References of "Absil, Olivier"
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See detailVortex Image Processing (VIP) package for high-contrast direct imaging
Gómez González, Carlos ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg; Wertz, Olivier ULg et al

Poster (2016, May 16)

VIP is a Python instrument-agnostic toolbox featuring a flexible framework for reproducible and robust data reduction. VIP currently supports three high-contrast imaging observational techniques: angular ... [more ▼]

VIP is a Python instrument-agnostic toolbox featuring a flexible framework for reproducible and robust data reduction. VIP currently supports three high-contrast imaging observational techniques: angular, reference-star and multi-spectral differential imaging. The code can be downloaded from our git repository on Github: http://github.com/vortex-exoplanet/VIP [less ▲]

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See detailLow-rank plus sparse decomposition for exoplanet detection in direct-imaging ADI sequences. The LLSG algorithm
Gómez González, Carlos ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg; Absil, P.-A. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 589

Context. Data processing constitutes a critical component of high-contrast exoplanet imaging. Its role is almost as important as the choice of a coronagraph or a wavefront control system, and it is ... [more ▼]

Context. Data processing constitutes a critical component of high-contrast exoplanet imaging. Its role is almost as important as the choice of a coronagraph or a wavefront control system, and it is intertwined with the chosen observing strategy. Among the data processing techniques for angular differential imaging (ADI), the most recent is the family of principal component analysis (PCA) based algorithms. It is a widely used statistical tool developed during the first half of the past century. PCA serves, in this case, as a subspace projection technique for constructing a reference point spread function (PSF) that can be subtracted from the science data for boosting the detectability of potential companions present in the data. Unfortunately, when building this reference PSF from the science data itself, PCA comes with certain limitations such as the sensitivity of the lower dimensional orthogonal subspace to non-Gaussian noise. <BR /> Aims: Inspired by recent advances in machine learning algorithms such as robust PCA, we aim to propose a localized subspace projection technique that surpasses current PCA-based post-processing algorithms in terms of the detectability of companions at near real-time speed, a quality that will be useful for future direct imaging surveys. <BR /> Methods: We used randomized low-rank approximation methods recently proposed in the machine learning literature, coupled with entry-wise thresholding to decompose an ADI image sequence locally into low-rank, sparse, and Gaussian noise components (LLSG). This local three-term decomposition separates the starlight and the associated speckle noise from the planetary signal, which mostly remains in the sparse term. We tested the performance of our new algorithm on a long ADI sequence obtained on β Pictoris with VLT/NACO. <BR /> Results: Compared to a standard PCA approach, LLSG decomposition reaches a higher signal-to-noise ratio and has an overall better performance in the receiver operating characteristic space. This three-term decomposition brings a detectability boost compared to the full-frame standard PCA approach, especially in the small inner working angle region where complex speckle noise prevents PCA from discerning true companions from noise. [less ▲]

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See detailControlling the profile of high aspect ratio gratings in diamond
Vargas Catalan, Ernesto; Forsberg, Pontus; Absil, Olivier ULg et al

in Diamond & Related Materials (2016), 63

Diamond is an excellent material for infrared optics and for applications in harsh environments. Some of those desirable properties, i.e. hardness and chemical inertness, also make it a challenging ... [more ▼]

Diamond is an excellent material for infrared optics and for applications in harsh environments. Some of those desirable properties, i.e. hardness and chemical inertness, also make it a challenging material to machine and etch. In this study we have tested a wide range of etch parameters in an inductively coupled plasma etcher, in order to produce highly controlled, high aspect ratio gratings in diamond. We discuss the effects of pressure, bias power, and some gas mixture variation (pure oxygen and argon-oxygen) on the etch results and how it impacts the etch mask sputtering and redeposition. We also present a method for applying a fresh aluminum mask, in order to etch even deeper optical grating. Gratings with aspect ratios as high as 1:13.5 have been achieved with a 1.42 μm grating period. [less ▲]

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See detailPost-coronagraphic tip-tilt sensing for vortex phase masks: the QACITS technique
Huby, Elsa ULg; Baudoz, Pierre; Mawet, Dimitri et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2015), 584

Small inner working angle coronagraphs, like the vortex phase mask, are essential to exploit the full potential of ground-based telescopes in the context of exoplanet detection and characterization ... [more ▼]

Small inner working angle coronagraphs, like the vortex phase mask, are essential to exploit the full potential of ground-based telescopes in the context of exoplanet detection and characterization. However, the drawback of this attractive feature is a high sensitivity to pointing errors, which degrades the performance of the coronagraph. We propose a tip-tilt retrieval technique based on the analysis of the final coronagraphic image, hereafter called Quadrant Analysis of Coronagraphic Images for Tip-tilt Sensing (QACITS). Under the assumption of small phase aberrations, we show that the behaviour of the vortex phase mask can be simply described from the entrance pupil to the Lyot stop plane by Zernike polynomials. This convenient formalism is used to establish the theoretical basis of the QACITS technique. Simulations have been performed to demonstrate the validity and limits of the technique, including the case of a centrally obstructed pupil. The QACITS technique principle is further validated by experimental results in the case of an unobstructed circular aperture. The typical configuration of the Keck telescope (24% central obstruction) has been simulated with additional high order aberrations. In these conditions, our simulations show that the QACITS technique is still adapted to centrally obstructed pupils and performs tip-tilt retrieval with a precision of $5 \times 10^{-2}$ {\lambda}/D when wavefront errors amount to {\lambda}/14 rms and $10^{-2}$ {\lambda}/D for {\lambda}/70 rms errors (with {\lambda} the wavelength and D the pupil diameter). The implementation of the QACITS technique is based on the analysis of the scientific image and does not require any modification of the original setup. Current facilities equipped with a vortex phase mask can thus directly benefit from this technique to improve the contrast performance close to the axis. [less ▲]

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See detailLyot-plane phase masks for improved high-contrast imaging with a vortex coronagraph
Ruane, Garreth J.; Huby, Elsa ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2015), 583

The vortex coronagraph is an optical instrument that precisely removes on-axis starlight allowing for high contrast imaging at small angular separation from the star, thereby providing a crucial ... [more ▼]

The vortex coronagraph is an optical instrument that precisely removes on-axis starlight allowing for high contrast imaging at small angular separation from the star, thereby providing a crucial capability for direct detection and characterization of exoplanets and circumstellar disks. Telescopes with aperture obstructions, such as secondary mirrors and spider support structures, require advanced coronagraph designs to provide adequate starlight suppression. We introduce a phase-only Lyot-plane optic to the vortex coronagraph that offers improved contrast performance on telescopes with complicated apertures. Potential solutions for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) are described and compared. Adding a Lyot-plane phase mask relocates residual starlight away from a region of the image plane thereby reducing stellar noise and improving sensitivity to off-axis companions. The phase mask is calculated using an iterative phase retrieval algorithm. Numerically, we achieve a contrast on the order of $10^{-6}$ for a companion with angular displacement as small as $4~\lambda/D$ with an E-ELT type aperture. Even in the presence of aberrations, improved performance is expected compared to either a conventional vortex coronagraph or optimized pupil plane phase element alone. [less ▲]

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See detailDirect exoplanet detection and characterization using the ANDROMEDA method: Performance on VLT/NaCo data
Cantalloube, F.; Mouillet, D.; Mugnier, L. M. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2015), 582

Context. The direct detection of exoplanets with high-contrast imaging requires advanced data processing methods to disentangle potential planetary signals from bright quasi-static speckles. Among them ... [more ▼]

Context. The direct detection of exoplanets with high-contrast imaging requires advanced data processing methods to disentangle potential planetary signals from bright quasi-static speckles. Among them, angular differential imaging (ADI) permits potential planetary signals with a known rotation rate to be separated from instrumental speckles that are either statics or slowly variable. The method presented in this paper, called ANDROMEDA for ANgular Differential OptiMal Exoplanet Detection Algorithm is based on a maximum likelihood approach to ADI and is used to estimate the position and the flux of any point source present in the field of view. Aims. In order to optimize and experimentally validate this previously proposed method, we applied ANDROMEDA to real VLT/NaCo data. In addition to its pure detection capability, we investigated the possibility of defining simple and efficient criteria for automatic point source extraction able to support the processing of large surveys. Methods. To assess the performance of the method, we applied ANDROMEDA on VLT/NaCo data of TYC-8979-1683-1 which is surrounded by numerous bright stars and on which we added synthetic planets of known position and flux in the field. In order to accommodate the real data properties, it was necessary to develop additional pre-processing and post-processing steps to the initially proposed algorithm. We then investigated its skill in the challenging case of a well-known target, $\beta$ Pictoris, whose companion is close to the detection limit and we compared our results to those obtained by another method based on principal component analysis (PCA). Results. Application on VLT/NaCo data demonstrates the ability of ANDROMEDA to automatically detect and characterize point sources present in the image field. We end up with a robust method bringing consistent results with a sensitivity similar to the recently published algorithms, with only two parameters to be fine tuned. Moreover, the companion flux estimates are not biased by the algorithm parameters and do not require a posteriori corrections. Conclusions. ANDROMEDA is an attractive alternative to current standard image processing methods that can be readily applied to on-sky data. [less ▲]

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See detailPerformance evaluation of mid-IR vortex coronagraphs with centrally obscured segmented pupils
Carlomagno, Brunella ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg; Ruane, Garreth J. et al

Poster (2015, October)

In its original design, the E-ELT/Metis instrument envisages a vortex coronagraph in the mid-IR regime for detection and characterization of exoplanets, with a contrast of 1e-4 at 2 lambda/D (~40 mas in L ... [more ▼]

In its original design, the E-ELT/Metis instrument envisages a vortex coronagraph in the mid-IR regime for detection and characterization of exoplanets, with a contrast of 1e-4 at 2 lambda/D (~40 mas in L band). The AGPM (Annular Groove Phase Mask) is a vortex phase mask with impressive characteristics: small inner working angle, high throughput, achromaticity. A non-perfectly circular pupil and non-flat input wavefront result in a starlight leakage, degrading the performance of the vortex coronagraph. In this work, we present end-to-end performance simulations using Fourier optical propagation to determine the quality of the starlight rejection obtained with an infrared vortex coronagraph. We first analyse the performance facing E-ELT pupil variations (segmentations, central obscuration, spiders, missing segments), then pointing jitter and random adaptive optics residual phase screens are introduced to derive more realistic performance. Finally, more advanced concepts of the infrared vortex coronagraph are presented, in order to compensate for performance degradation. [less ▲]

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See detailExoplanet science with the LBTI: instrument status and plans
Defrère, D.; Hinz, P.; Skemer, A. et al

in Shaklan, Stuart (Ed.) Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VII (2015, September 16)

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is a strategic instrument of the LBT designed for high-sensitivity, high-contrast, and high-resolution infrared (1.5-13 $\mu$m) imaging of nearby ... [more ▼]

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is a strategic instrument of the LBT designed for high-sensitivity, high-contrast, and high-resolution infrared (1.5-13 $\mu$m) imaging of nearby planetary systems. To carry out a wide range of high-spatial resolution observations, it can combine the two AO-corrected 8.4-m apertures of the LBT in various ways including direct (non-interferometric) imaging, coronagraphy (APP and AGPM), Fizeau imaging, non-redundant aperture masking, and nulling interferometry. It also has broadband, narrowband, and spectrally dispersed capabilities. In this paper, we review the performance of these modes in terms of exoplanet science capabilities and describe recent instrumental milestones such as first-light Fizeau images (with the angular resolution of an equivalent 22.8-m telescope) and deep interferometric nulling observations. [less ▲]

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See detailA Mach-Zehnder interferometer based on orbital angular momentum for improved vortex coronagraph efficiency
Piron, Pierre ULg; Delacroix, Christian; Huby, Elsa ULg et al

in Shaklan, Stuart (Ed.) Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VII (2015, September 11)

The Annular Groove Phase Mask (AGPM) is a vectorial vortex phase mask. It acts as a half-wave plate with a radial fast axis orientation operating in the mid infrared domain. When placed at the focus of a ... [more ▼]

The Annular Groove Phase Mask (AGPM) is a vectorial vortex phase mask. It acts as a half-wave plate with a radial fast axis orientation operating in the mid infrared domain. When placed at the focus of a telescope element provides a continuous helical phase ramp for an on axis sources, which creates the orbital angular momentum. Thanks to that phase, the intensity of the central source is canceled by a down-stream pupil stop, while the off axis sources are not affected. However due to experimental conditions the nulling is hardly perfect. To improve the null, a Mach-Zehnder interferometer containing Dove prisms differently oriented can be proposed to sort out light based on its orbital angular momentum (OAM). Thanks to the differential rotation of the beam, a π phase shift is achieved for the on axis light affected by a non zero OAM. Therefore the contrast between the star and its faint companion is enhanced. Nevertheless, due the Dove prisms birefringence, the performance of the interferometer is relatively poor. To solve this problem, we propose to add a birefringent wave-plate in each arm to compensate this birefringence. In this paper, we will develop the mathematical model of the wave front using the Jones formalism. The performance of the interferometer is at first computed for the simple version without the birefringent plate. Then the effect of the birefringent plate is be mathematically described and the performance is re-computed. [less ▲]

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See detailOptimized focal and pupil plane masks for vortex coronagraphs on telescopes with obstructed apertures
Ruane, Garreth; Absil, Olivier ULg; Huby, Elsa ULg et al

in Shaklan, Stuart (Ed.) Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VII (2015, September 11)

We present methods for optimizing pupil and focal plane optical elements that improve the performance of vortex coronagraphs on telescopes with obstructed or segmented apertures. Phase-only and complex ... [more ▼]

We present methods for optimizing pupil and focal plane optical elements that improve the performance of vortex coronagraphs on telescopes with obstructed or segmented apertures. Phase-only and complex masks are designed for the entrance pupil, focal plane, and the plane of the Lyot stop. Optimal masks are obtained using both analytical and numerical methods. The latter makes use of an iterative error reduction algorithm to calculate "correcting" optics that mitigate unwanted diffraction from aperture obstructions. We analyze the achieved performance in terms of starlight suppression, contrast, off-axis image quality, and chromatic dependence. Manufacturing considerations and sensitivity to aberrations are also discussed. This work provides a path to joint optimization of multiple coronagraph planes to maximize sensitivity to exoplanets and other faint companions. [less ▲]

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See detailImpact of ηEarth on the Capabilities of Affordable Space Missions to Detect Biosignatures on Extrasolar Planets
Léger, Alain; Defrère, Denis; Malbet, Fabien et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015), 808

We present an analytic model to estimate the capabilities of space missions dedicated to the search for biosignatures in the atmosphere of rocky planets located in the habitable zone of nearby stars ... [more ▼]

We present an analytic model to estimate the capabilities of space missions dedicated to the search for biosignatures in the atmosphere of rocky planets located in the habitable zone of nearby stars. Relations between performance and mission parameters, such as mirror diameter, distance to targets, and radius of planets, are obtained. Two types of instruments are considered: coronagraphs observing in the visible, and nulling interferometers in the thermal infrared. Missions considered are: single-pupil coronagraphs with a 2.4 m primary mirror, and formation-flying interferometers with 4 × 0.75 m collecting mirrors. The numbers of accessible planets are calculated as a function of η[SUB]Earth[/SUB]. When Kepler gives its final estimation for η[SUB]Earth[/SUB], the model will permit a precise assessment of the potential of each instrument. Based on current estimations, η[SUB]Earth[/SUB] = 10% around FGK stars and 50% around M stars, the coronagraph could study in spectroscopy only ∼1.5 relevant planets, and the interferometer ∼14.0. These numbers are obtained under the major hypothesis that the exozodiacal light around the target stars is low enough for each instrument. In both cases, a prior detection of planets is assumed and a target list established. For the long-term future, building both types of spectroscopic instruments, and using them on the same targets, will be the optimal solution because they provide complementary information. But as a first affordable space mission, the interferometer looks the more promising in terms of biosignature harvest. [less ▲]

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See detailAn Unbiased Near-infrared Interferometric Survey for Hot Exozodiacal Dust
Ertel, S.; Augereau, J.-C.; Absil, Olivier ULg et al

in The Messenger (2015), 159

Exozodiacal dust is warm or hot dust found in the inner regions of planetary systems orbiting main sequence stars, in or around their habitable zones. The dust can be the most luminous component of ... [more ▼]

Exozodiacal dust is warm or hot dust found in the inner regions of planetary systems orbiting main sequence stars, in or around their habitable zones. The dust can be the most luminous component of extrasolar planetary systems, but predominantly emits in the near- to mid-infrared where it is outshone by the host star. Interferometry provides a unique method of separating this dusty emission from the stellar emission. The visitor instrument PIONIER at the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) has been used to search for hot exozodiacal dust around a large sample of nearby main sequence stars. The results of this survey are summarised: 9 out of 85 stars show excess exo- zodiacal emission over the stellar photospheric emission. [less ▲]

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See detailThe VLTI/PIONIER near-infrared interferometric survey of southern T Tauri stars. I. First results
Anthonioz, F.; Menard, F.; Pinte, C. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2015), 574

Context. The properties of the inner disks of bright Herbig AeBe stars have been studied with near-infrared (NIR) interferometry and high resolution spectroscopy. The continuum (dust) and a few molecular ... [more ▼]

Context. The properties of the inner disks of bright Herbig AeBe stars have been studied with near-infrared (NIR) interferometry and high resolution spectroscopy. The continuum (dust) and a few molecular gas species have been studied close to the central star; however, sensitivity problems limit direct information about the inner disks of the fainter T Tauri stars. <BR /> Aims: Our aim is to measure some of the properties (inner radius, brightness profile, shape) of the inner regions of circumstellar disk surrounding southern T Tauri stars. <BR /> Methods: We performed a survey with the VLTI/PIONIER recombiner instrument at H-band of 21 T Tauri stars. The baselines used ranged from 11 m to 129 m, corresponding to a maximum resolution of ~3 mas (~0.45 au at 150 pc). <BR /> Results: Thirteen disks are resolved well and the visibility curves are fully sampled as a function of baseline in the range 45-130 m for these 13 objects. A simple qualitative examination of visibility profiles allows us to identify a rapid drop-off in the visibilities at short baselines(<10 Mlambda) in 8 resolved disks. This is indicative of a significant contribution from an extended (R> 3 au, at 150 pc) contribution of light from the disk. We demonstrate that this component is compatible with scattered light, providing strong support to an earlier prediction. The amplitude of the drop-off and the amount of dust thermal emission changes from source to source suggesting that each disk is different. A by-product of the survey is the identification of a new milli-arcsec separation binary: WW Cha. Spectroscopic and interferometric data of AK Sco have also been fitted with a binary + disk model. <BR /> Conclusions: The visibility data are reproduced well when thermal emission and scattering from dust are fully considered. The inner radii measured are consistent with the expected dust sublimation radii. The modelling of AK Sco suggests a likely coplanarity between the disk and the binary's orbital plane. [less ▲]

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See detailAn update on the VORTEX project
Absil, Olivier ULg

Conference (2015, January 21)

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See detailFirst-light LBT Nulling Interferometric Observations: Warm Exozodiacal Dust Resolved within a Few AU of eta Crv
Defrere, D.; Hinz, P. M.; Skemer, A. J. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015), 799

We report on the first nulling interferometric observations with the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI), resolving the N' band (9.81-12.41 μm) emission around the nearby main-sequence star η ... [more ▼]

We report on the first nulling interferometric observations with the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI), resolving the N' band (9.81-12.41 μm) emission around the nearby main-sequence star η Crv (F2V, 1-2 Gyr). The measured source null depth amounts to 4.40% ± 0.35% over a field-of-view of 140 mas in radius (~2.6 AU for the distance of η Crv) and shows no significant variation over 35° of sky rotation. This relatively low null is unexpected given the total disk to star flux ratio measured by the Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph (IRS; ~23% across the N' band), suggesting that a significant fraction of the dust lies within the central nulled response of the LBTI (79 mas or 1.4 AU). Modeling of the warm disk shows that it cannot resemble a scaled version of the solar zodiacal cloud unless it is almost perpendicular to the outer disk imaged by Herschel. It is more likely that the inner and outer disks are coplanar and the warm dust is located at a distance of 0.5-1.0 AU, significantly closer than previously predicted by models of the IRS spectrum (~3 AU). The predicted disk sizes can be reconciled if the warm disk is not centrosymmetric, or if the dust particles are dominated by very small grains. Both possibilities hint that a recent collision has produced much of the dust. Finally, we discuss the implications for the presence of dust for the distance where the insolation is the same as Earth's (2.3 AU). [less ▲]

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See detailConstraining the Exozodiacal Luminosity Function of Main-sequence Stars: Complete Results from the Keck Nuller Mid-infrared Surveys
Mennesson, B.; Millan-Gabet, R.; Serabyn, E. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2014), 797

Forty-seven nearby main-sequence stars were surveyed with the Keck Interferometer mid-infrared Nulling instrument (KIN) between 2008 and 2011, searching for faint resolved emission from exozodiacal dust ... [more ▼]

Forty-seven nearby main-sequence stars were surveyed with the Keck Interferometer mid-infrared Nulling instrument (KIN) between 2008 and 2011, searching for faint resolved emission from exozodiacal dust. Observations of a subset of the sample have already been reported, focusing essentially on stars with no previously known dust. Here we extend this previous analysis to the whole KIN sample, including 22 more stars with known near- and/or far-infrared excesses. In addition to an analysis similar to that of the first paper of this series, which was restricted to the 8-9 mum spectral region, we present measurements obtained in all 10 spectral channels covering the 8-13 mum instrumental bandwidth. Based on the 8-9 mum data alone, which provide the highest signal-to-noise measurements, only one star shows a large excess imputable to dust emission (eta Crv), while four more show a significant (>3sigma) excess: beta Leo, beta UMa, zeta Lep, and gamma Oph. Overall, excesses detected by KIN are more frequent around A-type stars than later spectral types. A statistical analysis of the measurements further indicates that stars with known far-infrared (lambda >= 70 mum) excesses have higher exozodiacal emission levels than stars with no previous indication of a cold outer disk. This statistical trend is observed regardless of spectral type and points to a dynamical connection between the inner (zodi-like) and outer (Kuiper-Belt-like) dust populations. The measured levels for such stars are clustering close to the KIN detection limit of a few hundred zodis and are indeed consistent with those expected from a populat [less ▲]

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See detailThe synergy between optical interferometry and imaging
Absil, Olivier ULg

Conference (2014, November 04)

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See detailSouthern Massive Stars at High Angular Resolution: Observational Campaign and Companion Detection
Sana, H.; Le Bouquin, J.-B.; Lacour, S. et al

in Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series (2014), 215

Multiplicity is one of the most fundamental observable properties of massive O-type stars and offers a promising way to discriminate between massive star formation theories. Nevertheless, companions at ... [more ▼]

Multiplicity is one of the most fundamental observable properties of massive O-type stars and offers a promising way to discriminate between massive star formation theories. Nevertheless, companions at separations between 1 and 100 milliarcsec (mas) remain mostly unknown due to intrinsic observational limitations. At a typical distance of 2 kpc, this corresponds to projected ph [less ▲]

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See detailA near-infrared interferometric survey of debris-disk stars. IV. An unbiased sample of 92 southern stars observed in H band with VLTI/PIONIER
Ertel, S.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Defrere, D. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2014), 570

Context. Detecting and characterizing circumstellar dust is a way to study the architecture and evolution of planetary systems. Cold dust in debris disks only traces the outer regions. Warm and hot ... [more ▼]

Context. Detecting and characterizing circumstellar dust is a way to study the architecture and evolution of planetary systems. Cold dust in debris disks only traces the outer regions. Warm and hot exozodiacal dust needs to be studied in order to trace regions close to the habitable zone. <BR /> Aims: We aim to determine the prevalence and to constrain the properties of hot exozodiacal dust around nearby main-sequence stars. <BR /> Methods: We searched a magnitude-limited (H <= 5) sample of 92 stars for bright exozodiacal dust using our VLTI visitor instrument PIONIER in the H band. We derived statistics of the detection rate with respect to parameters, such as the stellar spectral type and age or the presence of a debris disk in the outer regions of the systems. We derived more robust statistics by combining our sample with the results from our CHARA/FLUOR survey in the K band. In addition, our spectrally dispersed data allowed us to put constraints on the emission mechanism and the dust properties in the detected systems. <BR /> Results: We find an overall detection rate of bright exozodiacal dust in the H band of 11% (9 out of 85 targets) and three tentative detections. The detection rate decreases from early type to late type stars and increases with the age of the host star. We do not confirm the tentative correlation between the presence of cold and hot dust found in our earlier analysis of the FLUOR sample alone. Our spectrally dispersed data suggest that either the dust is extremely hot or the emission is dominated by the scattered light in most cases. The implications of our results for the target selection of future terrestrial planet-finding missions using direct imaging are discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailSearching for faint companions with VLTI/PIONIER. II. 92 main sequence stars from the Exozodi survey
Marion, Lindsay ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg; Ertel, S. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2014), 570

Context. The Exozodi survey aims to determine the occurrence rate of bright exozodiacal discs around nearby main sequence stars using infrared interferometry. Although the Exozodi survey targets have been ... [more ▼]

Context. The Exozodi survey aims to determine the occurrence rate of bright exozodiacal discs around nearby main sequence stars using infrared interferometry. Although the Exozodi survey targets have been carefully selected to avoid the presence of binary stars, the results of this survey can still be biased by the presence of unidentified stellar companions. <BR /> Aims: Using the PIONIER data set collected within the Exozodi survey in 2012, we aim to search for the signature of point-like companions around the Exozodi target stars. <BR /> Methods: We make use of both the closure phases and squared visibilities collected by PIONIER to search for companions within the ~100 mas interferometric field of view. The presence of a companion is assessed by computing the goodness of fit to the data for a series of binary models with various separations and contrasts. <BR /> Results: Five stellar companions are resolved for the first time around five A-type stars: HD 4150, HD 16555, HD 29388, HD 202730, and HD 224392 (although the companion to HD 16555 was independently resolved by speckle interferometry while we were carrying out the survey). In the most likely case of main sequence companions, their spectral types range from A5V to K4V. Three of these stars were already suspected to be binaries from Hipparcos astrometric measurements, although no information was available on the companions themselves so far. In addition to debiasing the statistics of the Exozodi survey, these results can also be used to revise the fraction of visual binaries among A-type stars, suggesting that an extra ~13% A-type stars are visual binaries in addition to the ones detected in previous direct imaging surveys. <BR /> Conclusions: We estimate that about half the population of nearby A-type stars could be resolved as visual binaries using a combination of state-of-the-art interferometry and single-aperture imaging, and we suggest that a significant fraction of these binaries remains undetected to date. [less ▲]

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