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See detailGENIE: a Ground-Based European Nulling Instrument at ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer
Gondoin, P.; den Hartog, R.; Fridlund, M. et al

in Richichi, A.; Delplancke, F.; Paresce, F. (Eds.) et al The Power of Optical/IR Interferometry: Recent Scientific Results and 2nd Generation Instrumentation (2008)

Darwin is one of the most challenging space projects ever considered by the European Space Agency (ESA). Its principal objectives are to detect Earth-like planets around nearby stars, to analyze the ... [more ▼]

Darwin is one of the most challenging space projects ever considered by the European Space Agency (ESA). Its principal objectives are to detect Earth-like planets around nearby stars, to analyze the composition of their atmospheres and to assess their ability to sustain life as we know it. Darwin is conceived as a space ``nulling interferometer'' which makes use of on-axis destructive interferences to extinguish the stellar light while keeping the off-axis signal of the orbiting planet. Within the frame of the Darwin program, definition studies of a Ground based European Nulling Interferometry Experiment, called GENIE, were completed in 2005. This instrument built around the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) in Paranal will test some of the key technologies required for the Darwin Infrared Space Interferometer. GENIE will operate in the L' band around 3.8 microns as a single Bracewell nulling interferometer using either two Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) or two 8m Unit Telescopes (UTs). Its science objectives include the detection and characterization of dust disks and low-mass companions around nearby stars. [less ▲]

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See detailPerformance study of ground-based infrared Bracewell interferometers. Application to the detection of exozodiacal dust disks with GENIE
Absil, Olivier ULg; den Hartog, R.; Gondoin, P. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2006), 448

Nulling interferometry, a powerful technique for high-resolution imaging of the close neighbourhood of bright astrophysical objets, is currently considered for future space missions such as Darwin or the ... [more ▼]

Nulling interferometry, a powerful technique for high-resolution imaging of the close neighbourhood of bright astrophysical objets, is currently considered for future space missions such as Darwin or the Terrestrial Planet Finder Interferometer (TPF-I), both aiming at Earth-like planet detection and characterization. Ground-based nulling interferometers are being studied for both technology demonstration and scientific preparation of the Darwin/TPF-I missions through a systematic survey of circumstellar dust disks around nearby stars. In this paper, we investigate the influence of atmospheric turbulence on the performance of ground-based nulling instruments, and deduce the major design guidelines for such instruments. End-to-end numerical simulations allow us to estimate the performance of the main subsystems and thereby the actual sensitivity of the nuller to faint exozodiacal disks. Particular attention is also given to the important question of stellar leakage calibration. This study is illustrated in the context of GENIE, the Ground-based European Nulling Interferometer Experiment, to be installed at the VLTI and working in the L' band. We estimate that this instrument will detect exozodiacal clouds as faint as about 50 times the Solar zodiacal cloud, thereby placing strong constraints on the acceptable targets for Darwin/TPF-I. [less ▲]

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See detailThe prospects of detecting exo-planets with the Ground-based European Nulling Interferometer Experiment (GENIE)
den Hartog, R.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Gondoin, P. et al

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

The European Space Agency's Darwin and NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) are among the most challenging space science missions ever considered. Their principal objective is to detect Earth-like ... [more ▼]

The European Space Agency's Darwin and NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) are among the most challenging space science missions ever considered. Their principal objective is to detect Earth-like planets around nearby stars and to characterize their atmospheres. Darwin and TPF-I are currently conceived as nulling interferometers with free-flying telescopes. Within the frame of the Darwin program, the ESA and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), supported by European industries and scientific institutes, have performed two parallel Phase A studies of a ground-based nulling interferometry experiment (GENIE) at the site of ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) in Paranal, Chile. GENIE will demonstrate several key technologies required for the Darwin mission. Its science objectives include the detection and characterization of dust disks and low-mass companions around nearby stars. These studies have established detailed instrumental designs, in which GENIE will operate in the L' band around 3.8 microns as a single Bracewell nulling or constructive interferometer, using either two Auxiliary or two Unit Telescopes. The studies were supported by detailed numerical simulations which indicated the possibility of detection and low-resolution spectroscopy in nulling mode of extra-solar giant planets (EGPs) with atmospheric temperatures down to 700 K, provided that a proper calibration of instrumental effects is applied. Detection of circumstellar exo-zodiacal (EZ) dust clouds is possible down to 0.5 mJy, with interesting prospects for the characterization of planet-forming disks. [less ▲]

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