A dispersed heterodyne design for the Planet Formation Imager

Michael J. Ireland, John D. Monnier

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The Planet Formation Imager (PFI) is a future world facility that will image the process of planetary formation. It will have an angular resolution and sensitivity sufficient to resolve sub-Hill sphere structures around newly formed giant planets orbiting solar-type stars in nearby star formation regions. We present one concept for this design consisting of twenty-seven or more 4m telescopes with kilometric baselines feeding a mid-infrared spectrograph where starlight is mixed with a frequency-comb laser. Fringe tracking will be undertaken in H-band using a fiber-fed direct detection interferometer, meaning that all beam transport is done by communications band fibers. Although heterodyne interferometry typically has lower signal-to-noise than direct detection interferometry, it has an advantage for imaging fields of view with many resolution elements, because the signal in direct detection has to be split many ways while the signal in heterodyne interferometry can be amplified prior to combining every baseline pair. We compare the performance and cost envelope of this design to a comparable direct-detection design.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOptical and Infrared Interferometry IV
EditorsJayadev K. Rajagopal, Michelle J. Creech-Eakman, Fabien Malbe
Place of PublicationBellingham, Washington
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780819496140
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventOptical and Infrared Interferometry IV - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 23 Jun 201427 Jun 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherOptical and Infrared Interferometry IV


  • Exoplanets
  • Heterodyne Interferometry
  • Star Formation
  • Stellar Interferometry


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