References of "Absil, Olivier"
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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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See detailSystem overview of the VLTI Spectro-Imager
Jocou, L.; Berger, J.-P.; Malbet, F. et al

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

The VLTI Spectro Imager project aims to perform imaging with a temporal resolution of 1 night and with a maximum angular resolution of 1 milliarcsecond, making best use of the Very Large Telescope ... [more ▼]

The VLTI Spectro Imager project aims to perform imaging with a temporal resolution of 1 night and with a maximum angular resolution of 1 milliarcsecond, making best use of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer capabilities. To fulfill the scientific goals (see Garcia et. al.), the system requirements are: a) combining 4 to 6 beams; b) working in spectral bands J, H and K; c) spectral resolution from R= 100 to 12000; and d) internal fringe tracking on-axis, or off-axis when associated to the PRIMA dual-beam facility. The concept of VSI consists on 6 sub-systems: a common path distributing the light between the fringe tracker and the scientific instrument, the fringe tracker ensuring the co-phasing of the array, the scientific instrument delivering the interferometric observables and a calibration tool providing sources for internal alignment and interferometric calibrations. The two remaining sub-systems are the control system and the observation support software dedicated to the reduction of the interferometric data. This paper presents the global concept of VSI science path including the common path, the scientific instrument and the calibration tool. The scientific combination using a set of integrated optics multi-way beam combiners to provide high-stability visibility and closure phase measurements are also described. Finally we will address the performance budget of the global VSI instrument. The fringe tracker and scientific spectrograph will be shortly described. [less ▲]

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See detailPolar-interferometry: what can be learnt from the IOTA/IONIC experiment
Le Bouquin, Jean-Baptiste; Rousselet-Perraut, Karine; Berger, Jean-Philippe et al

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

We report the first near-IR polar-interferometric observations, performed at the IOTA array using its integrated optics combiner IONIC. Fringes have been obtained on calibration stars and resolved late ... [more ▼]

We report the first near-IR polar-interferometric observations, performed at the IOTA array using its integrated optics combiner IONIC. Fringes have been obtained on calibration stars and resolved late-type giants. Optical modeling of the array and dedicated laboratory measures allowed us to confirm the good accuracy obtained on the calibrated polarized visibilities and closure phases. However, no evidences for polarimetric features at high angular resolution have been detected. The simulations and the results presented here open several perspectives for polar-interferometry, especially in the context of fibered, single-mode combiners. [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, J.-P. et al

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

In this paper, we study the feasibility of obtaining near-infrared spectra of bright extrasolar planets with the 2nd generation VLTI Spectro-Imager instrument (VSI), which has the required angular ... [more ▼]

In this paper, we study the feasibility of obtaining near-infrared spectra of bright extrasolar planets with the 2nd generation VLTI Spectro-Imager instrument (VSI), which has the required angular resolution to resolve nearby hot Extrasolar Giant Planets (EGPs) from their host stars. Taking into account fundamental noises, we simulate closure phase measurements of several extrasolar systems using four 8-m telescopes at the VLT and a low spectral resolution (R = 100). Synthetic planetary spectra from T. Barman are used as an input. Standard chi[SUP]2[/SUP]-fitting methods are then used to reconstruct planetary spectra from the simulated data. These simulations show that low-resolution spectra in the H and K bands can be retrieved with a good fidelity for half a dozen targets in a reasonable observing time (about 10 hours, spread over a few nights). Such observations would strongly constrain the planetary temperature and albedo, the energy redistribution mechanisms, as well as the chemical composition of their atmospheres. Systematic errors, not included in our simulations, could be a serious limitation to these performance estimations. The use of integrated optics is however expected to provide the required instrumental stability (around 10[SUP]-4[/SUP] on the closure phase) to enable the first thorough characterisation of extrasolar planetary emission spectra in the near-infrared. [less ▲]

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See detailHigh dynamic range interferometric observations of exozodiacal discs: performance comparison between ground, space, and Antarctica
Absil, Olivier ULg; Defrere, Denis; Coudé du Foresto, Vincent et al

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

The possible presence of large amounts of exozodiacal dust around nearby main sequence stars represents a threat to the detection and characterisation of Earth-like extrasolar planets with future infrared ... [more ▼]

The possible presence of large amounts of exozodiacal dust around nearby main sequence stars represents a threat to the detection and characterisation of Earth-like extrasolar planets with future infrared space interferometers such as DARWIN or TPF. In this paper, we first review the current detection capabilities of ground-based infrared interferometers such as CHARA/FLUOR and the detections of hot dust that have been obtained so far around a few main sequence stars. With the help of realistic instrumental simulations, we then discuss the relative merits of various ground-based sites (temperate and Antarctic) versus space-based observatories for the detection of exozodiacal discs down to a few zodi by interferometric nulling as a preparation to future life-finding missions. In particular, we discuss the performance of four proposed nulling interferometers: GENIE, ALADDIN, PEGASE and FKSI. An optimised strategy for the characterisation of candidate DARWIN/TPF targets is finally proposed. [less ▲]

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See detailEarth-like planets: science performance predictions for future nulling interferometry missions
Defrere, Denis ULg; Lay, O.; den Hartog, R. et al

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

With the launch of planet-transit missions such as CoRoT and Kepler, it is expected that Earth-sized planets orbiting distant stars will be detected soon. This milestone will open the path towards the ... [more ▼]

With the launch of planet-transit missions such as CoRoT and Kepler, it is expected that Earth-sized planets orbiting distant stars will be detected soon. This milestone will open the path towards the definition of missions able to study the atmosphere of Earth-sized extrasolar planets, with the identification of bio-signatures as one of the main objectives. In that respect, both the European Space Agency (ESA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have identified nulling interferometry as one of the most promising techniques. Trying to minimize the cost and the technological risks while maximizing the scientific return, ESA and NASA recently converged towards a single mission architecture, the Emma X-array. In this paper, we present the expected science performance of this concept computed with two independent mission simulators. The impact of different observational parameters such as planet radius and exozodiacal cloud density is specifically addressed. [less ▲]

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See detailOn the observability of resonant structures in planetesimal disks due to planetary migration
Reche, R.; Beust, H.; Augereau, J.-C. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2008), 480

Context: The observed clumpy structures in debris disks are commonly interpreted as particles trapped in mean-motion resonances with an unseen exo-planet. Populating the resonances requires a migrating ... [more ▼]

Context: The observed clumpy structures in debris disks are commonly interpreted as particles trapped in mean-motion resonances with an unseen exo-planet. Populating the resonances requires a migrating process of either the particles (spiraling inward due to drag forces) or the planet (moving outward). Because the drag time-scale in resolved debris disks is generally long compared to the collisional time-scale, the planet migration scenario might be more likely, but this model has so far only been investigated for planets on circular orbits. Aims: We present a thorough study of the impact of a migrating planet on a planetesimal disk, by exploring a broad range of masses and eccentricities for the planet. We discuss the sensitivity of the structures generated in debris disks to the basic planet parameters. Methods: We perform many N-body numerical simulations, using the symplectic integrator SWIFT, taking into account the gravitational influence of the star and the planet on massless test particles. A constant migration rate is assumed for the planet. Results: The effect of planetary migration on the trapping of particles in mean motion resonances is found to be very sensitive to the initial eccentricity of the planet and of the planetesimals. A planetary eccentricity as low as 0.05 is enough to smear out all the resonant structures, except for the most massive planets. The planetesimals also initially have to be on orbits with a mean eccentricity of less than than 0.1 in order to keep the resonant clumps visible. Conclusions: This numerical work extends previous analytical studies and provides a collection of disk images that may help in interpreting the observations of structures in debris disks. Overall, it shows that stringent conditions must be fulfilled to obtain observable resonant structures in debris disks. Theoretical models of the origin of planetary migration will therefore have to explain how planetary systems remain in a suitable configuration to reproduce the observed structures. [less ▲]

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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 detailA Numerical Simulator for VITRUV
Lebouquin, J.-B.; Herwats, Emilie ULg; Carvalho, M.-I. 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)

VITRUVsim is a numerical tool with as much as possible physics included. Inputs are the source parameters (flux, morphology, position...) and outputs are sequences of observed fringes and/or reduced ... [more ▼]

VITRUVsim is a numerical tool with as much as possible physics included. Inputs are the source parameters (flux, morphology, position...) and outputs are sequences of observed fringes and/or reduced visibilities. VITRUVsim is written in a portable and free language. [less ▲]

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See detailGENIE: High-Resolution Study of Debris Disks
Absil, Olivier ULg; Augereau, Jean-Charles; Den Hartog, Roland 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)

GENIE, the Ground-based European Nulling Interferometer Experiment, will combine the lights collected in the L’ band by two VLT telescopes in a destructive way, thereby revealing the thermal and/or ... [more ▼]

GENIE, the Ground-based European Nulling Interferometer Experiment, will combine the lights collected in the L’ band by two VLT telescopes in a destructive way, thereby revealing the thermal and/or scattered emission of faint objects in the close neighbourhood of the target star. A prime scientific goal for GENIE thus consists in the detection and characterization of debris disks around nearby Vega-type stars. Thanks to its high angular resolution and operating wavelength (3.8 µm), GENIE will be particularly sensitive to the thermal emission from the warm dust standing within a few AU from the star, a part of the disks which is not accessible with current detection methods (IR photometric excesses, sub-millimeter imaging, …). In this paper, we investigate the capabilities of GENIE to detect and characterize the physical parameters of the debris disk around zeta Leporis, a prototypical Vega-type star suspected to harbour a warm dust component in its debris disk (Fajardo-Acosta et al., AJ 115, 2101). This study is then extended to the detection of faint exozodiacal disks around typical Darwin/TPF targets, thereby demonstrating the very high potential of GENIE in the field of high-contrast imaging. [less ▲]

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See detailDarwin: required performance (invited)
Absil, Olivier ULg

Scientific conference (2007, December 06)

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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 detailPotential of space-based infrared Bracewell interferometers for planet detection
Defrere, Denis ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg; Hanot, Charles ULg et al

in Coulter, D. (Ed.) Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets III (2007, September 12)

The Darwin and TPF-I space missions will be able to study the atmosphere of distant worlds similar to the Earth. Flying these space-based interferometers will however be an extraordinary technological ... [more ▼]

The Darwin and TPF-I space missions will be able to study the atmosphere of distant worlds similar to the Earth. Flying these space-based interferometers will however be an extraordinary technological challenge and a first step could be taken by a smaller mission. Several proposals have already been made in this context, using the simplest nulling scheme composed of two collectors, i.e., the original Bracewell interferometer. Two of these projects, viz. Pegase and the Fourier-Kelvin Space Interferometer, show very good perspectives for the characterisation of hot extra-solar giant planets (i.e., Jupiter-size planets orbiting close to their parent star). In this paper, we build on these concepts and try to optimise a Bracewell interferometer for the detection of Earth-like planets. The major challenge is to efficiently subtract the emission of the exo-zodiacal cloud which cannot be suppressed by classical phase chopping techniques as in the case of multi-telescopes nulling interferometers. We investigate the potential performance of split-pupil configurations with phase chopping and of OPD modulation techniques, which are good candidates for such a mitigation. Finally, we give a general overview of the performance to be expected from space-based Bracewell interferometers for the detection of extra-solar planets. In particular, the prospects for known extra-solar planets are presented. [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 detailThe Darwin mission within ESA’s Cosmic Vision
Absil, Olivier ULg

Scientific conference (2007, July 03)

Durant cet exposé, je présenterai la mission Darwin telle que proposée à l'ESA par un groupe de scientifiques européens et internationaux. Darwin s'inscrit parfaitement dans le Thème 1 du programme Cosmic ... [more ▼]

Durant cet exposé, je présenterai la mission Darwin telle que proposée à l'ESA par un groupe de scientifiques européens et internationaux. Darwin s'inscrit parfaitement dans le Thème 1 du programme Cosmic Vision: "What are the Conditions for Planet Formation and the Emergence of Life?". Je présenterai le cas scientifique de Darwin, qui a pour but principal de détecter et caractériser des planètes habitables semblables à la Terre autour d'étoiles du voisinage solaire. En complément à ce volet axé sur la planétologie comparée et l'astrobiologie, le cas scientifique de Darwin comprend aussi un volet consacré à l'imagerie à haute résolution angulaire d'objets astrophysiques et extragalactiques de types variés. Je m'attarderai finalement sur les avancées obtenues récemment tant sur le design de la mission que sur les technologies associées, qui devraient permettre d'atteindre ces objectifs dans le cadre de la première mission "Large" du programme Cosmic Vision et dans une enveloppe budgétaire raisonnable. [less ▲]

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