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See detailThe Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics System: Enabling High-Contrast Imaging on Solar-System Scales
Jovanovic, N.; Martinache, F.; Guyon, O. et al

in Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (2015), 127

The Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics (SCExAO) instrument is a multipurpose high-contrast imaging platform designed for the discovery and detailed characterization of exoplanetary systems and ... [more ▼]

The Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics (SCExAO) instrument is a multipurpose high-contrast imaging platform designed for the discovery and detailed characterization of exoplanetary systems and serves as a testbed for high-contrast imaging technologies for ELTs. It is a multiband instrument which makes use of light from 600 to 2500 nm, allowing for coronagraphic direct exoplanet imaging of the inner 3λ/D from the stellar host. Wavefront sensing and control are key to the operation of SCExAO. A partial correction of low-order modes is provided by Subaru's facility adaptive optics system with the final correction, including high-order modes, implemented downstream by a combination of a visible pyramid wavefront sensor and a 2000-element deformable mirror. The well-corrected NIR (y-K bands) wavefronts can then be injected into any of the available coronagraphs, including but not limited to the phase-induced amplitude apodization and the vector vortex coronagraphs, both of which offer an inner working angle as low as 1λ/D. Noncommon path, low-order aberrations are sensed with a coronagraphic low-order wavefront sensor in the infrared (IR). Low noise, high frame rate NIR detectors allow for active speckle nulling and coherent differential imaging, while the HAWAII 2RG detector in the HiCIAO imager and/or the CHARIS integral field spectrograph (from mid-2016) can take deeper exposures and/or perform angular, spectral, and polarimetric differential imaging. Science in the visible is provided by two interferometric modules: VAMPIRES and FIRST, which enable subdiffraction limited imaging in the visible region with polarimetric and spectroscopic capabilities respectively. We describe the instrument in detail and present preliminary results both on-sky and in the laboratory. [less ▲]

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See detailDevelopment and recent results from the Subaru coronagraphic extreme adaptive optics system
Jovanovic, N.; Guyon, O.; Martinache, F. et al

in Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy V (2014, July 01)

The Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics (SCExAO) instrument is one of a handful of extreme adaptive optics systems set to come online in 2014. The extreme adaptive optics correction is realized ... [more ▼]

The Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics (SCExAO) instrument is one of a handful of extreme adaptive optics systems set to come online in 2014. The extreme adaptive optics correction is realized by a combination of precise wavefront sensing via a non-modulated pyramid wavefront sensor and a 2000 element deformable mirror. This system has recently begun on-sky commissioning and was operated in closed loop for several minutes at a time with a loop speed of 800 Hz, on ~150 modes. Further suppression of quasi-static speckles is possible via a process called "speckle nulling" which can create a dark hole in a portion of the frame allowing for an enhancement in contrast, and has been successfully tested on-sky. In addition to the wavefront correction there are a suite of coronagraphs on board to null out the host star which include the phase induced amplitude apodization (PIAA), the vector vortex, 8 octant phase mask, 4 quadrant phase mask and shaped pupil versions which operate in the NIR (y-K bands). The PIAA and vector vortex will allow for high contrast imaging down to an angular separation of 1 λ/D to be reached; a factor of 3 closer in than other extreme AO systems. Making use of the left over visible light not used by the wavefront sensor is VAMPIRES and FIRST. These modules are based on aperture masking interferometry and allow for sub-diffraction limited imaging with moderate contrasts of ~100-1000:1. Both modules have undergone initial testing on-sky and are set to be fully commissioned by the end of 2014. [less ▲]

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See detailCharacterization of the gaseous companion κ Andromedae b. New Keck and LBTI high-contrast observations
Bonnefoy, M.; Currie, T.; Marleau, G.-D. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2014), 562

Context. We previously reported the direct detection of a low-mass companion at a projected separation of 55 ± 2 AU around the B9-type star κ Andromedae. The properties of the system (mass ratio ... [more ▼]

Context. We previously reported the direct detection of a low-mass companion at a projected separation of 55 ± 2 AU around the B9-type star κ Andromedae. The properties of the system (mass ratio, separation) make it a benchmark for understanding the formation and evolution of gas giant planets and brown dwarfs on wide orbits. <BR /> Aims: We present new angular differential imaging (ADI) images of the system at 2.146 (K[SUB]s[/SUB]), 3.776 (L'), 4.052 (NB_4.05), and 4.78 μm (M') obtained with Keck/NIRC2 and LBTI/LMIRCam, as well as more accurate near-infrared photometry of the star with the MIMIR instrument. We aim to determine the near-infrared spectral energy distribution of the companion and use it to characterize the object. <BR /> Methods: We used analysis methods adapted to ADI to extract the companion flux. We compared the photometry of the object to reference young, and old objects and to a set of seven PHOENIX-based atmospheric models of cool objects accounting for the formation of dust. We used evolutionary models to derive mass estimates considering a wide range of plausible initial conditions. Finally, we used dedicated formation models to discuss the possible origin of the companion. <BR /> Results: We derive a more accurate J = 15.86 ± 0.21, H = 14.95 ± 0.13, K[SUB]s[/SUB] = 14.32 ± 0.09 mag for κ And b. We detect the companion in all our high-contrast observations. We confirm previous contrasts obtained at K[SUB]s[/SUB] and L' band. We derive NB_4.05 = 13.0 ± 0.2, and M' = 13.3 ± 0.3 mag and estimate log [SUB]10[/SUB](L/L[SUB]⊙[/SUB]) = -3.76 ± 0.06. Atmospheric models yield T[SUB]eff[/SUB] = 1900[SUP]+100[/SUP][SUB]-200[/SUB] K. They do not set any constraint on the surface gravity. "Hot-start" evolutionary models predict masses of 14[SUP]+25[/SUP][SUB]-2[/SUB] M[SUB]Jup[/SUB] based on the luminosity and temperature estimates, and when considering a conservative age range for the system (30[SUP]+120[/SUP][SUB]-10[/SUB] Myr), "warm-start" evolutionary tracks constrain the mass to M ≥ 10M[SUB]Jup[/SUB]. <BR /> Conclusions: The mass of κ Andromedae b mostly falls in the brown-dwarf regime, owing to remaining uncertainties in age and in mass-luminosity models. According to the formation models, disk instability in a primordial disk may account for the position and a wide range of plausible masses of κ And b. The LBT is an international collaboration among institutions in the United States, Italy, and Germany. LBT Corporation partners are: The University of Arizona on behalf of the Arizona university system; Instituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Italy; LBT Beteiligungsgesellschaft, Germany, representing the Max-Planck Society, the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam, and Heidelberg University; The Ohio State University, and The Research Corporation, on behalf of the University of Notre Dame, University of Minnesota, and University of Virginia.Appendices are available in electronic form at <A href="http://www.aanda.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201322119/olm">http://www.aanda.org</A> [less ▲]

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See detailExoplanet Characterization and the Search for Life
Kasting, James; Traub, W.; Roberge, A. et al

E-print/Working paper (2009)

Over 300 extrasolar planets (exoplanets) have been detected orbiting nearby stars. We now hope to conduct a census of all planets around nearby stars and to characterize their atmospheres and surfaces ... [more ▼]

Over 300 extrasolar planets (exoplanets) have been detected orbiting nearby stars. We now hope to conduct a census of all planets around nearby stars and to characterize their atmospheres and surfaces with spectroscopy. Rocky planets within their star's habitable zones have the highest priority, as these have the potential to harbor life. Our science goal is to find and characterize all nearby exoplanets; this requires that we measure the mass, orbit, and spectroscopic signature of each one at visible and infrared wavelengths. The techniques for doing this are at hand today. Within the decade we could answer long-standing questions about the evolution and nature of other planetary systems, and we could search for clues as to whether life exists elsewhere in our galactic neighborhood. [less ▲]

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See detailDiversity among other worlds: characterization of exoplanets by direct detection (Update of a White Paper submitted to the ESA ExoPlanet Roadmap Advisory Team)
Schneider, J.; Boccaletti, A.; Aylward, A. et al

Report (2008)

The physical characterization of exoplanets will require to take spectra at several orbital positions. For that purpose, a direct imaging capability is necessary. Direct imaging requires an efficient ... [more ▼]

The physical characterization of exoplanets will require to take spectra at several orbital positions. For that purpose, a direct imaging capability is necessary. Direct imaging requires an efficient stellar suppression mechanism, associated with an ultrasmooth telescope. We show that before future large space missions (interferometer, 4-8 m class coronograph, external occulter or Fresnel imager), direct imaging of giant planets and close-by super-Earth are at the cross-road of a high scientific interest and a reasonable feasibility. The scientific interest lies in the fact that super-Earths share common geophysical attributes with Earths. They already begin to be detected by radial velocity (RV) and, together with giant planets, they have a larger area than Earths, making them detectable with a 1.5-2 m class telescope in reflected light. We propose such a (space) telescope be a first step before large direct imaging missions. [less ▲]

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