The VAMPIRES instrument: Imaging the innermost regions of protoplanetary discs with polarimetric interferometry

Barnaby Norris, Guillaume Schworer, Peter Tuthill, Nemanja Jovanovic, Olivier Guyon, Paul Stewart, Frantz Martinache

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Direct imaging of protoplanetary discs promises to provide key insight into the complex sequence of processes by which planets are formed. However, imaging the innermost region of such discs (a zone critical to planet formation) is challenging for traditional observational techniques (such as near-IR imaging and coronagraphy) due to the relatively long wavelengths involved and the area occulted by the coronagraphic mask. Here, we introduce a new instrument - Visible Aperture-Masking Polarimetric Interferometer for Resolving Exoplanetary Signatures (VAMPIRES) - which combines non-redundant aperturemasking interferometry with differential polarimetry to directly image this previously inaccessible innermost region. By using the polarization of light scattered by dust in the disc to provide precise differential calibration of interferometric visibilities and closure phases, VAMPIRES allows direct imaging at and beyond the telescope diffraction limit. Integrated into the SCExAO (Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics) system at the Subaru telescope, VAMPIRES operates at visible wavelengths (where polarization is high) while allowing simultaneous infrared observations conducted by HICIAO. Here, we describe the instrumental design and unique observing technique and present the results of the first on-sky commissioning observations, validating the excellent visibility and closure-phase precision which are then used to project expected science performance metrics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2894-2906
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Instrumentation: high angular resolution
  • Instrumentation: interferometers
  • Instrumentation: polarimeters
  • Planet-disc interactions
  • Protoplanetary discs
  • Techniques: interferometric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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