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MATISSE ships to Chile

Submitter: Felix Betonvil
Description: MATISSE, the mid-infrared interferometric spectrograph and imager for ESO's VLTI at Paranal, Chile, reached recently two important milestones. First, the MATISSE consortium -in which also NOVA participates- passed in September its Preliminary Acceptance Europe review (PAE) at the Observatoire de Cote d'Azur in Nice, the major review which proves the readiness of the instrument. Thereafter the 10-ton instrument was carefully disassembled, packed and shipped to Paranal, Chile, the location of ESO's Very Large Telescope VLT, where it arrived last week.

Being an instrument that is designed to combine coherently the light of the four telescopes of ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI), MATISSE is able of emulating the aperture of a 200-m telescope, resulting in spatial resolutions up to 5 milliarcsec in the 2.8-5 and 8-13 micrometer wavelength bands. MATISSE is an imager and also a spectrograph with resolutions between 30 and 5000. With these characteristics MATISSE is extremely well suited for the study of Young Stellar Objects (YSOs), Active galactic nuclei (AGNs), asymptotic giant branch stars (AGBs) and planetary nebulae and extra-solar planets.

In MATISSE the light of the 4 telescopes is imaged on a detector where interference patterns are observed, from which the original image can be reconstructed. Interferometry at optical and near-infrared wavelength is extremely difficult but the verifications showed that the instrument in the lab works as expected. The NOVA Optical and Infrared Instrumentation group at ASTRON designed and built the two Cold Optical Benches, which combine at cryogenic temperatures the beams of the telescopes onto the detectors.

With the arrival of the instrument on the observing grounds, the next activity is assembly of the instrument at the interferometric laboratory of the observatory. First light is expected early 2018.
Copyright: NOVA Optical Infrared instrumentation group
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