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.
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) of the European Southern Observatory. The related science case study
demonstrates the enormous capability of a new generation mid-infrared beam combiner.
MATISSE will constitute an evolution of the two-beam interferometric instrument MIDI. MIDI is a very successful
instrument which offers a perfect combination of spectral and angular resolution. New characteristics present in
MATISSE will give access to the mapping and the distribution of the material (typically dust) in the circumstellar
environments by using a wide 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.
Aperture synthesis imaging provides a way to overcome the ambiguities which often exist in the interpretation
of single-baseline interferometric visibility measurements. The mid-infrared imager MATISSE (Multi AperTure
mid-Infrared SpectroScopic Experiment), which was proposed to ESO as a second-generation VLTI instrument, is
designed to combine up to four 8.2 m VLTI UTs or 1.8 m ATs while simultaneously providing a high spectroscopic
To demonstrate that MATISSE will allow high-quality interferometric imaging within realistic observation
time constraints, we performed an image reconstruction study, for which we simulated the uv-coverage achievable
in 3, 5, or 7 nights with 3 or 4 telescopes. As input image for our studies, a protostellar disk image was simulated
with the radiative transfer code MC3D1 .
From the simulated visibilities and closure phases, we derived aperture synthesis images using the Building
Block algorithm2 . The main features of the disk image could be reconstructed in the presence of noise and
assuming the sparse uv-coverage achievable within just 3 nights of observations.
A first generation of VLTI (Very Large Telescopes Interferometer) focal instruments, AMBER in the near-infrared and MIDI in the mid-infrared, has been already integrated and tested. New and important science results have been obtained. These instruments combine two (for MIDI) or three (for AMBER) beams coming from the eight telescopes installed at Cerro Paranal (four 8-meters and four 1.8-meters telescopes). In order to improve the capabilities of the interferometer and to engage a new scientific prospective, the second generation of VLTI instruments is currently under study. MATISSE belongs to this second generation. MATISSE objective is the image reconstruction. It will extend the astrophysical potential of the VLTI by overcoming the ambiguities existing in the interpretation of simple visibility measurements. It is a spectro-interferometer combining up to four beams with a large spectral coverage ranging from 3 to 25 μm (L, M, N and Q bands). Different spectral resolutions (between 30 and 1500) are foreseen. MATISSE will measure closure phase relations thus offering an efficient capability for image reconstruction. The concept of MATISSE is presented in this paper. The recombination mode of MATISSE is similar to the AMBER beam combination, but has been adapted to the constraints specific to the mid-infrared domain.
Our objective is the development of mid-infrared imaging at the VLTI. The related science case study demonstrates the enormous capability of a new generation mid-infrared beam combiner. MATISSE will constitute an evolution of the two-beam interferometric instrument MIDI by increasing the number of recombined beams up to four. MIDI is a very successful instrument which offers a perfect combination of spectral and angular resolution. New characteristics present in MATISSE will give access to the mapping and the distribution of the material (typically dust) in the circumstellar environments by using a wide mid-infrared band coverage extended to L, M, N and Q 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 for the first time aperture synthesis images in the mid-infrared spectral regime. The mid-infrared spectral domain is very relevant for the study of the environment of various astrophysical sources. Our science case studies show the wide field of applications of MATISSE. They will be illustrated in the first part of this presentation through the perspective of imaging the circumstellar environments/discs of young stellar objects. The MATISSE characteristics will be given in a second part of the presentation.
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.
We are studying an optical concept aiming at recombining four mid-infrared telescope beams, where interference fringes are sampled in the pupil plane. Such a principle is perfectly adapted for reconstructing images by aperture synthesis with teh VLTI. It could be used for building a new generation 10 μm instrument, but instead of doing a totally new instrument, we propose the design of an optical module that can supply the surrent MIDI-VLTI instrument with 4 beams. The combined use of this module together with the MIDI instrument is the project called APreS-MIDI. Such an instrument at the VLTI focus will have an unique and very strong astrophysical potential.
APreS-MIDI (APerture Synthesis in the MID-Infrared) instrument function is to recombine 4 telescope beams of the VLTI. Interference fringes are sampled in the pupil plane. The optical principle uses "image densification". It is perfectly adapted for reconstructing images by aperture synthesis at 10mm. This principle could be used for building a new generation 10mm instrument, but instead of making a totally new instrument, we propose the design of an optical module that can supply the current MIDI-VLTI instrument with 4 beams.
We describe the prospective work undertaken on an interferometric
technique using polarimetry called SPIN (Spectro-Polarimetric
INterferometry). The polarizing phenomena described in this work have to be taken into account by any stellar interferometer in order to control the fringe signal. Adding a polarimetric device at their combined focus represents no technical difficulty. The use of SPIN can extend interferometry by an important complementary tool for locating and quantizing the mass loss from early type stars since these stars are subject to strong Thomson scattering in their vicinity. As an illustration of the potential of SPIN, we present the results of Monte-Carlo simulations showing the expected signal for realistic hot star environment. Radiative winds ranging from A supergiants to earliest O stars are considered. In particular, the results show the strong expected signal from spherical winds for which no detection of polarization is achievable by classical technics.
We present high-resolution polarization maps, obtained with near-infrared instruments such as ISAAC at the VLT, SOFI at the NTT, and SCUBA at the JCMT. While we use the near-infrared polarization maps to determine the structure of the optical reflection nebula Cederblad 110 IRS 4 and to investigate the alignment of circumstellar disks around T Tauri binary stars, submillimeter polarization maps are used to derive the magnetic field structure and strength in Bok globules. Furthermore we show that near-infrared polarimetry represents a powerful tool to distinguish between different
polarization models developed for active galactic nuclei.
MC3D is a three-dimensional, self-consistent continuum
radiative transfer code. It can be used to determine the spatial temperature distribution in arbitrary dust/electron configurations, such as around young stellar objects or active galactic nuclei. Based on this temperature distribution, MC3D allows calculation of polarization maps, images, and spectral energy distributions. We present the numerical techniques applied in this code, describe its capabilities, and show instructive examples of previous applications.