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Proceedings Paper

Deep broad-band infrared nulling using a single-mode fiber beam combiner and baseline rotation
Author(s): B. Mennesson; P. Haguenauer; E. Serabyn; K. Liewer
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Paper Abstract

The basic advantage of single-mode fibers for deep nulling applications resides in their spatial filtering ability, and has now long been known. However, and as suggested more recently, a single-mode fiber can also be used for direct coherent recombination of spatially separated beams, i.e. in a "multi-axial" nulling scheme. After the first successful demonstration of deep (<2e-6) visible LASER nulls using this technique (Haguenauer & Serabyn, Applied Optics 2006), we decided to work on an infrared extension for ground based astronomical observations, e.g. using two or more off-axis sub-apertures of a large ground based telescope. In preparation for such a system, we built and tested a laboratory infrared fiber nuller working in a wavelength regime where atmospheric turbulence can be efficiently corrected, over a pass band (~1.5 to 1.8 micron) broad enough to provide reasonable sensitivity. In addition, since no snapshot images are readily accessible with a (single) fiber nuller, we also tested baseline rotation as an approach to detect off-axis companions while keeping a central null. This modulation technique is identical to the baseline rotation envisioned for the TPF-I space mission. Within this context, we report here on early laboratory results showing deep stable broad-band dual polarization infrared nulls < 5e-4 (currently limited by detector noise), and visible LASER nulls better than 3e-4 over a 360 degree rotation of the baseline. While further work will take place in the laboratory to achieve deeper stable broad-band nulls and test off-axis sources detection through rotation, the emphasis will be put on bringing such a system to a telescope as soon as possible. Detection capability at the 500:1 contrast ratio in the K band (~2.2 microns) seem readily accessible within 50-100 mas of the optical axis, even with a first generation system mounted on a >5m AO equipped telescope such as the Palomar Hale 200 inch, the Keck, Subaru or Gemini telescopes.

Paper Details

Date Published: 28 June 2006
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 6268, Advances in Stellar Interferometry, 626830 (28 June 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.672157
Show Author Affiliations
B. Mennesson, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
P. Haguenauer, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
E. Serabyn, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
K. Liewer, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6268:
Advances in Stellar Interferometry
John D. Monnier; Markus Schöller; William C. Danchi, Editor(s)

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