Photon counting intensity interferometry in the blue at a 0.5 m telescope published in RAS Techniques and Instruments

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Stefan Richter

Our Article Photon counting intensity interferometry in the blue at a 0.5 m telescope has been published in RAS Techniques and Instruments:


Intensity interferometry is a re-emerging interferometry tool that alleviates some of the challenges of amplitude interferometry at the cost of reduced sensitivity. We demonstrate the feasibility of intensity interferometry with fast single photon counting detectors at small telescopes by utilising a telescope of diameter of merely 0.5m. The entire measurement setup, including collimation, optical filtering, and two single photon detectors, is attached directly to the telescope without the use of optical fibres, facilitated by the large area of our single photon detectors. For digitisation and timing, we utilise a Time-To-Amplitude-Converter. Observing α Lyrae (Vega) for a total exposure time of 32.4h over the course of six nights, an auto-correlation signal with a contrast of (9.5 ± 2.7) × 10−3 and a coherence time of (0.34 ± 0.12) ps at a SNR of 2.8 is measured. The result fits well to preceding laboratory tests as well as expectations calculated from the optical and electronic characteristics of our measurement setup. This measurement, to our knowledge, constitutes the first time that a bunching signal with starlight was measured in the B band with single photon counting detectors. Simultaneously, this is to date the stellar intensity interferometry measurement utilising the smallest telescope. Our successful measurement shows that intensity interferometry can be adopted not only at large scale facilities, but also at readily available and inexpensive smaller telescopes.