Astronomy & Telescopes

A Pathfinder for Imaging Extrasolar Earths from the Ground

By Keith Cowing
astro-ph.EP
June 7, 2019
Filed under
A Pathfinder for Imaging Extrasolar Earths from the Ground
Two near-infrared images of the HR 8799 system. The left image is from a leading conventional (facility) AO system on the Keck telescope; on the right is a SCExAO/CHARIS image. SCExAO/CHARIS produces higher signal-to-noise detections of HR 8799 cd and a detection of HR 8799 e.
astro-ph.EP

The Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics (SCExAO) project is an instrument on the Subaru telescope that is pushing the frontiers of what is possible with ground-based high-contrast imaging of extrasolar planets.

The system features key breakthroughs in wavefront sensing and coronagraphy to yield extremely high Strehl ratio corrections and deep planet-to-star contrasts, even for optically faint stars. SCExAO is coupled to a near-infrared integral field spectrograph — CHARIS — yielding robust planet spectral characterization.

In its first full year of operations, SCExAO has already clarified the properties of candidate companions around κ And, LkCa 15, and HD 163296, showing the former to be a likely low-gravity, planet-mass object and the latter two to be misidentified disk signals. SCExAO’s planet imaging capabilities in the near future will be further upgraded; the system is emerging as a prototype of the kind of dedicated planet-imaging system that could directly detect an Earth-like planet around a nearby low-mass star with Extremely Large Telescopes like the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Thayne Currie (NASA/Ames, Subaru)
(Submitted on 5 Jun 2019)
Comments: 4 pages, 1 figure; author’s original submitted draft of article edited and published in Nature Astronomy
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:1906.02214 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1906.02214v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Thayne Currie
[v1] Wed, 5 Jun 2019 18:00:22 UTC (514 KB)
https://arxiv.org/abs/1906.02214
Astrobiology

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