An inexpensive field-widened monolithic Michelson interferometer for precision radial velocity measurements

Suvrath Mahadevan, Jian Ge, Scott W. Fleming, Wan Xiaoke, Curtis Dewitt, Julian C. Van Eyken, Dan Mcdavitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We have constructed a thermally compensated field-widened monolithic Michelson interferometer that can be used with a medium-resolution spectrograph to measure precise Doppler radial velocities of stars. Our prototype monolithic fixed-delay interferometer is constructed with off-the-shelf components and assembled using a hydrolysis bonding technique. We installed and tested this interferometer in the Exoplanet Tracker (ET) instrument at the Kitt Peak 2.1 m telescope, an instrument built to demonstrate the principles of dispersed fixed-delay interferometry. An iodine cell allows the interferometer drift to be accurately calibrated, relaxing the stability requirements on the interferometer itself. When using our monolithic interferometer, the ET instrument has no moving parts (except the iodine cell), greatly simplifying its operation. We demonstrate differential radial velocity precision of a few m s-1 on well known radial velocity standards and planet bearing stars when using this interferometer. Such monolithic interferometers will make it possible to build relatively inexpensive instruments that are easy to operate and capable of precision radial velocity measurements. A larger multiobject version of the Exoplanet Tracker will be used to conduct a large scale survey for planetary systems as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS III). Variants of the techniques and principles discussed in this paper can be directly applied to build large monolithic interferometers for such applications, enabling the construction of instruments capable of efficiently observing many stars simultaneously at high velocity precision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1015
Number of pages15
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number871
StatePublished - Sep 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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