Volume 531, July 2011
|Number of page(s)||9|
|Published online||21 June 2011|
Data-reduction techniques for high-contrast imaging polarimetry
Applications to ExPo
Sterrekundig Instituut, Universiteit Utrecht PO Box 80000 3508 TA Utrecht The Netherlands
Received: 18 March 2011
Accepted: 10 May 2011
Context. Imaging polarimetry is a powerful tool for detecting and characterizing exoplanets and circumstellar environments. Polarimetry allows a separation of the light coming from an unpolarized source such as a star and the polarized source such as a planet or a protoplanetary disk. Future facilities like SPHERE at the VLT or EPICS at the E-ELT will incorporate imaging polarimetry to detect exoplanets. The Extreme Polarimeter (ExPo) is a dual-beam imaging polarimeter that can currently reach contrast ratios of 105, enough to characterize circumstellar environments.
Aims. We present the data-reduction steps for a dual-beam imaging polarimeter that can reach contrast ratios of 105.
Methods. The data obtained with ExPo at the William Herschel Telescope (WHT) are analyzed. Instrumental artifacts and noise sources are discussed for an unpolarized star and for a protoplanetary disk (AB Aurigae).
Results. The combination of fast modulation and dual-beam techniques allows us to minimize instrumental artifacts. A proper data processing and alignment of the images is fundamental when dealing with high contrasts. Imaging polarimetry proves to be a powerful method to resolve circumstellar environments even without a coronagraph mask or an adaptive optics system.
Key words: instrumentation: polarimeters / polarization / techniques: polarimetric / methods: data analysis / circumstellar matter
© ESO, 2011
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