AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 9. Space Interferometry and Planet Finders
Display, Monday, January 7, 2002, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[9.04] Interferometric imaging of AGN using TPF

J. Rajagopal, R.J Allen, T. Boeker (STScI)

The currently favored concepts for the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) are a single aperture optical/UV telescope with a high dynamic range coronagraph and a mid-infrared interferometer with 4 to 6 free-flying apertures. In addition to the main goal of identifying habitable planets, both designs will be capable of imaging various astrophysical sources with milliarcsecond resolution. Here we explore the potential of the interferometer design to image AGN. Current "unified" models for AGN have an optically thick obscuring torus around the central engine. The mid-infrared wavelengths should be ideal to image these tori and gain information on outstanding issues like extent, shape, temperature and density profiles to name a few. The nature of the heating source, accretion disk or stars, is a major question likely to be addressed by such observations. We use an interferometric imaging simulator for TPF based on a tool developed for the Space Interferometry Mission. The simulator is used to reconstruct photometrically accurate, high-fidelity images of a few AGN tori models as seen by TPF. The input models are chosen to differentiate between several key proposed characteristics of these structures. The simulations help to quantitatively estimate the effect of TPF design parameters on its ability to achieve the desired goals.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: jayadev@stsci.edu

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