14 September 2005 An optical vortex coronagraph
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Abstract
An optical vortex may be characterized as a dark core of destructive interference in a beam of spatially coherent light. This dark core may be used as a filter to attenuate a coherent beam of light so an incoherent background signal may be detected. Applications of such a filter include: eye and sensor protection, forward-scattered light measurement, and the detection of extra-solar planets. Optical vortices may be created by passing a beam of light through a vortex diffractive optical element, which is a plate of glass etched with a spiral pattern, such that the thickness of the glass increases in the azimuthal direction. An optical vortex coronagraph may be constructed by placing a vortex diffractive optical element near the image plane of a telescope. An optical vortex coronagraph opens a dark window in the glare of a distant star so nearby terrestrial sized planets and exo-zodiacal dust may be detected. An optical vortex coronagraph may hold several advantages over other techniques presently being developed for high contrast imaging, such as lower aberration sensitivity and multi-wavelength operation. In this manuscript, I will discuss the aberration sensitivity of an optical vortex coronagraph and the key advantages it may hold over other coronagraph architectures. I will also provide numerical simulations demonstrating high contrast imaging in the presence of low-order static aberrations.
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David M. Palacios, David M. Palacios, "An optical vortex coronagraph", Proc. SPIE 5905, Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets II, 59050N (14 September 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.617900; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.617900
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