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See detailSPHERE+: Imaging young Jupiters down to the snowline
Boccaletti, A.; Chauvin, G.; Mouillet, D. et al

E-print/Working paper (2020)

SPHERE (Beuzit et al,. 2019) has now been in operation at the VLT for more than 5 years, demonstrating a high level of performance. SPHERE has produced outstanding results using a variety of operating ... [more ▼]

SPHERE (Beuzit et al,. 2019) has now been in operation at the VLT for more than 5 years, demonstrating a high level of performance. SPHERE has produced outstanding results using a variety of operating modes, primarily in the field of direct imaging of exoplanetary systems, focusing on exoplanets as point sources and circumstellar disks as extended objects. The achievements obtained thus far with SPHERE (~200 refereed publications) in different areas (exoplanets, disks, solar system, stellar physics...) have motivated a large consortium to propose an even more ambitious set of science cases, and its corresponding technical implementation in the form of an upgrade. The SPHERE+ project capitalizes on the expertise and lessons learned from SPHERE to push high contrast imaging performance to its limits on the VLT 8m-telescope. The scientific program of SPHERE+ described in this document will open a new and compelling scientific window for the upcoming decade in strong synergy with ground-based facilities (VLT/I, ELT, ALMA, and SKA) and space missions (Gaia, JWST, PLATO and WFIRST). While SPHERE has sampled the outer parts of planetary systems beyond a few tens of AU, SPHERE+ will dig into the inner regions around stars to reveal and characterize by mean of spectroscopy the giant planet population down to the snow line. Building on SPHERE's scientific heritage and resounding success, SPHERE+ will be a dedicated survey instrument which will strengthen the leadership of ESO and the European community in the very competitive field of direct imaging of exoplanetary systems. With enhanced capabilities, it will enable an even broader diversity of science cases including the study of the solar system, the birth and death of stars and the exploration of the inner regions of active galactic nuclei. [less ▲]

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See detailSpatially resolved spectroscopy of the debris disk HD 32297. Further evidence of small dust grains
Bhowmik, T.; Boccaletti, A.; Thébault, P. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2019), 630

Context. Spectro-photometry of debris disks in total intensity and polarimetry can provide new insight into the properties of the dust grains therein (size distribution and optical properties). <BR ... [more ▼]

Context. Spectro-photometry of debris disks in total intensity and polarimetry can provide new insight into the properties of the dust grains therein (size distribution and optical properties). <BR /> Aims: We aim to constrain the morphology of the highly inclined debris disk HD 32297. We also intend to obtain spectroscopic and polarimetric measurements to retrieve information on the particle size distribution within the disk for certain grain compositions. <BR /> Methods: We observed HD 32297 with SPHERE in Y, J, and H bands in total intensity and in J band in polarimetry. The observations are compared to synthetic models of debris disks and we developed methods to extract the photometry in total intensity overcoming the data-reduction artifacts, namely the self-subtraction. The spectro-photometric measurements averaged along the disk mid-plane are then compared to model spectra of various grain compositions. <BR /> Results: These new images reveal the very inner part of the system as close as 0.15″. The disk image is mostly dominated by the forward scattering making one side (half- ellipse) of the disk more visible, but observations in total intensity are deep enough to also detect the back side for the very first time. The images as well as the surface brightness profiles of the disk rule out the presence of a gap as previously proposed. We do not detect any significant asymmetry between the northeast and southwest sides of the disk. The spectral reflectance features a "gray to blue" color which is interpreted as the presence of grains far below the blowout size. <BR /> Conclusions: The presence of sub-micron grains in the disk is suspected to be the result of gas drag and/or "avalanche mechanisms". The blue color of the disk could be further investigated with additional total intensity and polarimetric observations in K and H bands respectively to confirm the spectral slope and the fraction of polarization. <P />Reduced images are also available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr</A> (ftp://130.79.128.5) or via <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz- bin/cat/J/A+A/630/A85">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz- bin/cat/J/A+A/630/A85</A>Based on data collected at the European Southern Observatory, Chile under the programs 098.C-0686(A) and 098.C-0686(B). [less ▲]

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See detailInvestigating the presence of two belts in the HD 15115 system
Engler, N.; Boccaletti, A.; Schmid, H. M. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2019), 622

Context. High-contrast instruments like SPHERE (Spectro- Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch) enable spatial resolution of young planetary systems and allow us to study the connection between ... [more ▼]

Context. High-contrast instruments like SPHERE (Spectro- Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch) enable spatial resolution of young planetary systems and allow us to study the connection between planets and the dust contained in debris discs by the gravitational influence a planet can have on its environment. <BR /> Aims: We present new observations of the edge-on debris disc around HD 15115 (F star at 48.2 pc) obtained in the near-IR. We search for observational evidence for a second inner planetesimal ring in the system. <BR /> Methods: We obtained total intensity and polarimetric data in the broad bands J and H and processed the data with differential imaging techniques achieving an angular resolution of about 40 mas. A grid of models describing the spatial distribution of the grains in the disc is generated to constrain the geometric parameters of the disc and to explore the presence of a second belt. We perform a photometric analysis of the data and compare disc brightness in two bands in scattered and in polarized light. <BR /> Results: We observe an axisymmetric planetesimal belt with a radius of 2'', an inclination of 85.8° ± 0.7° and position angle of 278.9° ± 0.1°. The photometric analysis shows that the west side is 2.5 times brighter in total intensity than the east side in both bands, while for polarized light in the J band this ratio is only 1.25. We also find that the J-H colour of the disc appears to be red for the radial separations r ≲ 2'' and is getting bluer for the larger separations. The maximum polarization fraction is 15-20% at r 2.5''. The polarized intensity image shows some structural features inside the belt which can be interpreted as an additional inner belt. <BR /> Conclusions: The apparent change of disc colour from red to blue with an increasing radial separation from the star could be explained by the decreasing average grain size with distance. The presence of an inner belt slightly inclined with respect to the main planetesimal belt is suspected from the data but the analysis and modelling presented here cannot establish a firm conclusion due to the faintness of the disc and its high inclination. <P />Based on data collected at the European Southern Observatory, Chile under programs 098.C-0686 and 096.C-0640. [less ▲]

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See detailReview of high-contrast imaging systems for current and future ground- and space-based telescopes I: coronagraph design methods and optical performance metrics
Ruane, G.; Riggs, A.; Mazoyer, J. et al

in Lystrup, M.; MacEwen, H.; Fazio, G. (Eds.) et al Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2018: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave (2018, August 21)

The Optimal Optical Coronagraph (OOC) Workshop at the Lorentz Center in September 2017 in Leiden, the Netherlands gathered a diverse group of 25 researchers working on exoplanet instrumentation to ... [more ▼]

The Optimal Optical Coronagraph (OOC) Workshop at the Lorentz Center in September 2017 in Leiden, the Netherlands gathered a diverse group of 25 researchers working on exoplanet instrumentation to stimulate the emergence and sharing of new ideas. In this first installment of a series of three papers summarizing the outcomes of the OOC workshop, we present an overview of design methods and optical performance metrics developed for coronagraph instruments. The design and optimization of coronagraphs for future telescopes has progressed rapidly over the past several years in the context of space mission studies for Exo-C, WFIRST, HabEx, and LUVOIR as well as ground-based telescopes. Design tools have been developed at several institutions to optimize a variety of coronagraph mask types. We aim to give a broad overview of the approaches used, examples of their utility, and provide the optimization tools to the community. Though it is clear that the basic function of coronagraphs is to suppress starlight while maintaining light from off-axis sources, our community lacks a general set of standard performance metrics that apply to both detecting and characterizing exoplanets. The attendees of the OOC workshop agreed that it would benefit our community to clearly define quantities for comparing the performance of coronagraph designs and systems. Therefore, we also present a set of metrics that may be applied to theoretical designs, testbeds, and deployed instruments. We show how these quantities may be used to easily relate the basic properties of the optical instrument to the detection significance of the given point source in the presence of realistic noise. [less ▲]

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See detailDiscovery of concentric broken rings at sub-arcsec separations in the HD 141569A gas-rich, debris disk with VLT/SPHERE
Perrot, C.; Boccaletti, A.; Pantin, E. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 590

Context. Transition disks correspond to a short stage between the young protoplanetary phase and older debris phase. Along this evolutionary sequence, the gas component disappears leaving room for a dust ... [more ▼]

Context. Transition disks correspond to a short stage between the young protoplanetary phase and older debris phase. Along this evolutionary sequence, the gas component disappears leaving room for a dust-dominated environment where already-formed planets signpost their gravitational perturbations. <BR /> Aims: We endeavor to study the very inner region of the well-known and complex debris, but still gas-rich disk, around HD 141569A using the exquisite high-contrast capability of SPHERE at the VLT. Recent near-infrared (IR) images suggest a relatively depleted cavity within ~200 au, while former mid-IR data indicate the presence of dust at separations shorter than ~100 au. <BR /> Methods: We obtained multi-wavelength images in the near-IR in J, H2, H3 and Ks-bands with the IRDIS camera and a 0.95-1.35 μm spectral data cube with the IFS. Data were acquired in pupil-tracking mode, thus allowing for angular differential imaging. <BR /> Results: We discovered several new structures inside 1'', of which the most prominent is a bright ring with sharp edges (semi-major axis: 0.4'') featuring a strong north-south brightness asymmetry. Other faint structures are also detected from 0.4'' to 1'' in the form of concentric ringlets and at least one spiral arm. Finally, the VISIR data at 8.6 μm suggests the presence of an additional dust population closer in. Besides, we do not detect companions more massive than 1-3 mass of Jupiter. <BR /> Conclusions: The performance of SPHERE allows us to resolve the extended dust component, which was previously detected at thermal and visible wavelengths, into very complex patterns with strong asymmetries; the nature of these asymmetries remains to be understood. Scenarios involving shepherding by planets or dust-gas interactions will have to be tested against these observations. Based on data collected at the European Southern Observatory, Chile, ESO programs 095.C-0381 and 095.C-0298. [less ▲]

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