The Planet Formation Imager (PFI) is a near- and mid-infrared interferometer project with the driving science goal of imaging directly the key stages of planet formation, including the young proto-planets themselves. Here, we will present an update on the work of the Science Working Group (SWG), including new simulations of dust structures during the assembly phase of planet formation and quantitative detection efficiencies for accreting and non-accreting young exoplanets as a function of mass and age. We use these results to motivate two reference PFI designs consisting of a) twelve 3m telescopes with a maximum baseline of 1.2km focused on young exoplanet imaging and b) twelve 8m telescopes optimized for a wider range of young exoplanets and protoplanetary disk imaging out to the 150K H2O ice line. Armed with 4 x 8m telescopes, the ESO/VLTI can already detect young exoplanets in principle and projects such as MATISSE, Hi-5 and Heimdallr are important PFI pathfinders to make this possible. We also discuss the state of technology development needed to make PFI more affordable, including progress towards new designs for inexpensive, small field-of-view, large aperture telescopes and prospects for Cubesat-based space interferometry.
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.
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.
The Planet Formation Imager (PFI) project aims to provide a strong scientific vision for ground-based optical astronomy beyond the upcoming generation of Extremely Large Telescopes. We make the case that a breakthrough in angular resolution imaging capabilities is required in order to unravel the processes involved in planet formation. PFI will be optimised to provide a complete census of the protoplanet population at all stellocentric radii and over the age range from 0.1 to ~100 Myr. Within this age period, planetary systems undergo dramatic changes and the final architecture of planetary systems is determined. Our goal is to study the planetary birth on the natural spatial scale where the material is assembled, which is the "Hill Sphere" of the forming planet, and to characterise the protoplanetary cores by measuring their masses and physical properties. Our science working group has investigated the observational characteristics of these young protoplanets as well as the migration mechanisms that might alter the system architecture. We simulated the imprints that the planets leave in the disk and study how PFI could revolutionise areas ranging from exoplanet to extragalactic science. In this contribution we outline the key science drivers of PFI and discuss the requirements that will guide the technology choices, the site selection, and potential science/technology tradeoffs.
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 (Multi-AperTure mid-Infrared SpectroScopic Experiment) is a mid-infrared spectro-interferometer project combining up to four UTs/ATs beams of the VLTI. It will measure closure phase relations, thus offering the capability for image reconstruction. The VLTI offers the possibility to position the Auxiliary Telescopes at several different stations, which gives much better uv-coverage than fixed telescopes. We carried out simulated observations with MATISSE, in order to find out the requirements for efficient image reconstruction. In particular, we study how many different telescope configurations are necessary to obtain sufficient coverage of the uv-plane. We analyse which stations are the most important for an optimal uv-coverage. We also examine which measurement precision is necessary to reconstruct images suitable for the science goals of MATISSE.
The Herbig Ae star HD 139614 is a group-Ib object, which featureless SED indicates disk flaring and a possible pre-transitional evolutionary stage. We present mid- and near-IR interferometric results collected with MIDI, AMBER and PIONIER with the aim of constraining the spatial structure of the 0.1-10 AU disk region and assess its possible multi-component structure. A two-component disk model composed of an optically thin 2-AU wide inner disk and an outer temperature-gradient disk starting at 5.6 AU reproduces well the observations. This is an additional argument to the idea that group-I HAeBe inner disks could be already in the disk-clearing transient stage. HD 139614 will become a prime target for mid-IR interferometric imaging with the second-generation instrument MATISSE of the VLTI.
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.
MATISSE is a mid-infrared spectro-interferometer combining the beams of up to four Unit Telescopes or Auxiliary
Telescopes of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) of the European Southern Observatory.
MATISSE will constitute an evolution of the two-beam interferometric instrument MIDI. New characteristics present in
MATISSE will give access to the mapping and the distribution of the material, the gas and essentially the dust, in the
circumstellar environments by using the mid-infrared band coverage extended to L, M and N spectral bands. The four
beam combination of MATISSE provides an efficient uv-coverage: 6 visibility points are measured in one set and 4
closure phase relations which can provide aperture synthesis images in the mid-infrared spectral regime.
We give an overview of the instrument including the expected performances and a view of the Science Case. We present
how the instrument would be operated. The project involves the collaborations of several agencies and institutes: the
Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur of Nice and the INSU-CNRS in Paris, the Max Planck Institut für Astronomie of
Heidelberg; the University of Leiden and the NOVA-ASTRON Institute of Dwingeloo, the Max Planck Institut für
Radioastronomie of Bonn, the Institut für Theoretische Physik und Astrophysik of Kiel, the Vienna University and the
MATISSE is the second-generation mid-IR interferometry instrument proposed for ESO's Very Large Telescope
Interferometer. MATISSE will combine the beams of up to four UTs or ATs of the VLTI and will allow aperture-synthesis
imaging in the L, M, and N bands with a resolution of a few milli-arcseconds. We report on detailed
image reconstruction experiments with simulated MATISSE interferograms. Using model images as input for
many of our simulations, we study the dependence of the reconstructions on the brightness and size of the target,
the uv coverage, and several other parameters.
Presently, dedicated instrument developments at large telescopes (SPHERE for the VLT, GPI for Gemini) are about to
discover and explore self-luminous giant planets by direct imaging and spectroscopy. The next generation of 30m-40m
ground-based telescopes, the Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs), have the potential to dramatically enlarge the
discovery space towards older giant planets seen in reflected light and ultimately even a small number of rocky planets.
EPICS is a proposed instrument for the European ELT, dedicated to the detection and characterization of expolanets by
direct imaging and spectroscopy. ESO recently launched a phase-A study for EPICS with a large European consortium
which - by simulations and demonstration experiments - will investigate state-of-the-art diffraction and speckle
suppression techniques to deliver highest contrasts. The final result of the study in 2010 will be a conceptual design and
a development plan for the instrument. Here we present first results from the phase-A study and discuss the main
challenges and science capabilities of EPICS.