Volume 635, March 2020
|Number of page(s)||13|
|Published online||09 March 2020|
The Single-mode Complex Amplitude Refinement (SCAR) coronagraph
I. Concept, theory, and design
Sterrewacht Leiden, PO Box 9513, Niels Bohrweg 2, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
Accepted: 13 February 2019
Context. The recent discovery of an Earth-mass exoplanet around the nearby star Proxima Centauri provides a prime target for the search for life on planets outside our solar system. Atmospheric characterization of these planets has been proposed by blocking the starlight with a stellar coronagraph and using a high-resolution spectrograph to search for reflected starlight off the planet.
Aims. Due to the large flux ratio and small angular separation between Proxima b and its host star (≲10−7 and ≲2.2λ/D respectively; at 750 nm for an 8 m-class telescope) the coronagraph requires high starlight suppression at extremely-low inner working angles. Additionally, it must operate over a broad spectral bandwidth and under residual telescope vibrations. This allows for efficient use of spectroscopic post-processing techniques. We aim to find the global optimum of an integrated coronagraphic integral-field spectrograph.
Methods. We present the Single-mode Complex Amplitude Refinement (SCAR) coronagraph that uses a microlens-fed single-mode fiber array in the focal plane downstream from a pupil-plane phase plate. The mode-filtering property of the single-mode fibers allows for the nulling of starlight on the fibers. The phase pattern in the pupil plane is specifically designed to take advantage of this mode-filtering capability. Second-order nulling on the fibers expands the spectral bandwidth and decreases the tip-tilt sensitivity of the coronagraph.
Results. The SCAR coronagraph has a low inner working angle (∼1λ/D) at a contrast of < 3 × 10−5 for the six fibers surrounding the star using a sufficiently-good adaptive optics system. It can operate over broad spectral bandwidths (∼20%) and delivers high throughput (> 50% including fiber injection losses). Additionally, it is robust against tip-tilt errors (∼0.1λ/D rms). We present SCAR designs for both an unobstructed and a VLT-like pupil.
Conclusions. The SCAR coronagraph is a promising candidate for exoplanet detection and characterization around nearby stars using current high-resolution imaging instruments.
Key words: instrumentation: high angular resolution / techniques: high angular resolution / methods: numerical
© ESO 2020
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