Intensity Interferometry in the Era of Giant Telescopes

  • March 19, 2018, 2:00 pm US/Central
  • Curia II
  • Albert Stebbins, FNAL

Three widely separated 30m class optical telescopes (E-ELT, GMT, TMT) will start observations in the coming decade and will provide a new opportunity to probe moderately dim sources with unprecedented angular resolution using the spectroscopic count intensity interferometry technique (see Hanbury Brown and Twiss).  The large baselines which extend up to 10,000 km probe angular scales down to 10’s of nanoarcseconds in the optical or about 1 km per parsec of distance.  The 30m apertures allow up to 5sigma interferometric imaging for sources as dim as AB magnitude 19 in a single night’s observing.  Spectroscopic count intensity interferometry requires development of new types of cameras but with existing technology.   Potential targets small enough and bright enough for this technique include thousands of stars some in other galaxies; thousands of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) at cosmological distances (blazars / QSOs); transients such as tidal disruption events, supernova and kilonovae.  N.B. one can resolve the event horizon of these SMBHs.