Students also have special access to the world’s top facility for optical/infrared interferometry, Georgia State University’s CHARA Array on Mount Wilson, California. U-M is one of only a handful of institutions worldwide with this level of access, thanks to Professor John Monnier’s work developing cutting-edge instruments for this facility. These include:
- MIRC (the Michigan Infrared Combiner): Monnier’s newest update allows all six of CHARA’s telescopes to work together, making it the most powerful combiner for infrared interferometry in the world.
- Fringe-tracker: This instrument boosts MIRC’s performance, correcting for atmospheric turbulence and helping to image faint objects like the planet-forming disks around young stars.
- Adaptive optics: Monnier and one of his graduate students are building a wavefront sensor for CHARA’s adaptive optics upgrade. This will allow a nearly six-fold increase in the number of young stars that can be imaged.