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High-contrast imaging in multi-star systems: progress in technology development and lab results
Author(s): Ruslan Belikov; Eugene Pluzhnik; Eduardo Bendek; Dan Sirbu
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Paper Abstract

We present the continued progress and laboratory results advancing the technology readiness of Multi-Star Wavefront Control (MSWC), a method to directly image planets and disks in multi-star systems such as Alpha Centauri. This method works with almost any coronagraph (or external occulter with a DM) and requires little or no change to existing and mature hardware. In particular, it works with single-star coronagraphs and does not require the off-axis star(s) to be coronagraphically suppressed. Because of the ubiquity of multistar systems, this method increases the science yield of many missions and concepts such as WFIRST, Exo-C/S, HabEx, LUVOIR, and potentially enables the detection of Earthlike planets (if they exist) around our nearest neighbor star, Alpha Centauri, with a small and low-cost space telescope such as ACESat. Our lab demonstrations were conducted at the Ames Coronagraph Experiment (ACE) laboratory and show both the feasibility as well as the trade-offs involved in using MSWC. We show several simulations and laboratory tests at roughly TRL-3 corresponding to representative targets and missions, including Alpha Centauri with WFIRST. In particular, we demonstrate MSWC in Super-Nyquist mode, where the distance between the desired dark zone and the off-axis star is larger than the conventional (sub-Nyquist) control range of the DM. Our laboratory tests did not yet include a coronagraph, but did demonstrate significant speckle suppression from two independent light sources at sub- as well as super-Nyquist separations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 September 2017
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 10400, Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VIII, 104000W (1 September 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2274558
Show Author Affiliations
Ruslan Belikov, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Eugene Pluzhnik, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Eduardo Bendek, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Dan Sirbu, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10400:
Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VIII
Stuart Shaklan, Editor(s)

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