Journal Article

What is limiting near-infrared astrometry in the Galactic Centre?

T. Fritz, S. Gillessen, S. Trippe, T. Ott, H. Bartko, O. Pfuhl, K. Dodds-Eden, R. Davies, F. Eisenhauer and R. Genzel

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 401, issue 2, pages 1177-1188
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.15707.x
What is limiting near-infrared astrometry in the Galactic Centre?

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We systematically investigate the error sources for high-precision astrometry from adaptive optics (AO) based near-infrared imaging data. We focus on the application in the crowded stellar field in the Galactic Centre. We show that at the level of ≲100 μas a number of effects are limiting the accuracy. Most important are the imperfectly subtracted seeing haloes of neighbouring stars, residual image distortions and unrecognized confusion of the target source with fainter sources in the background. Further contributors to the error budget are the uncertainty in estimating the point-spread function, the signal-to-noise ratio induced statistical uncertainty, coordinate transformation errors, the chromaticity of refraction in Earth's atmosphere, the post-AO differential tilt jitter and anisoplanatism. For stars as bright as mK= 14, residual image distortions limit the astrometry, for fainter stars the limitation is set by the seeing haloes of the surrounding stars. In order to improve the astrometry substantially at the current generation of telescopes, an AO system with high performance and weak seeing haloes over a relatively small field (r≲ 3 arcsec) is suited best. Furthermore, techniques to estimate or reconstruct the seeing halo could be promising.

Keywords: instrumentation: adaptive optics; techniques: high angular resolution; astrometry; Galaxy: centre; infrared: stars

Journal Article.  10546 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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