7 August 2014 Stop-less Lyot coronagraph for exoplanet characterization: design, manufacturing, and tests of the apodizer
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Upcoming high-contrast imagers will all provide spectroscopic capabilities for the characterization of directly detected giant planets in wide orbits. While integral field spectroscopy (IFS) can provide both spatial and spectral information, it is usually limited in terms of field of view and resolution. The alternative is to use long slit spectroscopy coupled with coronagraphy (LSC), which can easily provide higher resolution and larger field of view. The SPHERE instrument for the VLT provides a LSC mode in its near-infrared imager and spectrograph, IRDIS. However, the fact that the occulting coronagraphic mask is merged in the focal plane with the slit reduces significantly its capacity to attenuate the diffraction, limiting the high-contrast capabilities of the instrument at close angular separations (0.3"-0.4"). To improve the diffraction suppression of the LSC in IRDIS, we recently proposed to use the stop-less Lyot coronagraph (SLLC) to build an apodized long slit coronagraph (ALSC), and we demonstrated that it improves notably the performance at small angular separation, allowing the spectral analysis of colder planets. The design of the SLLC apodizer has been optimized for an implementation in SPHERE/IRDIS, and it has recently been manufactured before being inserted into the instrument during reintegration of SPHERE in Paranal. In the current work, we present the final design of the SLLC apodizer, its specifications for the manufacturing step, and the first results obtained on SPHERE. We compare the results between the simple LSC and the new ALSC, and we draw the conclusions on the advantages and drawbacks of our design.
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A. Vigan, A. Vigan, M. N'Diaye, M. N'Diaye, K. Dohlen, K. Dohlen, } "Stop-less Lyot coronagraph for exoplanet characterization: design, manufacturing, and tests of the apodizer", Proc. SPIE 9151, Advances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation, 91511O (7 August 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2054780; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2054780

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