Imaging faint brown dwarf companions close to bright stars with a small, well-corrected telescope aperture.
SERABYN E., MAWET D., BLOEMHOF E., HAGUENAUER P., MENNESSON B., WALLACE K. and HICKEY J.
Abstract (from CDS):
We have used our 1.6 m diameter off-axis well-corrected subaperture (WCS) on the Palomar Hale telescope in concert with a small inner-working-angle phase-mask coronagraph to image the immediate environs of a small number of nearby stars. Test cases included three stars (HD 130948, HD 49197, and HR7672) with known brown dwarf companions at small separations, all of which were detected. We also present the initial detection of a new object close to the nearby young G0V star HD171488. Follow-up observations are needed to determine if this object is a bona fide companion, but its flux is consistent with the flux of a young brown dwarf or low-mass M star at the same distance as the primary. Interestingly, at small angles our WCS coronagraph demonstrates a limiting detectable contrast comparable to that of extant Lyot coronagraphs on much larger telescopes corrected with current-generation adaptive optics (AO) systems. This suggests that small apertures corrected to extreme AO (ExAO) levels can be used to carry out initial surveys for close brown dwarf and stellar companions, leaving follow-up observations for larger telescopes.
instrumentation: adaptive optics - stars: low-mass, brown dwarfs