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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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See detailDarwin-A Mission to Detect and Search for Life on Extrasolar Planets
Cockell, C. S.; Léger, A.; Fridlund, M. et al

in Astrobiology (2009), 9(1)

The discovery of extrasolar planets is one of the greatest achievements of modern astronomy. The detection of planets that vary widely in mass demonstrates that extrasolar planets of low mass exist. In ... [more ▼]

The discovery of extrasolar planets is one of the greatest achievements of modern astronomy. The detection of planets that vary widely in mass demonstrates that extrasolar planets of low mass exist. In this paper, we describe a mission, called Darwin, whose primary goal is the search for, and characterization of, terrestrial extrasolar planets and the search for life. Accomplishing the mission objectives will require collaborative science across disciplines, including astrophysics, planetary sciences, chemistry, and microbiology. Darwin is designed to detect rocky planets similar to Earth and perform spectroscopic analysis at mid-infrared wavelengths (6-20 mum), where an advantageous contrast ratio between star and planet occurs. The baseline mission is projected to last 5 years and consists of approximately 200 individual target stars. Among these, 25-50 planetary systems can be studied spectroscopically, which will include the search for gases such as CO[SUB]2[/SUB], H[SUB]2[/SUB]O, CH[SUB]4[/SUB], and O[SUB]3[/SUB]. Many of the key technologies required for the construction of Darwin have already been demonstrated, and the remainder are estimated to be mature in the near future. Darwin is a mission that will ignite intense interest in both the research community and the wider public. [less ▲]

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See detailPoussières chaudes dans les systèmes planétaires extrasolaires
Absil, Olivier ULg

Scientific conference (2009, March 10)

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See detailExozodiacal Disks
Hinz, Phillip; Millan-Gabet, Rafael; Absil, Olivier ULg et al

in Lawson, P. R.; Traub, W. A.; Unwin, S. C. (Eds.) Exoplanet Community Report (2009)

From the viewpoint of direct imaging of exoplanets in the visible or infrared, exozodi dust disks can be both good and bad. An exozodi disk is good if it has structures (cleared regions or resonant clumps ... [more ▼]

From the viewpoint of direct imaging of exoplanets in the visible or infrared, exozodi dust disks can be both good and bad. An exozodi disk is good if it has structures (cleared regions or resonant clumps) that suggest the gravitational presence of planets, however it is bad if the dust fills the instrumental field of view with brightness that swamps the signal from a planet. Unfortunately, it takes very little dust to compete with or overwhelm the light from a planet: an Earth‐twin signal is roughly equal to a 0.1‐AU patch of Solar‐System‐twin zodi, in the visible or infrared. Thus, exozodi measurements are extremely important, but they are also difficult to make. Current limits of detection, in units of the Solar‐System brightness, are a few hundred using the Spitzer Space Telescope, about one hundred with the Keck Interferometer (KI), and about 10 expected from the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI). A small coronagraph or small interferometer in space is needed in order to reach the sensitivity required to detect the glow at the level of our own Solar System. [less ▲]

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See detailInfrared Imaging
Danchi, William; Lawson, Peter; Absil, Olivier ULg et al

in Lawson, P. R.; Traub, W. A.; Unwin, S. C. (Eds.) Exoplanet Community Report (2009)

A mid‐infrared mission would enable the detection of biosignatures of Earth‐like exoplanets around more than 150 nearby stars. The mid‐infrared spectral region is attractive for characterizing exoplanets ... [more ▼]

A mid‐infrared mission would enable the detection of biosignatures of Earth‐like exoplanets around more than 150 nearby stars. The mid‐infrared spectral region is attractive for characterizing exoplanets because contrast with the parent star brightness is more favorable than in the visible (10 million vs. 10 billion), and because mid‐infrared light probes deep into a planet’s troposphere. Furthermore, the mid‐infrared offers access to several strong molecular features that are key signs of life, and also provides a measure of the effective temperature and size of a planet. Taken together, an infrared mission plus a visible one would provide a nearly full picture of a planet, including signs of life; with a measure of mass from an astrometric mission, we would have a virtually complete picture. A small infrared mission would have several telescopes that are rigidly connected, with a science return from the detection and characterization of super‐Earth sized to larger planets near the HZ, plus a direct measure of the exozodi brightness in the HZ. In a large infrared mission, with formation‐flying telescopes, planets from an Earth‐twin and upwards in mass could be detected and characterized, as well as the exozodi. If proceeded by an astrometric mission, the detection phase could be skipped and the mission devoted to characterization, as in the visible case; lacking an astrometric mission, an infrared one could proceed alone, as was discussed for a visible coronograph, and with similar caveats. The technology needed for a large formation‐flying mission is similar to that for a small connected‐element one (e.g., cryogenics and detectors), with the addition of formationflying technology. The technology is now in hand to implement a probe‐scale mission; starlight suppression has even been demonstrated to meet the requirements of a flagship mission. However, additional development of formation‐flying technology is needed, particularly in‐space testing of sensors and guidance, navigation, and control algorithms. [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 detailDarwin---an experimental astronomy mission to search for extrasolar planets
Cockell, Charles S; Herbst, Tom; Léger, Alain et al

in Experimental Astronomy (2009), 23

As a response to ESA call for mission concepts for its Cosmic Vision 2015--2025 plan, we propose a mission called Darwin. Its primary goal is the study of terrestrial extrasolar planets and the search for ... [more ▼]

As a response to ESA call for mission concepts for its Cosmic Vision 2015--2025 plan, we propose a mission called Darwin. Its primary goal is the study of terrestrial extrasolar planets and the search for life on them. In this paper, we describe different characteristics of the instrument. [less ▲]

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See detailDust in the inner regions of debris disks around A stars
Akeson, R. L.; Ciardi, D. R.; Millan-Gabet, R. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2009), 691

We present infrared interferometric observations of the inner regions of two A-star debris disks, beta Leo and zeta Lep, using the FLUOR instrument at the CHARA interferometer on both short (30 m) and ... [more ▼]

We present infrared interferometric observations of the inner regions of two A-star debris disks, beta Leo and zeta Lep, using the FLUOR instrument at the CHARA interferometer on both short (30 m) and long (> 200 m) baselines. For the target stars, the short-baseline visibilities are lower than expected for the stellar photosphere alone, while those of a check star, delta Leo, are not. We interpret this visibility offset of a few percent as a near-infrared (NIR) excess arising from dust grains which, due to the instrumental field of view, must be located within several AU of the central star. For beta Leo, the NIR excess-producing grains are spatially distinct from the dust which produces the previously known mid-infrared (MIR) excess. For zeta Lep, the NIR excess may be spatially associated with the MIR excess-producing material. We present simple geometric models which are consistent with the NIR and MIR excesses and show that for both objects, the NIR-producing material is most consistent with a thin ring of dust near the sublimation radius, with typical grain sizes smaller than the nominal radiation pressure blowout radius. Finally, we discuss possible origins of the NIR-emitting dust in the context of debris disk evolution models. [less ▲]

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See detailMatisse
Lopez, B.; Lagarde, S.; Wolf, S. et al

in Moorwood, 1 (Ed.) Science with the VLT in the ELT Era (2009)

MATISSE is foreseen as a mid-infrared spectro-interferometer combining the beams of up to four UTs/ATs of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). MATISSE will measure closure phase relations and ... [more ▼]

MATISSE is foreseen as a mid-infrared spectro-interferometer combining the beams of up to four UTs/ATs of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). MATISSE will measure closure phase relations and thus offer an efficient capability for image reconstruction in the L, M and N bands of the mid-infrared domain. [less ▲]

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See detailMATISSE Science Cases
Wolf, S.; Lopez, B.; Jaffe, W. et al

in Moorwood, A. (Ed.) Science with the VLT in the ELT Era (2009)

MATISSE is foreseen as a mid-infrared spectro-interferometric instrument combining the beams of up to four UTs/ATs of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). MATISSE will measure closure phase ... [more ▼]

MATISSE is foreseen as a mid-infrared spectro-interferometric instrument combining the beams of up to four UTs/ATs of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). MATISSE will measure closure phase relations and thus offer an efficient capability for image reconstruction. In addition to this, MATISSE will open 2 new observing windows at the VLTI: the L and M band in addition to the N band. Furthermore, the instrument will offer the possibility to perform simultaneous observations in separate bands. MATISSE will also provide several spectroscopic modes. In summary, MATISSE can be seen as a successor of MIDI by providing imaging capabilities in the mid-infrared domain (for a more detailed description of MATISSE see Lopez et al., these proceedings). [less ▲]

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See detailProspects for Near-infrared Characterisation of Hot Jupiters with the VLTI Spectro-imager (VSI)
Renard, Stéphanie; Absil, Olivier ULg; Berger, Jean-Philippe et al

in Moorwood, A. (Ed.) Science with the VLT in the ELT Era (2009)

Since the discovery of the first exoplanet around 51 Pegasi, the study of planetary systems receives an increasing attention, with the development and test of more and more detection techniques. Among the ... [more ▼]

Since the discovery of the first exoplanet around 51 Pegasi, the study of planetary systems receives an increasing attention, with the development and test of more and more detection techniques. Among the direct detection techniques, interferometry is one of the most promising for the near future. It already provides the required angular resolution, but the dynamic range needs to be improved. The detection and characterisation of extrasolar planets is one of the main science cases of the 2nd generation VLTI Spectro-Imager instrument (VSI). The goal of this work is to study the feasibility of obtaining near-infrared spectra of bright extrasolar giant planets (EGP) with VSI. [less ▲]

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See detailMilli-arcsecond Astrophysics with VSI, the VLTI Spectro-imager in the ELT Era
Malbet, F.; Buscher, D.; Weigelt, G. et al

in Moorwood, Alan (Ed.) Science with the VLT in the ELT Era (2009)

Nowadays, compact sources relatively warm like surfaces of nearby stars, circumstellar environments of stars from early stages to the most evolved ones and surroundings of active galactic nuclei can be ... [more ▼]

Nowadays, compact sources relatively warm like surfaces of nearby stars, circumstellar environments of stars from early stages to the most evolved ones and surroundings of active galactic nuclei can be investigated at milli-arcsecond scales only with the VLT in its interferometric mode. We propose a spectro-imager, named VSI (VLTI spectro-imager), which is capable to probe these sources both over spatial and spectral scales in the near-infrared domain. This instrument will provide information complementary to what is obtained at the same time with ALMA at different wavelengths and the extreme large telescopes. [less ▲]

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See detailDIGIT, GASPS, DEBRIS and DUNES: four HERSCHEL Open Time Key Programs to survey the dust cycle in circumstellar disks
Augereau, J.-C.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Bouvier, J. et al

in Charbonnel, C.; Combes, F.; Samadi, R. (Eds.) SF2A-2008 (2008, November 01)

Four accepted HERSCHEL open time key programs, DIGIT, GASPS, DEBRIS and DUNES, will study the evolution of the dust grains in circumstellar disks around young and Main Sequence stars. There is a strong ... [more ▼]

Four accepted HERSCHEL open time key programs, DIGIT, GASPS, DEBRIS and DUNES, will study the evolution of the dust grains in circumstellar disks around young and Main Sequence stars. There is a strong implication of the french community in these four projects which represent a total of 930 hours (>38 days) of her\ observing time. The DIGIT and GASPS projects will focus on the first stages of planet formation, while the DEBRIS and DUNES projects will search for extra-solar Kuiper Belt analogs around nearby Main Sequence stars. In this paper, we give an overview of the scientific goals of the four projects and of the numerical tools that we will be providing to the teams to model and interpret the her\ observations from these programs. [less ▲]

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See detailALADDIN performance model
Absil, Olivier ULg

Conference (2008, October 13)

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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 detailScience case for 1 mas spectro-imagining in the near-infrared
Garcia, Paulo J V; Berger, Jean-Phillipe; Marconi, Alessandro et al

in Schöller, Markus; Danchi, William; Delplancke, Françoise (Eds.) Optical and Infrared Interferometry (2008, July 01)

We present the work developed within the science team of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer Spectro-Imager (VSI) during the Phase A studies. VSI aims at delivering ~ 1 milliarcsecond resolution data ... [more ▼]

We present the work developed within the science team of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer Spectro-Imager (VSI) during the Phase A studies. VSI aims at delivering ~ 1 milliarcsecond resolution data cubes in the near-infrared, with several spectral resolutions up to 12 000, by combining up to 8 VLTI telescopes. In the design of an instrument, the science case plays a central role by supporting the instrument construction decision, defining the top-level requirements and balancing design options. The overall science philosophy of VSI was that of a general user instrument serving a broad community. The science team addressed themes which included several areas of astrophysics and illustrated specific modes of operation of the instrument: a) YSO disks and winds; b) Multiplicity of young stars; c) Exoplanets; d) Debris disks; e) Stellar surface imaging; f) The environments of evolved stars; g) AGN tori; h) AGN's Broad Line Region; i) Supermassive black-holes; and j) Microlensing. The main conclusions can be summarized as follows: a) The accessible targets and related science are extremely sensitive to the instrument limiting magnitude; the instrument should be optimized for sensitivity and have its own fringe tracker. b) Most of the science cases are readily achievable with on-axis fringe tracking, off-axis fringe tracking enabling extra science. c) In most targets (YSOs, evolved stars and AGNs), the interpretation and analysis of circumstellar/nuclear dust morphology requires direct access to the gas via spectral resolved studies of emission lines, requiring at least a spectral resolution of 2 500. d) To routinely deliver images at the required sensitivity, the number of telescopes in determinant, with 6 telescopes being favored. e) The factorial increase in the number of closure phases and visibilities, gained in a single observation, makes massive surveys of parameters and related science for the first time possible. f) High dynamic range imaging and very high dynamic range differential closure phase are possible allowing the study of debris disks and characterization of pegasides. g) Spectro-imaging in the near-infrared is highly complementary to ALMA, adaptive optics and interferometric imaging in the thermal infrared. [less ▲]

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See detailVSI: the VLTI spectro-imager
Malbet, F.; Buscher, D.; Weigelt, G. et al

in Schöller, Markus; Danchi, William; Delplancke, Françoise (Eds.) Optical and Infrared Interferometry (2008, July 01)

The VLTI Spectro Imager (VSI) was proposed as a second-generation instrument of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer providing the ESO community with spectrally-resolved, near-infrared images at ... [more ▼]

The VLTI Spectro Imager (VSI) was proposed as a second-generation instrument of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer providing the ESO community with spectrally-resolved, near-infrared images at angular resolutions down to 1.1 milliarcsecond and spectral resolutions up to R = 12000. Targets as faint as K = 13 will be imaged without requiring a brighter nearby reference object; fainter targets can be accessed if a suitable reference is available. The unique combination of high-dynamic-range imaging at high angular resolution and high spectral resolution enables a scientific program which serves a broad user community and at the same time provides the opportunity for breakthroughs in many areas of astrophysics. The high level specifications of the instrument are derived from a detailed science case based on the capability to obtain, for the first time, milliarcsecond-resolution images of a wide range of targets including: probing the initial conditions for planet formation in the AU-scale environments of young stars; imaging convective cells and other phenomena on the surfaces of stars; mapping the chemical and physical environments of evolved stars, stellar remnants, and stellar winds; and disentangling the central regions of active galactic nuclei and supermassive black holes. VSI will provide these new capabilities using technologies which have been extensively tested in the past and VSI requires little in terms of new infrastructure on the VLTI. At the same time, VSI will be able to make maximum use of new infrastructure as it becomes available; for example, by combining 4, 6 and eventually 8 telescopes, enabling rapid imaging through the measurement of up to 28 visibilities in every wavelength channel within a few minutes. The current studies are focused on a 4-telescope version with an upgrade to a 6-telescope one. The instrument contains its own fringe tracker and tip-tilt control in order to reduce the constraints on the VLTI infrastructure and maximize the scientific return. [less ▲]

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See detailPhase closure image reconstruction for future VLTI instrumentation
Filho, Mercedes E; Renard, Stephanie; Garcia, Paulo et al

in Schöller, Markus; Danchi, William; Delplancke, Françoise (Eds.) Optical and Infrared Interferometry (2008, July 01)

Classically, optical and near-infrared interferometry have relied on closure phase techniques to produce images. Such techniques allow us to achieve modest dynamic ranges. In order to test the feasibility ... [more ▼]

Classically, optical and near-infrared interferometry have relied on closure phase techniques to produce images. Such techniques allow us to achieve modest dynamic ranges. In order to test the feasibility of next generation optical interferometers in the context of the VLTI-spectro-imager (VSI), we have embarked on a study of image reconstruction and analysis. Our main aim was to test the influence of the number of telescopes, observing nights and distribution of the visibility points on the quality of the reconstructed images. Our results show that observations using six Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) during one complete night yield the best results in general and is critical in most science cases; the number of telescopes is the determining factor in the image reconstruction outcome. In terms of imaging capabilities, an optical, six telescope VLTI-type configuration and ~200 meter baseline will achieve 4 mas spatial resolution, which is comparable to ALMA and almost 50 times better than JWST will achieve at 2.2 microns. Our results show that such an instrument will be capable of imaging, with unprecedented detail, a plethora of sources, ranging from complex stellar surfaces to microlensing events. [less ▲]

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See detailPhase referencing in optical interferometry
Filho, Mercedes E; Garcia, Paulo; Duvert, Gilles et al

in Schöller, Markus; Danchi, William; Delplancke, Françoise (Eds.) Optical and Infrared Interferometry (2008, July 01)

One of the aims of next generation optical interferometric instrumentation is to be able to make use of information contained in the visibility phase to construct high dynamic range images. Radio and ... [more ▼]

One of the aims of next generation optical interferometric instrumentation is to be able to make use of information contained in the visibility phase to construct high dynamic range images. Radio and optical interferometry are at the two extremes of phase corruption by the atmosphere. While in radio it is possible to obtain calibrated phases for the science objects, in the optical this is currently not possible. Instead, optical interferometry has relied on closure phase techniques to produce images. Such techniques allow only to achieve modest dynamic ranges. However, with high contrast objects, for faint targets or when structure detail is needed, phase referencing techniques as used in radio interferometry, should theoretically achieve higher dynamic ranges for the same number of telescopes. Our approach is not to provide evidence either for or against the hypothesis that phase referenced imaging gives better dynamic range than closure phase imaging. Instead we wish to explore the potential of this technique for future optical interferometry and also because image reconstruction in the optical using phase referencing techniques has only been performed with limited success. We have generated simulated, noisy, complex visibility data, analogous to the signal produced in radio interferometers, using the VLTI as a template. We proceeded with image reconstruction using the radio image reconstruction algorithms contained in aips imagr (clean algorithm). Our results show that image reconstruction is successful in most of our science cases, yielding images with a 4 milliarcsecond resolution in K band. We have also investigated the number of target candidates for optical phase referencing. Using the 2MASS point source catalog, we show that there are several hundred objects with phase reference sources less than 30 arcseconds away, allowing to apply this technique. [less ▲]

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