Direct imaging and characterization of extrasolar Earth-like planets are strongly impacted by the orbital inclination of the planet to be studied, as a combination of pure geometrical effects and the impact of exozodiacal dust. Here, we perform simulations to quantify the impact of a priori knowledge of inclination for the efficiency of a typical coronagraphic or occulter-based mission. The relative impact and complementarity with prior knowledge of exozodiacal brightness down to achievable levels are examined and discussed. It is found that inclination has an even greater impact than the exozodiacal brightness, though the two have excellent complementarity. We also discuss different methods for inclination determination and their respective applicability to the context of precursor science to an imaging mission. It is found that if technologically achievable, a combined effort to determine inclinations and exozodiacal brightnesses with ground-based facilities would substantially increase the efficiency of a space-based dedicated mission to image and characterize Earth-like planets.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Pub Date:
- October 2010
- planets and satellites: detection;
- stars: solar-type;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 9 pages, 5 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS