Engineering Thesis

Characterizing aperture masking interferometry in the near-infrared as an effective technique for astronomical imaging


Radio interferometry is the current method of choice for deep space astronomy, but in the past few decades optical techniques have become increasingly common. This research seeks to characterize the performance of aperture masking interferometry in the near-infrared at small scales. A mask containing six pairs of apertures at varying diameters and separations was constructed for use with a 24 inch telescope at theMIT Wallace Astrophysical Observatory. Test images of Spica and Jupiter were captured for 28 different telescope configurations, varying aperture separation, aperture diameter, collection wavelength, and exposure time. Lucky imaging was used to account for atmospheric perturbations. Each image was reduced via bias and dark frames to account for sensor noise, and then the full width at half maximum for each image was computed and used as a proxy for maximum angular resolution. The data imply that at small scales aperture size primarily controls the observed maximum angular resolution, but further data are required to substantiate the claim.

Link to arXiv article: