Joint research activity

In the OPTICON H2020 (2017-2020) project, the JRA aims at enhancing the existing European Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) facility by providing concrete concepts and feasibility studies for future interferometric instrumentation. The main objective is to pave the way for a near-future instrument plan beyond the 2nd generation of interferometric instruments currently being implemented at the observatory. As such this JRA is highly complementary to efforts at ESO which concentrate of commissioning the 2nd gen instruments. We intend to demonstrate with this JRA that the VLTI deserves future developments, and to inspire ESO to prepare a call for 3rd generation instrumentation to maximise the exploitation of the given VLTI research infrastructure.

The VLTI is a globally unique infrastructure, which provides European astronomers with access to the highest angular resolutions at infrared wavelengths. Under the auspices of the OPTICON FP7-II the working group “Future of interferometry in Europe”, we broadly investigated among the 14 member-states of the European Interferometry Initiative the need and scientific motivations for future VLTI instrumentation. Now, in strict continuation of this EC-funded community development effort, this new JRA focuses on doing the next step: developing three concrete instrument proposals to serve the scientific needs of the astronomy community.

Specifically, we aim
  • to improve the sensitivity (to reach new, fainter objects like merging active galactic nuclei)
  • to improve the high contrast imaging performance (to detect Exo-Planets), and
  • to explore interferometry at visible wavelengths (to spatially resolve fundamental stellar physics).

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