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NEAR: new earths in the Alpha Cen Region (bringing VISIR as a "visiting instrument" to ESO-VLT-UT4)
Author(s): Hans-Ulrich Käufl; Markus Kasper; Robin Arsenault; Gerd Jakob; Serban Leveratto; Gerard Zins; Eloy Fuenteseca; Miguel Riquelme; Ralf Siebenmorgen; Michael Sterzik; Nancy Ageorges; Sven Gutruf; Dirk Kampf; Arnd Reutlinger; Olivier Absil; Brunella Carlomagno; Olivier Guyon; Pete Klupar; Dimitri Mawet; Garreth Ruane; Mikael Karlsson; Eric Pantin; Kjetil Dohlen
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Paper Abstract

By adding a dedicated coronagraph, ESO in collaboration with the Breakthrough Initiatives, modifies the Very Large Telescope mid-IR imager (VISIR) to further boost the high dynamic range imaging capability this instru- ment has. After the VISIR upgrade in 2012, where coronagraphic masks were first added to VISIR, it became evident that coronagraphy at a ground-based 8m-class telescope critically needs adaptive optics, even at wavelengths as long as 10μm. For VISIR, a work-horse observatory facility instrument in normal operations, this is ”easiest” achieved by bringing VISIR as a visiting instrument to the ESO-VLT-UT4 having an adaptive M2. This “visit” enables a meaningful search for Earth-like planets in the habitable zone around both α-Cen1,2. Meaningful here means, achieving a contrast of ≈ 10-6 within ≈ 0.8arcsec from the star while maintaining basically the normal sensitivity of VISIR. This should allow to detect a planet twice the diameter of Earth. Key components will be a diffractive coronagraphic mask, the annular groove phase mask (AGPM), optimized for the most sensitive spectral band-pass in the N-band, complemented by a sophisticated apodizer at the level of the Lyot stop. For VISIR noise filtering based on fast chopping is required. A novel internal chopper system will be integrated into the cryostat. This chopper is based on the standard technique from early radio astronomy, conceived by the microwave pioneer Robert Dicke in 1946, which was instrumental for the discovery of the 3K radio background.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 July 2018
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 10702, Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VII, 107020D (6 July 2018); doi: 10.1117/12.2313395
Show Author Affiliations
Hans-Ulrich Käufl, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Markus Kasper, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Robin Arsenault, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Gerd Jakob, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Serban Leveratto, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Technische Univ. Delft (Netherlands)
Gerard Zins, European Southern Observatory (Chile)
Eloy Fuenteseca, European Southern Observatory (Chile)
Miguel Riquelme, European Southern Observatory (Chile)
Ralf Siebenmorgen, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Michael Sterzik, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Nancy Ageorges, Kampf Telescope Optics GmbH (Germany)
Sven Gutruf, Kampf Telescope Optics GmbH (Germany)
Dirk Kampf, Kampf Telescope Optics GmbH (Germany)
Arnd Reutlinger, Kampf Telescope Optics GmbH (Germany)
Olivier Absil, Space Sciences, Technologies & Astrophysics Research (STAR) Institute, Univ. de Liège (Belgium)
Brunella Carlomagno, Space Sciences, Technologies & Astrophysics Research (STAR) Institute, Univ. de Liège (Belgium)
Olivier Guyon, Subaru Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (United States)
Pete Klupar, Breakthrough Initiatives (United States)
Dimitri Mawet, Caltech (United States)
Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Garreth Ruane, Ångström Lab. (Sweden)
Mikael Karlsson, Ångström Lab. (Sweden)
Eric Pantin, CEA-Ctr. de SACLAY (France)
Kjetil Dohlen, Lab. d'Astrophysique de Marseille (France)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10702:
Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VII
Christopher J. Evans; Luc Simard; Hideki Takami, Editor(s)

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