Direct exploration of exoplanets is one of the most exciting topics in astronomy. Our current efforts in this field are concentrated on the Subaru 8.2m telescope at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Making use of the good observing site and the excellent image quality, the infrared coronagraph CIAO (Coronagraphic Imager with Adaptive Optics) has been used for various kinds of surveys, which is the first dedicated cold coronagraph on the 8-10m class telescopes. However, its contrast is limited by the low-order adaptive optics and a limited suppression of the halo speckle noise.
HiCIAO is a new high-contrast instrument for the Subaru telescope. HiCIAO will be used in conjunction with the new adaptive optics system (188 actuators and/or its laser guide star - AO188/LGSAO188) at the Subaru infrared Nasmyth platform. It is designed as a flexible camera comprising several modules that can be configured into different modes of operation. The main modules are the AO module with its future extreme AO capability, the warm coronagraph module, and the cold infrared camera module. HiCIAO can combine coronagraphic techniques with either polarization or spectral simultaneous differential imaging modes. The basic concept of such differential imaging is to split up the image into two or more images, and then use either different planes of polarization or different spectral filter band-passes to produce a signal that distinguishes faint objects near a bright central object from scattered halo or residual speckles.
In this contribution, we will outline the HiCIAO instrument, its science, and performance simulations. The optical and mechanical details are described by Hodapp et al. (2006)1. We also present a roadmap of Japanese facilities and future plans, including ASTRO-F (AKARI), SPICA, and JTPF, for extrasolar planet explorations.