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High-Precision Infra-Red Stellar Interferometry


Lane, Benjamin Frederick (2003) High-Precision Infra-Red Stellar Interferometry. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/618C-6550.


This dissertation describes work performed at the Palomar Testbed Interferometer (PTI) during 1998-2002. Using PTI, we developed a method to measure stellar angular diameters in the 1-3 milli-arcsecond range with a precision of better than 5%. Such diameter measurements were used to measure the mass-radius relations of several lower main sequence stars and hence verify model predictions for these stars. In addition, by measuring the changes in Cepheid angular diameters during the pulsational cycle and applying a Baade-Wesselink analysis we are able to derive the distances to two galactic Cepheids (eta Aql and zeta Gem) with a precision of order 10%; such distance determinations provide an independent calibration of the Cepheid period-luminosity relations that underpin current estimates of cosmic distance scales.

Second, we used PTI and the adaptive optics facility at the Keck Telescope on Mauna Kea to resolve the low mass binary systems BY Dra and GJ 569B, resulting in dynamical mass determinations for these systems. GJ 569B most likely contains at least one substellar component, and as such represents the first dynamical mass determination of a brown dwarf.

Finally, a new observing technique - dual-star phase referencing - was developed and demonstrated at PTI. Phase referencing allows interferometric observations of stars previously too faint to observe, and is a prerequisite for large-scale interferometric astrometry programs such as the one planned for the Keck Interferometer; interferometric astrometry is a promising technique for the study of extra-solar planetary systems, particularly ones with long-period planets.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Brown dwarfs; Cepheids; infrared instrumentation; interferometry; low-mass stars; stellar astronomy
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Planetary Sciences
Minor Option:Astronomy
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Murray, Bruce C.
Thesis Committee:
  • Murray, Bruce C. (chair)
  • Stevenson, David John
  • Blake, Geoffrey A.
  • Colavita, M. Mark
  • Brown, Michael E.
  • Kulkarni, Shrinivas R.
Defense Date:20 February 2003
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-03122003-112232
Persistent URL:
Lane, Benjamin Frederick0000-0002-8006-0243
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:934
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:14 Mar 2003
Last Modified:11 Feb 2021 01:17

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