MATISSE (Multi-AperTure mid-Infrared SpectroScopic Experiment) is the mid-infrared instrument of the VLTI. It will produce the sharpest images of planet-forming regions in infant stellar systems, central regions of active galaxies, and close environment of massive stars.
MATISSE consists in an interferometer, combining four of the VLT telescopes, together with a spectrometer, working between 3 and 13 microns. It will produce images at an unprecedented resolution of a few thousandth of an arc-second.
The instrument was built by a consortium of 52 people across 6 countries (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Poland). It is currently being installed in Paranal, Chile, and is expected to be open to the scientific community in 2019.
"MATISSE made its first fringes on the star Sirius during the night between 18 and 19 February, with 4 telescopes, simultaneously in the L- and N-bands (atmospheric windows at 3 microns and 10 microns).
This major milestone of the project marks the end of the instrument integration, and the start of the commissionning period, that will last from now up to early 2019. The commissioning will fully qualify the instrument's performances, before its grand opening by ESO to the whole scientific community.
Bruno Lopez and the MATISSE consortium"
Click image to enlarge
The MATISSE team is still at work to prepare for the instrument's "first light". Their work is going to stay intense, until the first stellar photon hits the MATISSE detector, an event still foreseen at the end of February
…with the internal calibration source in the LM-band and in the N-band.
We would like to share with you the first fringes in the LM- and N-band that we obtained today after successfully cophasing all four beams. Below you can see one image in LM-band (in mode medium spectral resolution) with the four beams combined in one fringe pattern, and one image in N-band (in mode high resolution) with two beams combined.
This is a very encouraging intermediate step of the AIV work, some days ahead of schedule, demonstrating that the alignment of the warm optics has been completed successfully. The cold optics needs some further fine tuning to improve the fringe contrast.
Looking forward to fringes on the sky more or less exactly four weeks from today,
Andreas, Sylvie and Yves
A bit after the electronics cabinets installation, the MATISSE team took profit of a better weather to bring up the two cryostats of the instrument. This step marks the end of the assembly of the instrument, and starts its integration phase (already started for the warm optics).
After a dense week, which included the repatriation from Chile of one of us injuried at his knees, now safe and recovering at home, you will find hereafter a report from Lotti -Lieselotte Jochum-, describing the huge work achieved by the Paranal people.