Techniques for high-contrast imaging in multi-star systems. II. Multi-star Wavefront Control.
SIRBU D., THOMAS S., BELIKOV R. and BENDEK E.
Abstract (from CDS):
Direct imaging of exoplanets represents a challenge for astronomical instrumentation due to the high-contrast ratio and small angular separation between the host star and the faint planet. Multi-star systems pose additional challenges for coronagraphic instruments due to the diffraction and aberration leakage caused by companion stars. Consequently, many scientifically valuable multi-star systems are excluded from direct imaging target lists for exoplanet surveys and characterization missions. Multi-star Wavefront Control (MSWC) is a technique that uses a coronagraphic instrument's deformable mirror (DM) to create high-contrast regions in the focal plane in the presence of multiple stars. MSWC uses "non-redundant" modes on the DM to independently control speckles from each star in the dark zone. Our previous paper also introduced the Super-Nyquist wavefront control technique, which uses a diffraction grating to generate high-contrast regions beyond the Nyquist limit (nominal region correctable by the DM). These two techniques can be combined as MSWC-s to generate high-contrast regions for multi-star systems at wide (Super-Nyquist) angular separations, while MSWC-0 refers to close (Sub-Nyquist) angular separations. As a case study, a high-contrast wavefront control simulation that applies these techniques shows that the habitable region of the Alpha Centauri system can be imaged with a small aperture at 8×10–9 mean raw contrast in 10% broadband light in one-sided dark holes from 1.6-5.5 λ/D. Another case study using a larger 2.4 m aperture telescope such as the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope uses these techniques to image the habitable zone of Alpha Centauri at 3.2×10–9 mean raw contrast in monochromatic light.