12 September 2012 Probing dusty circumstellar environments with polarimetric aperture-masking interferometry
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Aperture-masking interferometry allows diffraction-limited images to be recovered despite the turbulent atmo­ sphere. Here, this approach has been combined with polarimetry to form a novel technique allowing the dusty environments of mass-losing stars (so-called AGB stars) and proto-planetary and debris disks to be imaged, the characterisation of which is key to understanding the recycling of matter and the formation of new planetary systems. Polarimetric aperture-masking interferometry produces images by exploiting the fact that starlight scattered by circumstellar dust becomes strongly polarised. Essentially, aperture-masking allows access to the small spatial scales (rv1Omas) necessary while polarimetry allows light from the dust and star to be differentiated. Furthermore, measurements at multiple wavelengths allow dust grain sizes to be calculated using Mie scattering theory. Excellent results have already been obtained at near-IR wavelengths using the NACO instrument at the VLT. The next step is to leverage the higher spatial resolution and polarisation signal found in the visible, rather than near-IR. To this end, a new instrument allowing precision polarimetric aperture masking interferometry at 600-800nm is being developed for an 8m class telescope, details of which will also be presented.
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Barnaby R. M. Norris, Barnaby R. M. Norris, Peter G. Tuthill, Peter G. Tuthill, Michael J. Ireland, Michael J. Ireland, Sylvestre Lacour, Sylvestre Lacour, Albert A. Zijlstra, Albert A. Zijlstra, Foteini Lykou, Foteini Lykou, Thomas M. Evans, Thomas M. Evans, Paul Stewart, Paul Stewart, Timothy R. Bedding, Timothy R. Bedding, Olivier Guyon, Olivier Guyon, Frantz Martinache, Frantz Martinache, "Probing dusty circumstellar environments with polarimetric aperture-masking interferometry", Proc. SPIE 8445, Optical and Infrared Interferometry III, 844503 (12 September 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.925838; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.925838

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