References of "Mennesson, B"
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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 detailAn interferometric study of the Fomalhaut inner debris disk. III. Detailed models of the exozodiacal disk and its origin
Lebreton, J; van Lieshout, R; Augereau, J-C et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2013), 555

Context. Debris disks are thought to be extrasolar analogues to the Solar System planetesimal belts. The star Fomalhaut harbors a cold debris belt at 140AU comparable to the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt, as well ... [more ▼]

Context. Debris disks are thought to be extrasolar analogues to the Solar System planetesimal belts. The star Fomalhaut harbors a cold debris belt at 140AU comparable to the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt, as well as evidence for a warm dust component, unresolved by single-dish telescopes, that is suspected to be a bright analogue to the Solar System's zodiacal dust. Aims. Interferometric observations obtained with the VLTI/VINCI instrument and the Keck Interferometer Nuller have identi fied near- and mid-infrared excesses attributed respectively to hot and warm exozodiacal dust residing in the inner few AU of the Fomalhaut environment. We aim to characterize the properties of this double inner dust belt and to unveil its origin. Methods.We perform parametric modelling of the exozodiacal disk ("exozodi") using the GRaTer radiative transfer code in order to reproduce the interferometric data, complemented by mid- to far-infrared photometric measurements from Spitzer and Herschel. A detailed treatment of sublimation temperatures is introduced to explore the hot population at the size-dependent sublimation rim. We then use an analytical approach to test successively several source mechanisms for the dust and suspected parent bodies. Results. A good fi t to the multi-wavelength data is found by two distinct dust populations: (1) a population of very small (0.01 to 0.5 µ m) and therefore unbound, hot dust grains con ned in a narrow region ( ~0.1 - 0.3 AU) at the sublimation rim of carbonaceous material; (2) a population of bound grains at 2AU that is protected from sublimation and has a larger mass despite its fainter flux level. We propose that the hot dust is produced by the release of small carbon grains following the disruption of dust aggregates that originate from the warm component. A mechanism such as gas braking is required to further con ne the small grains for long enough. In situ dust production could hardly be ensured for the age of the star and we conclude that the observed amount of dust is triggered by intense dynamical activity. Conclusions. Fomalhaut may be representative of exozodis that are currently being surveyed at near and mid-infrared wavelengths worldwide. We propose a framework for reconciling the "hot exozodi phenomenon" with theoretical constraints: the hot component of Fomalhaut is likely the "tip of the iceberg" as it could derive from the more massive, but fainter, warm dust component residing near the ice line. This inner disk exhibits interesting morphology and can be considered a prime target for future exoplanet research. [less ▲]

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See detailAn interferometric study of the Fomalhaut inner debris disk II. Keck Nuller mid-infrared observations
Mennesson, B.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Lebreton, J. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 763

We report on high contrast mid-infrared observations of Fomalhaut obtained with the Keck Interferometer Nuller (KIN) showing a small resolved excess over the level expected from the stellar photosphere ... [more ▼]

We report on high contrast mid-infrared observations of Fomalhaut obtained with the Keck Interferometer Nuller (KIN) showing a small resolved excess over the level expected from the stellar photosphere. The measured null excess has a mean value of 0.35% +/- 0.10% between 8 and 11 microns and increases from 8 to 13 microns. Given the small field of view of the instrument, the source of this marginal excess must be contained within 2AU of Fomalhaut. This result is reminiscent of previous VLTI K-band observations, which implied the presence of a ~ 0.88% excess, and argued that thermal emission from hot dusty grains located within 6 AU from Fomalhaut was the most plausible explanation. Using a parametric 2D radiative transfer code and a Bayesian analysis, we examine different dust disk structures to reproduce both the near and mid-infrared data simultaneously. While not a definitive explanation of the hot excess of Fomalhaut, our model suggests that the most likely inner few AU disk geometry consists of a two-component structure, with two different and spatially distinct grain populations. The 2 to 11 microns data are consistent with an inner hot ring of very small (~ 10 to 300 nm) carbon-rich grains concentrating around 0.1AU. The second dust population consists of larger grains (size of a few microns to a few tens of microns) located further out in a colder region where regular astronomical silicates could survive, with an inner edge around 1AU. From a dynamical point of view, the presence of the inner concentration of sub-micron sized grains is surprising, as such grains should be expelled from the inner planetary system by radiation pressure within only a few years. This could either point to some inordinate replenishment rates (e.g. many grazing comets coming from an outer reservoir) or to the existence of some braking mechanism preventing the grains from moving out. [less ▲]

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See detailHigh-contrast Stellar Observations within the Diffraction Limit at the Palomar Hale Telescope
Mennesson, B.; Hanot, Charles ULg; Serabyn, Eugene et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2011), 743

We report on high-accuracy high-resolution (<20 mas) stellar observations obtained with the Palomar Fiber Nuller (PFN), a near-infrared (sime2.2 μm) interferometric coronagraph installed at the Palomar ... [more ▼]

We report on high-accuracy high-resolution (<20 mas) stellar observations obtained with the Palomar Fiber Nuller (PFN), a near-infrared (sime2.2 μm) interferometric coronagraph installed at the Palomar Hale telescope. The PFN uses destructive interference between two elliptical (3 m × 1.5 m) sub-apertures of the primary to reach high dynamic range inside the diffraction limit of the full telescope. In order to validate the PFN's instrumental approach and its data reduction strategy, based on the newly developed "Null Self-Calibration" (NSC) method, we observed a sample of eight well-characterized bright giants and supergiants. The quantity measured is the source astrophysical null depth, or equivalently the object's visibility at the PFN 3.2 m interferometric baseline. For the bare stars α Boo, α Her, β And, and α Aur, PFN measurements are in excellent agreement with previous stellar photosphere measurements from long baseline interferometry. For the mass-losing stars β Peg, α Ori, ρ Per, and χ Cyg, circumstellar emission and/or asymmetries are detected. Overall, these early observations demonstrate the PFN's ability to measure astrophysical null depths below 10[SUP]-2[/SUP] (limited by stellar diameters), with 1 σ uncertainties as low as a few 10[SUP]-4[/SUP]. Such visibility accuracy is unmatched at this spatial resolution in the near-infrared and translates into a contrast better than 10[SUP]-3[/SUP] within the diffraction limit. With further improvements anticipated in 2011/2012, a state-of-the-art infrared science camera and a new extreme adaptive optics system, the PFN should provide a unique tool for the detection of hot debris disks and young self-luminous sub-stellar companions in the immediate vicinity of nearby stars. [less ▲]

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See detailA Dim Candidate Companion to epsilon Cephei
Mawet, D.; Mennesson, B.; Serabyn, E. et al

in Astrophysical Journal Letters (2011), 738

Using a vector vortex coronagraph behind the 1.5 m well-corrected subaperture (WCS) at Palomar, we detected a second object very close to epsilon Cephei, a δ Scuti F0 IV star. The candidate companion, ~50 ... [more ▼]

Using a vector vortex coronagraph behind the 1.5 m well-corrected subaperture (WCS) at Palomar, we detected a second object very close to epsilon Cephei, a δ Scuti F0 IV star. The candidate companion, ~50 times fainter than epsilon Cephei, if physically associated, is a late-type K or early M star, and lies at an angular separation of 330 mas, or 1.1 λ/D for the WCS, making it the smallest angle detection ever realized with a coronagraph in terms of λ/D units. The projected separation of the putative companion is ~8.6 AU, most likely on a highly eccentric orbit. The recently detected near-infrared excess is thus likely not due to hot dust. Moreover, we also show that the previously reported IRAS 60 μm excess was due to source confusion on the galactic plane. [less ▲]

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See detailNew Constraints on Companions and Dust within a Few AU of Vega
Mennesson, B.; Serabyn, E.; Hanot, Charles ULg et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2011), 736

We report on high contrast near-infrared (~2.2 μm) observations of Vega obtained with the Palomar Fiber Nuller, a dual sub-aperture rotating coronagraph installed at the Palomar Hale telescope. The data ... [more ▼]

We report on high contrast near-infrared (~2.2 μm) observations of Vega obtained with the Palomar Fiber Nuller, a dual sub-aperture rotating coronagraph installed at the Palomar Hale telescope. The data show consistent astrophysical null depth measurements at the ~= 10[SUP]–3[/SUP] level or below for three different baseline orientations spanning 60 deg in azimuth, with individual 1σ uncertainties <=7 × 10[SUP]–4[/SUP]. These high cancellation and accuracy levels translate into a dynamic range greater than 1000:1 inside the diffraction limit of the 5 m telescope beam. Such high contrast performance is unprecedented in the near-infrared and provides improved constraints on Vega's immediate (sime20 to 250 mas, or sime0.15 to 2 AU) environment. In particular, our measurements rule out any potential companion in the [0.25-1 AU] region contributing more than 1% of the overall near-infrared stellar flux, with limits as low as 0.2% near 0.6 AU. These are the best upper limits established so far by direct detection for a companion to Vega in this inner region. We also conclude that any dust population contributing a significant (>=1%) near-infrared thermal excess can arise only within 0.2 AU of the star, and that it must consist of much smaller grains than in the solar zodiacal cloud. Dust emission from farther than sime2 AU is also not ruled out by our observations, but would have to originate in strong scattering, pointing again to very small grains. Based on observations obtained at the Hale Telescope, Palomar Observatory as part of a continuing collaboration between the California Institute of Technology, NASA/JPL, and Cornell University. [less ▲]

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See detailHigh contrast stellar observations within the diffraction limit at the Palomar Hale telescope
Mennesson, B.; Hanot, Charles ULg; Serabyn, E. et al

in McLean, I.; Ramsay, S.; Takami, H. (Eds.) Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy III (2010, July 01)

We report on high-accuracy, high-resolution (< 20mas) stellar measurements obtained in the near infrared ( 2.2 microns) at the Palomar 200 inch telescope using two elliptical (3m x 1.5m) sub-apertures ... [more ▼]

We report on high-accuracy, high-resolution (< 20mas) stellar measurements obtained in the near infrared ( 2.2 microns) at the Palomar 200 inch telescope using two elliptical (3m x 1.5m) sub-apertures located 3.4m apart. Our interferometric coronagraph, known as the "Palomar Fiber Nuller" (PFN), is located downstream of the Palomar adaptive optics (AO) system and recombines the two separate beams into a common singlemode fiber. The AO system acts as a "fringe tracker", maintaining the optical path difference (OPD) between the beams around an adjustable value, which is set to the central dark interference fringe. AO correction ensures high efficiency and stable injection of the beams into the single-mode fiber. A chopper wheel and a fast photometer are used to record short (< 50ms per beam) interleaved sequences of background, individual beam and interferometric signals. In order to analyze these chopped null data sequences, we developed a new statistical method, baptized "Null Self-Calibration" (NSC), which provides astrophysical null measurements at the 0.001 level, with 1 σ uncertainties as low as 0.0003. Such accuracy translates into a dynamic range greater than 1000:1 within the diffraction limit, demonstrating that the approach effectively bridges the traditional gap between regular coronagraphs, limited in angular resolution, and long baseline visibility interferometers, whose dynamic range is restricted to 100:1. As our measurements are extremely sensitive to the brightness distribution very close to the optical axis, we were able to constrain the stellar diameters and amounts of circumstellar emission for a sample of very bright stars. With the improvement expected when the PALM-3000 extreme AO system comes on-line at Palomar, the same instrument now equipped with a state of the art low noise fast read-out near IR camera, will yield 10[SUP]-4[/SUP] to 10[SUP]-3[/SUP] contrast as close as 30 mas for stars with K magnitude brighter than 6. Such a system will provide a unique and ideal tool for the detection of young (<100 Myr) self-luminous planets and hot debris disks in the immediate vicinity (0.1 to a few AUs) of nearby (< 50pc) stars. [less ▲]

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See detailThe potential of rotating-baseline nulling interferometers operating within large single-telescope apertures
Serabyn, E.; Mennesson, B.; Martin, Stefan et al

in Danchi, W. C.; Delplancke, F.; Rajagopal, J. K. (Eds.) Optical and Infrared Interferometry II (2010, July 01)

The use of a rotating-baseline nulling interferometer for exoplanet detection was proposed several decades ago, but the technique has not yet been fully demonstrated in practice. Here we consider the ... [more ▼]

The use of a rotating-baseline nulling interferometer for exoplanet detection was proposed several decades ago, but the technique has not yet been fully demonstrated in practice. Here we consider the faint companion and exozodiacal disk detection capabilities of rotating-baseline nulling interferometers, such as are envisioned for space-based infrared nullers, but operating instead within the aperture of large single telescopes. In particular, a nulling interferometer on a large aperture corrected by a next-generation extreme adaptive optics system can provide deep interferometric contrasts, and also reach smaller angles (sub λ/D) than classical coronagraphs. Such rotating nullers also provide validation for an eventual space-based rotating-baseline nulling interferometer. As practical examples, we describe ongoing experiments with rotating nullers at Palomar and Keck, and consider briefly the case of the Thirty Meter Telescope. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Fomalhaut debris disk seen from every angle with interferometry
Absil, Olivier ULg; Mennesson, B.; Le Bouquin, J.-B. et al

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

In this paper, we present the results of three different studies of the Fomalhaut debris disk with infrared interferometry. First, VLTI/AMBER measurements are used to determine the position angle of the ... [more ▼]

In this paper, we present the results of three different studies of the Fomalhaut debris disk with infrared interferometry. First, VLTI/AMBER measurements are used to determine the position angle of the slightly oblate rapidly rotating photosphere by means of differential phase measurements across the Br-gamma photospheric line. This measurement allows us to confirm that the debris disk is located in the equatorial plane of its host star. Second, we use VLTI/VINCI to search for resolved near-infrared emission around the stellar photosphere, which would correspond to the presence of large amounts of hot dust grains located between the sublimation radius and the habitable zone. Our observations reveal a small excess of 0.88%+/-0.12% in K band relative to the photospheric flux. Finally, we use the Keck Interferometer Nuller in order to derive additional constraints on the nature of the resolved infrared emission. Our observations suggest a marginal detection of a circumstellar excess at 10 μm, which we use together with the VINCI detection to model the circumstellar emission. Preliminary results from this modeling effort are discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailTechnology for a Mid-IR Flagship Mission to Characterize Earth-like Exoplanets
Lawson, P. R.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Akeson, R. L. et al

E-print/Working paper (2009)

The exploration of Earth-like exoplanets will be enabled at mid-infrared wavelengths through technology and engineering advances in nulling interferometry and precision formation flying. Nulling ... [more ▼]

The exploration of Earth-like exoplanets will be enabled at mid-infrared wavelengths through technology and engineering advances in nulling interferometry and precision formation flying. Nulling interferometry provides the dynamic range needed for the detection of biomarkers. Formation flying provides the angular resolution required in the mid-infrared to separately distinguish the spectra of planets in multi-planet systems. The flight performance requirements for nulling have been met and must now be validated in a flight-like environment. Formation-flying algorithms have been demonstrated in the lab and must now be validated in space. Our proposed technology program is described. [less ▲]

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