With the advent of 30- to 40-m class ground-based telescopes in the mid-2020s, direct imaging of exoplanets is bound to take a new major leap. Among the approved projects, the Mid-infrared Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) Imager and Spectrograph (METIS) instrument for the ELT holds a prominent spot; by observing in the mid-infrared regime, it will be perfectly suited to study a variety of exoplanets and protoplanetary disks around nearby stars. Equipped with two of the most advanced coronagraphs, the vortex coronagraph and the apodizing phase plate, METIS will provide high-contrast imaging (HCI) in L-, M- and N-bands, and a combination of high-resolution spectroscopy and HCI in L- and M-bands. We present the expected HCI performance of the METIS instrument, considering realistic adaptive optics residuals, and investigate the effect of the main instrumental errors. The most important sources of degradation are identified and realistic sensitivity limits in terms of planet/star contrast are derived.
The Mid-Infrared ELT Imager and Spectrograph (METIS) is one of three first light instruments on the ELT. It will provide high-contrast imaging and medium resolution, slit-spectroscopy from 3 – 19um, as well as high resolution (R ~ 100,000) integral field spectroscopy from 2.9-5.3µm. All modes observe at the diffraction limit of the ELT, by means of adaptive optics, yielding angular resolutions of a few tens of milliarcseconds. The range of METIS science is broad, from Solar System objects to active galactic nuclei (AGN). We will present an update on the main science drivers for METIS: circum-stellar disks and exoplanets. The METIS project is now in full steam, approaching its preliminary design review (PDR) in 2018. In this paper we will present the current status of its optical, mechanical and thermal design as well as operational aspects. We will also discuss the challenges of building an instrument for the ELT, and the required technologies.
We present the preliminary design of the calibration unit of the future E-ELT instrument METIS. This independent subunit is mounted externally to the main cryostat of METIS and will function both as calibration reference for science observations, as well as verification and alignment tool during the AIT phase. In this paper, we focus on describing its preliminary layout and foreseen functionalities, based on the performance requirements defined at system level and the constraints imposed by warm IR background. We discuss the advantage of employing an integrating sphere as common radiation emitter, leading to a novel and versatile design, where the source’s spatio-spectral properties can be varied with high fidelity and repeatability. By combining only few tuneable sources and mechanisms we show how a large instrument such as METIS can be calibrated and tested, without the need of a complex cold calibration unit.
METIS is the Mid-infrared Extremely large Telescope Imager and Spectrograph, one of the first generation instruments of ESO’s 39m ELT. All scientific observing modes of METIS require adaptive optics (AO) correction close to the diffraction limit. Demanding constraints are introduced by the foreseen coronagraphy modes, which require highest angular resolution and PSF stability. Further design drivers for METIS and its AO system are imposed by the wavelength regime: observations in the thermal infrared require an elaborate thermal, baffling and masking concept. METIS will be equipped with a Single-Conjugate Adaptive Optics (SCAO) system. An integral part of the instrument is the SCAO module. It will host a pyramid type wavefront sensor, operating in the near-IR and located inside the cryogenic environment of the METIS instrument. The wavefront control loop as well as secondary control tasks will be realized within the AO Control System, as part of the instrument. Its main actuators will be the adaptive quaternary mirror and the field stabilization mirror of the ELT. In this paper we report on the phase B design work for the METIS SCAO system; the opto-mechanical design of the SCAO module as well as the control loop concepts and analyses. Simulations were carried out to address a number of important aspects, such as the impact of the fragmented pupil of the ELT on wavefront reconstruction. The trade-off that led to the decision for a pyramid wavefront sensor will be explained, as well as the additional control tasks such as pupil stabilization and compensation of non-common path aberrations.
MATISSE is the second-generation mid-infrared spectrograph and imager for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) at Paranal. This new interferometric instrument will allow significant advances in various fundamental research fields: studying the planet-forming region of disks around young stellar objects, understanding the surface structures and mass loss phenomena affecting evolved stars, and probing the environments of black holes in active galactic nuclei. As a first breakthrough, MATISSE will enlarge the spectral domain of current optical interferometers by offering the L and M bands in addition to the N band. This will open a wide wavelength domain, ranging from 2.8 to 13 μm, exploring angular scales as small as 3 mas (L band) / 10 mas (N band). As a second breakthrough, MATISSE will allow mid-infrared imaging - closure-phase aperture-synthesis imaging - with the four Unit Telescopes (UT) or Auxiliary Telescopes (AT) of the VLTI. Moreover, MATISSE will offer a spectral resolution range from R ~ 30 to R ~ 5000. Here, we remind the concept, the instrumental design, and the main features of MATISSE. We also describe the last months of preparation, the status of the instrument, which was shipped to Cerro Paranal on the site of the ESO Very Large Telescope in October 2017, and the expected schedule for the opening to the community. The instrument is currently in its Commissioning phase. A complementary dedicated article details the Commissioning results, which include the first performance estimates on sky.
METIS is one the first three instruments on the E-ELT. Apart from diffraction limited imaging, METIS will provide coronagraphy and medium resolution slit spectroscopy over the 3 – 19μm range, as well as high resolution (R ~ 100,000) integral field spectroscopy from 2.9 – 5.3μm, including a mode with extended instantaneous wavelength coverage. The unique combination of these observing capabilities, makes METIS the ideal instrument for the study of circumstellar disks and exoplanets, among many other science areas. In this paper we provide an update of the relevant science drivers, the METIS observing modes, the status of the simulator and the data analysis. We discuss the preliminary design of the optical system, which is driven by the need to calibrate observations at thermal IR wavelengths on a six-mirror ELT. We present the expected adaptive optics performance and the measures taken to enable high contrast imaging. We describe the opto-mechanical system, the location of METIS on the Nasmyth instrument platform, and conclude with an update on critical subsystem components, such as the immersed grating and the focal plane detectors. In summary, the work on METIS has taken off well and is on track for first light in 2025.
During the last decade, the first generation of beam combiners at the Very Large Telescope Interferometer has proved the importance of optical interferometry for high-angular resolution astrophysical studies in the nearand mid-infrared. With the advent of 4-beam combiners at the VLTI, the u - v coverage per pointing increases significantly, providing an opportunity to use reconstructed images as powerful scientific tools. Here, we present our ongoing studies to characterize the imaging capabilities of the Multi-AperTure mid-infrared SpectroScopic Experiment (MATISSE), a second-generation instrument for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). By providing simultaneous observations with 6 baselines and spectral resolutions up to R~5000. MATISSE will deliver, for the first time, thermal-IR interferometric data with enough u-v coverage and phase information for imaging. In this work, we report detailed image reconstruction studies carried out with the image reconstruction package SQUEEZE. For our studies, we use realistic simulated MATISSE data from radiative transfer simulations of a proto-planetary disk. In particular, we will discuss the role of the regularization function and of the initial brightness distribution. MATISSE will perform observations at three different mid-infrared bands: L, M and N. Hence, due to its large bandwidth, chromatic effects should be taken into account when image reconstruction is attempted. We also discuss the capabilities of SQUEEZE to perform multi-wavelength image reconstruction. Finally, we perform an analysis of the image quality and present our future line of research. The work here presented is being carried out within the Opticon FP7-2 joint research activity on interferometric imaging.
MATISSE is the second-generation mid-infrared spectrograph and imager for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) at Paranal. This new interferometric instrument will allow significant advances by opening new avenues in various fundamental research fields: studying the planet-forming region of disks around young stellar objects, understanding the surface structures and mass loss phenomena affecting evolved stars, and probing the environments of black holes in active galactic nuclei. As a first breakthrough, MATISSE will enlarge the spectral domain of current optical interferometers by offering the L and M bands in addition to the N band. This will open a wide wavelength domain, ranging from 2.8 to 13 μm, exploring angular scales as small as 3 mas (L band) / 10 mas (N band). As a second breakthrough, MATISSE will allow mid-infrared imaging - closure-phase aperture-synthesis imaging - with up to four Unit Telescopes (UT) or Auxiliary Telescopes (AT) of the VLTI. Moreover, MATISSE will offer a spectral resolution range from R ∼ 30 to R ∼ 5000. Here, we present one of the main science objectives, the study of protoplanetary disks, that has driven the instrument design and motivated several VLTI upgrades (GRA4MAT and NAOMI). We introduce the physical concept of MATISSE including a description of the signal on the detectors and an evaluation of the expected performances. We also discuss the current status of the MATISSE instrument, which is entering its testing phase, and the foreseen schedule for the next two years that will lead to the first light at Paranal.
We present an overview of the scientific potential of MATISSE, the Multi Aperture mid-Infrared SpectroScopic Experiment for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer. For this purpose we outline selected case studies from various areas, such as star and planet formation, active galactic nuclei, evolved stars, extrasolar planets, and solar system minor bodies and discuss strategies for the planning and analysis of future MATISSE observations. Moreover, the importance of MATISSE observations in the context of complementary high-angular resolution observations at near-infrared and submillimeter/millimeter wavelengths is highlighted.
MATISSE is the mid-infrared spectrograph and imager for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) at Paranal. This second generation interferometry instrument will open new avenues in the exploration of our Universe. Mid-infrared interferometry with MATISSE will allow significant advances in various fundamental research fields: studies of disks around young stellar objects where planets form and evolve, surface structures and mass loss of stars in late evolutionary stages, and the environments of black holes in active galactic nuclei. MATISSE is a unique instrument. As a first breakthrough it will enlarge the spectral domain used by optical interferometry by offering the L & M bands in addition to the N band, opening a wide wavelength domain, ranging from 2.8 to 13 μm on angular scales of 3 mas (L/M band) / 10 mas (N band). As a second breakthrough, it will allow mid-infrared imaging – closure-phase aperture-synthesis imaging – with up to four Unit Telescopes (UT) or Auxiliary Telescopes (AT) of the VLTI. MATISSE will offer various ranges of spectral resolution between R~30 to ~5000. In this article, we present some of the main science objectives that have driven the instrument design. We introduce the physical concept of MATISSE including a description of the signal on the detectors and an evaluation of the expected performance and discuss the project status. The operations concept will be detailed in a more specific future article, illustrating the observing templates operating the instrument, the data reduction and analysis, and the image reconstruction software.
We present EclipseSim, a radiometric model for exoplanet transit spectroscopy that allows easy exploration of
the fundamental performance limits of any space-based facility aiming to perform such observations. It includes
a library of stellar model atmosphere spectra and can either approximate exoplanet spectra by simplified models,
or use any theoretical or observed spectrum, to simulate observations. All calculations are done in a spectrally
resolved fashion and the contributions of the various fundamental noise sources are budgeted separately, allowing
easy assessment of the dominant noise sources, as a function of wavelength. We apply EclipseSim to the Exoplanet
Characterization Observatory (EChO), a proposed mission dedicated to exoplanet transit spectroscopy that is
currently in competition for the M3 launch slot of ESA’s cosmic vision programme. We show several case studies
on planets with sizes in the super-Earth to Jupiter range, and temperatures ranging from the temperate to the
≈1500K regime, demonstrating the power and versatility of EChO. EclipseSim is publicly available.*
The Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory (EChO) is a medium class mission candidate within ESA's Cosmic Vision
2015-2025 program on space science. EChO will be equipped with a visible to infrared spectrometer covering the
wavelength range from 0.4 - 11 μm (goal: 16 μm) at a spectral resolving power between 30 and 300 in order to
characterize the atmospheres of known transiting extrasolar planets ranging from Hot Jupiters to Super Earths. In this
paper we will present first results from the dedicated study of the EChO science payload carried out by our EChO
Instrument Consortium during the assessment phase of the mission.
We report first results obtained from observations using a PRIMA FSU (Fringe Sensor Unit) as a fringe tracker for MIDI on
the VLTI when operating with the 1.8-m ATs. Interferometric observations require the correction of the disturbance in the
optical path induced by atmospheric turbulence ("piston"). The PRIMA FSU is able to compensate for such disturbances
in real-time which makes it a suitable facility to stabilize the fringe signal for other VLTI instruments, like AMBER,
MIDI or later MATISSE. Currently, the atmospheric coherence time in the N band (8 to 13 μm) observed by MIDI,
as well as the thermal background in this band, require a minimum target flux of 20 Jy and a correlated flux of 10 Jy (in
PRISM/HIGH SENSE mode and using the ATs under standard conditions) to allow self-fringe-tracking and data reduction.
However, we show that if the fringes are stabilized by the FSU, coherent integration allows a reliable data reduction even
for the observation of faint targets (Fcorr <10 Jy) with MIDI at standard detector exposure times. We were able to measure the correlated flux of a 0.5 Jy source, which pushes the current limits of MIDI down to regions where numerous new targets
become accessible on ATs. For faint object observations we will discuss the usage of VISIR photometry for calibration
purposes. The observational tests done so far and the obtained results represent a first step towards Phase Referenced
Imaging with the VLTI in the mid-infrared.
We report on observations of circumstellar disks around young stars that have been obtained with the MIDI instrument, which is mounted on the VLT Interferometer and operates in the 10 μm atmospheric window. The maximum spatial resolution of 5 milli-arcsec corresponds to sub-AU scales at the distance to nearby star formation regions. Thus, we can study the disks on the spatial scales at which important processes occur, such as accretion, dust processing, and planet formation. The main results obtained so far can be summarized as follows: 1. The measured interferometric visibilities are in good qualitative agreement with those predicted by models of circumstellar disks. In particular, a predicted correlation between the strength of the far-infrared excess and the spatial structure of the disk is confirmed by direct measurements; 2. In several objects strong evidence for deviations from circular symmetry is present, indicating that an inclined disk is indeed the dominant component seen in the mid-infrared; 3. The dust properties are not uniform over the disk, but are instead a strong function of distance to the central star. The dust in the innermost disk regions is observed to be more "processed" than the dust further out, both in Herbig Ae star disks and in those around T Tauri stars.
On March 17, 2001, the VLT interferometer saw for the first time interferometric fringes on sky with its two test siderostats on a 16m baseline. Seven months later, on October 29, 2001, fringes were found with two of the four 8.2m Unit Telescopes (UTs), named Antu and Melipal, spanning a baseline of 102m. First shared risk science operations with VLTI will start in October 2002. The time between these milestones is used for further integration as well as for commissioning of the interferometer with the goal to understand all its characteristics and to optimize performance and observing procedures. In this article we will describe the various commissioning tasks carried out and present some results of our work.
The VLT interferometer has been operating since the time of first fringes in March 2001 with a pair of 40 cm diameter siderostats at baselines of 16 and 66 m and a pair of 8 m diameter telescopes (UT1 and UT3) with a baseline of 102 m using the test camera VINCI operating in the K band. A fair fraction of its commissioning time has been devoted to observing a number of objects of scientific interest around the southern sky bright enough to allow high precision visibilities to be obtained on a routine basis. A large number of stellar sources with correlated magnitudes brighter than K approximately 6 and K approximately 3 with the 8 m and 40 cm telescopes respectively have been observed over this time period with limited, u,v plane coverage. In this paper, the most interesting results on sources never observed before at these spatial resolutions and on known sources for which the VLTI data allow the establishment of tighter constraints on theoretical models will be reviewed.