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See detailUnraveling the Mystery of Exozodiacal Dust
Ertel, S.; Augereau, J.-C.; Thébault, P. et al

in Booth, Mark; Matthews, Brenda; Graham, James (Eds.) Exploring the Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems (2014, January 01)

Exozodiacal dust clouds are thought to be the extrasolar analogs of the Solar System's zodiacal dust. Studying these systems provides insights in the architecture of the innermost regions of planetary ... [more ▼]

Exozodiacal dust clouds are thought to be the extrasolar analogs of the Solar System's zodiacal dust. Studying these systems provides insights in the architecture of the innermost regions of planetary systems, including the Habitable Zone. Furthermore, the mere presence of the dust may result in major obstacles for direct imaging of earth-like planets. Our EXOZODI project aims to detect and study exozodiacal dust and to explain its origin. We are carrying out the first large, near-infrared interferometric survey in the northern (CHARA/FLUOR) and southern (VLTI/PIONIER) hemispheres. Preliminary results suggest a detection rate of up to 30% around A to K type stars and interesting trends with spectral type and age. We focus here on presenting the observational work carried out by our team. [less ▲]

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See detailExpanding the CHARA/FLUOR hot disk survey
Mennesson, B.; Scott, N.; Ten Brummelaar, T. et al

in Journal of Astronomical Instrumentation (2013), 2(2), 1340010

Little is presently known about the hot (>300 K) dust component of debris disks surrounding main sequence stars, similar to the zodiacal dust cloud found in the inner solar system.While extensive surveys ... [more ▼]

Little is presently known about the hot (>300 K) dust component of debris disks surrounding main sequence stars, similar to the zodiacal dust cloud found in the inner solar system.While extensive surveys have been carried out from space, the majority of detections have surprisingly come from the ground, where near infrared interferometric observations have recently revealed small (∼1%) resolved excesses around a dozen nearby main sequence stars. Most of these results have come from the CHARA array “FLUOR” instrument (Mt. Wilson, CA), which has demonstrated the best sensitivity worldwide so far for this type of studies, and has carried out an initial survey of ∼40 stars. In order to further understand the origin of this “hot dust phenomenon”, we will extend this initial survey to a larger number of stars and lower excess detection limits, i.e. higher visibility accuracy providing higher contrast measurements. To this end, two major instrumental developments are underway at CHARA. The first one aims at improving FLUOR’s sensitivity to a median K-band magnitude limit of 5 (making 200 targets available). The second development is based on a method that we recently developed for accurate (better than 0.1%) null depth measurements of stars, and that can be extended to regular interferometric visibility measurements. [less ▲]

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See detailImaging the inner regions of debris disks with near-infrared interferometry
Defrère, D.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Augereau, J. C. et al

in EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2011 (2011, October 01)

Most debris disks resolved so far show extended structures located at tens to hundreds AU from the host star, and are more analogous to our solar system's dusty Kuiper belt than to the AU-scale zodiacal ... [more ▼]

Most debris disks resolved so far show extended structures located at tens to hundreds AU from the host star, and are more analogous to our solar system's dusty Kuiper belt than to the AU-scale zodiacal disk inside our solar system's asteroid belt. Over the last few years however, a few hot debris disks have been detected around a handful of main sequence stars thanks to the advance of infrared interferometry. The grain populations derived from these observations are quite intriguing, as they point towards very high dust replenishment rates, high cometary activity or major collisional events. In this talk, we review the ongoing efforts to detect bright exozodiacal disks with precision near-infrared interferometry in both hemispheres with CHARA/FLUOR and VLTI/PIONIER. We discuss preliminary statistical trends on the occurrence of bright exozodi around nearby main sequence stars and show how this information could be used to constrain the global architecture and evolution of debris disks. [less ▲]

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See detailHot exozodiacal dust resolved around Vega with IOTA/IONIC
Defrère, D.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Augereau, J.-C. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2011), 534

Context. Although debris discs have been detected around a significant number of main-sequence stars, only a few of them are known to harbour hot dust in their inner part where terrestrial planets may ... [more ▼]

Context. Although debris discs have been detected around a significant number of main-sequence stars, only a few of them are known to harbour hot dust in their inner part where terrestrial planets may have formed. Thanks to infrared interferometric observations, it is possible to obtain a direct measurement of these regions, which are of prime importance for preparing future exo-Earth characterisation missions. <BR /> Aims: We resolve the exozodiacal dust disc around Vega with the help of infrared stellar interferometry and estimate the integrated H-band flux originating from the first few AUs of the debris disc. <BR /> Methods: Precise H-band interferometric measurements were obtained on Vega with the 3-telescope IOTA/IONIC interferometer (Mount Hopkins, Arizona). Thorough modelling of both interferometric data (squared visibility and closure phase) and spectral energy distribution was performed to constrain the nature of the near-infrared excess emission. <BR /> Results: Resolved circumstellar emission within ~6 AU from Vega is identified at the 3-σ level. The most straightforward scenario consists in a compact dust disc producing a thermal emission that is largely dominated by small grains located between 0.1 and 0.3 AU from Vega and accounting for 1.23 ± 0.45% of the near-infrared stellar flux for our best-fit model. This flux ratio is shown to vary slightly with the geometry of the model used to fit our interferometric data (variations within ± 0.19%). <BR /> Conclusions: The presence of hot exozodiacal dust in the vicinity of Vega, initially revealed by K-band CHARA/FLUOR observations, is confirmed by our H-band IOTA/IONIC measurements. Whereas the origin of the dust is still uncertain, its presence and the possible connection with the outer disc suggest that the Vega system is currently undergoing major dynamical perturbations. [less ▲]

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See detailStudying debris disks with near‐infrared interferometry
Absil, Olivier ULg; Augereau, J.-C.; Le Bouquin, J.-B. et al

Conference (2011, April 13)

In this talk, I will describe and illustrate two different ways in which near-infrared stellar interferometry can be used to constrain the nature and physics of debris disks, and help understand the ... [more ▼]

In this talk, I will describe and illustrate two different ways in which near-infrared stellar interferometry can be used to constrain the nature and physics of debris disks, and help understand the global architecture of planetary systems in general. In the first part of the talk, I will review the on-going efforts to detect bright exozodiacal disks with precision near-infrared interferometry. I will describe the results of the exozodi survey that we are currently carrying out at the CHARA array, and briefly discuss our first results and perspectives with the new PIONIER instrument at the VLTI (including the identification of previously unknown low-mass companions). Preliminary statistical trends on the occurrence of bright exozodi around nearby main sequence stars will be presented, and I will discuss how this information could be used to constrain the global architecture and evolution of debris disks. In the second part of the talk, I will focus on our on-going project to characterize the “spin-orbit” alignment of resolved debris disks with the rotation axis of their (rapidly rotating) host star. Our first result obtained with the VLTI/AMBER spectro-interferometer on Fomalhaut will be presented, as well as its possible consequences on the dynamics of the planetary system and on the physics of the grains composing the Fomalhaut dust ring. I will then briefly describe the status and perspectives of this project. [less ▲]

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See detailRound table discussion
Coude Du Foresto, V.; Hummel, C. A.; Perrin, G. et al

in Proceedings of the JENAM 2010 Symposium (2010, September 01)

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See detailDirect imaging of Earth-like planets: why we care about exozodis
Absil, Olivier ULg; Defrère, D.; Roberge, A. et al

in Danchi, W. C.; Delplancke, F.; Rajagopal, J. K. (Eds.) Optical and Infrared Interferometry II (2010, July)

The presence of large amounts of exozodiacal dust around nearby main sequence stars is considered as a potential threat for the direct detection of Earth-like exoplanets (exoEarths) with future space ... [more ▼]

The presence of large amounts of exozodiacal dust around nearby main sequence stars is considered as a potential threat for the direct detection of Earth-like exoplanets (exoEarths) with future space-based coronagraphic and interferometric missions. In this paper, we estimate the amount of exozodiacal light that can be tolerated around various stellar types without jeopardizing the detection of exoEarths with a space-based visible coronagraph or a free-flying mid-infrared interferometer. We also address the possible effects of resonant structures in exozodiacal disks. We then review the sensitivity of current ground-based interferometric instruments to exozodiacal disks, based on classical visibility measurements and on the nulling technique. We show that the current instrumental performances are not sufficient to help prepare future exoEarth imaging missions, and discuss how new groundor space-based instruments could improve the current sensitivity to exozodiacal disks down to a suitable level. [less ▲]

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See detailPEGASE, an infrared interferometer to study stellar environments and low mass companions around nearby stars
Ollivier, M.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Allard, F. et al

in Experimental Astronomy (2009), 23

PEGASE is a mission dedicated to the exploration of the environment (including habitable zone) of young and solar-type stars (particularly those in the DARWIN catalogue) and the observation of low mass ... [more ▼]

PEGASE is a mission dedicated to the exploration of the environment (including habitable zone) of young and solar-type stars (particularly those in the DARWIN catalogue) and the observation of low mass companions around nearby stars. It is a space interferometer project composed of three free flying spacecraft, respectively featuring two 40 cm siderostats and a beam combiner working in the visible and near infrared. It has been proposed to ESA as an answer to the first ``Cosmic Vision'' call for proposals, as an M mission. The concept also enables full-scale demonstration of space nulling interferometry operation for DARWIN. [less ▲]

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See detailNulling interferometry: performance comparison between space and ground-based sites for exozodiacal disc detection
Defrere, Denis ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg; Coudé Du Foresto, V. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2008), 490

Context: Characterising the circumstellar dust around nearby main sequence stars is a necessary step in understanding the planetary formation process and is crucial for future life-finding space missions ... [more ▼]

Context: Characterising the circumstellar dust around nearby main sequence stars is a necessary step in understanding the planetary formation process and is crucial for future life-finding space missions such as ESA's Darwin or NASA's terrestrial planet finder (TPF). Besides paving the technological way to Darwin/TPF, the space-based infrared interferometers Pegase and FKSI (Fourier-Kelvin Stellar Interferometer) will be valuable scientific precursors. Aims: We investigate the performance of Pegase and FKSI for exozodiacal disc detection and compare the results with ground-based nulling interferometers. Methods: We used the GENIEsim software (Absil et al. 2006, A&A, 448, 787) which was designed and validated to study the performance of ground-based nulling interferometers. The software has been adapted to simulate the performance of space-based nulling interferometers by disabling all atmospheric effects and by thoroughly implementing the perturbations induced by payload vibrations in the ambient space environment. Results: Despite using relatively small telescopes (<=0.5 m), Pegase and FKSI are very efficient for exozodiacal disc detection. They are capable of detecting exozodiacal discs 5 and 1 time respectively, as dense as the solar zodiacal cloud, and they outperform any ground-based instrument. Unlike Pegase, FKSI can achieve this sensitivity for most targets of the Darwin/TPF catalogue thanks to an appropriate combination of baseline length and observing wavelength. The sensitivity of Pegase could, however, be significantly boosted by considering a shorter interferometric baseline length. Conclusions: Besides their main scientific goal (characterising hot giant extrasolar planets), the space-based nulling interferometers Pegase and FKSI will be very efficient in assessing within a few minutes the level of circumstellar dust in the habitable zone around nearby main sequence stars down to the density of the solar zodiacal cloud. These space-based interferometers would be complementary to Antarctica-based instruments in terms of sky coverage and would be ideal instruments for preparing future life-finding space missions. [less ▲]

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See detailA near-infrared interferometric survey of debris disc stars. II. CHARA/FLUOR observations of six early-type dwarfs
Absil, Olivier ULg; di Folco, E.; Mérand, A. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2008), 487

Aims. We aim at directly detecting the presence of optically thin circumstellar dust emission within the terrestrial planetary zone around main sequence stars known to harbour cold debris discs. The ... [more ▼]

Aims. We aim at directly detecting the presence of optically thin circumstellar dust emission within the terrestrial planetary zone around main sequence stars known to harbour cold debris discs. The present study focuses on a sample of six bright A- and early F-type stars. Methods: High-precision interferometric observations have been obtained in the near-infrared K band with the FLUOR instrument installed on the CHARA Array. The measured squared visibilities are compared to the expected visibility of the stellar photospheres based on theoretical photospheric models taking into account rotational distortion. We search for potential visibility reduction at short baselines, a direct piece of evidence for resolved circumstellar emission. Results: Our observations bring to light the presence of resolved circumstellar emission around one of the six target stars (zeta Aql) at the 5sigma level. The morphology of the emission source cannot be directly constrained because of the sparse spatial frequency sampling of our interferometric data. Using complementary adaptive optics observations and radial velocity measurements, we find that the presence of a low-mass companion is a likely origin for the excess emission. The potential companion is characterised by a K-band contrast of four magnitudes. It has a most probable mass of about 0.6~Msun and is expected to orbit between about 5.5 AU and 8 AU from its host star assuming a purely circular orbit. Nevertheless, by adjusting a physical debris disc model to the observed Spectral Energy Distribution of the zeta Aql system, we also show that the presence of hot dust within 10 AU from zeta Aql, producing a total thermal emission equal to 1.69 ± 0.31% of the photospheric flux in the K band, is another viable explanation for the observed near-infrared excess. Our re-interpretation of archival near- to far-infrared photometric measurements shows however that cold dust is not present around zeta Aql at the sensitivity limit of the IRS and MIPS instruments onboard Spitzer, and urges us to remove zeta Aql from the category of bona fide debris disc stars. Conclusions: The hot debris disc around Vega (Absil et al. 2006) currently remains our only secure resolved detection within the context of this survey, with six genuine early-type debris disc stars observed so far. Further observations will be needed to assess whether zeta Aql also belongs to this hot debris disc category. Partly based on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory, La Silla, Chile, under program IDs 073.C-0733, 077.C-0295 and 080.C-0712. [less ▲]

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See detailNulling interferometry: performance comparison between Antarctica and other ground-based sites
Absil, Olivier ULg; Coudé Du Foresto, V.; Barillot, M. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2007), 475

Context: Detecting the presence of circumstellar dust around nearby solar-type main sequence stars is an important pre-requisite for the design of future life-finding space missions such as ESA's Darwin ... [more ▼]

Context: Detecting the presence of circumstellar dust around nearby solar-type main sequence stars is an important pre-requisite for the design of future life-finding space missions such as ESA's Darwin or NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF). The high Antarctic plateau may provide appropriate conditions to perform such a survey from the ground. Aims: We investigate the performance of a nulling interferometer optimised for the detection of exozodiacal discs at Dome C, on the high Antarctic plateau, and compare it to the expected performance of similar instruments at temperate sites. Methods: Based on the currently available measurements of the atmospheric turbulence characteristics at Dome C, we adapt the GENIEsim software (Absil et al. 2006, A&A, 448, 787) to simulate the performance of a nulling interferometer on the high Antarctic plateau. To feed a realistic instrumental configuration into the simulator, we propose a conceptual design for ALADDIN, the Antarctic L-band Astrophysics Discovery Demonstrator for Interferometric Nulling. We assume that this instrument can be placed above the 30-m thick boundary layer, where most of the atmospheric turbulence originates. Results: We show that an optimised nulling interferometer operating on a pair of 1-m class telescopes located 30 m above the ground could achieve a better sensitivity than a similar instrument working with two 8-m class telescopes at a temperate site such as Cerro Paranal. The detection of circumstellar discs about 20 times as dense as our local zodiacal cloud seems within reach for typical Darwin/TPF targets in an integration time of a few hours. Moreover, the exceptional turbulence conditions significantly relax the requirements on real-time control loops, which has favourable consequences on the feasibility of the nulling instrument. Conclusions: The perspectives for high dynamic range, high angular resolution infrared astronomy on the high Antarctic plateau look very promising. [less ▲]

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See detailA near-infrared interferometric survey of debris disk stars. I. Probing the hot dust content around eps Eridani and tau Ceti with CHARA/FLUOR
Di Folco, Emmanuel; Absil, Olivier ULg; Augereau, J.-C. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2007), 475

Context: The quest for hot dust in the central region of debris disks requires high resolution and high dynamic range imaging. Near-infrared interferometry is a powerful means to directly detect faint ... [more ▼]

Context: The quest for hot dust in the central region of debris disks requires high resolution and high dynamic range imaging. Near-infrared interferometry is a powerful means to directly detect faint emission from hot grains. Aims: We probed the first 3 AU around tau Ceti and eps Eridani with the CHARA array (Mt Wilson, USA) in order to gauge the 2 mum excess flux emanating from possible hot dust grains in the debris disks and to also resolve the stellar photospheres. Methods: High precision visibility amplitude measurements were performed with the FLUOR single mode fiber instrument and telescope pairs on baselines ranging from 22 to 241 m of projected length. The short baseline observations allow us to disentangle the contribution of an extended structure from the photospheric emission, while the long baselines constrain the stellar diameter. Results: We have detected a resolved emission around tau Cet, corresponding to a spatially integrated, fractional excess flux of 0.98±0.21 × 10[SUP]-2[/SUP] with respect to the photospheric flux in the K'-band. Around eps Eri, our measurements can exclude a fractional excess of greater than 0.6× 10[SUP]-2[/SUP] (3sigma). We interpret the photometric excess around tau Cet as a possible signature of hot grains in the inner debris disk and demonstrate that a faint, physical or background, companion can be safely excluded. In addition, we measured both stellar angular diameters with an unprecedented accuracy: Theta_LD(tau Cet)= 2.015 ± 0.011 mas and Theta_LD(eps Eri)=2.126 ± 0.014 mas. [less ▲]

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See detailInterferometric Constraints on Gravity Darkening with Application to the Modeling of Spica A & B
Aufdenberg, J. P.; Ireland, M. J.; Mérand, A. et al

in Hartkopf, W. I.; Guinan, E. F.; Harmanec, P. (Eds.) Binary Stars as Critical Tools & Tests in Contemporary Astrophysics (2007, August 01)

In 2005 we obtained very precise interferometric measurements of the pole-on rapid rotator Vega (A0 V) with the longest baselines of the Center for High Angular Angular Resolution (CHARA) Array and the ... [more ▼]

In 2005 we obtained very precise interferometric measurements of the pole-on rapid rotator Vega (A0 V) with the longest baselines of the Center for High Angular Angular Resolution (CHARA) Array and the Fiber Linked Unit for Optical Recombination (FLUOR). For the analysis of these data, we developed a code for mapping sophisticated PHOENIX model atmospheres on to the surface of rotationally distorted stars described by a Roche-von Zeipel formalism. Given a setof input parameters for a star or binary pair, this code predicts the interferometric visibility, spectral energy distribution and high-resolution line spectrum expected for the system. For the gravity-darkened Vega, our model provides a very good match to the K-band interferometric data, a good match to the spectral energy distribution -- except below 160 nm -- and a rather poor match to weak lines in the high dispersion spectrum where the model appears overly gravity darkened. In 2006, we used the CHARA Array and FLUOR to obtain high precision measurements of the massive, non-eclipsing, double-line spectroscopic binary Spica, a 4-day period system where both components are gravity darkened rapid rotators. These data supplement recent data obtained with the Sydney University Stellar Interferometer. Our study follows the classic 1971 study by Herbison-Evans et al. who resolved Spica as a binary with the Narrabri Intensity Interferometer. We will report on our progress modelling the new interferometric and archival spectroscopic data, with the goal towards better constraining the apsidal constant. [less ▲]

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See detailProspects for Nulling Interferometry from Antarctica
Coudé Du Foresto, V.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Barillot, M. et al

Poster (2007, June 01)

The high Antarctic plateau is a very unique environment whose main characteristics make it a premier site for high angular resolution, high dynamic range observations at infrared wavelengths. This is due ... [more ▼]

The high Antarctic plateau is a very unique environment whose main characteristics make it a premier site for high angular resolution, high dynamic range observations at infrared wavelengths. This is due to a combination of cold temperatures (low emissivity), dry air (infrared transparency), and a night time atmospheric turbulence which is concentrated in the first ~30m near the ground (which results in a large isoplanatic angle). Above that turbulent layer (a location that can be reached either by support structures or tethered balloons), the free air seeing is both exceptionally benign and slow. There, simulations show that a small dedicated interferometer (two 1m-class telescopes) equipped with a nuller instrument performs better than the same instrument behind 8m-class telescopes on a temperate site. It can characterize the distribution of dust emission around nearby main sequence stars, a necessary precursor science for Darwin and TPF-I. The nature of the site, intermediate between ground and space both in potential and technical challenge, adds particular relevance to the demonstration of nulling for a space mission. [less ▲]

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See detailALADDIN: an optimized nulling ground-based demonstrator for DARWIN
Coudé du Foresto, V.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Swain, M. et al

in Monnier, John; Schöller, Markus; Danchi, William (Eds.) Advances in Stellar Interferometry (2006, July 01)

The ESA Darwin space mission will require a ground based precursor to i/ demonstrate nulling interferometry in an operational context and ii/ carry out some precursor science, such as the characterization ... [more ▼]

The ESA Darwin space mission will require a ground based precursor to i/ demonstrate nulling interferometry in an operational context and ii/ carry out some precursor science, such as the characterization of the level of exozodiacal light around the main Darwin targets. These are the stated objectives of the GENIE nulling instrument that was studied for the VLTI. We argue here that the same objectives can be met in a more efficient way by an antarctic-based nulling experiment. The ALADDIN mission concept is an integrated L-band nulling breadboard with relatively modest collectors (1m) and baseline (40m). Because of its privileged location, this is suffcient to achieve a sensitivity (in terms of detectable zodi levels) which is 1.6 to 3.5 times better than GENIE at the VLTI, bringing it below the 20-zodi threshold value identified to carry out the Darwin precursor science. The integrated design enables top-level optimization and full access to the light collectors for the duration of the experiment, while reducing the complexity of the nulling breadboard. [less ▲]

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See detailFirst Results from the CHARA Array. VII. Long-Baseline Interferometric Measurements of Vega Consistent with a Pole-On, Rapidly Rotating Star
Aufdenberg, J. P.; Mérand, A.; Coudé du Foresto, V. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2006), 645

We have obtained high-precision interferometric measurements of Vega with the CHARA Array and FLUOR beam combiner in the K' band at projected baselines between 103 and 273 m. The measured visibility ... [more ▼]

We have obtained high-precision interferometric measurements of Vega with the CHARA Array and FLUOR beam combiner in the K' band at projected baselines between 103 and 273 m. The measured visibility amplitudes beyond the first lobe are significantly weaker than expected for a slowly rotating star characterized by a single effective temperature and surface gravity. Our measurements, when compared to synthetic visibilities and synthetic spectrophotometry from a Roche-von Zeipel gravity-darkened model atmosphere, provide strong evidence for the model of Vega as a rapidly rotating star viewed very nearly pole-on. Our best-fitting model indicates that Vega is rotating at ~91% of its angular break-up rate with an equatorial velocity of 275 km s[SUP]-1[/SUP]. Together with the measured vsini, this velocity yields an inclination for the rotation axis of 5deg. For this model the pole-to-equator effective temperature difference is ~2250 K, a value much larger than previously derived from spectral line analyses. A polar effective temperature of 10,150 K is derived from a fit to ultraviolet and optical spectrophotometry. The synthetic and observed spectral energy distributions are in reasonable agreement longward of 140 nm, where they agree to 5% or better. Shortward of 140 nm, the model is up to 10 times brighter than observed. The model has a luminosity of ~37 L[SUB]solar[/SUB], a value 35% lower than Vega's apparent luminosity based on its bolometric flux and parallax, assuming a slowly rotating star. Our model predicts the spectral energy distribution of Vega as viewed from its equatorial plane, and it may be employed in radiative models for the surrounding debris disk. [less ▲]

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See detailCircumstellar material in the Vega inner system revealed by CHARA/FLUOR
Absil, Olivier ULg; di Folco, E.; Mérand, A. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2006), 452

Context: Only a handful of debris disks have been imaged up to now. Due to the need for high dynamic range and high angular resolution, very little is known about the inner planetary region, where small ... [more ▼]

Context: Only a handful of debris disks have been imaged up to now. Due to the need for high dynamic range and high angular resolution, very little is known about the inner planetary region, where small amounts of warm dust are expected to be found. Aims: We investigate the close neighbourhood of Vega with the help of infrared stellar interferometry and estimate the integrated K-band flux originating from the central 8 AU of the debris disk. Methods: We performed precise visibility measurements at both short (~30 m) and long (~150 m) baselines with the FLUOR beam-combiner installed at the CHARA Array (Mt Wilson, California) in order to separately resolve the emissions from the extended debris disk (short baselines) and from the stellar photosphere (long baselines). Results: After revising Vega's K-band angular diameter (theta_UD = 3.202 ± 0.005 mas), we show that a significant deficit in squared visibility (Delta V[SUP]2[/SUP] = 1.88 ± 0.34%) is detected at short baselines with respect to the best-fit uniform disk stellar model. This deficit can be either attributed to the presence of a low-mass stellar companion around Vega, or as the signature of the thermal and scattered emissions from the debris disk. We show that the presence of a close companion is highly unlikely, as well as other possible perturbations (stellar morphology, calibration), and deduce that we have most probably detected the presence of dust in the close neighbourhood of Vega. The resulting flux ratio between the stellar photosphere and the debris disk amounts to 1.29 ± 0.19% within the FLUOR field-of-view (~7.8 AU). Finally, we complement our K-band study with archival photometric and interferometric data in order to evaluate the main physical properties of the inner dust disk. The inferred properties suggest that the Vega system could be currently undergoing major dynamical perturbations. [less ▲]

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See detailALADDIN: a DARWIN Pathfinder Mission on the Antarctic Plateau
Coudé Du Foresto, V.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Barillot, M.

in Coudé du Foresto, Vincent; Rouan, Daniel; Rousset, Gérard (Eds.) Visions for Infrared Astronomy (2006, March)

We propose an innovative concept for a DARWIN pathfinder experiment. It involves an integrated nulling interferometer of relatively modest dimensions (two 1 m class collectors on a 40 m truss), which ... [more ▼]

We propose an innovative concept for a DARWIN pathfinder experiment. It involves an integrated nulling interferometer of relatively modest dimensions (two 1 m class collectors on a 40 m truss), which would take advantage of a privileged location (at Dome C on the Antarctic plateau) to perform better than a nulling instrument on a large interferometer (such as GENIE at the VLTI). [less ▲]

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See detailInfrared Interferometric Gravity Darkening Observations of Vega with CHARA/FLUOR
Aufdenberg, J.; Mérand, A.; Coudé Du Foresto, V. et al

in Coudé du Foresto, Vincent; Rouan, Daniel; Rousset, Gérard (Eds.) Visions for Infrared Astronomy (2006, March)

We have obtained high-precision measurements of Vega at projected baselines between 103 m and 273 m with the CHARA Array using the (FLUOR) beam combiner in the K' band. A strongly gravity-darkened model ... [more ▼]

We have obtained high-precision measurements of Vega at projected baselines between 103 m and 273 m with the CHARA Array using the (FLUOR) beam combiner in the K' band. A strongly gravity-darkened model atmosphere is in general agreement with both our interferometric data and archival spectrophotometry. This model indicates that Vega is rotating at 91%ofitsangular break-uprateandthatthepole-to-equator effectivetemperaturedifference is 2250 K. [less ▲]

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See detailPEGASE: a DARWIN/TPF pathfinder
Ollivier, M.; Le Duigou, J.-M.; Mourard, D. et al

in Aime, C.; Vakili, F. (Eds.) Direct Imaging of Exoplanets: Science & Techniques (2006)

The space mission PEGASE, proposed to the CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales = French Space Agency) in the framework of its call for scientific proposals : "formation flying missions", is a 2 ... [more ▼]

The space mission PEGASE, proposed to the CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales = French Space Agency) in the framework of its call for scientific proposals : "formation flying missions", is a 2-aperture interferometer, composed by 3 free flying satellites (2 siderostats and 1 beam combiner), allowing baselines from 50 to 500 m in both nulling and visibility modes. With an angular resolution of a few mas and a spectral resolution of several tens in the spectral range 2.5-5 microns, PEGASE has several goals:science : spectroscopy of hot jupiters (Pegasides) and brown dwarves, exploration of the inner part of protoplanetary diskstechnology : validation in real space conditions of formation flying, nulling and visibility interferometry concepts.PEGASE has been studied at a 0-level. In this paper, we summarize the scientific program and associated technological and mission trade-off coming from this 0-level study. We also discuss how PEGASE can be considered as a TPF/DARWIN pathfinder in an international roadmap towards more complex space interferometry missions such as DARWIN/TPF. [less ▲]

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