HARMONI is a first-light visible and near-IR integral field spectrograph of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) which will sit on top of Cerro Armazones, Chile. A Single Conjugate Adaptive Optics (SCAO) subsystem will provide diffraction-limited spectro-images in a Nyquist-sampled 0.61 x 0.86 arcsec field of view, with a R=3000-20000 spectral resolution. Inside the instrument, a High Contrast Module (HCM) could give HARMONI the ability to spectrally characterize young giant exoplanets (and disks) with flux ratio down to 10<sup>−6</sup> as close as 100-200mas from their star. This would be achieved with an apodized pupil coronagraph to attenuate the diffracted light of the star and limit the dynamic range on the detector, and an internal ZELDA wavefront sensor to calibrate non-common path aberrations, assuming that the surface quality of the relay optics of HARMONI satisfy specific requirements. This communication presents (a) the system analysis that was conducted to converge towards these requirement, and the proposed HCM design, (b) an end-to-end simulation tool that has been built to produce realistic datacubes of hour-long observations, and (c) the estimated performance of the HCM, which has been derived by applying differential imaging techniques on the simulated data.
The SPHERE instrument, dedicated to high contrast imaging on VLT, has been routinely operated for more than 3 years, over a large range of conditions and producing observations from visible to NIR. A central part of the instrument is the high order adaptive optics system, named SAXO, designed to deliver high Strehl image quality with a balanced performance budget for bright stars up to magnitude R=9.
We take benefit now from the very large set of observations to revisit the assumptions and analysis made at the time of the design phase: we compare the actual AO behavior as a function of expectations. The data set consists of the science detector data, for both coronagraphic images and non-coronagraphic PSF calibrations, but also of AO internal data from the high frequency sensors and statistics computations from the real-time computer which are systematically archived, and finally of environmental data, monitored at VLT level. This work is supported and made possible by the SPHERE « Data Center » infrastructure hosted at Grenoble which provides an efficient access and the capability for the homogeneous analysis of this large and statistically-relevant data set.
We review in a statistical manner the actual AO performance as a function of external conditions for different regimes and we discuss the possible performance metrics, either derived from AO internal data or directly from the high contrast images. We quantify the dependency of the actual performance on the most relevant environmental parameters. By comparison to earlier expectations, we conclude on the reliability of the usual AO modeling. We propose some practical criteria to optimize the queue scheduling and the expression of observer requirements ; finally, we revisit what could be the most important AO specifications for future high contrast imagers as a function of the primary science goals, the targets and the turbulence properties.
As astronomers, we are living an exciting time for what concerns the search for other worlds. Recent discoveries have already deeply impacted our vision of planetary formation and architectures. Future bio-signature discoveries will probably deeply impact our scientific and philosophical understanding of life formation and evolution. In that unique perspective, the role of observation is crucial to extend our understanding of the formation and physics of giant planets shaping planetary systems. With the development of high contrast imaging techniques and instruments over more than two decades, vast efforts have been devoted to detect and characterize lighter, cooler and closer companions to nearby stars, and ultimately image new planetary systems. Complementary to other planet-hunting techniques, this approach has opened a new astrophysical window to study the physical properties and the formation mechanisms of brown dwarfs and planets. I will briefly review the different observing techniques and strategies used, the main samples of targeted stars, the key discoveries and surveys, to finally address the main results obtained so far about the physics and the mechanisms of formation and evolution of young giant planets and planetary system architectures.
MAORY will be the multi-adaptive optics module feeding the high resolution camera and spectrograph MICADO at the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) first light. In order to ensure high and homogeneous image quality over the MICADO field of view and high sky coverage, the baseline is to operate wavefront sensing using six Sodium Laser Guide Stars. The Laser Guide Star Wavefront Sensor (LGS WFS) is the MAORY sub-system devoted to real-time measurement of the high order wavefront distortions. In this paper we describe the MAORY LGS WFS current design, including opto-mechanics, trade-offs and possible future improvements.
HARMONI is a first-light visible and near-IR integral field spectrograph of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) which will sit on top of Cerro Armazones, Chile. A Single Conjugate Adaptive Optics (SCAO) sub-system will provide diffraction-limited spectral images in a Nyquist-sampled 0.61 × 0.86 arcsec field of view, with a R=3000-20000 spectral resolution. Inside the instrument, a High Contrast Module (HCM) will add an essential high-contrast imaging capability for HARMONI to spectrally characterize young giant exoplanets and disks with flux ratio down to 1e-6 at 0.1-0.2” from their star. The HCM uses an apodized pupil coronagraph to lower the intensity of the diffracted starlight and limit the dynamic range on the detector, and an internal wavefront sensor to calibrate non-common path aberrations. This communication first summarizes the basic technical requirements of the HCM, then describes its optical and mechanical designs, and presents expected performance in terms of achievable contrast, image quality and throughput. Elements of the development and test program are also given.
We present the current results of the astrometric characterization of the VLT planet finder SPHERE over 2 years of on-sky operations. We first describe the criteria for the selection of the astrometric fields used for calibrating the science data: binaries, multiple systems, and stellar clusters. The analysis includes measurements of the pixel scale and the position angle with respect to the North for both near-infrared subsystems, the camera IRDIS and the integral field spectrometer IFS, as well as the distortion for the IRDIS camera. The IRDIS distortion is shown to be dominated by an anamorphism of 0.60±0.02% between the horizontal and vertical directions of the detector, i.e. 6 mas at 1 arcsec. The anamorphism is produced by the cylindrical mirrors in the common path structure hence common to all three SPHERE science subsystems (IRDIS, IFS, and ZIMPOL), except for the relative orientation of their field of view. The current estimates of the pixel scale and North angle for IRDIS are 12.255±0.009 milliarcseconds/pixel for H2 coronagraphic images and -1.70±0.08°. Analyses of the IFS data indicate a pixel scale of 7.46±0.02 milliarcseconds/pixel and a North angle of -102.18±0.13°. We finally discuss plans for providing astrometric calibration to the SPHERE users outside the instrument consortium.
The VLT second generation instrument SPHERE (Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanets Research) was commissioned in the Summer of 2014, and offered to the community in the Spring of 2015. SPHERE is a high contrast imager that exploits its three scientific channels in order to observe and discover young warm exoplanets in the glare of their host stars. The three scientific instrument are: ZIMPOL, a polarization analyzer and imager that works in the visible range of wavelength, IRDIS a dual band imager and spectro polarimetric Camera that works in the NIR range up to K band, and IFS, an integral field spectrograph working in the YJH band. Very important is the complementarity between IRDIS and IFS. The former has a larger Field of view (about 12 arcseconds) while the IFS push its examination very close to the central star (FoV ~ 1.7 arcsec). In one year of operational time a lot of very interesting scientific cases were investigated and very nice results were gathered. In this paper we would like to focus the attention on the high quality results and performances obtained with the IFS.
The present and next few years will see the arrival of several new coronagraphic instruments dedicated to the detection
and characterization of planetary systems. These ground- and space-based instruments (Gemini/GPI, VLT/SPHERE, Subaru/
CHARIS, JWST NIRCam and MIRI coronagraphs among others), will provide a large number of new candidates,
through multiple nearby-star surveys and will complete and extend those acquired with current generation instruments
(Palomar P1640, VLT/NACO, Keck, HST). To optimize the use of the wealth of data, including non-detection results, the
science products of these instruments will require to be shared among the community. In the long term such data exchange
will significantly ease companion confirmations, planet characterization via different type of instruments (integral field
spectrographs, polarimetric imagers, etc.), and Monte-Carlo population studies from detection and non-detection results.
In this context, we initiated a collaborative effort between the teams developing the data reduction pipelines for
SPHERE, GPI, and the JWST coronagraphs, and the ALICE (Archival Legacy Investigations of Circumstellar Environment)
collaboration, which is currently reprocessing all the HST/NICMOS coronagraphic surveys. We are developing a
standard format for the science products generated by high-contrast direct imaging instruments (reduced image, sensitivity
limits, noise image, candidate list, etc.), that is directly usable for astrophysical investigations. In this paper, we present
first results of this work and propose a preliminary format adopted for the science product. We call for discussions in the
high-contrast direct imaging community to develop this effort, reach a consensus and finalize this standard. This action
will be critical to enable data interchange and combination in a consistent way between several instruments and to stiffen
the scientific production in the community.
We present in this paper an overview of the single-conjugate adaptive optics (SCAO) module of the wide-field imager MICADO. MICADO is a near-IR camera for the European ELT, featuring a wide field (75"), spectroscopic and coronagraphic capabilities. It has been chosen by ESO as one of the two first-light instruments. MICADO will be optimized for the multi-conjugate adaptive optics module MAORY and will also work in SCAO mode. This SCAO mode will provide MICADO with a high-level, on-axis correction, making use of the M4 adaptive mirror in the telescope. We present first the current design of the different subsystems of the SCAO module (namely the optical relay interfacing MICADO to the telescope in its SCAO mode, the wavefront sensor, the real-time computer and the high contrast imaging). We then present the adaptive optics and coronagraphic simulations. The following section is devoted to the presentation of the project organization. We end with the conclusions and perspectives of the project.
High angular resolution imaging with adaptive optics (AO) has allowed significant progress in the study of disks and
companions around stars over the past decades. This technique is also expected to lead to major breakthroughs in the
next 10 years. We review the results obtained so far with AO and their impact on the understanding of how planetary
systems form and evolve.
In November 2001, the VLT has been equipped for the first time with an adaptive optics system, NAOS. NAOS has been designed to provide good image quality over a wide range of conditions, allowing thus a large variety of astrophysical programs, from Solar System to extragalactic studies. NAOS feeds a camera CONICA which provides imaging, coronagraphic, spectroscopic and polarimetric capabilities between 1 and 5 microns. NAOS and CONICA (hereafter NACO) have been commissioned over the past months. We present in this paper the first images recorded by NACO during the commissioning period, illustrating the capabilities of this new instrument.
Deconvolution is a necessary tool for the exploitation of adaptive optics corrected images, because the correction is partial. The Maximum <i>A Posteriori </i>(MAP) framework is used to derive a deconvolution method (MISTRAL) that combines the data with our knowledge of the noise statistics as well as our prior information about the object and the variability of the Point Spread Function. The deconvolution of experimental and scientific data illustrates the capabilities of this method.
Observing at high angular resolution from the ground is not made possible with Adaptive Optics alone, and besides the turbulence residuals, atmospheric refraction, thermal background or instrument's mechanical flexures may also severely limit the gain of optical quality that AO techniques are supposed to provide. We describe here how NAOS, the newly installed AO system on the VLT, has been designed to accommodate for these unavoidable effects. In particular, beam chopping, flexures compensation and AO tracking on reference objects with a significant relative motion will be addressed. It will thus be shown how long term astronomical observations at the diffraction limit can be carried out with an AO system under regular ground level conditions, thanks to the implementation of original technical solutions.