Professor Chris Haniff
Fellow in Physics
Professor of Physics and Deputy Head of Department

Director of Studies in Physics and Fellows' Steward


My main research interest is in the design of instrumentation for high precision optical and infrared astrophysics. Here, a key problem is how to realize diffraction-limited performance from the ground when looking through the turbulent atmosphere. My work has prioritised the application of interferometric techniques, first developed for use at radio wavelengths, to imaging at much shorter optical and near-infrared wavelengths.

Most recently I have been involved in the planning, design and implementation of a number of astronomical interferometers including the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer, the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer, and the Planet Formation Imager. All three of these facilities use/will use "optically linked" small telescopes to "synthesize" a much larger aperture. In doing so the effects of the atmosphere can be significantly mitigated so that images with much higher angular resolution than would otherwise be possible can be delivered. In principle these methods offer the prospect of studying many classes of astronomical objects at levels of detail 100s of times finer than can be discerned with, for example, the Hubble Space Telescope. Ground based arrays such as these are also likely to be the only convenient way to monitor and inspect the large population of geosynchronous satellites that are the backbone of our modern communications and positioning networks.

My own research is both in the optical, mechanical and sub-system design of such interferometric arrays as well as their use for astrophysical and commercial applications.

Nulling Data Reduction and On-sky Performance of the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer. The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 824, Issue 2, article id. 66, pp. (2016).

Exo-zodi Modeling for the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer. The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, Volume 216, Issue 2, article id. 23, 13 pp. (2015).

The Weakest Link: How Fast Tip-Tilt Systems Can Compromise Interferometer Performance. In "Resolving The Future Of Astronomy With Long-Baseline Interferometry", Eds Michelle J. Creech-Eakman, Joyce A. Guzik, and Robert E. Stencel. ASP Conference Series, Vol. 487. San Francisco: Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 2014., p.359 (2014).

The Conceptual Design of the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer.  Journal of Astronomical Instrumentation, Volume 2, Issue 2, id. 1340001 (2013).

Resolving the terrestrial planet forming regions of HD 113766 and HD 172555 with MIDI. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 422, Issue 3, pp. 2560-2580 (2012).

Optical interferometry - the sharpest tool in the box. Astronomy & Geophysics, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp. 2.14-2.18 (2012).