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Lacour Sylvestre, Tuthill Peter G., Monnier John D., Kotani Takayuki, Gauchet Lucien, Labeye P. R.

A new interferometer architecture combining nulling with phase closure measurements

Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2014, vol. 439, pp. 4018-4029

Référence DOI : 10.1093/mnras/stu258
Référence ADS : 2014MNRAS.439.4018L

Résumé :

Imaging the direct light signal from a faint exoplanet against the overwhelming glare of its host star presents one of the fundamental challenges to modern astronomical instrumentation. Achieving sufficient signal-to-noise ratio for detection by direct imaging is limited by three basic physical processes: aberration of the wavefronts (both instrumental and atmospheric), photon noise and detector noise. In this paper, we advance a novel optical setup which synthesizes the advantages of two different techniques: nulling interferometry to mitigate photon noise, and closure phase to combat optical aberrations. Our design, which employs technology from integrated optics and photonics, is intended to combine the advantageous aspects of both a coronagraph and a non-redundant interferometer inside a single optical device. We show that such an instrument would have a dynamic range limited by either (i) the readout noise (if perfect co-phasing), or (ii) the photon noise due to stellar flux leakage (in the case of imperfect nulling). This concept is optimal when the readout noise is not the main limitation, i.e. for space interferometry or for ground-based observations of bright stellar hosts (apparent magnitude brighter than 10).

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