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Proceedings Paper

Coronagraphic imaging of debris disks from a high altitude balloon platform
Author(s): Stephen Unwin; Wesley Traub; Geoffrey Bryden; Paul Brugarolas; Pin Chen; Olivier Guyon; Lynn Hillenbrand; John Krist; Bruce Macintosh; Dimitri Mawet; Bertrand Mennesson; Dwight Moody; Lewis C. Roberts Jr.; Karl Stapelfeldt; David Stuchlik; John Trauger; Gautam Vasisht
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Paper Abstract

Debris disks around nearby stars are tracers of the planet formation process, and they are a key element of our understanding of the formation and evolution of extrasolar planetary systems. With multi-color images of a significant number of disks, we can probe important questions: can we learn about planetary system evolution; what materials are the disks made of; and can they reveal the presence of planets? Most disks are known to exist only through their infrared flux excesses as measured by the Spitzer Space Telescope, and through images measured by Herschel. The brightest, most extended disks have been imaged with HST, and a few, such as Fomalhaut, can be observed using ground-based telescopes. But the number of good images is still very small, and there are none of disks with densities as low as the disk associated with the asteroid belt and Edgeworth­ Kuiper belt in our own Solar System. Direct imaging of disks is a major observational challenge, demanding high angular resolution and extremely high dynamic range close to the parent star. The ultimate experiment requires a space-based platform, but demonstrating much of the needed technology, mitigating the technical risks of a space-based coronagraph, and performing valuable measurements of circumstellar debris disks, can be done from a high-altitude balloon platform. In this paper we present a balloon-borne telescope concept based on the Zodiac II design that could undertake compelling studies of a sample of debris disks.

Paper Details

Date Published: 21 September 2012
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 8442, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2012: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 84420G (21 September 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.924175
Show Author Affiliations
Stephen Unwin, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Wesley Traub, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Geoffrey Bryden, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Paul Brugarolas, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Pin Chen, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Olivier Guyon, National Observatory of Japan (United States)
Lynn Hillenbrand, California Institute of Technology (United States)
John Krist, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Bruce Macintosh, Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (United States)
Dimitri Mawet, European Southern Observatory (Chile)
Bertrand Mennesson, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Dwight Moody, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Lewis C. Roberts Jr., Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Karl Stapelfeldt, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
David Stuchlik, NASA Wallops Flight Facility (United States)
John Trauger, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Gautam Vasisht, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8442:
Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2012: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
Mark C. Clampin; Giovanni G. Fazio; Howard A. MacEwen; Jacobus M. Oschmann Jr., Editor(s)

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