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Astron. Astrophys. Suppl. Ser.
Volume 138, Number 1, July 1999
Page(s) 147 - 154
DOI: 10.1051/aas:1999268

Astron. Astrophys. Suppl. Ser. 138, 147-154

Optical configuration for a micro-arcsecond astrometric interferometer in space

E. Thomas1,2 - S. Robbe1, 2[*] - T. Viard1 - D. Segransan3 - F. Vakili2 - R. Krawczyk1

Send offprint request: E. Thomas

Correspondence to:

1 - Alcatel Space Industries, Future Projects, 100 Bd. du Midi, 06322 Cannes la Bocca Cedex, France
2 - Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, Département Fresnel, UMR 6528, Av. Copernic, 06130 Grasse, France
3 - Observatoire de Grenoble, Laboratoire d'Astrophysique, 414 rue de la Piscine, Domaine Universitaire St Martin d'Hères, BP. 53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France

Received January 26, 1998; accepted April 30, 1999


One of the ESA candidate cornerstone missions is dedicated to wide-angle astrometry and aims at dramatically increasing the accuracy of astrometric measurements and the limiting magnitude with respect to Hipparcos (ESA Symposium, Venice, 1997). This mission was initially designated by the acronym GAIA (Global Astrometric Interferometer for Astrophysics) and featured several Fizeau interferometers. One important drawback of the original configuration proposed by Lindegren & Perryman (1996) was the confusion effect. This effect, which is a superposition of the light coming from different objects, is due to recording the fringe signal in the exit pupil plane of the instrument, necessary to relax the pixel size in the considered configuration. In order to overcome the confusion effect while retaining the original Fizeau interferometer concept, we present an optical configuration allowing direct fringe detection, i.e. in the image plane. It features focal length of 30 m inducing technologically feasible pixel size in the bandwidth of interest, and meets the condition to fit the Ariane V launcher fairing.

Key words: astrometry -- instrumentation: detectors -- instrumentation: interferometers -- methods: analytical -- methods: numerical -- techniques: interferometric

Copyright The European Southern Observatory (ESO)