Astronomy & Telescopes

Direct Imaging of Exoplanets in the Habitable Zone with Adaptive Optics

By Keith Cowing
July 22, 2014
Filed under ,
Direct Imaging of Exoplanets in the Habitable Zone with Adaptive Optics

One of the primary goals of exoplanet science is to find and characterize habitable planets, and direct imaging will play a key role in this effort.

Though imaging a true Earth analog is likely out of reach from the ground, the coming generation of giant telescopes will find and characterize many planets in and near the habitable zones (HZs) of nearby stars. Radial velocity and transit searches indicate that such planets are common, but imaging them will require achieving extreme contrasts at very small angular separations, posing many challenges for adaptive optics (AO) system design. Giant planets in the HZ may even be within reach with the latest generation of high-contrast imagers for a handful of very nearby stars.

Here we will review the definition of the HZ, and the characteristics of detectable planets there. We then review some of the ways that direct imaging in the HZ will be different from the typical exoplanet imaging survey today. Finally, we present preliminary results from our observations of the HZ of {\alpha} Centauri A with the Magellan AO system’s VisAO and Clio2 cameras.

Jared R. Males, Laird M. Close, Olivier Guyon, Katie M. Morzinski, Alfio Puglisi, Philip Hinz, Katherine B. Follette, John D. Monnier, Volker Tolls, Timothy J. Rodigas, Alycia Weinberger, Alan Boss, Derek Kopon, Ya-lin Wu, Simone Esposito, Armando Riccardi, Marco Xompero, Runa Briguglio, Enrico Pinna (Submitted on 18 Jul 2014)

Comments: 13 pages, 7 figures, to appear in Proc. SPIE 9148

Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1407.5099 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:1407.5099v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)

Submission history From: Jared Males [view email] [v1] Fri, 18 Jul 2014 20:00:19 GMT (543kb)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻