Belgian VLTI Expertise Centre


As part of the OPTICON H2020 project, a network of VLTI Expertise Centres has been established in Europe.

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hese centres will be the backbone of dissemination activities to new VLTI users, by organising observing preparation and data reduction schools, by co-organising with ESO the VLTI community days, and being the end-points of the Fizeau staff exchange programme. The centres will follow at a smaller scale the successful experience of the ALMA Regional Centres. They will be the visible first contact point for astronomers interested in using VLTI.

The Belgian centre appears as an evolution of a long-standing expertise in optical interferometry that had its beginnings in the early definition of the VLTI and the astrophysical exploitation of its instruments over the generations (i.e., VINCI, AMBER, PIONIER, GRAVITY).  The Belgian centre is also part of the European Interferometry Initiative networking activity since FP7.

The VLTI and its instrumentation

The Very Large Telescope Interferometer is a globally unparalleled infrastructure, which provides European astronomers with access to observations at milliarcsecond angular resolution, at low, intermediate and high spectral resolution, at near-infrared and infrared wavelengths.

The current VLTI instruments are:

  • AMBER – near-infrared 3-way beam combiner offering low, medium and high spectral resolution in the J, H and K-bands.
  • PIONIER – 4-way beam combiner in the H-band, on the VLTI visitor focus.
  • GRAVITY – 4-way beam combiner in the K-band, with spectroscopic, fringe tracking and astrometric capabilities.
  • MATISSE – future (2019) 4-way beam combiner in the L, M and N infrared bands.

Objectives

The aims of the Belgian VLTI Expertise Centre are:

  • Integrate and disseminate knowledge being developed across the community, ensuring long-term sustainability;
  • Support observing proposal preparation and data reduction;
  • Co-organize (with ESO) VLTI community days and the EII meetings, bringing together 15 countries, and ESO and ESA, as well as the radio/mm interferometry community;
  • Exchange experience and coordinate with the radio/mm interferometry community, when possible in conjunction with ALMA centres of expertise.

Core team

Coordination: Denis DEFRÈRE

Lead scientists: Olivier ABSIL and Jean SURDEJ

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