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Proceedings Paper

Optical astronomy on milli-, micro-, and nanosecond timescales
Author(s): Dainis Dravins; Hans Ove Hagerbo; Lennart Lindegren; Eva Mezey; Bo Nilsson
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Paper Abstract

Instrumentation and observing methods are being developed for a program in optical high-speed astrophysics, an exploratory project entering the domains of milli-, micro-, and nanosecond variability. Current studies include accretion flows around compact objects, stellar scintillation, and astronomical quantum optics. To study such rapid phenomena is not possible everywhere in the spectrum (e.g., X-ray studies are constrained by the photon count rates feasible with current spacecraft). The ground- based optical is a promising region, for which we have constructed a dedicated instrument, QVANTOS ('Quantum-Optical Spectrometer'). It was designed for real-time handling of large amounts of data, for observing also faint sources, and with a time resolution that can be extended to reveal quantum properties of light, such as the bunching of photons in time. Its first version was used to study atmospheric scintillation on timescales between 100 milli- and 100 nsec, utilizing some 25 full nights at a telescope on La Palma (Canary Islands). An understanding of the atmosphere is required to segregate astrophysical variability from terrestial effects, and to find optimal observing strategies. For very high time resolution, light curves are of little use, and statistical functions of variability have to be measured. The noise in such functions decreases dramatically with increased light collecting power, making very large telescopes much more sensitive for the study of rapid variability than ordinary-sized ones.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 June 1994
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 2198, Instrumentation in Astronomy VIII, (1 June 1994); doi: 10.1117/12.176705
Show Author Affiliations
Dainis Dravins, Lund Observatory (Sweden)
Hans Ove Hagerbo, Lund Observatory (Sweden)
Lennart Lindegren, Lund Observatory (Sweden)
Eva Mezey, Lund Observatory (Sweden)
Bo Nilsson, Lund Observatory (Sweden)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2198:
Instrumentation in Astronomy VIII
David L. Crawford; Eric R. Craine, Editor(s)

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