AMBER, the near-infrared spectro-interferometric three-telescope VLTI instrument
Laboratoire Universitaire d'Astrophysique de Nice, UMR 6525 Université de Nice, Sophia Antipolis/CNRS, Parc Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France, e-mail: Romain.Petrov@unice.fr
2 Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Grenoble, UMR 5571 Université Joseph Fourier/CNRS, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France e-mail: Fabien.Malbet@obs.ujf-grenoble.fr
3 Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
4 Laboratoire Gemini, UMR 6203 Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur/CNRS, BP 4229, 06304 Nice Cedex 4, France
5 INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy
6 European Southern Observatory, Casilla 19001, Santiago 19, Chile
7 Instituut voor Sterrenkunde, KU-Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200D, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
8 ONERA/DOTA, 29 av de la Division Leclerc, BP 72, 92322 Chatillon Cedex, France
9 Centre de Recherche Astronomique de Lyon, UMR 5574 Université Claude Bernard/CNRS, 9 avenue Charles André, 69561 Saint Genis Laval Cedex, France
10 Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto, Rua das Estrelas - 4150-762 Porto, Portugal
11 Division Technique INSU/CNRS UPS 855, 1 place Aristide Briand, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France
12 Laboratoire Astrophysique de Toulouse, UMR 5572 Université Paul Sabatier/CNRS, BP 826, 65008 Tarbes Cedex, France
13 IRCOM, UMR 6615 Université de Limoges/CNRS, 123 avenue Albert Thomas, 87060 Limoges Cedex, France
14 European Southern Observatory, Karl Schwarzschild Strasse 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
15 Kiepenheuer Institut für Sonnenphysik, Schöneckstr. 6, 79104 Freiburg, Germany
16 Departamento de Astronomia, Universidad de Chile, Chile
Accepted: 6 December 2006
Context.Optical long-baseline interferometry is moving a crucial step forward with the advent of general-user scientific instruments that equip large aperture and hectometric baseline facilities, such as the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI).
Aims.AMBER is one of the VLTI instruments that combines up to three beams with low, moderate and high spectral resolutions in order to provide milli-arcsecond spatial resolution for compact astrophysical sources in the near-infrared wavelength domain. Its main specifications are based on three key programs on young stellar objects, active galactic nuclei central regions, masses, and spectra of hot extra-solar planets.
Methods.These key science goals led to scientific specifications, which were used to propose and then validate the instrument concept. AMBER uses single-mode fibers to filter the entrance signal and to reach highly accurate, multiaxial three-beam combination, yielding three baselines and a closure phase, three spectral dispersive elements, and specific self-calibration procedures.
Results.The AMBER measurements yield spectrally dispersed calibrated visibilities, color-differential complex visibilities, and a closure phase allows astronomers to contemplate rudimentary imaging and highly accurate visibility and phase differential measurements. AMBER was installed in 2004 at the Paranal Observatory. We describe here the present implementation of the instrument in the configuration with which the astronomical community can access it.
Conclusions.After two years of commissioning tests and preliminary observations, AMBER has produced its first refereed publications, allowing assessment of its scientific potential.
Key words: instrumentation: high angular resolution / techniques: interferometric / techniques: spectroscopic
© ESO, 2007