[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Classically, optical and near-infrared interferometry have relied on closure phase techniques to produce images. Such techniques allow us to achieve modest dynamic ranges. In order to test the feasibility of next generation optical interferometers in the context of the VLTI-spectro-imager (VSI), we have embarked on a study of image reconstruction and analysis. Our main aim was to test the influence of the number of telescopes, observing nights and distribution of the visibility points on the quality of the reconstructed images. Our results show that observations using six Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) during one complete night yield the best results in general and is critical in most science cases; the number of telescopes is the determining factor in the image reconstruction outcome. In terms of imaging capabilities, an optical, six telescope VLTI-type configuration and ~200 meter baseline will achieve 4 mas spatial resolution, which is comparable to ALMA and almost 50 times better than JWST will achieve at 2.2 microns. Our results show that such an instrument will be capable of imaging, with unprecedented detail, a plethora of sources, ranging from complex stellar surfaces to microlensing events. Comment: 11 pages, 26 figures
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: One of the aims of next generation optical interferometric instrumentation is to be able to make use of information contained in the visibility phase to construct high dynamic range images. Radio and optical interferometry are at the two extremes of phase corruption by the atmosphere. While in radio it is possible to obtain calibrated phases for the science objects, in the optical this is currently not possible. Instead, optical interferometry has relied on closure phase techniques to produce images. Such techniques allow only to achieve modest dynamic ranges. However, with high contrast objects, for faint targets or when structure detail is needed, phase referencing techniques as used in radio interferometry, should theoretically achieve higher dynamic ranges for the same number of telescopes. Our approach is not to provide evidence either for or against the hypothesis that phase referenced imaging gives better dynamic range than closure phase imaging. Instead we wish to explore the potential of this technique for future optical interferometry and also because image reconstruction in the optical using phase referencing techniques has only been performed with limited success. We have generated simulated, noisy, complex visibility data, analogous to the signal produced in radio interferometers, using the VLTI as a template. We proceeded with image reconstruction using the radio image reconstruction algorithms contained in AIPS IMAGR (CLEAN algorithm). Our results show that image reconstruction is successful in most of our science cases, yielding images with a 4 milliarcsecond resolution in K band. (abridged) Comment: 11 pages, 36 figures
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: VITRUV is a second generation spectro-imager for the PRIMA enabled Very Large Telescope Interferometer. By combining simultaneously up to 8 telescopes VITRUV makes the VLTI up to 6 times more efficient. This operational gain allows two novel scientific methodologies: 1) massive surveys of sizes; 2) routine interferometric imaging. The science cases presented concentrate on the qualitatively new routine interferometric imaging methodology. The science cases are not exhaustive but complementary to the PRIMA reference mission. The focus is on: a) the close environment of young stars probing for the initial conditions of planet formation and disk evolution; b) the surfaces of stars tackling dynamos, activity, pulsation, mass-loss and evolution; c) revealing the origin of the extraordinary morphologies of Planetary Nebulae and related stars; d) studying the accretion-ejection structures of stellar black-holes (microquasars) in our galaxy; e) unveiling the different interacting components (torus, jets, BLRs) of Active Galactic Nuclei; and f) probing the environment of nearby supermassive black-holes and relativistic effects in the Galactic Center black-hole.