Volume 400, Number 2, March III 2003
|Page(s)||795 - 803|
|Published online||03 March 2003|
On marginally resolved objects in optical interferometry
Observatoire de Grenoble, Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Grenoble, Université Joseph Fourier, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex, France
Corresponding author: Regis.Lachaume@obs.ujf-grenoble.fr
Accepted: 19 December 2002
With the present and soon-to-be breakthrough of optical interferometry, countless objects shall be within reach of interferometers; yet, most of them are expected to remain only marginally resolved with hectometric baselines. In this paper, we tackle the problem of deriving the properties of a marginally resolved object from its optical visibilities. We show that they depend on the moments of flux distribution of the object: centre, mean angular size, asymmetry, and curtosis. We also point out that the visibility amplitude is a second-order phenomenon, whereas the phase is a combination of a first-order term, giving the location of the photocentre, and a third-order term, more difficult to detect than the visibility amplitude, giving an asymmetry coefficient of the object. We then demonstrate that optical visibilities are not a good model constraint while the object stays marginally resolved, unless observations are carried out at different wavelengths. Finally, we show an application of this formalism to circumstellar discs.
Key words: methods: data analysis / techniques: interferometric
© ESO, 2003
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