Journal Article

Study of the atmospheric refraction in a single-mode instrument – application to AMBER/VLTI

S. Robbe-Dubois, S. Lagarde, Y. Bresson, R. G. Petrov, M. Carbillet, E. LeCoarer, F. Rantakyrö, I. Tallon-Bosc, M. Vannier, P. Antonelli, G. Martinot-Lagarde, A. Roussel and D. Tasso

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 395, issue 2, pages 991-1004
Published in print May 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.14587.x
Study of the atmospheric refraction in a single-mode instrument – application to AMBER/VLTI

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This paper presents a study of the atmospheric refraction and its effect on the light coupling efficiency in an instrument using single-mode optical fibres. We show the analytical approach which allowed us to assess the need to correct the refraction in J and H bands while observing with an 8-m Unit Telescope. We then developed numerical simulations to go further in calculations. The hypotheses on the instrumental characteristics are those of AMBER (Astronomical Multi BEam combineR), the near-infrared focal beam combiner of the Very Large Telescope Interferometric mode, but most of the conclusions can be generalized to other single-mode instruments. We used the software package caos to take into account the atmospheric turbulence effect after correction by the European Southern Observatory system Multi-Application Curvature Adaptive Optics. The optomechanical study and design of the system correcting the atmospheric refraction on AMBER is then detailed. We showed that the atmospheric refraction becomes predominant over the atmospheric turbulence for some zenith angles z and spectral conditions: for z larger than 30° in J band for example. The study of the optical system showed that it allows to achieve the required instrumental performance in terms of throughput in J and H bands. First observations in J band of a bright star, α Cir star, at more than 30° from zenith clearly showed the gain to control the atmospheric refraction in a single-mode instrument, and validated the operating law.

Keywords: atmospheric effects; instrumentation: high angular resolution; instrumentation: interferometers; methods: laboratory; methods: numerical

Journal Article.  8458 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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