Antoine Labeyrie is Professor of Observational Astrophysics at the Collège de France in Paris and Research Astronomer at the Observatoire de Calern à Caussols, CERGA (Centre de Recherche en Géodynamique et Astrométrie), part of the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur. He was also Director of the Haute-Provence Observatory when the first extrasolar planet was discovered there in 1995 by Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz. Professor Labeyrie’s research has focused on improving astronomical observation to image the surface details of stars and their planets, which are possible nests for life. To overcome the image degradation caused by the atmosphere in large telescopes, he developed “speckle interferometry” (1970), which improved (by a factor of 50) the sharpness of images obtained with the 200-inch Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory, then the largest in existence. Using the method with his collaborators, Professor Labeyrie discovered the C companion of the eclipsing binary star Algol; a strong color-dependence in the diameter of the variable stars Mira and R Leonis; and numerous close binary stars for which masses could then be determined accurately. To further increase the resolution beyond that achievable with the largest telescopes, Professor Labeyrie extended the interferometry scheme of the great pioneer A. A. Michelson by using separate telescopes. His demonstration of interference with two small telescopes (1974) paved the way for creation of the giant multi-telescope systems now operating in Hawaii, in Chile, as well as at other sites. Professor Labeyrie has also proposed using free-flying telescopes in space as elements of much larger interferometers, a development path currently being explored by the space agencies. As NASA began its design work on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), he proposed attaching a coronagraphic camera, together with a method for observing extrasolar planets (1975). This could be implemented only partially with HST, and he proposed enhanced versions for the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope and NASA’s “Terrestrial Planet Finder-C,” a dedicated coronagraphic telescope having highly accurate and sophisticated optics for imaging Earth-like exoplanets. Professor Labeyrie’s recent work has focused on his concept of “hypertelescopes,” multi-mirror interferometers capable of producing direct snapshot images of complicated objects. For obtaining images of “exo-Earths” with sufficient detail to detect green spots such as the Amazon basin, he conceived the Exo-Earth Imager, a space hypertelescope containing 150 mirrors 3 m in size flying together in a formation spanning 100 km. Professor Labeyrie has also described “laser-trapped mirrors” intended for space telescopes and for laser-driven interstellar travel; to this end, he currently initiates laboratory work on the trapping of nanospheres. Professor Labeyrie is a member of the French Académie des Sciences. He was awarded the prize of the International Commission for Optics (1982), the Rank Prize (1989), the American Astronomical Society’s Beatrice Tinsley Prize (1990), and a Benjamin Franklin Medal (2000).   


Recent publications:



Borkowski, V., Labeyrie, A., Martinache, F. and Peterson, D. (2005). Sensitivity of a “dispersed speckles piston sensor for multi-aperture interferometers and hypertelescopes. A&A, 429, 747B.

Labeyrie, A., Guyon, M. and Fournier, J.M. (2005). Optics of laser-trapped mirrors for large telescopes and hypertelescopes in space.  Proceedings of the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), San Diego.

Tolls, V., Nisenson, P., Aziz, M. J., Gonsalves, R. A., Korzennik, S. G., Labeyrie, A., Lyon, R. G., Melnick, G. J. and Woodruff, R. A. (2005). Study of coronagraphic techniques. Am. Astronomical Society.



Labeyrie, A. (2004). The hypertelescope concept and its applications at different scales (1 km, 100km, 100,000km). Keynote lecture at NASA Conference on Formation Flying (presented by D.Gezari).

Labeyrie, A. (2004). Removal of coronography residues with an adaptive hologram, for imaging exo-Earths. In Astronomy with High Contrast Imaging II: Instrumentation for Coronography and Nulling Interferometry, ed. C. Aime and R. Soummer. EDP Sciences.

Labeyrie, A. (2004). Feasibility of coupling Euro-50 interferometrically to a Carlina hypertelescope. 2nd Backaskog Conference on ELTs (2003). Proceedings of the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), 5382.

Labeyrie A., Fournier, J. M. and Stachnik, R.v. (2004). Laser-trapped mirrors in space: steps towards laboratory testing. Proceedings of the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), Boulder, 5490.

Labeyrie, A. and Le Coroller, H. (2004). Extrasolar planet imaging. Conference on Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation. Proceedings of the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), Glasgow.

Le Coroller, H., Dejonghe, J, Arpesella, C., Vernet, D. and Labeyrie, A. (2004). Tests with a Carlina-type hypertelescope prototype: demonstration of star tracking and fringe acquisition with a balloon-suspended focal camera. A&A, 426, 721-28.



Labeyrie, A., Le Coroller, H., Dejonghe, J., Martinache, F., Borkowski, V., Lardiere, O. and Koechlin, L. (2003). Hypertelescope imaging: from exo-planets to neutron star.  Proceedings of the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), 4852 (Feb.), 236-47, ed. M. Shao.
Also see:

Labeyrie A. (2003). Detecting exo-Earths with hypertelescopes in space: the Exo-Earth discoverer concept. In High Contrast Imaging in Astronomy, EAS Publications Series, 8, 327-42.



Labeyrie, A.  (1999). Snapshots of alien worlds—the future of interferometry. Science, Sep 17, pp. 1864-65.