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The Sharpest Eyes on the Sky: A 2020 vision for high angular resolution astronomy

20th April 2020   -   24th April 2020
Exeter, United Kingdom


The last few years have seen ground-breaking scientific results in the field of optical/infrared high angular resolution astronomy, opening up new opportunities for observations covering a wide range of key astrophysical objects over a broad range of wavelengths and allowing for the physical characterisation of astronomical objects on milli- and micro-arcsecond scales. At the same time, improved imaging fidelity is opening up new scientific endeavours in e.g. time domain astronomy. For the first time, the K-band spectrum of an exoplanet has been obtained with interferometry, stellar surface convection has been imaged on a star other than the Sun, and the broad-line region of a quasar has been spatially resolved on sub-parsec scales. Recent results have also seen unprecedented tests of General Relativity, remarkable detail and complexity revealed in the gas of a micro-quasar jet via milli-arcsecond resolution imaging spectroscopy, and the distance to the Large Magellanic Cloud constrained to better than 1 per cent. Further exciting opportunities lay ahead with new and upcoming adaptive optics systems, both at the CHARA Array (operated by Georgia State University at Mount Wilson Observatory) and the VLT Interferometer (VLTI, built in Chile and operated by the European Southern Observatory), enabling the study of fainter astronomical objects at greater sensitivity. With the current generation of four and six-telescope combiners, astronomers are now capable of reconstructing images of complex features at unprecedented angular resolution and we anticipate the first results from MIRC-X and MATISSE in advance of the conference.