The study of cold or obscured, red astrophysical sources can significantly benefit from adaptive optics (AO) systems employing infrared (IR) wavefront sensors. One particular area is the study of exoplanets around M-dwarf stars and planet formation within protoplanetary disks in star-forming regions. Such objects are faint at visible wavelengths but bright enough in the IR to be used as a natural guide star for the AO system. Doing the wavefront sensing at IR wavelengths enables high-resolution AO correction for such science cases, with the potential to reach the contrasts required for direct imaging of exoplanets. To this end, a new near-infrared pyramid wavefront sensor (PyWFS) has been added to the Keck II AO system, extending the performance of the facility AO system for the study of faint red objects. We present the Keck II PyWFS, which represents a number of firsts, including the first PyWFS installed on a segmented telescope and the first use of an IR PyWFS on a 10-m class telescope. We discuss the scientific and technological advantages offered by IR wavefront sensing and present the design and commissioning of the Keck PyWFS. In particular, we report on the performance of the Selex Avalanche Photodiode for HgCdTe InfraRed Array detector used for the PyWFS and highlight the novelty of this wavefront sensor in terms of the performance for faint red objects and the improvement in contrast. The system has been commissioned for science with the vortex coronagraph in the NIRC2 IR science instrument and is being commissioned alongside a new fiber injection unit for NIRSPEC. We present the first science verification of the system—to facilitate the study of exoplanets around M-type stars.
A future upgrade of the Keck II telescope’s adaptive optics system will include a near-infrared pyramid wavefront sensor. It will benefit from low-noise infrared detector technology, specifically the avalanche photodiode array SAPHIRA (Leonardo). The system will either operate with a natural guide star in a single conjugated adaptive optics system, or using a laser guide star (LGS), with the pyramid working as a low-order sensor. We present a study of the pyramid sensor’s performance via end-to-end simulations, including an analysis of calibration strategies. For LGS operation, we compare the pyramid to LIFT, a focal-plane sensor dedicated to low-order sensing.
A near-infrared, high order pyramid wavefront sensor will be implemented on the Keck telescope, with the aim of providing high resolution adaptive optics correction for the study of exoplanets around M-type stars and planet formation in obscured star forming regions. The pyramid wavefront sensor is designed to support adaptive optics correction of the light to an imaging vortex coronagraph and to a fiber injection unit that will feed a spectrograph. We present the opto-mechanical design of the near-infrared pyramid wavefront sensor, the optical performance, and the alignment strategy. The challenges of designing the assembly, as well as a fiber injection unit, to fit into the limited available space on the Keck adaptive optics bench, will also be discussed.