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View Full Version : When will the VLT telescopes combine?



Padawan
2004-Apr-07, 12:48 PM
i've read several times that the four VLT telescopes are able to "combine" and work as one single bad-*** telescope, but i havent heard them doing so yet, does anyone know what plans ESO has for these telescopes? Will the full potential of these giants ever be used?

ngc3314
2004-Apr-07, 01:59 PM
i've read several times that the four VLT telescopes are able to "combine" and work as one single bad-[bad word deleted] telescope, but i havent heard them doing so yet, does anyone know what plans ESO has for these telescopes? Will the full potential of these giants ever be used?

They have already been used pairwise (both with two of the 8.2m "unit telescopes" and with smaller mirror-fed 35cm optics) for a few observations - for example, see
http://www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2003/pr-17-03.html

They report recent installation of the beam combiner, a key bit of optics to bring all the beams together for interference.

In looking ahead, you'll see a lot more exciting results than actual images. With such a small number of interferometer baselines, an actual image can still be somewhat ugly-looking; radio astronomy has been refining algorithms for this for decades which will help, but be aware the the information content is somewhat limited. However, this is great stuff for sizes and shapes of stars and even inner regions of active galactic nuclei, resolving close small groups of objects, and so on. Keep an eye out as well for results of the Keck interferometer and the CHARA array at Mt. Wilson, both of these and the VLTI have been coming into science operation over the last few years. One of the coolest results so far is the very flattened shape of Altair, which must be seen both equator-on (as had been surmised from its very broad spectral lines) and rotating not very far below its breakup velocity. This was done with the Palomar Testbed Interferometer:
http://www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2003/pr-14-03.html

Padawan
2004-Apr-07, 02:29 PM
Thank you very much for this info, i'm really excited about what results we can get from this kinda use of the telescopes. i wonder what they will see if they point their equipment to Betelgeuse or Eta Carinae

Andromeda321
2004-Apr-07, 05:41 PM
For what it's worth the Very Long Baseline Array (http://www.aoc.nrao.edu/vlba/html/vlbahome/genpublic.html) has been up and running for years. It stretches from Hawaii to the Virgin Islands.

Kaptain K
2004-Apr-07, 07:04 PM
For what it's worth the Very Long Baseline Array (http://www.aoc.nrao.edu/vlba/html/vlbahome/genpublic.html) has been up and running for years. It stretches from Hawaii to the Virgin Islands.
That's radio astronomy. We're discussing optical interferometry here.

Andromeda321
2004-Apr-08, 12:23 AM
Yes, hence the "for what it's worth" bit. Because despite it all I think an array that stretches accross a few thousand miles is still very impressive. And it was kinda related.

Kullat Nunu
2004-Apr-08, 08:52 AM
Thank you very much for this info, i'm really excited about what results we can get from this kinda use of the telescopes. i wonder what they will see if they point their equipment to Betelgeuse or Eta Carinae

Well, Eta Carinae has already been observed with the VLTI.
Very interesting results can be found here (http://www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2003/pr-31-03.html).

Gerbil94
2004-Apr-08, 02:53 PM
Thank you very much for this info, i'm really excited about what results we can get from this kinda use of the telescopes. i wonder what they will see if they point their equipment to Betelgeuse or Eta Carinae

COAST (http://www.mrao.cam.ac.uk/telescopes/coast/) has been used on Betelgeuse and Capella.

JohnOwens
2004-Apr-08, 05:57 PM
COAST (http://www.mrao.cam.ac.uk/telescopes/coast/) has been used on Betelgeuse and Capella.
Fixed URL; no quotes inside the [ url= ] tag.