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Exoplanets Seminar



Exoplanet imaging techniques for NASA/WFIRST and European ELT/METIS
Christian Delacroix (Princeton University)

One of the most exciting challenges in exoplanet science is to take pictures of planets in the habitable zones of nearby low mass stars and look for signs of life in their atmospheric composition. This can be achieved by blocking the starlight with a coronagraph, with the help of adaptive optics to control the wavefront and post-processing techniques to achieve high contrasts. In this talk, various coronagraphy techniques will be presented. First, we will give an update on the recent developments at the Princeton’s High Contrast Imaging Laboratory, home of the Shaped Pupil coronagraph and the development of multiple focal-plane wavefront control algorithms. The recent installation of an integral field spectrograph (IFS) enables broadband stellar extinction, which is key to characterize the chemical composition of exoplanet atmospheres. Such an IFS will be installed on the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (NASA/WFIRST). Our lenslet-based design calls for the light in an 18% band around 660 nm to be dispersed with a spectral resolution of 50. We show and discuss our preliminary first light results, reaching a contrast of ~10-5 using in-house wavefront control and estimation algorithms with two deformable mirrors. In the second part of this talk, we present recent developments of mid-infrared vortex coronagraphs with our Belgian collaborators at the University of Liège. We briefly review vortex on-sky performance at VLT, Keck, and LBT observatories. We finish with interesting prospects for the vortex such as the hunt for planets in the habitable zone of alpha Centauri A and B (aka the NEAR project), and how this project paves the way towards mid-infrared coronagraphy on the ELT with the METIS instrument.

Date August 23, 2018
Start/End Time 12:00 PM - 01:00 PM
Location B34, E256
Event Type Seminars/Colloquia
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