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Open Access Publications from the University of California

SCExAO: the first high contrast exoplanet imager on an ELT?

  • Author(s): Lozi, Julien
  • Jovanovic, Nemanja
  • Guyon, Olivier
  • Males, Jared
  • Singh, Garima
  • Doughty, Danielle
  • Pathak, Prashant
  • Goebel, Sean
  • Kudo, Tomoyuki
  • Martinache, Frantz
  • et al.

The Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics (SCExAO) instrument, currently under development for the Subaru Telescope, optimally combines state-of-the-art technologies to study exoplanets and stellar environments at the diffraction limit, both in visible and infrared light (0.6 to 2.4 μm). The instrument already includes an ultra-fast visible pyramid wavefront sensor operating at 3.5 kHz, a 2k-actuator deformable mirror, a set of optimal coronagraphs that can work as close as 1 l/D, a low-order wavefront sensor, a high-speed speckle control loop, and two visible interferometric modules, VAMPIRES and FIRST. After the integration of the integral field spectrograph CHARIS and a Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detector (MKID) in 2016, SCExAO will be one of the most powerful and effective tools for characterizing exoplanets and disks. None of the ELTs include a high-contrast imager and spectrograph among the first generation of instruments. To address this, we propose to upgrade SCExAO and deliver it as a first light visitor instrument to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), a decade before the second generation instruments come online. SCExAO’s flexibility assures that it will include the latest technologies when it arrives on TMT, achieving the ultimate goal of characterizing the first terrestrial planets in the habitable zones of M-type stars.

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