Astronomy & Telescopes

The Scientific Impact of a Noiseless Energy-Resolving Detector for a Future Exoplanet-Imaging Mission

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
May 16, 2024
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The Scientific Impact of a Noiseless Energy-Resolving Detector for a Future Exoplanet-Imaging Mission
The number of spectra (left) and number of unique planets with spectra (right) taken by our simulated survey in the EMCCD scenario (solid) and ERD scenario (dotted) for each planet type. The designed yield of the survey of exo-Earth candidate spectra is shown in green and is equal to the size of the characterization target list in each case. The ERD scenario yields many more incidental spectra because of its ability to take spectra at all times, including during the detection phase. — astro-ph.IM

Future space missions that aim to detect and characterize Earth-like exoplanets will require an instrument that efficiently measures spectra of these planets, placing strict requirements on detector performance. The upcoming Roman Space Telescope will demonstrate the performance of an electron-multiplying charge-coupled device (EMCCD) as part of the coronagraphic instrument (CGI).

The recent LUVOIR and HabEx studies baselined pairing such a detector with an integral field spectrograph (IFS) to take spectra of multiple exoplanets and debris disks simultaneously. We investigate the scientific impact of a noiseless energy-resolving detector for the planned Habitable Worlds Observatory’s (HWO) coronagraphic instrument.

By assuming higher quantum efficiency, higher optical throughput, and zero noise, we effectively place upper limits on the impact of advancing detector technologies. We find that energy-resolving detectors would potentially take spectra of hundreds of additional exoplanets “for free” over the course of an HWO survey, greatly increasing its scientific yield.

Alex R. Howe, Christopher C. Stark, John E. Sadleir

Comments: 29 pages, 2 figures, 2 tables, Accepted to JATIS
Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2405.08883 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2405.08883v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: Alex Howe
[v1] Tue, 14 May 2024 18:03:11 UTC (2,505 KB)


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) 🖖🏻