During the last two decades, optical stellar interferometry has become an important tool in astronomical investigations requiring spatial resolution well beyond that of traditional telescopes. This book, first published in 2006, was the first to be written on the subject. The authors provide an extended introduction discussing basic physical and atmospheric optics, which establishes the framework necessary to present the ideas and practice of interferometry as applied to the astronomical scene. They follow with an overview of historical, operational and planned interferometric observatories, and a selection of important astrophysical discoveries made with them. Finally, they present some as-yet untested ideas for instruments both on the ground and in space which may allow us to image details of planetary systems beyond our own.
Antoine Labeyrie is Professor at the College de France. During his distinguished career he has made many fundamental contributions to high resolution optical astronomy. Stephen G. Lipson is Chair of Electro-Optics and Professor of Physics at Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa. He is co-author of Optical Physics, 3rd edition (Cambridge University Press, 1995). Peter Nisenson studied physics and optics before becoming a professional astronomer at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. His achievements include developing image detectors that can measure individual photon events.
1. Introduction; 2. Basic concepts: a qualitative introduction; 3. Interference, diffraction and coherence; 4. Aperture synthesis; 5. Optical effects of the atmosphere; 6. Single-aperture techniques; 7. Intensity interferometry; 8. Amplitude interferometry: techniques and instruments; 9. The hypertelescope; 10. Nulling and coronagraphy; 11. A sampling of interferometric science; 12. Future ground and space projects; Appendices.