Antoine Émile Henry Labeyrie

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Antoine Émile Henry Labeyrie (born 12 May 1943) is a French astronomer and since 1991 has held the "Observational astrophysics" chair at the Collège de France.[1]

Antoine Émile Henry Labeyrie graduated from the "grande école" SupOptique (École supérieure d'optique). He invented speckle interferometry,[2] and works with astronomical interferometers. Labeyrie concentrated particularly on the use of "diluted optics" beam combination or "densified pupils" of a similar type but larger scale than those Michelson used for measuring the diameters of stars in the 1920s, in contrast to other astronomical interferometer researchers who generally switched to pupil-plane beam combination in the 1980s and 1990s.

He is currently working on what he calls a "Hypertelescope", an extremely large astronomical interferometer with spherical geometry that might theoretically show features on Earth-like worlds around other suns. This "Hypertelescope" project would be much more complex (and expensive) than the Darwin Mission and Terrestrial Planet Finder interferometer missions, and would involve many large free-flying spacecraft seen as parts of a fractionated spacecraft or a satellite constellation, utilizing a densified pupil beam combiner. Instead of delay lines, a Mertz corrector would be used to compensate the optical path differences between the mirrors in the array (requiring the individual telescopes to be positioned to a fraction of a wavelength).

"Sitting on Labeyrie's drawing board are plans for a hypertelescope, a new breed of space telescope that is capable of mapping distant cousins of Earth in exquisite detail... Malcolm Fridlund, project scientist for ESA's Darwin mission in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, is pragmatic. 'The costs would be really prohibitive,' he points out."[3]

The main-belt asteroid 8788 Labeyrie (1978 VP2) is named in honor of Antoine Émile Henry Labeyrie and Catherine Labeyrie.

He was awarded the The Benjamin Franklin Medal in 2000.

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