Probing dusty circumstellar environments with polarimetric aperture-masking interferometry

Barnaby R. M. Norris, Peter G. Tuthill, Michael J. Ireland, Sylvestre Lacour, Albert A. Zijlstra, Foteini Lykou, Thomas M. Evans, Paul Stewart, Timothy R. Bedding, Olivier Guyon, Frantz Martinache

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

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Aperture-masking interferometry allows diffraction-limited images to be recovered despite the turbulent atmosphere. Here, this approach has been combined with polarimetry to form a novel technique allowing the dusty environments of mass-losing stars (so-called AGB stars) and proto-planetary and debris disks to be imaged, the characterisation of which is key to understanding the recycling of matter and the formation of new planetary systems. Polarimetric aperture-masking interferometry produces images by exploiting the fact that starlight scattered by circumstellar dust becomes strongly polarised. Essentially, aperture-masking allows access to the small spatial scales (∼10mas) necessary while polarimetry allows light from the dust and star to be differentiated. Furthermore, measurements at multiple wavelengths allow dust grain sizes to be calculated using Mie scattering theory. Excellent results have already been obtained at near-IR wavelengths using the NACO instrument at the VLT. The next step is to leverage the higher spatial resolution and polarisation signal found in the visible, rather than near-IR. To this end, a new instrument allowing precision polarimetric aperture masking interferometry at 600-800nm is being developed for an 8m class telescope, details of which will also be presented.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationOptical and Infrared Interferometry III
    EditorsFrançoise Delplancke, Jayadev K. Rajagopal, Fabien Malbet
    Place of PublicationBellingham, Washington
    Number of pages12
    ISBN (Print)9780819491466
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    EventOptical and Infrared Interferometry III - Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Duration: 1 Jul 20126 Jul 2012


    OtherOptical and Infrared Interferometry III


    • AGB stars
    • Aperture masking
    • Optical interferometric polarimetry
    • Optical interferometry
    • Transition disks


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