Planet Formation Imager (PFI): Science vision and key requirements

Stefan Kraus, John D. Monnier, Michael J. Ireland, Gaspard Duchêne, Catherine Espaillat, Sebastian Hönig, Attila Juhasz, Chris Mordasini, Johan Olofsson, Claudia Paladini, Keivan Stassun, Neal Turner, Gautam Vasisht, Tim J. Harries, Matthew R. Bate, Jean François Gonzalez, Alexis Matter, Zhaohuan Zhu, Olja Panic, Zsolt RegalyAlessandro Morbidelli, Farzana Meru, Sebastian Wolf, John Ilee, Jean Philippe Berger, Ming Zhao, Quentin Kral, Andreas Morlok, Amy Bonsor, David Ciardi, Stephen R. Kane, Kaitlin Kratter, Greg Laughlin, Joshua Pepper, Sean Raymond, Lucas Labadie, Richard P. Nelson, Gerd Weigelt, Theo Ten Brummelaar, Arnaud Pierens, Rene Oudmaijer, Wilhelm Kley, Benjamin Pope, Eric L.N. Jensen, Amelia Bayo, Michael Smith, Tabetha Boyajian, Luis Henry Quiroga-Nuñez, Rafael Millan-Gabet, Andrea Chiavassa, Alexandre Gallenne, Mark Reynolds, Willem Jan De Wit, Markus Wittkowski, Florentin Millour, Poshak Gandhi, Cristina Ramos Almeida, Almudena Alonso Herrero, Chris Packham, Makoto Kishimoto, Konrad R.W. Tristram, Jörg Uwe Pott, Jean Surdej, David Buscher, Chris Haniff, Sylvestre Lacour, Romain Petrov, Steve Ridgway, Peter Tuthill, Gerard Van Belle, Phil Armitage, Clement Baruteau, Myriam Benisty, Bertram Bitsch, Sijme Jan Paardekooper, Christophe Pinte, Frederic Masset, Giovanni Rosotti

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

7 Citations (Scopus)


The Planet Formation Imager (PFI) project aims to provide a strong scientific vision for ground-based optical astronomy beyond the upcoming generation of Extremely Large Telescopes. We make the case that a breakthrough in angular resolution imaging capabilities is required in order to unravel the processes involved in planet formation. PFI will be optimised to provide a complete census of the protoplanet population at all stellocentric radii and over the age range from 0.1 to ∼100 Myr. Within this age period, planetary systems undergo dramatic changes and the final architecture of planetary systems is determined. Our goal is to study the planetary birth on the natural spatial scale where the material is assembled, which is the "Hill Sphere" of the forming planet, and to characterise the protoplanetary cores by measuring their masses and physical properties. Our science working group has investigated the observational characteristics of these young protoplanets as well as the migration mechanisms that might alter the system architecture. We simulated the imprints that the planets leave in the disk and study how PFI could revolutionise areas ranging from exoplanet to extragalactic science. In this contribution we outline the key science drivers of PFI and discuss the requirements that will guide the technology choices, the site selection, and potential science/technology tradeoffs.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Subtitle of host publicationOptical and Infrared Interferometry and Imaging V; Edinburgh; United Kingdom; 27 June 2016 through 1 July 2016
EditorsFabien Malbet, Michelle J Creech-Eakman, Peter G Tuthill
Place of PublicationBellingham WA USA
PublisherSPIE - International Society for Optical Engineering
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781510601949
ISBN (Print)9781510601932
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventConference on Optical and Infrared Interferometry and Imaging 2016 - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Jun 20161 Jul 2016
Conference number: 5th (Proceedings)

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceConference on Optical and Infrared Interferometry and Imaging 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Extrasolar Planets
  • High Angular Resolution Imaging
  • Interferometry
  • Planet Formation
  • Protoplanetary Disks

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