EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 365, Number 2, January II 2001
Page(s) 301 - 313
Section Instruments, observational techniques and data processing
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20000004

A&A 365, 301-313 (2001)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20000004

Real-time optical path difference compensation at the Plateau de Calern I2T interferometer

B. Sorrente1 , F. Cassaing1 , G. Rousset1 , S. RobbeDubois2,3 and Y. Rabbia2 .

1  Office National d'Études et de Recherches Aérospatiales (ONERA), DOTA, BP 72, 92322 Châtillon Cedex, France
2  Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, Fresnel Department, UMR 6528, avenue Copernic, 06130 Grasse, France
3  now at Université de Nice -Sophia Antipolis, Laboratoire d'Astrophysique, UMR 6525, Parc Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France

(Received 6 January 1999 / Accepted 14 August 2000)

The fringe tracker system of the ASSI (Active Stabilization in Stellar Interferometry) beam combining table at the I2T interferometer is described and its performance evaluated. A new real-time algorithm for the optical path difference (OPD) measurement is derived and validated. It is based on a sinusoidal phase modulation whose amplitude is optimized. It also allows automatic fringe detection at the beginning of an observation when scanning the OPD. The fringe tracker servo-loop bandwidth is adjusted by a numerical gain and ranges between 20 and 50 Hz in the reported experiments. On stars, fringe-locked sequences are limited to 20 s due to fringe jumps. However, the fringe tracker is able to recover the coherence area after a few seconds. Such a fringe tracker operation can last more than one hour. A fringe tracking accuracy of 85 nm is achieved for visibility ranging between 7 and 24% , a turbulence coherence time of approximately 9 ms at 0.85 $\mu$m, a Fried parameter of around 14 cm at 0.5 $\mu$m and an average light level of 100 000 photoevents/s, (typically visual magnitude 2 in the conditions of the experiment). Visibility losses are evaluated and are found to be mainly due to turbulent wavefront fluctuations on the two telescopes and to the static aberrations of the optical train. The measurements of OPD and angle of arrival are reduced to derive turbulence parameters: the coherence time, the average wind speed, the Fried parameter and the outer scale. Our estimations for the outer scale range between 20 and 120 m, with an average value of the order of 40 m. Both OPD and angle of arrival data, obtained on 15 m baseline and a 26 cm telescope diameter respectively, are fully compatible with the same modified Kolmogorov spectrum of the turbulence, taking into account a finite outer scale.

Key words: atmospheric effects -instrumentation: interferometers -methods: data analysis -methods: observational -techniques: interferometric

Offprint request: B. Sorrente

© ESO 2001