26 July 2016 The QACITS pointing sensor: from theory to on-sky operation on Keck/NIRC2
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Abstract
Small inner working angle coronagraphs are essential to benefit from the full potential of large and future extremely large ground-based telescopes, especially in the context of the detection and characterization of exoplanets. Among existing solutions, the vortex coronagraph stands as one of the most effective and promising solutions. However, for focal-plane coronagraph, a small inner working angle comes necessarily at the cost of a high sensitivity to pointing errors. This is the reason why a pointing control system is imperative to stabilize the star on the vortex center against pointing drifts due to mechanical flexures, that generally occur during observation due for instance to temperature and/or gravity variations. We have therefore developed a technique called QACITS1 (Quadrant Analysis of Coronagraphic Images for Tip-tilt Sensing), which is based on the analysis of the coronagraphic image shape to infer the amount of pointing error. It has been shown that the flux gradient in the image is directly related to the amount of tip-tilt affecting the beam. The main advantage of this technique is that it does not require any additional setup and can thus be easily implemented on all current facilities equipped with a vortex phase mask. In this paper, we focus on the implementation of the QACITS sensor at Keck/NIRC2, where an L-band AGPM has been recently commissioned (June and October 2015), successfully validating the QACITS estimator in the case of a centrally obstructed pupil. The algorithm has been designed to be easily handled by any user observing in vortex mode, which is available for science in shared risk mode since 2016B.
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Elsa Huby, Elsa Huby, Olivier Absil, Olivier Absil, Dimitri Mawet, Dimitri Mawet, Pierre Baudoz, Pierre Baudoz, Bruno Femenìa Castellà, Bruno Femenìa Castellà, Michael Bottom, Michael Bottom, Henry Ngo, Henry Ngo, Eugene Serabyn, Eugene Serabyn, "The QACITS pointing sensor: from theory to on-sky operation on Keck/NIRC2", Proc. SPIE 9909, Adaptive Optics Systems V, 990920 (26 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2233274; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2233274
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