Kernel-Phase Interferometry for Super-Resolution Detection of Faint Companions
Direct detection of close in companions (exoplanets or binary systems) is notoriously difficult. While coronagraphs and point spread function (PSF) subtraction can be used to reduce contrast and dig out signals of companions under the PSF, there are still significant limitations in separation and contrast near λ/D. Non-redundant aperture masking (NRM) interferometry can be used to detect companions well inside the PSF of a diffraction limited image, though the mask discards ∼ 95% of the light gathered by the telescope and thus the technique is severely flux limited. Kernel-phase analysis applies interferometric techniques similar to NRM to a diffraction limited image utilizing the full aperture. Instead of non-redundant closure-phases, kernel-phases are constructed from a grid of points on the full aperture, simulating a redundant interferometer. I have developed a new, easy to use, faint companion detection pipeline which analyzes kernel-phases utilizing Bayesian model comparison. I demonstrate this pipeline on archival images from HST/NICMOS, searching for new companions in order to constrain binary formation models at separations inaccessible to previous techniques. Using this method, it is possible to detect a companion well within the classical λ/D Rayleigh diffraction limit using a fraction of the telescope time as NRM. Since the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be able to perform NRM observations, further development and characterization of kernel-phase analysis will allow efficient use of highly competitive JWST telescope time. As no mask is needed, this technique can easily be applied to archival data and even target acquisition images (e.g. from JWST), making the detection of close in companions cheap and simple as no additional observations are needed.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #230
- Pub Date:
- June 2017