Several institutions are part of the CHARA Consortium. The partnering institutions expand the capabilities of the Array by building innovative beam combiners and providing complementary scientific expertise.
Georgia State University
The CHARA Array is operated by the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy at Georgia State University in Atlanta. In addition to the interferometric facility, GSU built two beam combiners: the two-telescope CLASSIC and three-telescope CLIMB beam combiners.
University of Michigan
The Michigan Infrared Beam Combiner (MIRC) provided the first images ever obtained for a main sequence star other than the sun. This instrument, which combines light from all six CHARA telescopes simultaneously, was developed by John Monnier and his optical interferometry group in the Astronomy Department of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In collaboration with the University of Exeter, the original MIRC combiner was upgraded with a new detector and input optics to improve sensitivity and wavelength coverage. The new MIRC-X combiner has demonstrated a best-case sensitivity in the H-band down to H=8.2 magnitude. Dr. Monnier is also building a six-telescope cryogenic beam combiner called MYSTIC that will operate at longer wavelengths in the K-band.
University of Exeter
The upgrades to the six-telescope MIRC-X combiner were led by Stefan Kraus at the University of Exeter in the UK. These upgrades included the installation of an ultra-low read noise detector system and implementation of an innovative beam combination scheme that reduces the light injection losses. An ambitious goal of the MIRC-X project is to produce high-fidelity images of protoplanetary disks around young stars and provide a glimpse into how planets form around stars.
l’Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur
The VEGA Group, with Denis Mourard as principal investigator, is located at the Laboratoire Gemini of l'Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur, Nice, France. The VEGA instrument was installed at the CHARA Array and provides interferometric capabilites at visible wavelengths including spectroscopic and polarimetric measurements at very high angular resolution. In January 2021, VEGA will be decommissioned to make way for the next generation optical instrument SPICA that is being built by Denis Mourard and collaborators and that should be available in 2022. SPICA will combine all six-telescopes and provide a range of spectral dispersions at visible wavelegnths.
l’Observatoire de Paris
The FLUOR Group is headed by Vincent du Foresto of the Laboratoire d'Etudes Spatiales et d'Instrumentation en Astrophysique (LESIA) of l'Observatoire de Paris, Meudon, France. FLUOR is a two-element beam combiner that provides high precision interferometric data used to measure stellar pulsations and probe the inner environments surrounding stars. The instrument was recently upgraded to provided higher performance and is now called JouFLU.
The SUSI Group, under the leadership of Peter Tuthill of the Institute of Astronomy, University of Sydney, Australia, operates the Sydney University Stellar Interferometer located at Narrabri in New South Wales where SUSI observations in the southern hemisphere can complement CHARA work in the north. A pair of Precision Astronomical Visible Observations (PAVO) instruments have been installed at SUSI and at the CHARA Array in a collaboration involving Michael Ireland (Australian National University), Peter Tuthill (Sydney University) and Theo ten Brummelaar (CHARA).
Australian National University
The (PAVO) visible beam combiner was designed and built under the direction of Michael Ireland. Dr. Ireland is currently on the astronomy faculty at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University where he leads a research group on novel instrumentation to study exoplanets and high angular resolution observations of young stars and their environments.
Université de Limoges
Francois Reynaud at the Université de Limoges in France leads the ALOHA fiber experiment. The innovative ALOHA project uses a nonlinear process to shift the infrared radiation emitted by the observed astrophysical source to the visible spectral domain. This way, the light beam is more easily recorded by mature optical devices and detectors.
Kyoto Sangyo University
Makoto Kishimoto at Kyoto Sangyo University has been working with the CHARA collaboration in an effort to push the sensitivity limits of the Array in order to resolve the cores of Active Galactic Nuclei.
National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory
Open access time at the CHARA Array is available to the astronomical community through the National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIR Lab). Stephen Ridgway acts as the liaison between CHARA and the staff at NOIR Lab.
The CHARA Array is supported by funding from the National Science Foundation and Georgia State University through the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.