Wednesday, April 3, 2013

1304.0373 (Olivier Guyon et al.)

Simultaneous Exoplanet Characterization and deep wide-field imaging with a diffractive pupil telescope    [PDF]

Olivier Guyon, Josh A. Eisner, Roger Angel, Neville J. Woolf, Eduardo A. Bendek, Thomas D. Milster, Stephen M. Ammons, Michael Shao, Stuart Shaklan, Marie Levine, Bijan Nemati, Frantz Martinache, Joe Pitman, Robert A. Woodruff, Ruslan Belikov
High-precision astrometry can identify exoplanets and measure their orbits and masses, while coronagraphic imaging enables detailed characterization of their physical properties and atmospheric compositions through spectroscopy. In a previous paper, we showed that a diffractive pupil telescope (DPT) in space can enable sub-microarcsecond accuracy astrometric measurements from wide-field images by creating faint but sharp diffraction spikes around the bright target star. The DPT allows simultaneous astrometric measurement and coronagraphic imaging, and we discuss and quantify in this paper the scientific benefits of this combination for exoplanet science investigations: identification of exoplanets with increased sensitivity and robustness, and ability to measure planetary masses to high accuracy. We show how using both measurements to identify planets and measure their masses offers greater sensitivity and provides more reliable measurements than possible with separate missions, and therefore results in a large gain in mission efficiency. The combined measurements reliably identify potentially habitable planets in multiple systems with a few observations, while astrometry or imaging alone would require many measurements over a long time baseline. In addition, the combined measurement allows direct determination of stellar masses to percent-level accuracy, using planets as test particles. We also show that the DPT maintains the full sensitivity of the telescope for deep wide-field imaging, and is therefore compatible with simultaneous scientific observations unrelated to exoplanets. We conclude that astrometry, coronagraphy, and deep wide-field imaging can be performed simultaneously on a single telescope without significant negative impact on the performance of any of the three techniques.
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