FP6 (2002-2006)

Summary and Objectives


The objective of the Interferometry Forum is to bring optical interferometry to main stream astronomy and enable the Candidate Countries of central Europe to participate fully in technical and scientific developments in optical interferometry.

Interferometry – the combination of multiple telescopes in a single coherent array – is a powerful technique that allows astronomers to obtain unprecedented angular resolution and to measure motions of celestial bodies with extreme precision. The specific objectives of this activity are: (1) to exploit the scientific opportunities of the new facilities; (2) to integrate interferometry with more traditional astronomical techniques and make interferometry accessible to non-specialists; (3) to develop a long-term scientific perspective for optical / infrared interferometry well into the next decade.


The following activities will be undertaken:

  • European Exchange Visitors Programme in Optical Interferometry: Funding (travel and accommodation) will be made available for visits of researchers from one of the participants to an institute of his/her choice (but within the European Community) to perform collaborative work on one of the active topics of the European Interferometry Initiative. The visits will typically last for one month, and strengthen the network of astronomers engaged in technical and scientific work on optical / infrared interferometry. Approximately 6 exchange visits per year throughout the 5 year programme are anticipated.
  • Strategic Coordination: Working groups will be established to consider topics crucial to the future of optical interferometry on a strategic level. Provisional topics for these working groups include: “Visibility modelling from radiative transfer codes” and “Interferometric tests of stellar model atmospheres”. The working groups will each meet at least five times during the project, and compile a final report with conclusions. Regular coordination meetings are planned, travel support to participants will be provided.
  • Developing the Vision for a Next-Generation Interferometric Facility: The participants will develop the science case and technology road-map for a future large interferometer.


The participants will take action to ensure that Europe will play a leading role in the development of optical interferometry over the next decade and to enable European astronomers to fully exploit the scientific potential of existing and planned large facilities. The near-term scientific productivity of interferometers is limited mainly by:

  • the inherent limitations of the existing focal-plane instrumentation and the difficulties of phasing and co-phasing the elements of interferometric arrays
  • the lack of adequate algorithms and tools for the analysis and interpretation of the data
  • limitations of component technologies and modelling tools.


The participants will address areas (1) and (2) through the coordinated development of advanced analysis software, and targeted initiatives to further the design of next-generation focal-plane instrumentation and fringe tracking devices.


Newtork Activities


During the 2002-2006 period (FP6) the following working groups were funded by OPTICON/FP6 (RII3-Ct-2004-001566).


Joint Research Activities


Joint activities were developed with the OPTICON/FP6 project.