The sensitivity of direct imaging searches for extrasolar planets is limited by the presence of diffraction rings from the primary star. Coronagraphs are angular filters that minimise these diffraction structures whilst allowing light from faint companions to shine through. The Apodizing Phase Plate (APP; Kenworthy 2007) coronagraph is a simple pupil plane optic that suppresses diffraction over a 180 degree region around each star simultaneously, providing easy beam switching observations and requiring no time consuming optical alignment at the telescope.We will present our results on using the APP at the Very Large Telescope in surveys for extrasolar planets around A/F and debris disk hosting stars in the L' band (3.8 microns) in the Southern Hemisphere, where we reach a contrast of 12 magnitudes at 0.5 arcseconds (Meshkat 2013). In Leiden, we are also developing the next generation of broadband achromatic coronagraphs that can simultaneously image both sides of the star using Vector APPs (Snik 2012, Otten 2012). Recent laboratory results showing the potential of this technology for future ELTs will also be presented.
Search for Life Beyond the Solar System. Exoplanets, Biosignatures & Instruments
- Pub Date:
- March 2014