EDP Sciences
Free Access
Volume 504, Number 2, September III 2009
Page(s) 663 - 671
Section Astronomical instrumentation
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200912067
Published online 09 July 2009
A&A 504, 663-671 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200912067

Phase mask coronagraphy using a Mach-Zehnder interferometer

A. Carlotti, G. Ricort, and C. Aime

Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Laboratoire Fizeau, Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, Parc Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex, France
    e-mail: [alexis.carlotti;gilbert.ricort;claude.aime]@unice.fr

Received 13 March 2009 / Accepted 9 June 2009

Aims. We report results obtained with a four-quadrant and an eight-octant phase-mask coronagraphs (4QC and 8OC) produced using amplitude masks inside a Mach-Zehnder interferometer (MZI). We describe the laboratory implementation of these coronagraphs operated in laser light and provide a detailed comparison between theory and experiment.
Methods. The +1 and –1 ($\pi$ phase) amplitude transmissions required to produce a 4QC or an 8OC were obtained using complementary binary-masks (transmission of 1 or 0 for quadrants of similar parities) in the two arms of a MZI, taking advantage of the achromatic $\pi$ phase shift between the two paths. In one output of the MZI, the reconstructed image of the focal plane is similar to those obtained for sectorised phase-masks coronagraphs, and the image of the aperture corresponds to the characteristic patterns of the 4QC/8OC coronagraphs.
Results. Observations are compared with the theory published by other authors and developed further here. The expressions for the light diffracted outside the aperture image are simplified using the Zernike radial polynomials $\textsl{Z}^{1}_{n}$ instead of the rapidly diverging hypergeometric functions otherwise used. Experimental results are found to be in very good agreement with the theory. With the present laboratory experiment, about 99% of the light is rejected outside the Lyot stop and the contrast obtained beyond $5 \lambda/D$ is higher than 105 for both the 4QC and 8OC. As expected, the 8OC is less affected by a pointing error than the 4QC, but more sensitive to an aperture central obstruction. Incidently, the loss of transmission for a planet crossing two phase masks is given theoretically as a function of the Lyot stop size, in agreement with observations.

Key words: instrumentation: high angular resolution -- methods: laboratory -- techniques: high angular resolution -- techniques: interferometric

© ESO 2009