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The project

Our team at the University of Padova and the INAF- Astronomical Observatory of Padova is engaged in the design, construction and operations of instruments with very high time resolution in the optical band for applications to High Time Resolution Astrophysics and Quantum Astronomy. Two instruments were built to perform photon counting with sub-nanosecond temporal accuracy. The first of the two, AQUEYE+, is regularly mounted at the 1.8m Copernicus telescope in Asiago, while the second, IQUEYE, was mounted at the NTT telescope in Chile, and at the WHT and TNG telescopes on the Roque (La Palma, Canary Islands). Both instruments deliver extraordinarily accurate results in optical timing. Recently, IQUEYE was moved to Asiago to be mounted at the 1.2m Galileo telescope to attempt, for the first time ever, experiments of optical intensity interferometry on a baseline of a few kilometers. The scientific utilization of AQUEYE+ and IQUEYE concerns the phase coherent multicolor and multipolarization optical timing of pulsars, the follow-up of optical transients, lunar occultations, and the detection of tens of microsecond angular structures on stellar surfaces and in their environments.

The instruments

AQUEYE+ (Asiago Quantum Eye) and IQUEYE (Italian Quantum Eye) are the prototypes for a quantum photometer for the future 40 m class telescopes, such as the E-ELT, and represent the world recognized leading astronomical instruments for the shortest time scales in the optical band. They couple the ultra-high time resolution of Single Photon Avalanche Photodiode (SPAD) detectors with a split-pupil optical concept and a sophisticated timing system. The high quantum efficiency and low temporal jitter, the capability to time tag and store the arrival time of each individual photon with better than 100 ps relative time resolution (less than 0.5 ns absolute time accuracy with respect to UTC), and the possibility to bin the light curve in post-processing in arbitrary time intervals, give Aqueye+ and Iqueye unprecedented capabilities for performing timing studies in the optical band.

Observing programmes

The observing programmes presently active include:

  • Monitoring and simultaneous multicolor observations of optical pulsars (in synergy with facilities operating at other wavelengths)
  • Timing of optical transients and counterparts of binary systems with compact objects
  • Lunar occultations, transits of asteroids, occultations of Trans Neptunian Objects
  • Intensity interferometry

    The AQUEYE+IQUEYE team

    Coordination, scientific utilization
    Luca Zampieri, Giampiero Naletto, Cesare Barbieri

    Instrument design, realization, technological development
    Giampiero Naletto, Luca Zampieri, Cesare Barbieri

    Instrument software and hardware
    Luca Zampieri, Mauro Barbieri

    Optomechanical interfacing with telescopes
    Luigi Lessio (AQUEYE+), Gabriele Umbriaco (IQUEYE)

    Technical operations
    Venerio Chiomento, Giancarlo Farisato, Aldo Frigo, Giorgio Martorana, Mauro Rebeschini, Luciano Traverso, Robertino Bau', Giovanni Costa

    Operational support and assistance with observations
    Paolo Ochner, Alessandro Siviero

    Technical support
    Maurizio D'Alessandro, Marco Fiaschi (MFC Elettronica, Padova)

    Postdocs and students
    Aleksandr Burtovoi, Michele Fiori, Alessia Spolon

    Contact: L. Zampieri


    M. Barbieri, University of Atacama, Copiapo, Chile
    A. Cadez, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
    G. Ceribella, Max Planck Institute for Physics, Germany
    T. Occhipinti, Adaptica, Padova
    A. Papitto, INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Rome
    A. Patruno, Leiden Observatory
    A. Richichi, INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Arcetri, Florence
    A. Shearer, National University of Ireland, Ireland
    C. Sigismondi, International Center of Relativistic Astrophysics, Rome
    E. Verroi, TIFPA, Trento
    P. Zoccarato, ESA

    The project has been funded from: University of Padova, INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Padova, Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo

  • Last update: Dec 7, 2017 - L. Zampieri