Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

High-resolution View into the Infrared Universe

05.03.2018

After 12 years of development, the MATISSE interferometry instrument has been installed during the last 3 months at ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). The instrument combines four of the VLT telescopes to obtain an interferometer with an extremely high spatial resolution. This instrument allows astronomers to study the environment of young stars, the surfaces of stars and Active Galactic Nuclei in the mid-infrared wavelength range. In February 2018, MATISSE successfully achieved ‘First Light’. This achievement consummates the decade-long efforts of a large number of engineers and astronomers in europe, including the infrared interferometry research group at the MPIfR in Bonn, Germany.

MATISSE is a second-generation Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) instrument providing extremely high spatial resolution. It is a combined imager and spectrograph for interferometry in the mid-infrared 3–5 μm spectral region (L- and M-bands) and the 8–13 μm region (N-band). MATISSE builds on the experience gained with the VLTI’s first-generation instruments, but vastly extends their capability to produce detailed images.


Four-telescope interferogram of Sirius recorded at “First light” observations on 18 February 2018 with VLTI-MATISSE. The image is a colourised version of the interferogram at infrared wavelengths.

ESO/MATISSE consortium


The domes of the 8.2 m UT telescopes and the 1.8 m AT telescopes of ESO’s VLT on top of Cerro Paranal (Chile).

Gerd Weigelt/MPIfR

The instrument exploits multiple telescopes and the wave nature of the light to produce more detailed images of celestial objects than can be obtained with any existing or planned single telescope. High- resolution imaging in the infrared is technically demanding but has yielded spectacular results in detecting planet-forming discs around stars, images of the surfaces of stars, and dusty discs around Active Galactic Nuclei.

The target of the First Light observation was the bright star Sirius (see Fig. 1). Figure 2 shows the ESO VLT, which consists of four telescopes with a mirror diameter of 8.2 m (the Unit Telescopes) and four telescopes with 1.8 m mirror diameter (the Auxiliary Telescopes).

Because of the technical challenges, only a few mid-infrared interferometers have observed prior to MATISSE: the SOIRDETE prototype at the Plateau de Calern in France, the ISI interferometer of the Berkeley University and the Keck interferometer in the US, and, the ESO-MIDI instrument. MATISSE is designed for a broad range of science goals with as prime science cases the studies of the discs around young stars and Active Galactic Nuclei.

The capability of MATISSE is unique in the world: It will open the infrared L-, M- and N-bands (respectively 3.0–4.1, 4.6–5.0 and 7–13 μm) to long-baseline infrared interferometry. The angular resolution in the L-band will be about 3 milliarcseconds (mas), equivalent to 0.3 AU for a star at 100 parsec distance.

With various spectral resolutions between R ~ 30 and R ~ 5000, MATISSE can distinguish characteristic atoms and molecules in stars and galaxies. The second unique capability is high-fidelity mid-infrared imaging — closure-phase aperture-synthesis imaging — performed with up to four 8.2 m telescopes or 1.8 m telescopes.

“Single telescopes can achieve a maximum spatial resolution that is proportional to their mirror diameter. To obtain a higher resolution, we combine or interfere the light from four different VLT telescopes”, says Bruno Lopez from the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur at Nice, the principal investigator of MATISSE. “This interferometric technique can provide us with a high spatial resolution that is proportional to the distance between the telescopes. Therefore, MATISSE is able to deliver the sharpest images ever in the 3–13 μm wavelength range.

Gerd Weigelt, Coinvestigator at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, adds: “MATISSE will also allow us to obtain a high spectral resolution in addition to high spatial resolution. Therefore, we will be able to perform our studies in many different spectral channels distributed across an individual spectral line and even measure the velocity distribution in astronomical objects, which is very essential to reveal the physical properties of the objects.”

The MATISSE spectral bands will provide mid-infrared high angular resolution images that can be linked to observations at similar resolution in the submillimetre domain, with the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA). MATISSE can be seen as a successor to MIDI (the MID-infrared Interferometric instrument) and a precursor of the future METIS instrument for the ELT.

The success of this MATISSE first light was only possible because of the hard and passionate work of many engineers and researchers and their institutes. Together with GRAVITY operating at the VLTI, MATISSE is a complex and challenging instrument: 3 tons, more than ten thousand elements machined and aligned to better than a thousandth of a millimetre, 20 cubic metres of volume.

Further testing of MATISSE will continue through 2018 and normal observations, open to all ESO astronomers, will begin early in 2019.

MATISSE was designed, funded and built in close collaboration with ESO, by a consortium composed of French (INSU-CNRS in Paris and OCA in Nice hosting the P.I. team), German (MPIA, MPIfR and University of Kiel), Dutch (NOVA and University of Leiden), and Austrian (University of Vienna) institutes. The Konkoly Observatory and Cologne University have also provided some support to the manufacture of the instrument.

Local Contact:

Prof. Dr. Gerd Weigelt,
Head of Research Group „Infrared Interferometry“
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn.
Fon: +49 228 525-243
E-mail: gweigelt@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de

Dr. Udo Beckmann
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn.
Fon: +49 228 525-321
E-mail: ubeckmann@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de

Dr. Norbert Junkes,
Press and Public Outreach
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn.
Fon: +49 228 525-399
E-mail: njunkes@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.mpifr-bonn.mpg.de/pressreleases/2018/3

Norbert Junkes | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Fusion by strong lasers
06.12.2019 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf

nachricht NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission explains Bennu's mysterious particle events
06.12.2019 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing a digital twin

University of Texas and MIT researchers create virtual UAVs that can predict vehicle health, enable autonomous decision-making

In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location...

Im Focus: The coldest reaction

With ultracold chemistry, researchers get a first look at exactly what happens during a chemical reaction

The coldest chemical reaction in the known universe took place in what appears to be a chaotic mess of lasers. The appearance deceives: Deep within that...

Im Focus: How do scars form? Fascia function as a repository of mobile scar tissue

Abnormal scarring is a serious threat resulting in non-healing chronic wounds or fibrosis. Scars form when fibroblasts, a type of cell of connective tissue, reach wounded skin and deposit plugs of extracellular matrix. Until today, the question about the exact anatomical origin of these fibroblasts has not been answered. In order to find potential ways of influencing the scarring process, the team of Dr. Yuval Rinkevich, Group Leader for Regenerative Biology at the Institute of Lung Biology and Disease at Helmholtz Zentrum München, aimed to finally find an answer. As it was already known that all scars derive from a fibroblast lineage expressing the Engrailed-1 gene - a lineage not only present in skin, but also in fascia - the researchers intentionally tried to understand whether or not fascia might be the origin of fibroblasts.

Fibroblasts kit - ready to heal wounds

Im Focus: McMaster researcher warns plastic pollution in Great Lakes growing concern to ecosystem

Research from a leading international expert on the health of the Great Lakes suggests that the growing intensity and scale of pollution from plastics poses serious risks to human health and will continue to have profound consequences on the ecosystem.

In an article published this month in the Journal of Waste Resources and Recycling, Gail Krantzberg, a professor in the Booth School of Engineering Practice...

Im Focus: Machine learning microscope adapts lighting to improve diagnosis

Prototype microscope teaches itself the best illumination settings for diagnosing malaria

Engineers at Duke University have developed a microscope that adapts its lighting angles, colors and patterns while teaching itself the optimal...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The Future of Work

03.12.2019 | Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solving the mystery of carbon on ocean floor

06.12.2019 | Earth Sciences

Chip-based optical sensor detects cancer biomarker in urine

06.12.2019 | Life Sciences

A platform for stable quantum computing, a playground for exotic physics

06.12.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>