References of "Absil, Olivier"
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See detailOptimizing the subwavelength grating of L-band annular groove phase masks for high coronagraphic performance
Vargas Catalán, E.; Huby, Elsa ULiege; Forsberg, P. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 595

Context. The annular groove phase mask (AGPM) is one possible implementation of the vector vortex coronagraph, where the helical phase ramp is produced by a concentric subwavelength grating. For several ... [more ▼]

Context. The annular groove phase mask (AGPM) is one possible implementation of the vector vortex coronagraph, where the helical phase ramp is produced by a concentric subwavelength grating. For several years, we have been manufacturing AGPMs by etching gratings into synthetic diamond substrates using inductively coupled plasma etching. <BR /> Aims: We aim to design, fabricate, optimize, and evaluate new L-band AGPMs that reach the highest possible coronagraphic performance, for applications in current and forthcoming infrared high-contrast imagers. <BR /> Methods: Rigorous coupled wave analysis (RCWA) is used for designing the subwavelength grating of the phase mask. Coronagraphic performance evaluation is performed on a dedicated optical test bench. The experimental results of the performance evaluation are then used to accurately determine the actual profile of the fabricated gratings, based on RCWA modeling. <BR /> Results: The AGPM coronagraphic performance is very sensitive to small errors in etch depth and grating profile. Most of the fabricated components therefore show moderate performance in terms of starlight rejection (a few 100:1 in the best cases). Here we present new processes for re-etching the fabricated components in order to optimize the parameters of the grating and hence significantly increase their coronagraphic performance. Starlight rejection up to 1000:1 is demonstrated in a broadband L filter on the coronagraphic test bench, which corresponds to a raw contrast of about 10[SUP]-5[/SUP] at two resolution elements from the star for a perfect input wave front on a circular, unobstructed aperture. <BR /> Conclusions: Thanks to their exquisite performance, our latest L-band AGPMs are good candidates for installation in state of the art and future high-contrast thermal infrared imagers, such as METIS for the E-ELT. [less ▲]

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See detailA near-infrared interferometric survey of debris-disc stars. V. PIONIER search for variability
Ertel, S.; Defrere, Denis ULiege; Absil, Olivier ULiege et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 595

Context. Extended circumstellar emission has been detected within a few 100 milli-arcsec around ≳10% of nearby main sequence stars using near-infrared interferometry. Follow-up observations using other ... [more ▼]

Context. Extended circumstellar emission has been detected within a few 100 milli-arcsec around ≳10% of nearby main sequence stars using near-infrared interferometry. Follow-up observations using other techniques, should they yield similar results or non-detections, can provide strong constraints on the origin of the emission. They can also reveal the variability of the phenomenon. Aims: We aim to demonstrate the persistence of the phenomenon over the timescale of a few years and to search for variability of our previously detected excesses. Methods: Using Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI)/Precision Integrated Optics Near Infrared ExpeRiment (PIONIER) in H band we have carried out multi-epoch observations of the stars for which a near-infrared excess was previously detected using the same observation technique and instrument. The detection rates and distribution of the excesses from our original survey and the follow-up observations are compared statistically. A search for variability of the excesses in our time series is carried out based on the level of the broadband excesses. Results: In 12 of 16 follow-up observations, an excess is re-detected with a significance of > 2σ, and in 7 of 16 follow-up observations significant excess (> 3σ) is re-detected. We statistically demonstrate with very high confidence that the phenomenon persists for the majority of the systems. We also present the first detection of potential variability in two sources. Conclusions: We conclude that the phenomenon responsible for the excesses persists over the timescale of a few years for the majority of the systems. However, we also find that variability intrinsic to a target can cause it to have no significant excess at the time of a specific observation. [less ▲]

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See detailExocomet signatures around the A-shell star φ Leonis?
Eiroa, C.; Rebollido, I.; Montesinos, B. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 594

We present an intensive monitoring of high-resolution spectra of the Ca ii K line in the A7IV shell star φ Leo at very short (minutes, hours), short (night to night), and medium (weeks, months) timescales ... [more ▼]

We present an intensive monitoring of high-resolution spectra of the Ca ii K line in the A7IV shell star φ Leo at very short (minutes, hours), short (night to night), and medium (weeks, months) timescales. The spectra show remarkable variable absorptions on timescales of hours, days, and months. The characteristics of these sporadic events are very similar to most that are observed toward the debris disk host star β Pic, which are commonly interpreted as signs of the evaporation of solid, comet-like bodies grazing or falling onto the star. Therefore, our results suggest the presence of solid bodies around φ Leo. To our knowledge, with the exception of β Pic, our monitoring has the best time resolution at the mentioned timescales for a star with events attributed to exocomets. Assuming the cometary scenario and considering the timescales of our monitoring, our results indicate that φ Leo presents the richest environment with comet-like events known to date, second only to β Pic. [less ▲]

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See detailPSF sharpening & post focal sensing for the VORTEX coronagraph
Orban De Xivry, Gilles ULiege; Jolivet, Aïssa ULiege; Huby, Elsa ULiege et al

Poster (2016, October)

Small angle coronagaphy, such as the vortex phase mask, is a key scientific driver for the coming generation of VLT-like instrument and for the future ELTs. It is appealing for the full scientific ... [more ▼]

Small angle coronagaphy, such as the vortex phase mask, is a key scientific driver for the coming generation of VLT-like instrument and for the future ELTs. It is appealing for the full scientific exploitation of ground-based telescopes for the detection and characterization of exoplanets and circumstellar discs. One key element to small angle coronagraphy is a precise low-order wavefront control to avoid any leak decreasing the contrast level and even possibly mimicking off-axis signal. In this contribution, we present our early on-going effort in using post- coronagraphic focal images to perform wavefront control with a vortex coron- agraph. First, I will present an empirical approach similar to PSF sharpening techniques, sometimes used in classical imaging to reduce NCPA aberrations, to post-coronagraphic images. Then, I will discuss an alternative based on the general weak-phase solution to retrieve the complex Efield in the Lyot plane using three images, and how we can use this to control the phase in the pupil plane. Finally, after presenting those two approaches and first simulations, I will discuss the possible implementation of such techniques on our bench, the vortex optical demonstrator for coronagraphic applications (VODCA). [less ▲]

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See detailPreliminary optical design for the common fore optics of METIS
Agócs, Tibor; Brandl, Bernhard R.; Jager, Rieks et al

in Evans, C.; Simard, L.; Takami, H. (Eds.) Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VI (2016, August 09)

METIS is the Mid-infrared E-ELT Imager and Spectrograph, which will provide outstanding observing capabilities, focusing on high angular and spectral resolution. It consists of two diffraction-limited ... [more ▼]

METIS is the Mid-infrared E-ELT Imager and Spectrograph, which will provide outstanding observing capabilities, focusing on high angular and spectral resolution. It consists of two diffraction-limited imagers operating in the LM and NQ bands respectively and an IFU fed diffraction-limited high-resolution (R=100,000) LM band spectrograph. These science subsystems are preceded by the common fore optics (CFO), which provides the following essential functionalities: calibration, chopping, image de-rotation, thermal background and stray light reduction. We show the evolution of the CFO optical design from the conceptual design to the preliminary optical design, detail the optimization steps and discuss the necessary trade-offs. [less ▲]

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See detailHigh-contrast imaging with METIS
Kenworthy, Matthew A.; Absil, Olivier ULiege; Agócs, Tibor et al

in Evans, C.; Simard, L.; Takami, H. (Eds.) Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VI (2016, August 09)

The Mid-infrared E-ELT Imager and Spectrograph (METIS) for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) consists of diffraction-limited imagers that cover 3 to 14 microns with medium resolution (R 5000 ... [more ▼]

The Mid-infrared E-ELT Imager and Spectrograph (METIS) for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) consists of diffraction-limited imagers that cover 3 to 14 microns with medium resolution (R 5000) long slit spectroscopy, and an integral field spectrograph for high spectral resolution spectroscopy (R 100,000) over the L and M bands. One of the science cases that METIS addresses is the characterization of faint circumstellar material and exoplanet companions through imaging and spectroscopy. We present our approach for high contrast imaging with METIS, covering diffraction suppression with coronagraphs, the removal of slowly changing optical aberrations with focal plane wavefront sensing, interferometric imaging with sparse aperture masks, and observing strategies for both the imagers and IFU image slicers. [less ▲]

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See detailMaking high-accuracy null depth measurements for the LBTI exozodi survey
Mennesson, Bertrand; Defrere, Denis ULiege; Nowak, Matthias et al

in Malbet, F.; Creech-Eakman, M.; Tuthill, P. (Eds.) Optical and Infrared Interferometry and Imaging V (2016, August 04)

The characterization of exozodiacal light emission is both important for the understanding of planetary systems evolution and for the preparation of future space missions aiming to characterize low mass ... [more ▼]

The characterization of exozodiacal light emission is both important for the understanding of planetary systems evolution and for the preparation of future space missions aiming to characterize low mass planets in the habitable zone of nearby main sequence stars. The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) exozodi survey aims at providing a ten-fold improvement over current state of the art, measuring dust emission levels down to a typical accuracy of 12 zodis per star, for a representative ensemble of 30+ high priority targets. Such measurements promise to yield a final accuracy of about 2 zodis on the median exozodi level of the targets sample. Reaching a 1 σ measurement uncertainty of 12 zodis per star corresponds to measuring interferometric cancellation ("null") levels, i.e visibilities at the few 100 ppm uncertainty level. We discuss here the challenges posed by making such high accuracy mid-infrared visibility measurements from the ground and present the methodology we developed for achieving current best levels of 500 ppm or so. We also discuss current limitations and plans for enhanced exozodi observations over the next few years at LBTI. [less ▲]

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See detailThe path to interferometry in space
Rinehart, S. A.; Savini, G.; Holland, W. et al

in Malbet, F.; Creech-Eakman, M.; Tuthill, P. (Eds.) Optical and Infrared Interferometry and Imaging V (2016, August 04)

For over two decades, astronomers have considered the possibilities for interferometry in space. The first of these missions was the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM), but that was followed by missions ... [more ▼]

For over two decades, astronomers have considered the possibilities for interferometry in space. The first of these missions was the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM), but that was followed by missions for studying exoplanets (e.g Terrestrial Planet Finder, Darwin), and then far-infrared interferometers (e.g. the Space Infrared Interferometric Telescope, the Far-Infrared Interferometer). Unfortunately, following the cancellation of SIM, the future for space-based interferometry has been in doubt, and the interferometric community needs to reevaluate the path forward. While interferometers have strong potential for scientific discovery, there are technological developments still needed, and continued maturation of techniques is important for advocacy to the broader astronomical community. We review the status of several concepts for space-based interferometry, and look for possible synergies between missions oriented towards different science goals. [less ▲]

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See detailEnd-to-end simulations of the E-ELT/METIS coronagraphs
Carlomagno, Brunella ULiege; Absil, Olivier ULiege; Kenworthy, Matthew et al

in Marchetti, E.; Close, L.; Véran, J.-P. (Eds.) Adaptive Optics Systems V (2016, July 27)

The direct detection of low-mass planets in the habitable zone of nearby stars is an important science case for future E-ELT instruments such as the mid-infrared imager and spectrograph METIS, which ... [more ▼]

The direct detection of low-mass planets in the habitable zone of nearby stars is an important science case for future E-ELT instruments such as the mid-infrared imager and spectrograph METIS, which features vortex phase masks and apodizing phase plates (APP) in its baseline design. In this work, we present end-to-end performance simulations, using Fourier propagation, of several METIS coronagraphic modes, including focal-plane vortex phase masks and pupil-plane apodizing phase plates, for the centrally obscured, segmented E-ELT pupil. The atmosphere and the AO contributions are taken into account. Hybrid coronagraphs combining the advantages of vortex phase masks and APPs are considered to improve the METIS coronagraphic performance. [less ▲]

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See detailCommissioning and first light results of an L'-band vortex coronagraph with the Keck II adaptive optics NIRC2 science instrument
Femenía Castellá, Bruno; Serabyn, Eugene; Mawet, Dimitri et al

in Marchetti, E.; Close, L.; Véran, J.-P. (Eds.) Adaptive Optics Systems V (2016, July 26)

On March 2015 an L'-band vortex coronagraph based on an Annular Groove Phase Mask made up of a diamond sub-wavelength grating was installed on NIRC2 as a demonstration project. This vortex coronagraph ... [more ▼]

On March 2015 an L'-band vortex coronagraph based on an Annular Groove Phase Mask made up of a diamond sub-wavelength grating was installed on NIRC2 as a demonstration project. This vortex coronagraph operates in the L' band not only in order to take advantage from the favorable star/planet contrast ratio when observing beyond the K band, but also to exploit the fact that the Keck II Adaptive Optics (AO) system delivers nearly extreme adaptive optics image quality (Strehl ratios values near 90%) at 3.7μm. We describe the hardware installation of the vortex phase mask during a routine NIRC2 service mission. The success of the project depends on extensive software development which has allowed the achievement of exquisite real-time pointing control as well as further contrast improvements by using speckle nulling to mitigate the effect of static speckles. First light of the new coronagraphic mode was on June 2015 with already very good initial results. Subsequent commissioning nights were interlaced with science nights by members of the VORTEX team with their respective scientific programs. The new capability and excellent results so far have motivated the VORTEX team and the Keck Science Steering Committee (KSSC) to offer the new mode in shared risk mode for 2016B. [less ▲]

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See detailThe QACITS pointing sensor: from theory to on-sky operation on Keck/NIRC2
Huby, Elsa ULiege; Absil, Olivier ULiege; Mawet, Dimitri et al

in Marchetti, E.; Close, L.; Véran, J.-P. (Eds.) Adaptive Optics Systems V (2016, July 26)

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 ... [more ▼]

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 QACITS[SUP]1[/SUP] (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. [less ▲]

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See detailPolarization Measurements of Hot Dust Stars and the Local Interstellar Medium
Marshall, J. P.; Cotton, D. V.; Bott, K. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2016), 825

Debris discs are typically revealed through the presence of excess emission at infrared wavelengths. Most discs exhibit excess at mid- and far-infrared wavelengths, analogous to the solar system’s ... [more ▼]

Debris discs are typically revealed through the presence of excess emission at infrared wavelengths. Most discs exhibit excess at mid- and far-infrared wavelengths, analogous to the solar system’s Asteroid and Edgeworth-Kuiper belts. Recently, stars with strong (˜1%) excess at near-infrared wavelengths were identified through interferometric measurements. Using the HIgh Precision Polarimetric Instrument, we examined a sub-sample of these hot dust stars (and appropriate controls) at parts-per-million sensitivity in SDSS g‧ (green) and r‧ (red) filters for evidence of scattered light. No detection of strongly polarized emission from the hot dust stars is seen. We, therefore, rule out scattered light from a normal debris disk as the origin of this emission. A wavelength-dependent contribution from multiple dust components for hot dust stars is inferred from the dispersion (the difference in polarization angle in red and green) of southern stars. Contributions of 17 ppm (green) and 30 ppm (red) are calculated, with strict 3-σ upper limits of 76 and 68 ppm, respectively. This suggests weak hot dust excesses consistent with thermal emission, although we cannot rule out contrived scenarios, e.g., dust in a spherical shell or face-on discs. We also report on the nature of the local interstellar medium (ISM), obtained as a byproduct of the control measurements. Highlights include the first measurements of the polarimetric color of the local ISM and the discovery of a southern sky region with a polarization per distance thrice the previous maximum. The data suggest that λ [SUB]max[/SUB], the wavelength of maximum polarization, is bluer than typical. [less ▲]

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See detailUnveiling new stellar companions from the EXOZODI survey : follow up
Marion, Lindsay ULiege; Absil, Olivier ULiege; Ertel, Steve et al

Poster (2016, June 30)

In 2012, we have conducted a survey of nearby main sequence stars with VLTI/PIONIER to search for the presence of circumstellar dust. We focused on the use of the closure phases and the square ... [more ▼]

In 2012, we have conducted a survey of nearby main sequence stars with VLTI/PIONIER to search for the presence of circumstellar dust. We focused on the use of the closure phases and the square visibilities in a combined way to search for faint companions around the whole sample. In this process, we found four new stellar companions, for which we conducted follow-up observations in 2014. This follow up allows us to confirm the four detections, and to detect another new companion. Only the case of HD202730 remains ambiguous. [less ▲]

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See detailUnveiling new stellar companions from the PIONIER exozodi survey : follow up
Marion, Lindsay ULiege; Absil, Olivier ULiege; Ertel, Steve et al

Poster (2016, June 28)

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See detailThree years of harvest with the vector vortex coronagraph in the thermal infrared
Absil, Olivier ULiege; Mawet, D.; Karlsson, M. et al

in Evans, C.; Simard, L.; Takami, H. (Eds.) Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VI (2016, June 26)

For several years, we have been developing vortex phase masks based on sub-wavelength gratings, known as Annular Groove Phase Masks. Etched onto diamond substrates, these AGPMs are currently designed to ... [more ▼]

For several years, we have been developing vortex phase masks based on sub-wavelength gratings, known as Annular Groove Phase Masks. Etched onto diamond substrates, these AGPMs are currently designed to be used in the thermal infrared (ranging from 3 to 13 μm). Our AGPMs were first installed on VLT/NACO and VLT/VISIR in 2012, followed by LBT/LMIRCam in 2013 and Keck/NIRC2 in 2015. In this paper, we review the development, commissioning, on-sky performance, and early scientific results of these new coronagraphic modes and report on the lessons learned. We conclude with perspectives for future developments and applications. [less ▲]

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See detailNulling Data Reduction and On-sky Performance of the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer
Defrere, Denis ULiege; Hinz, P. M.; Mennesson, B. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2016), 824

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is a versatile instrument designed for high angular resolution and high-contrast infrared imaging (1.5-13 μm). In this paper, we focus on the mid ... [more ▼]

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is a versatile instrument designed for high angular resolution and high-contrast infrared imaging (1.5-13 μm). In this paper, we focus on the mid-infrared (8-13 μm) nulling mode and present its theory of operation, data reduction, and on-sky performance as of the end of the commissioning phase in 2015 March. With an interferometric baseline of 14.4 m, the LBTI nuller is specifically tuned to resolve the habitable zone of nearby main-sequence stars, where warm exozodiacal dust emission peaks. Measuring the exozodi luminosity function of nearby main-sequence stars is a key milestone to prepare for future exo-Earth direct imaging instruments. Thanks to recent progress in wavefront control and phase stabilization, as well as in data reduction techniques, the LBTI demonstrated in 2015 February a calibrated null accuracy of 0.05% over a 3 hr long observing sequence on the bright nearby A3V star β Leo. This is equivalent to an exozodiacal disk density of 15-30 zodi for a Sun-like star located at 10 pc, depending on the adopted disk model. This result sets a new record for high-contrast mid-infrared interferometric imaging and opens a new window on the study of planetary systems. [less ▲]

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See detailE-ELT/METIS
Brandl, B.; Quanz, S.; Feldt, M. et al

in Simon, R.; Schaaf, R.; Stutzki, J. (Eds.) Conditions and Impact of Star Formation (2016, May 20)

The Mid-infrared E-ELT Imager and Spectrograph (METIS) will be one of the first three scientific instruments on the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). It will be the only instrument to cover the ... [more ▼]

The Mid-infrared E-ELT Imager and Spectrograph (METIS) will be one of the first three scientific instruments on the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). It will be the only instrument to cover the thermal/mid-infrared wavelength range from 3-19 μm. METIS offers a number of scientifically important observing modes, including diffraction-limited imaging, low resolution slit spectroscopy, coronagraphy, and high resolution (R ˜ 100,000) integral field spectroscopy at very high sensitivity. This paper gives a brief summary of METIS and focuses on its unique discovery space in the area of protoplanetary disks, where METIS is quite complementary to ALMA and JWST. [less ▲]

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See detailCharacterization of the low-mass companion around HD 142527 with VLT/SINFONI
Christiaens, Valentin ULiege; Casassus, Simon; Absil, Olivier ULiege et al

Conference (2016, May 19)

The circumstellar disk of the Herbig Fe star HD 142527 is host to several remarkable features in the context of planetary formation, including a warped inner disk, one of the largest annular gaps, a ... [more ▼]

The circumstellar disk of the Herbig Fe star HD 142527 is host to several remarkable features in the context of planetary formation, including a warped inner disk, one of the largest annular gaps, a prominent dust trap and several spiral arms in its outer disk. A low-mass companion, HD 142527 B, was also found orbiting the primary star at only ~10 au, possibly shaping the inclined inner disk (inclined with respect to the outer disk). This study aims to provide a clarifying answer to the question of the true nature of this companion, which could help explaining its true impact on the peculiar geometry of the disk. We observed the source with VLT/SINFONI in H+K band in pupil-tracking mode. Data were then post-processed with several principal component analysis algorithms based on the principle of Angular Differential Imaging. HD 142527 B is re-detected in most of the H+K spectral channels at a signal-to-noise ratio > 3. This re-detection enables us to extract the first medium-resolution spectrum of a low-mass companion at less than 0.1'' from its central star. The best fit to our spectrum was obtained with a BT-SETTL model spectrum corresponding to a temperature of 3400+-50K and a surface gravity log(g)=2.5+-1.0. Using pre-main sequence tracks, this corresponds to an M3 star with a mass, radius and age of M_B ~0.3 M_Sun, R_B ~ 1.1 R_Sun and 3.6 Myr old, respectively. We also suggest that most of the expected circum-secondary material is at a temperature lower than 1000K, hence not emitting in H and K band, but able to explain the excess measured at L- and M-bands. Based on the new values of radius and mass of the companion, we provide a new estimate for the mass accretion rate on HD 142527 B of ~1% of the accretion rate on the primary, consistent with a non-significant detection in the Brackett-gamma line. This result confirms the efficiency of the pupil-tracking mode implemented on VLT/SINFONI for the spectral characterization of faint companions orbiting very close to their star. [less ▲]

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See detailVortex Image Processing (VIP) package for high-contrast direct imaging
Gómez González, Carlos ULiege; Absil, Olivier ULiege; Wertz, Olivier ULiege et al

Poster (2016, May 16)

VIP is a Python instrument-agnostic toolbox featuring a flexible framework for reproducible and robust data reduction. VIP currently supports three high-contrast imaging observational techniques: angular ... [more ▼]

VIP is a Python instrument-agnostic toolbox featuring a flexible framework for reproducible and robust data reduction. VIP currently supports three high-contrast imaging observational techniques: angular, reference-star and multi-spectral differential imaging. The code can be downloaded from our git repository on Github: http://github.com/vortex-exoplanet/VIP [less ▲]

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See detailLow-rank plus sparse decomposition for exoplanet detection in direct-imaging ADI sequences. The LLSG algorithm
Gómez González, Carlos ULiege; Absil, Olivier ULiege; Absil, P.-A. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 589

Context. Data processing constitutes a critical component of high-contrast exoplanet imaging. Its role is almost as important as the choice of a coronagraph or a wavefront control system, and it is ... [more ▼]

Context. Data processing constitutes a critical component of high-contrast exoplanet imaging. Its role is almost as important as the choice of a coronagraph or a wavefront control system, and it is intertwined with the chosen observing strategy. Among the data processing techniques for angular differential imaging (ADI), the most recent is the family of principal component analysis (PCA) based algorithms. It is a widely used statistical tool developed during the first half of the past century. PCA serves, in this case, as a subspace projection technique for constructing a reference point spread function (PSF) that can be subtracted from the science data for boosting the detectability of potential companions present in the data. Unfortunately, when building this reference PSF from the science data itself, PCA comes with certain limitations such as the sensitivity of the lower dimensional orthogonal subspace to non-Gaussian noise. <BR /> Aims: Inspired by recent advances in machine learning algorithms such as robust PCA, we aim to propose a localized subspace projection technique that surpasses current PCA-based post-processing algorithms in terms of the detectability of companions at near real-time speed, a quality that will be useful for future direct imaging surveys. <BR /> Methods: We used randomized low-rank approximation methods recently proposed in the machine learning literature, coupled with entry-wise thresholding to decompose an ADI image sequence locally into low-rank, sparse, and Gaussian noise components (LLSG). This local three-term decomposition separates the starlight and the associated speckle noise from the planetary signal, which mostly remains in the sparse term. We tested the performance of our new algorithm on a long ADI sequence obtained on β Pictoris with VLT/NACO. <BR /> Results: Compared to a standard PCA approach, LLSG decomposition reaches a higher signal-to-noise ratio and has an overall better performance in the receiver operating characteristic space. This three-term decomposition brings a detectability boost compared to the full-frame standard PCA approach, especially in the small inner working angle region where complex speckle noise prevents PCA from discerning true companions from noise. [less ▲]

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