EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 508, Number 2, December III 2009
Page(s) 1073 - 1083
Section Astronomical instrumentation
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200913016
Published online 04 November 2009
A&A 508, 1073-1083 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200913016

VEGA: Visible spEctroGraph and polArimeter for the CHARA array: principle and performance

D. Mourard1, J. M. Clausse1, A. Marcotto1, K. Perraut2, I. Tallon-Bosc3, Ph. Bério1, A. Blazit1, D. Bonneau1, S. Bosio1, Y. Bresson1, O. Chesneau1, O. Delaa1, F. Hénault1, Y. Hughes1, S. Lagarde1, G. Merlin1, A. Roussel1, A. Spang1, Ph. Stee1, M. Tallon3, P. Antonelli1, R. Foy3, P. Kervella4, R. Petrov1, E. Thiebaut3, F. Vakili1, H. McAlister5, 6, T. ten Brummelaar6, J. Sturmann6, L. Sturmann6, N. Turner6, C. Farrington6, and P. J. Goldfinger6

1  Laboratoire Fizeau, OCA/UNS/CNRS UMR6525, Parc Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France
    e-mail: denis.mourard@obs-azur.fr
2  Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Grenoble (LAOG), Université Joseph-Fourier, UMR 5571 CNRS, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 09, France
3  Université de Lyon, 69003 Lyon, France; Université Lyon 1, Observatoire de Lyon, 9 avenue Charles André, 69230 Saint Genis Laval, France; CNRS, UMR 5574, Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon; École Normale Supérieure, 69007 Lyon, France
4  LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS UMR 8109, UPMC, Université Paris Diderot, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France
5  Georgia State University, PO Box 3969, Atlanta GA 30302-3969, USA
6  CHARA Array, Mount Wilson Observatory, 91023 Mount Wilson CA, USA

Received 30 July 2009 / Accepted 1 October 2009

Context. Among optical stellar interferometers, the CHARA Array located at Mt Wilson in California offers the potential of very long baselines (up to 330 m) and the prospect of coupling multiple beam combiners. This paper presents the principle and the measured performance of VEGA, Visible spEctroGraph and polArimeter installed in September 2007 at the coherent focus of the array.
Aims. With 0.3 ms of arc of spatial resolution and up to 30 000 of spectral resolution, VEGA intends to measure fundamental parameters of stars, to study stellar activities and to image and analyze circumstellar environments. We describe the observing modes that have been implemented for this spectro-polarimeter and show actual performances measured on the sky during the first observing runs.
Methods. The astrophysical programs are described in relation to the observing modes of the instrument, the presentation of the spectrograph and of the interface table is shown and finally the data is presented. We discuss the perspectives of further development in the framework of the CHARA Array.
Results. We show that VEGA/CHARA is fully operational. The current limiting magnitude is nearly 7 but the results depend on the observing conditions (seeing, spectral resolution, etc.). We have validated the stability of the instrumental visibility at the level of 1 to 2% over half an hour and of the instrumental polarization for various declinations. Some examples of squared visibility and differential visibility are presented.
Conclusions. The spectro-polarimeter VEGA has been installed and successfully tested on CHARA. It will permit stellar physics studies at unprecedented spectral and spatial resolutions.

Key words: instrumentation: high angular resolution -- instrumentation: interferometers

© ESO 2009