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


Stefan Kraus, University of Exeter
John D. Monnier, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Michael J. Ireland, The Australian National University
Gaspard Duchêne, University of California, Berkeley
Catherine Espaillat, Boston University
Sebastian Hönig, University of Southampton
Attila Juhasz, Institute of Astronomy
Chris Mordasini, University of Bern
Johan Olofsson, Instituto de Fisica y Astronomia Valparaiso
Claudia Paladini, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Keivan Stassun, Vanderbilt University
Neal Turner, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Gautam Vasisht, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Tim J. Harries, University of Exeter
Matthew R. Bate, University of Exeter
Jean François Gonzalez, Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon
Alexis Matter, Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur
Zhaohuan Zhu, Princeton University
Olja Panic, Instituto de Fisica y Astronomia Valparaiso
Zsolt Regaly, Konkoly Observatory
Alessandro Morbidelli, Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon
Farzana Meru, Instituto de Fisica y Astronomia Valparaiso
Sebastian Wolf, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
John Ilee, Instituto de Fisica y Astronomia Valparaiso
Jean Philippe Berger, European Southern Observatory
Ming Zhao, Pennsylvania State University
Quentin Kral, Instituto de Fisica y Astronomia Valparaiso
Andreas Morlok, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Amy Bonsor, Instituto de Fisica y Astronomia Valparaiso
David Ciardi, NASA Exoplanet Science Institute
Stephen R. Kane, San Francisco State University
Kaitlin Kratter, The University of Arizona
Greg Laughlin, Yale University

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



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.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering

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