ann16020 — Announcement

NAOMI Contract Signed

New adaptive optics for ESO’s VLT Interferometer

29 March 2016

An agreement has been signed between ESO and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique [1], acting on behalf of the Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble, to build a new adaptive optics system for the auxiliary telescopes that form part of ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) array [2] at the Paranal Observatory in Chile.

The new system, called the New Adaptive Optics Module for Interferometry (NAOMI) will make a big improvement to the imaging capability of the VLTI. The VLTI is already a remarkable astronomical facility that has made significant contributions to the study of various objects, like young pre-main sequence stars and their protoplanetary discs, post-main sequence mass-losing stars, and active galactic nuclei. A NAOMI module will be installed on each of ESO’s 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescopes (AT), bringing a more advanced adaptive optics system to the ATs that will allow them, and the VLTI array, to see even more clearly.

Adaptive optics systems counteract the degrading effect of turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere. The turbulence causes the light from a star to be jiggled around as it travels towards the telescope — the star twinkles instead of remaining as a steady point of light. The ATs are currently equipped with less sophisticated systems, which only work well if observing conditions are superb. With NAOMI installed, the observations will be better under all conditions. The sensitivity of the VLTI’s current instruments like MIDI, AMBER and PIONIER will be improved, and second generation instruments like GRAVITY will be able to reach their full potential.

The first NAOMI module will arrive on Paranal in 2017, and the remaining three systems will be installed by the end of 2018.

Notes

[1] The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) is a French public research organisation. It employs around 33 000 people, including engineers and technicians, and had a budget for 2014 of 3.29 million euros. CNRS operates across all fields of scientific research.

[2] The four 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescopes, along with their big brothers, the four Unit Telescopes, collectively form the Very Large Telescope Interferometer, or VLTI. When used as an interferometer, all the telescopes observe the same object and the light collected by each of them individually is combined into a single measurement. This allows astronomers to view celestial objects in much greater detail than is possible with a single telescope alone.

Links

Contacts

Reinhold Dorn
ESO
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6547
Email: rdorn@eso.org

Emmanuel Aller Carpentier
ESO
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6727
Email: eallerca@eso.org

Julien Woillez
ESO
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6273
Email: jwoillez@eso.org

Richard Hook
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
Email: rhook@eso.org

About the Announcement

Id:ann16020

Images

Auxiliary silhouettes
Auxiliary silhouettes
Panoramic view of the VLTI laboratory
Panoramic view of the VLTI laboratory