Integrated optics for astronomical interferometry
VI. Coupling the light of the VLTI in K band
LAOG – Laboratoire d'Astrophysique UMR UJF-CNRS 5571, Université Joseph Fourier, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble, France e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 LETI – Laboratoire d'Électronique de Technologie et d'Information, CEA, 17 rue des Martyrs, 38054 Grenoble, France
3 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
4 European Southern Observatory, Casilla 19001, Santiago 19, Chile
Accepted: 20 December 2005
Aims. Our objective is to prove that integrated optics (IO) is not only a good concept for astronomical interferometry but also a working technique with high performance.
Methods. We used the commissioning data obtained with the dedicated K-band integrated optics two-telescope beam combiner that now replaces the fiber coupler MONA in the VLTI/VINCI instrument. We characterize the behavior of this IO device and compare its properties to other single mode beam combiner like the previously used MONA fiber coupler.
Results. The IO combiner provides a high optical throughput, a contrast of 89% with a night-to-night stability of a few percent. Even if a dispersive phase is present, we show that it does not bias the measured Fourier visibility estimate. An upper limit of for the cross-talk between linear polarization states has been measured. We take advantage of the intrinsic contrast stability to test a new astronomical procedure for calibrating diameters of simple stars by simultaneously fitting the instrumental contrast and the apparent stellar diameters. This method reaches an accuracy with diameter errors on the order of previous ones but without the need of an already known calibrator.
Conclusions. These results are an important step for IO, since they prove its maturity in an astronomical band where the technology has been specially developed for astronomical convenience. It paves the way to incoming imaging interferometer projects.
© ESO, 2006