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27 June 2006 Extreme adaptive optics for the Thirty Meter Telescope
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Direct detection of extrasolar Jovian planets is a major scientific motivation for the construction of future extremely large telescopes such as the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). Such detection will require dedicated high-contrast AO systems. Since the properties of Jovian planets and their parent stars vary enormously between different populations, the instrument must be designed to meet specific scientific needs rather than a simple metric such as maximum Strehl ratio. We present a design for such an instrument, the Planet Formation Imager (PFI) for TMT. It has four key science missions. The first is the study of newly-formed planets on 5-10 AU scales in regions such as Taurus and Ophiucus - this requires very small inner working distances that are only possible with a 30m or larger telescope. The second is a robust census of extrasolar giant planets orbiting mature nearby stars. The third is detailed spectral characterization of the brightest extrasolar planets. The final targets are circumstellar dust disks, including Zodiacal light analogs in the inner parts of other solar systems. To achieve these, PFI combines advanced wavefront sensors, high-order MEMS deformable mirrors, a coronagraph optimized for a finely- segmented primary mirror, and an integral field spectrograph.
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