1 September 2017 High-contrast imaging in multi-star systems: progress in technology development and lab results
Author Affiliations +
We present the continued progress and laboratory results advancing the technology readiness of Multi-Star Wavefront Control (MSWC), a method to directly image planets and disks in multi-star systems such as Alpha Centauri. This method works with almost any coronagraph (or external occulter with a DM) and requires little or no change to existing and mature hardware. In particular, it works with single-star coronagraphs and does not require the off-axis star(s) to be coronagraphically suppressed. Because of the ubiquity of multistar systems, this method increases the science yield of many missions and concepts such as WFIRST, Exo-C/S, HabEx, LUVOIR, and potentially enables the detection of Earthlike planets (if they exist) around our nearest neighbor star, Alpha Centauri, with a small and low-cost space telescope such as ACESat. Our lab demonstrations were conducted at the Ames Coronagraph Experiment (ACE) laboratory and show both the feasibility as well as the trade-offs involved in using MSWC. We show several simulations and laboratory tests at roughly TRL-3 corresponding to representative targets and missions, including Alpha Centauri with WFIRST. In particular, we demonstrate MSWC in Super-Nyquist mode, where the distance between the desired dark zone and the off-axis star is larger than the conventional (sub-Nyquist) control range of the DM. Our laboratory tests did not yet include a coronagraph, but did demonstrate significant speckle suppression from two independent light sources at sub- as well as super-Nyquist separations.
Conference Presentation
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Ruslan Belikov, Eugene Pluzhnik, Eduardo Bendek, and Dan Sirbu "High-contrast imaging in multi-star systems: progress in technology development and lab results", Proc. SPIE 10400, Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VIII, 104000W (1 September 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2274558; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2274558

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