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Proceedings Paper

High contrast imaging in multi-star systems: technology development and first lab results
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Paper Abstract

We show preliminary laboratory results advancing the technology readiness of 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. Because of the ubiquity of multistar systems, this method potentially multiplies the science yield of many missions and concepts such as WFIRST, Exo-C/S, HabEx, LUVOIR, and potentially enables the detection of Earth-like planets (if they exist) around our nearest neighbor star, Alpha Centauri, with a small and low-cost space telescope such as ACESat. We identified two main challenges associated with double-star (or multi-star) systems and methods to solve them. “Multi-Star Wavefront Control” (MSWC) enables the independent suppression of starlight from more than one star, and Super-Nyquist Wavefront Control (SNWC) enables extending MSWC to the case where star separation is beyond the Nyquist limit of the deformable mirror (DM). Our lab demonstrations were conducted at the Ames Coronagraph Experiment (ACE) laboratory and proved the basic principles of both MSWC and SNWC. They involved a 32x32 deformable mirror but no coronagraph for simplicity. We used MSWC to suppress starlight independently from two stars by at least an order of magnitude, in monochromatic as well as broadband light as broad as 50%. We also used SNWC to suppress starlight at 32 l/D, surpassing the Nyquist limit of the DM.

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 July 2016
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 9904, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 990422 (29 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2233914
Show Author Affiliations
Ruslan Belikov, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Eduardo Bendek, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Eugene Pluzhnik, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Dan Sirbu, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Sandrine J. Thomas, Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9904:
Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
Howard A. MacEwen; Giovanni G. Fazio; Makenzie Lystrup; Natalie Batalha; Nicholas Siegler; Edward C. Tong, Editor(s)

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