Astrophysics Group

Cavendish Laboratory

Optical Interferometry

These pages describe the research activities of the optical interferometry sub-group of the Cavendish Astrophysics Group. Some resources that may be useful to researchers in optical interferometry and related subject areas are available via links from this page.

Research interests and activities

The main focus of our research is the application of the aperture synthesis technique at optical wavelengths, in order to produce extremely high resolution images of astronomical objects.

To this end, we are primarily involved in two optical interferometer projects, the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer (MROI), and the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). Please refer to the pages describing our involvement in MROI, and our work on the Phase A study for the VLTI Spectro-Imager (VSI) second-generation instrument concept.

We are also actively researching the underpinning technology for future optical interferometers, including photonic crystal fibres, low-cost adaptive optics, and low-noise optical and near-infrared detectors. Please refer to our publications for details of this work.

Our team designed and built the COAST Interferometer, which is now primarily used as a testbed for subsystems and components intended for MROI, VLTI, and future optical interferometer arrays.

In addition to technical work, we have interests in several astrophysical topics, with an emphasis on subject areas to which optical aperture synthesis is making a significant contribution:

  • Physical origin of surface asymmetries on red supergiant stars
  • Atmospheric structure and mass-loss in pulsating long-period variable stars
  • AGB stars as planetary nebula precursors: origins of asymmetric structure
  • Radio and optical properties of Seyfert galaxies; unified schemes for Active Galactic Nuclei

Resources on this site

External links