Probing Planetary Formation at the Angular Resolution Frontier
Mike Ireland

Direct detection of the infrared radiation from exoplanets and their environment falls in an angular resolution niche: solar system scales for both typical Kepler targets and the nearest star forming regions falls right at the diffraction-limit of the world's largest telescopes. I will outline techniques of kernel-phase and aperture-mask interferometry that are currently the world-leaders in infrared imaging at the diffraction-limit for typical Strehl ratios, and will show how they can be used to determine which environments are most suitable for planetary formation from terrestrial through to giant planet sizes. By following-up Kepler “object of interests” at high angular resolution, I will show that multiple star formation at solar-system scales strongly suppresses terrestrial planet formation, with the curious exception of stellar twins. At the youngest ages, I will show how radiation from planetary systems in the process of formation can be directly imaged, focusing on multi-epoch monitoring of the resolved emission seen within the disk gap of LkCa 15. Based on new data between 1.5 and 5 microns, I present a model for the central source as thermal emission, eliminating scattering as the emission mechanism, and discuss this in the context of the (quite different) systems V1257 Ori and HD 169142. Finally, I will briefly describe the need for the Planet Formation Imager project as a long-term vision for imaging exoplanet birth.