special roof-prism offers the possibility of on-axis as well as off-axis fringe tracking without changing the optical train. We describe the assembly, integration and alignment and the resulting optical quality and performance of the individual units. Finally, we present the closed-loop performance of the tip-tilt and pupil tracking achieved with the final systems in the lab.
We propose a new high dynamic imaging concept for the detection and characterization of extra-solar planets. DIFFRACT standing for DIFFerential Remapped Aperture Coronagraphic Telescope, uses a Wollaston prism to split the entrance pupil into two exit pupils. These exit pupils are then remapped with 2 apertures lenses of different diameters resulting in two separate rescaled focal images of the same star. Since the angular separation of a putative exoplanet orbiting around the star is independent of the angular resolution of the remapped output pupils they appear at the same linear location in the resulting images that differ in resolution proportional to the exit pupil sizes.
Exoplanet detection is obtained by numerically rescaling the images at the same angular resolution and substracting them, so that, under aberration and photon noise free conditions the planet twin images appear as two positive and negative Airy patterns. In real conditions however and depending on the exoplanet separation normalized to the angular resolution of the input telescope detection performances depend strongly on the adaptive optics performances and the collecting surface of the telescope. In this study we present the formal expression of DIFFRACT optics concept with a complet set of numerical experiments to
estimate the performances of the concept under real observing conditions including instrument and adaptive optics corrections.
Rotation plays a crucial role in the shaping and evolution of a star. Widely incorporated into early and late-stage stellar models, rotational effects remain poorly understood in main-sequence stars, mainly due to the absence of observations challenging contemporary models. The Precision Astronomical Visible Observations (PAVO) instrument, located at the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) array, provides the highest angular resolution yet achieved (0.3 mas) for stars V=8 magnitude and brighter. We describe instrumental techniques and advances implemented in PAVO@CHARA to observe heavily resolved targets and yield well calibrated closure phases which are key milestones on the pathway to delivery of the first-ever image in the visible of fast-rotating main-sequence star.
The Sydney University Stellar Interferometer (SUSI) is being fitted with a new beam combiner, called the
Micro-arcsecond University of Sydney Companion Astrometry instrument (MUSCA), for the purpose of high
precision astrometry of bright binary stars. Operating in the visible wavelength regime where photon-counting
and post-processing fringe tracking is possible, MUSCA will be used in tandem with SUSI’s primary beam
combiner, Precision Astronomical Visible Observations (PAVO), to record high spatial resolution fringes and
thereby measure the separation of fringe packets of binary stars. With continued monitoring of stellar separation
vectors at precisions in the tens of micro-arcseconds over timescales of years, it will be possible to search for the
presence of gravitational perturbations in the orbital motion such as those expected from planetary mass objects
in the system. This paper describes the first phase of the development, which includes the setup of the dual beam
combiner system and the methodology applied to stabilize fringes of a star by means of self-phase-referencing.
This paper presents an overview of recent progress at the Sydney University Stellar Interferometer (SUSI). Development
of the third-generation PAVO beam combiner has continued. The MUSCA beam combiner for high-precision
differential astrometry using visible light phase referencing is under active development and will be the subject of a
separate paper. Because SUSI was one of the pioneering interferometric instruments, some of its original systems are old
and have become difficult to maintain. We are undertaking a campaign of modernization of systems: (1) an upgrade of
the Optical Path Length Compensator IR laser metrology counter electronics from a custom system which uses an
obsolete single-board computer to a modern one based on an FPGA interfaced to a Linux computer - in addition to
improving maintainability, this upgrade should allow smoother motion and higher carriage speeds; (2) the replacement of
the aged single-board computer local controllers for the siderostats and the longitudinal dispersion compensator has been
completed; (3) the large beam reducing telescope has been replaced with a pair of smaller units with separate accessible
foci. Examples of scientific results are also included.
The Sydney University Stellar Interferometer (SUSI) has been enhanced by installation of the PAVO beam combiner,
which uses an electron-multiplying CCD detector giving a fast, low-noise 2D readout. This allows PAVO to provide
wide-band wavelength dispersed beam combination, which improves sensitivity and scientific productivity. PAVO also
provides pupil segmentation which improves the instrumental fringe visibility. A remote operations facility has been
established, which allows SUSI to be operated from Sydney or elsewhere. A new control system for the longitudinal
dispersion corrector and siderostats is under development. Installation has commenced of a high precision differential
astrometry system (MUSCA) which aims to detect planets in binary star systems.