Royal Society Publishing

The application of interferometry to optical astronomical imaging

John E. Baldwin , Christopher A. Haniff

Abstract

In the first part of this review we survey the role optical/infrared interferometry now plays in ground–based astronomy. We discuss in turn the origins of astronomical interferometry, the motivation for its development, the techniques of its implementation, examples of its astronomical significance, and the limitations of the current generation of interferometric arrays. The second part focuses on the prospects for ground–based astronomical imaging interferometry over the near to mid–term (i.e. 10 years) at optical and near–infrared wavelengths. An assessment is made of the astronomical and technical factors which determine the optimal designs for imaging arrays. An analysis based on scientific capability, technical feasibility and cost argues for an array of large numbers of moderate–sized (2 m class) telescopes rather than one comprising a small number of much larger collectors.

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