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9 August 2010 The potential of small space telescopes for exoplanet observations
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The imaging of faint exoplanets near bright stars requires the development of very high contrast detection techniques, including both precise wavefront control and deep starlight rejection. A system-level proof-of-principle experiment carried out at at the Palomar Observatory has recently demonstrated that exoplanets can be detected very near stars even with a fairly small (1.5 m diameter) telescope aperture, such as someday might be used by a first space-based exoplanet imaging mission. Using fine-scale wavefront correction across this small aperture, together with fine pointing and focus control, pre- and post-detection speckle reduction, and a vector vortex coronagraph, it has been possible to achieve extremely good starlight rejection within a small number of diffractions beams of the stellar position. This performance has recently allowed the imaging of the three HR8799 planets and the HD32297 disk, thus providing a first system-level validation of the steps needed to achieve high-contrast observations at very small angles. These results thus serve to highlight the potential of small space telescopes aiming at high-contrast exoplanet observations. Specifically, a small-angle coronagraph enables the use of smaller telescopes, thus potentially reducing mission cost significantly.
© (2010) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
E. Serabyn, D. Mawet, and R. Burruss "The potential of small space telescopes for exoplanet observations", Proc. SPIE 7731, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2010: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 77312O (9 August 2010);


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