Context. Optical long-baseline interferometry is moving a crucial step forward with the advent of general-user scientific instruments that equip large aperture and hectometric baseline facilities, such as the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). Aims. AMBER is one of the VLTI instruments that combines up to three beams with low, moderate and high spectral resolutions in order to provide milli-arcsecond spatial resolution for compact astrophysical sources in the near-infrared wavelength domain. Its main specifications are based on three key programs on young stellar objects, active galactic nuclei central regions, masses, and spectra of hot extra-solar planets. Methods. These key science goals led to scientific specifications, which were used to propose and then validate the instrument concept. AMBER uses single-mode fibers to filter the entrance signal and to reach highly accurate, multiaxial three-beam combination, yielding three baselines and a closure phase, three spectral dispersive elements, and specific self-calibration procedures. Results. The AMBER measurements yield spectrally dispersed calibrated visibilities, color-differential complex visibilities, and a closure phase allows astronomers to contemplate rudimentary imaging and highly accurate visibility and phase differential measurements. AMBER was installed in 2004 at the Paranal Observatory. We describe here the present implementation of the instrument in the configuration with which the astronomical community can access it. Conclusions. After two years of commissioning tests and preliminary observations, AMBER has produced its first refereed publications, allowing assessment of its scientific potential.
Áreas temáticas de ASJC Scopus
- Astronomía y astrofísica
- Ciencias planetarias y espacial