Planet Formation Imager: Project Update

John D. MonnierMichael IrelandStefan KrausAlmudena Alonso-HerreroAmy BonsorFabien BaronAmelia BayoJean-Philippe BergerTabetha BoyajianAndrea ChiavassaDavid CiardiMichelle Creech-EakmanWillem-Jan de WitDenis DefrèreRuobing DongGaspard DuchêneCatherine EspaillatAlexandre GallennePoshak GandhiJean-Francois GonzalezChris HaniffSebastian HoenigJohn IleeAndrea IsellaEric JensenAttila JuhaszStephen KaneMakoto KishimotoWilhelm KleyQuentin KralKaitlin KratterLucas LabadieSylvestre LacourGreg LaughlinJean-Baptiste Le BouquinErnest MichaelFarzana MeruRafael Millan-GabetFlorentin MillourStefano MinardiAlessandro MorbidelliChris MordasiniAndreas MorlokDave MozurkewichRichard NelsonJohan OlofssonRene OudmaijerChris PackhamClaudia PaladiniOlja PanicRomain PetrovBenjamin PopeJoerg-Uwe PottLuis Henry Quiroga-NunezCristina Ramos AlmeidaSean N. RaymondZsolt RegalyMark ReynoldsStephen RidgwayStephen RinehartMatthias SchreiberMichael SmithKeivan StassunJean SurdejTheo ten BrummelaarKonrad TristramNeal TurnerPeter TuthillGerard van BelleGautum VasishtAlexander WallaceGerd WeigeltEdward WishnowMarkus WittkowskiSebastian WolfJohn YoungMing ZhaoZhaohuan ZhuSebastian Zúñiga-Fernández. 2018. Planet Formation Imager: Project Update. Conference on Optical and Infrared Interferometry and Imaging VI, 10701, DOI: 10.1117/12.2312683

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 1.2 km focused on young exoplanet imaging and b) twelve 8 m telescopes optimized for a wider range of young exoplanets and protoplanetary disk imaging out to the 150 K H2O ice line. Armed with 4 x 8 m 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.

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