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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 16, Iss. 20 — Sep. 29, 2008
  • pp: 15553–15562

Fainter and closer: finding planets by symmetry breaking

Erez N. Ribak and Szymon Gladysz  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 16, Issue 20, pp. 15553-15562 (2008)

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Imaging of planets is very difficult, due to the glare from their nearby, much brighter suns. Static and slowly-evolving aberrations are the limiting factors, even after application of adaptive optics. The residual speckle pattern is highly symmetrical due to diffraction from the telescope’s aperture. We suggest to break this symmetry and thus to locate planets hidden beneath it. An eccentric pupil mask is rotated to modulate the residual light pattern not removed by other means. This modulation is then exploited to reveal the planet’s constant signal. In well-corrected ground-based observations we can reach planets six stellar magnitudes fainter than their sun, and only 2-3 times the diffraction limit from it. At ten times the diffraction limit, we detect planets 16 magnitudes fainter. The stellar background drops by five magnitudes.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(010.1080) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Active or adaptive optics
(030.6610) Coherence and statistical optics : Stellar speckle interferometry
(050.1220) Diffraction and gratings : Apertures
(350.1260) Other areas of optics : Astronomical optics
(110.4155) Imaging systems : Multiframe image processing
(070.6120) Fourier optics and signal processing : Spatial light modulators

ToC Category:
Imaging Systems

Original Manuscript: August 8, 2008
Revised Manuscript: September 10, 2008
Manuscript Accepted: September 13, 2008
Published: September 17, 2008

Erez N. Ribak and Szymon Gladysz, "Fainter and closer: finding planets by symmetry breaking," Opt. Express 16, 15553-15562 (2008)

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