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See detailCompanion search around β Pictoris with the newly commissioned L'-band vector vortex coronagraph on VLT/NACO
Mawet, D.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Milli, J. et al

in Booth, Mark; Matthews, Brenda; Graham, James (Eds.) Exploring the Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems (2014, January 01)

Here we present the installation and successful commissioning of an L'-band Annular Groove Phase Mask (AGPM) coronagraph on VLT/NACO. The AGPM is a vector vortex coronagraph made from diamond ... [more ▼]

Here we present the installation and successful commissioning of an L'-band Annular Groove Phase Mask (AGPM) coronagraph on VLT/NACO. The AGPM is a vector vortex coronagraph made from diamond subwavelength gratings tuned to the L' band. The vector vortex coronagraph enables high contrast imaging at very small inner working angle (here 0''.09, the diffraction limit of the VLT at L'), potentially being the key to a new parameter space. During technical and science verification runs, we discovered a late-type companion at two beamwidths from an F0V star (Mawet et al. 2013), and imaged the inner regions of β Pictoris down to the previously unexplored projected radius of 1.75 AU. The circumstellar disk was also resolved from ~= 1'' to 5'' (see J. Milli et al., these proceedings). These results showcase the potential of the NACO L-band AGPM over a wide range of spatial scales. [less ▲]

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See detailL'-band AGPM vector vortex coronagraph's first light on VLT/NACO: Discovery of a late-type companion at two beamwidths from an F0V star
Mawet, D.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Delacroix, Christian ULg et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2013), 552

Context. High contrast imaging has thoroughly combed through the limited search space accessible with first-generation ground-based adaptive optics instruments and the Hubble Space Telescope. Only a few ... [more ▼]

Context. High contrast imaging has thoroughly combed through the limited search space accessible with first-generation ground-based adaptive optics instruments and the Hubble Space Telescope. Only a few objects were discovered, and many non-detections reported and statistically interpreted. The field is now in need of a technological breakthrough. Aim. Our aim is to open a new search space with first-generation systems such as NACO at the Very Large Telescope, by providing ground-breaking inner working angle (IWA) capabilities in the L' band. The L' band is a sweet spot for high contrast coronagraphy since the planet-to-star brightness ratio is favorable, while the Strehl ratio is naturally higher. Methods. An annular groove phase mask (AGPM) vector vortex coronagraph optimized for the L' band, made from diamond subwavelength gratings was manufactured and qualified in the lab. The AGPM enables high contrast imaging at very small IWA, potentially being the key to unexplored discovery space. Results. Here we present the installation and successful on-sky tests of an L'-band AGPM coronagraph on NACO. Using angular differential imaging, which is well suited to the rotational symmetry of the AGPM, we demonstrated a \Delta L' > 7.5 mag contrast from an IWA ~ 0".09 onwards, during average seeing conditions, and for total integration times of a few hundred seconds. [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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