As part of the OPTICON H2020 project a network of VLTI Expertise Centres is established. These centres will be the backbone of dissemination activities to new VLTI users, by organising observing preparation and data reduction schools, by co-organising with ESO the VLTI community days, and being the end-points of the Fizeau staff exchange programme. The centres will follow at a smaller scale the successful experience of the ALMA Regional Centres. They will be the visible first contact point for astronomers interested in using VLTI.
The Portuguese centre appears as an evolution of a long standing expertise in optical interferometry that had its beginings in the astrophysical exploitation of the VINCI and AMBER VLTI instruments. CENTRA is a member of the GRAVITY instrument consortium and is coordinating the European Interferometry Initiative networking activity since FP7.
The VLTI and its instrumentation
The Very Large Telescope Interferometer is a globally unparalleled infrastructure, which provides European astronomers with access to observations at milliarcsecond angular resolution, at low, intermediate and high spectral resolution, at near-infrared and infrared wavelengths.
The VLTI instruments are:
AMBER – near-infrared 3-way beam combiner offering low, medium and high spectral resolution in the J, H and K-bands.
GRAVITY – 4-way beam combiner in the K-band, with spectroscopic, fringe tracking and astrometric capabilities.
PIONIER – 4-way beam combiner in the H-band, on the VLTI visitor focus.
MATISSE – future 4-way beam combiner in the L, M and N infrared bands.
The aims of the Portuguese VLTI Expertise Centre are:• Integrate and disseminate knowledge being developed across the community, ensuring long-term sustainability;
• Organize schools training users in the VLTI capabilities and instrumentation, providing the practical skills required for VLTI observing, data reduction and use of databases;
• Support observing proposal preparation and data reduction;
• Co-organize (with ESO) VLTI community days and the Eii meetings, bringing together 15 countries, and ESO and ESA, as well as the radio/mm interferometry community;
• Project office for the Fizeau staff exchange grant scheme towards young researchers and VLTI outreach in communities where optical/infrared interferometry is less well developed;
Lead Scientist: Mercedes Filho
Coordination: Paulo J.V. Garcia
Planned and past activities of the Portuguese VLTI Expertise Centre are:
• 2018/07/09: 9th VLTI Summer School, Lisbon, Portugal
• 2017/07/20: Dissemination action at the XXVII National Meeting of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ENAA)