The first multiple-aperture interferometric study of a binary system, in which the power of combining interferometric and spectroscopic data was demonstrated, was made from the Southern Hemisphere. The observations of α Vir with the Narrabri Stellar Intensity Interferometer (NSII) were combined with spectroscopic and photometric data to yield the mass, radius and luminosity of the primary as well as an accurate distance to the system. The NSII also revealed a number of stars, previously thought to be single, to be binary systems. Several of these systems have subsequently been shown to be spectroscopic binaries.
The Sydney University Stellar Interferometer (SUSI) and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) are the two current Southern Hemisphere multiple aperture interferometers. SUSI is being used to determine interferometric orbits for some of the binary systems discovered with the NSII including β Cen and λ Sco and, in combination with spectroscopy, to determine accurate masses for early-type stars and accurate dynamical parallaxes for the systems.
The VLTI has operated with three beam-combining instruments, namely VINCI, MIDI and AMBER. The few observations of binary systems that have been made so far are summarised and, while in general they are of a preliminary nature, they demonstrate the potential of the VLTI for binary star studies.
One double-lined spectroscopic binary that has been observed with all three Southern Hemisphere instruments is γ2 Vel, which has the brightest Wolf-Rayet star in the sky as its secondary. The observations and preliminary results for the masses of the O-type primary and WC8 secondary and for the distance to the system are summarised.