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28 June 2006 Deep broad-band infrared nulling using a single-mode fiber beam combiner and baseline rotation
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The basic advantage of single-mode fibers for deep nulling applications resides in their spatial filtering ability, and has now long been known. However, and as suggested more recently, a single-mode fiber can also be used for direct coherent recombination of spatially separated beams, i.e. in a "multi-axial" nulling scheme. After the first successful demonstration of deep (<2e-6) visible LASER nulls using this technique (Haguenauer & Serabyn, Applied Optics 2006), we decided to work on an infrared extension for ground based astronomical observations, e.g. using two or more off-axis sub-apertures of a large ground based telescope. In preparation for such a system, we built and tested a laboratory infrared fiber nuller working in a wavelength regime where atmospheric turbulence can be efficiently corrected, over a pass band (~1.5 to 1.8 micron) broad enough to provide reasonable sensitivity. In addition, since no snapshot images are readily accessible with a (single) fiber nuller, we also tested baseline rotation as an approach to detect off-axis companions while keeping a central null. This modulation technique is identical to the baseline rotation envisioned for the TPF-I space mission. Within this context, we report here on early laboratory results showing deep stable broad-band dual polarization infrared nulls < 5e-4 (currently limited by detector noise), and visible LASER nulls better than 3e-4 over a 360 degree rotation of the baseline. While further work will take place in the laboratory to achieve deeper stable broad-band nulls and test off-axis sources detection through rotation, the emphasis will be put on bringing such a system to a telescope as soon as possible. Detection capability at the 500:1 contrast ratio in the K band (~2.2 microns) seem readily accessible within 50-100 mas of the optical axis, even with a first generation system mounted on a >5m AO equipped telescope such as the Palomar Hale 200 inch, the Keck, Subaru or Gemini telescopes.
© (2006) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
B. Mennesson, P. Haguenauer, E. Serabyn, and K. Liewer "Deep broad-band infrared nulling using a single-mode fiber beam combiner and baseline rotation", Proc. SPIE 6268, Advances in Stellar Interferometry, 626830 (28 June 2006);


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